"I might take a train, I might take a plane, but if I have to walk, I know I'm gonna see Jo Serrapere again. Like anybody else who might make you laugh and cry in the same song, she's too good to pass up."- Dave Marsh, music critic, Author of Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story and former editor of Creem & Rolling Stone magazines.

 

Jo Serrapere (sarah-pear), a songwriter from the Detroit area, started playing guitar at 23 when seeking out lessons from Delta Blues guitarist, Shari Kane. Shortly thereafter, Jo began writing her own songs while completing her college studies in clinical psychology. She is currently on tour, performing at music venues throughout the United States.

Whether recreating old songs from the Mississippi Delta or performing songs in her own confessional style, Jo's music stands original while always reflecting her love of American roots music. Her eclectic writing and performance fuses elements of various modern and traditional folk music, old-time and electric blues styles, roots rock, garage surf, swing, hot jazz and alt-country. Jo's band, the Willie Dunns (John Devine, Jef Reynolds and Stuart Tucker) brings added depth and musical styling to Jo's original songs as well as classics from such artists as Mississippi John Hurt, Bessie Smith and Tom Waits.

The Willie Dunns are:

John Devine | dobro, acoustic guitar, mandolin and electric slide guitar

Jef Reynolds | acoustic and electric bass, mandolin, cello and guitar.

Stuart Tucker | Drums

John's background includes everything from rock'n roll to classical, having studied classical guitar in Master classes at the prestigious Miami School of Music. His strongest influence, however, comes from the early blues sounds of the "Race" records of the 1920's and 1930's, and the likes of Mississippi John Hurt and Tampa Red.

Jef has a well rounded background as a studio musician, having worked with writers and artists with styles ranging from gospel to big band. He studied with Joe Messina, who was a session guitarist for Motown Records. One of his most treasured memories was when he worked with the late Wolfman Jack in his "Midnight Special" series of Rock'n Roll revival shows. His favorite influences include Tim O'Brien, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Lennon/McCartney and Patti Smith.

Stuart is one of Detroit's premier drummers, having played with a number of Detroit's top bands. He has played drums professionally for 22 years with a background that includes blues, acoustic/hard bop jazz, big band, cabaret, roots rock and alternative rock. In his spare time, Stuart teaches English at the University of Detroit.

ALBUM ACCOLADES [BACK]

  • Jo's first release, My Blue Heaven (One Man Clapping Records, 1998) includes "Oil and Water", Current Magazine's number one song of 1997 in Southern Michigan.
  • Her second release is live with the Willie Dunns (formerly the Hot Tail Section) called Tonight at Johnny's Speakeasy (Detroit Radio Co., 2002). It reached #13 on the Freeform American Roots Chart in 2003. John Conquest, editor of Texas magazine's Third Coast Music and Freeform American Roots Chart voted this CD #6 album of 2003.
  • Jo also released a bluegrass and old-time Appalachian CD with songwriter K.C. Groves, produced by Grammy Award artist Sally Van Meter. She Went Upstairs, which contains an all-female cast of musicians, was released under the band name, Uncle Earl and features Van Meter and Laurie Lewis. Jo decided to persue her songwriting career and resigned from the band. Uncle Earl in it's new formation was recently signed to Rounder Records and is touring successfully throughout the country.
  • In 2003, Jo and the Willie Dunns appeared on the Catamount Records compilation, H.U.A.C. (Hot Unsigned and Unsung Americana Compilation, Volumes 1 & 2.
  • Jo appears on the 2005 self-titled recording by the Royal Garden Trio (Tom Bogardus, Brian Delaney, Mike Karoub) with the Shavers and Robin standard Undecided. This particular cut was featured prominantly on many jazz radio programs including the CBC. This recording also features guest appearances by Bess Bonnier, James Dapogny, Jon-Erik Kellso, Paul King, Melissa Brady and Donn Deniston. www.theroyalgardentrio.com
  • Jo appears on the 2007 European compilation called "Smooth Jazz Avenue, Volume 2" (Sony/BMG). Jo sings a duet with Stuart Francke on his song, "Born to Love You." The three-CD set includes songs from Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, more.
  • Jo's new band, Stella! has released, Sorry, Stella. The album has charted on the Americana Music Association Chart, Route 66 Chart and the Freeform American Roots Chart. In April 2009 Jo and Jen traveled to New York City under the sponsorship of Music critic Dave Marsh, and recorded their album in two days. Sorry, Stella was produced by Detroiter Adam Druckman and by Larry Eagle, percussionist for the Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions recording and tour and the Andy Statman Trio. Fiddler Tahmineh Gueramy, bassist Katie Grace and pedal steel player and guitarist Skip Krevens joined the session. Skip has performed and recorded for Broadway productions and for songwriters such as Laura Cantrell. "Sorry, Stella," was released in 2011.
  • Love Going South(Detroit Radio Co., 2009). Jo's recent release held the #1 position for two months on the Freeform American Roots Chart, and made its top 10 list of 2009. It has also been a featured selection on Dave Marsh's Sirius Radio program Kick out the Jams.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS [BACK]

  • Jo forms the band, Stella!. In 2009 Jo formed a new all-female American roots band called Stella!. This band features songwriters Jen Sygit and Laura Ann Bates. Stella! was first conceived of by Jo after a conversation with American music critic, Bruce Springsteen biographer, and Creem Magazine co-founder Dave Marsh. Jo was inspired to put together a new group to showcase country-roots songwriting. With the release of their debut album, Sorry, Stella, the girls were invited to join Michigan-based music collective Earthwork Music.
  • In 2007 Jo was featured on the Sirius Satellite Radio Program, "Kick Out the Jams" with Dave Marsh, rock critic, Bruce Springsteen Biographer and former editor of Rolling Stone and Creem Magazines.
  • In 2007, Jo and the WDs White Room recordings were chosen to be used to promote Audio Engineering Associates (AEA) ribbon microphone line. AEA's clients include Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder, Tony Bennett, Pete Townsend, Keb Mo and many many more.
  • Jo and the Willie Dunns performed at the 2004 Ann Arbor Folk Festival on the same bill as Dr. Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris - two of their most revered artists.
  • Jo and the Willie Dunns performed twice on NPR's live radio program, A Prairie Home Companion with host Garrison Keillor in December of 2001 and May of 2002.
  • She represented the Folk Alliance in the Nashville Entertainment Association Extravaganza at the renowned Bluebird Cafe. There she was featured with songwriters Caroline Aiken, Buddy Mondlock and Hugh Moffatt.
  • Jo was selected as an official showcase artist at the 1998 North American Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, TN. This conference is one of the most prestigious folk and acoustic music conferences in the world.
  • Jo won the songwriting competition at the 1999 South Florida Folk Festival for "Best Ballad" with her song Dream My Girl.
  • Jo and the Willie Dunns have performed on the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour in Lexington, KY.
  • Jo has showcased at the CMJ Music Conference in NYC, the NEA Extravaganza in Nashville, the LMNOP Conference in New Orleans, the Motor City Music Conference in Detroit, the Philadelphia Music Conference and as first alternate at the 2003 Americana Music Association Conference in Nashville.
  • Jo and the Willie Dunns have opened for national acts such as bluesman R. L. Burnside, Guy Davis, Bill Morrissey, Mary Gauthier and Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash.

MUSIC FESTIVALS [BACK]

  • Ann Arbor Folk Festival in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Twangfest in St. Louis, MO
  • NotSXSW festival in Austin, TX
  • Fingerlakes Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg, NY
  • Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Chapel Hill, NC
  • Kerrville Music Festival in Kerrville, TX
  • Bluesfest International in Windsor, Ontario
  • Ann Arbor Summer Festival in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Grape Jam Festival in Erie, PA
  • Dogwood Festival in Atlanta, GA
  • Detroit Tastefest in MI
  • South Forida Folk Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Blissfest in Cross Village, MI
  • Dunegrass Music Festival in Empire, MI
  • Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Royal Oak, MI
  • Farmfest in Johannesburg, MI
  • Cutting Edge of the Campfire Festival (Club Passim) in Cambridge, MA
  • Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage series in Washington, DC
  • Earthwork Harvest Gathering in Lake City, MI
  • International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT
  • Nor-East'r Festival in Mio, MI
  • Spirit of the Woods Festival in Brethren, MI
  • Thumbfest in Lexington, MI
  • Cowpie Music Festival in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Ypsilanti Crossroads Festival in Ypsilanti, MI

MEDIA ATTENTION [BACK]

"I might take a train, I might take a plane, but if I have to walk, I know I'm gonna see Jo Serrapere again. Like anybody else who might make you laugh and cry in the same song, she's too good to pass up." - Dave Marsh, music critic, Author of Born to Run: The Bruce Springteen Story and former editor of Creem & Rolling Stone magazines.

 

"...a very special artist. She moves effortlessly within musical genres from jazz to contemporary folk songs. I am confident Jo will continue to bring new things to the larger musical community." - Jim Fleming, Fleming Artists, Artist Representative for Ani Difranco

 

"A spring breeze in a bleak winter of Ani DiFranco clones. More influenced by the likes of Kurt Weill than by the new breed of female pop singers, Serrapere can haul an old song into the 21st century and still treat it with respect. Old song or new, she is a compelling performer whose material is smart, sharp, sexy, highly individual and capable of galvanizing an audience. Personally, I think she is going to be around for a long time, and she could wind up being a major player." -Dave Siglin, Owner of The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

"I stumbled on the amazing Ms. Serrapere on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Her voice and songwriting cut through the crappy, tinny speaker in my truck like smooth buttercream falling through a rusty sieve, and I heard a young talent that did the most damnably hard thing in music: made sexy sound wholesome. Quick, somebody put a big band behind this woman and tell them to do whatever the heck she says." - Berkeley Breathed, Screenwriter, filmmaker, and creator of Pulitzer Prize winning comic strips "Bloom County" and "Outland."

 

"Writes first rate blues songs... and sings with a convincing assurance and bite." - Dirty Linen

 

"The lyrics and content are strong w/songs that deal with human issues of life and love... It's a pleasure to hear a woman who can sing the "Blues" and sing them well." - Bonnie Austring-Winter CBC Radio

 

"Four Stars! A post-feminist speakeasy..." - Karen Koski, Detroit Metro Times

 

"... Recalls the way Jimmie Rodgers used to sing the blues... Her vocals remind me of early Emmylou." - Bernard Canut, Radio Canut, France

 

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