by Sari Miller
Here is another Rogue 2015 performer article. We will be posting several more over the next several days until Rogue opens. After it opens, you will also find many Rogue show reviews. To learn more about this year’s event check out our Rogue 2015 preview article, and check out our Rogue Performer event page to learn about more of the performers this year. You can find all of the Rogue articles as they go up in our Arts & Entertainment section.
Melding two voices and two guitars, Highway 41 returns to the Rogue Festival and Spectrum Art Gallery having earned sold-out performances and glowing reviews in 2014. With new material augmenting their familiar folk repertoire, their playlist is inspired by the viewscapes along Highway 41, from the foothills to the ranges and the coast, stories in song that paint a pleasant picture of the Valley.
Both Bill Jirsa and Sari Miller are Valley-born and raised. Both picked up the guitar as adolescents during the folk craze of the 50s and 60s, teaching themselves basic chords from folk songbooks with an ear to the Vanguard 33s of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Ian & Sylvia. They met by chance two years ago as participants at a regular bluegrass gathering, familiar territory to Jirsa, who jams and performs in a broad array of venues where he also teaches beginning bluegrass guitar workshops.
In the decades since they first learned to strum, both composed songs about ideas, events, and people they have encountered along their separate journeys. Miller considers her songwriting a memoir of lifelong impressions and affections, and heard in Jirsa’s spontaneous performances a similar observation of life’s experiences. They include original songs in their Rogue repertoire.
Jirsa and Miller weave tales of Valley life with an eclectic selection of traditionally and faithfully rendered folk, country, old standards, bluegrass, and pop. Their 45-minute show is a short ride along a longer highway, transcribing the beauty of our local geography of hills and grasslands, fields and towns, and the people who inhabit this place. They welcome you to sit a spell, and sing along if you like.
Special guest Donn Beedle joins the duo with his virtuoso fiddle at the two Friday night shows, February 27 and March 6, blending a sometimes spirited, sometimes melancholy string accompaniment with the sweet harmonies that are the trademark of Highway 41.
Available for fundraisers, socials, family gatherings, cafés, and other venues, Highway 41 can be followed on Facebook (Highway 41 Band), on their website, or contacted through Bill Jirsa at billjirsa@hotmail[dot]com or (559) 269-3060.
You can purchase tickets for their Rogue show here: roguefestival.ticketleap.com/highway41
Venue: Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 East Olive Avenue,
Fresno, CA 93728
Showtimes: February 27 at 9:00 p.m., February 28 at 4:15 p.m.,
March 1 at 2:00 p.m., and March 6 at 7:45 p.m.