Briar Road

 DAN ZAHN ... guitar, mandolin, Native American Style flute & vocals

After receiving his first guitar (purchased with S & H Green Stamps) Dan worked tirelessly to hone his chops, and began a professional music career right out of high school, traveling and performing a wide variety of musical styles as a soloist and as a member of various bands. Picture bell bottom trousers, turtleneck sweaters and love beads, and then, powder blue tuxedos with ruffled shirts and bow ties and finally, a cowboy hat (sometimes a fedora) and jeans. Originally inspired by hearing three of his high school classmates sing a Gordon Lightfoot song, he set to work building a repertoire of folk covers by Lightfoot, Phil Ochs and others. Dan's early guitar style was heavily influenced by Doc Watson and Django Rienhardt. As the years went by Dan performed in rock bands and a couple of country swing and jazz groups drawing from each of these genres and forming his own unmistakable style. Dan has been called "a consummate performer with a refreshing lack of pretense" by the worldwide publication, Dirty Linen Magazine. His voice has been described as "full and melodious" and on guitar and mandolin he has been described as, "fresh, lively and invigorating".

KATE MORETTI ... guitar, banjo, ukulele, mountain dulcimer & vocals

 Kate remembers wanting desperately to listen to the Beatles while riding in the back of her family’s Studebaker Lark, but being overridden by her father who preferred Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.While Kate learned to play guitar and performed in high school, her path to professional musicianship took a circuitous route through college and the insurance industry. (Yikes!) In an effort to regain her sanity, she rekindled her love of performing in the ‘90s.  Kate had started a folk festival and met Dan at a folk festival he had started in a neighboring town. (Picture bib over-alls and a big straw hat.  On Dan, not Kate. Picture Kate in something flattering.) They combined the events and co-directed the Lake County Folk Festival for the next 13 years in Lake Zurich, IL. Eventually, they also combined their talents and have been performing throughout the Midwest, playing traditional and contemporary folk, blues, swing, jazz and Dan’s original material. Their unique musical arrangements are interwoven with spontaneous and easygoing humor. In addition to her work with Dan, Kate was member of the amazing "Shameless Hussies".Her voice is "fine and versatile whether singing jazz, swing, blues or a lilting novelty tune". She is known for her fine musicianship and quick-witted humor.

RUSTY WINCHEL ... bass & Vocals

Rusty’s musical influences were formed early in life from singing in church choirs and learning harmony as a part of the evangelical tradition. High school and college experiences included playing trombone in stage and jazz bands and building audio mixing and technical skills, working live and touring sound at every opportunity.With a long time desire to play bass, Rusty bought his first instrument, a short scale National electric, in early 1980 and played his first gig with Inside Straight, a Wisconsin based Country Rock band, six weeks later. The instruments may have changed over the last 35 years, or at least grown more plentiful, but the thrill of providing bass line and rhythm has not diminished.Employment options brought Rusty to the Chicagoland area in the early 1990’s and a serendipitous introduction has resulted in over 22 years of holding the bass line and singing harmony with the Villa Street Band at UUCE. The collaboration with Dan and Kate began in 2010 when they began recording a studio album at Rusty’s studio in Elgin. With the album largely complete, and with Dan and Kate’s desire to play those songs live, Rusty began playing bass to round out the bottom end.  The three part vocal work became a focus during the recording of East Dakota Waltz, released in early 2015. The vocal harmonies heard in many of the songs performed with Dan and Kate still carry the arrangements and gospel intervals learned at a young age. But, that only seems appropriate with the rich history of folk and gospel music having been drawn from the same well of inspiration. 

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Our Next Date Is

  • Nov 11
    Forest Park Nature Center,  Peoria Hts.