Lowertown Guitar Festival


Steve Cropper - blues, rock, legend

If Yankee Stadium is “the house that Babe Ruth built,” Stax Records is “the house that Booker T, and the MG’s built.” Integral to that potent combination is MG rhythm guitarist extraordinaire Steve Cropper. As a guitarist, A & R man, engineer, producer, songwriting partner of Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd and a dozen others and founding member of both Booker T. and the MG’s and The Mar-Keys, Cropper was literally involved in virtually every record issued by Stax from the fall of 1961 through year end 1970.Such credits assure Cropper of an honored place in the soul music hall of fame. As co-writer of (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The BayKnock On Wood and In The Midnight Hour, Cropper is in line for immortality.

Born on October 21, 1941 on a farm near Dora, Missouri, Steve Cropper moved with his family to Memphis at the age of nine. In Missouri he had been exposed to a wealth of country music and little else. In his adopted home, his thirsty ears amply drank of the fountain of Gospel, R & B and nascent Rock and Roll that thundered over the airwaves of both black and white Memphis radio. Bit by the music bug, Cropper acquired his first mail order guitar at the age of 14. Personal guitar heroes included Tal FarlowChuck BerryJimmy ReedChet AtkinsLowman Pauling of the Five Royales and Billy Butler of the Bill Doggett band.


Chris Castino - rock, folk, jam


For the last 20 years I've written songs for my band The Big Wu.  I get to write material that is conducive to loud guitars, blues hollerin’, and dancing.  The current version of the Big Wu is suited for tunes that are equal parts Meters and Floyd, which is an exciting mix for a songwriter like myself.  But my latest songs are folk songs, in nature.  This is my authentic self; drednaughts, fiddles, three part harmonies.  It’s built on the timeless joys and lamentations of our precarious worlds. 

Mary Cutrufello - Roots Rock


Mary Cutrufello, 49, has been known as a Texas honky-tonk heroine, a fiery Midwestern roots-rocker, and a powerhouse acoustic performer in her almost 30 years in the music business. Connecticut-raised and Yale-educated, she's made records showcasing all of those facets of her identity as her musical journey has taken her from the East Coast to Houston and now to Minnesota. Her music mixes the themes and jangly chords of the heartland with a heapin' helping of Texas twang. Her voice, now weathered but still pitch-strong, finds new depths of meaning in her performances. Over the years, she's also refined and deepened her approach to playing guitar. She says it’s all about tone, feel, and rhythm, the right part for the song--but as anyone who’s seen her tear-it-up live shows can attest, her lead skills put her in a class with the best of the Lone Star, North Star—or any other—State.


Paul Metzger - Folk, Avant-Garde

A virtuoso on a myriad of stringed instruments, Minneapolis-based experimental/progressive folk artist Paul Metzgerfocuses much of his creative energy on his 21-string modified banjo. A student of both Eastern and Western traditional music, Metzger first appeared on a split album that featured guitarist Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and lauded improv drummer Chris Corsano on one side and Metzger's unique improvisational guitar work on the other. He released the full-length Three Improvisations on Modified Banjo for Chairkickers Music in 2005, followed by Deliverance for the Locust label in 2007.



Jeremy Ylvisaker - Rock, Sound, Experimental

Jeremy Ylvisaker is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer who has recorded with and/or played with John Prine, Andrew Bird, members of Prince's New Power Generation, Jenny Lewis, Justin Vernon, The Suburbs, Eyedea, Fog, Haley, Chuck Statler (maker of "The Truth About Devolution") Merce Cunningham dance company, and many others.  He has performed on five continents in venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, The Cape Town Jazz Festival, The Ed Sullivan Theater (The Late Show with David Letterman), and other television programs including Austin City Limits and the Colbert Report. He composes and improvises a variety of instrumental music, some of which to accompany dance performances such as "Stripe Tease", some of which for use in films such as "Pitchfork Unsung: Dan Corrigan", "Rhythmic" (feat. Andrew Bird), and "Trophy Husband." Some just for listening while you do what you do. Jeremy also writes songs for the band Alpha Consumer



Greg Koch - Blues Rock

Milwaukee native Greg Koch has forged a successful career as a guitar player's guitarist. He has been called "fiendishly talented" by author and former editor- in-chief of Guitar Player Magazine Tom Wheeler and "scary good" by guitar phenom Joe Bonamassa. In addition to his 15 releases on multiple record labels which feature his unique take on a variety of American guitar styles and his versatile compositions, Koch is widely known for his lengthy tenure as an international ambassador for Fender Guitars which listed him in their “Top Ten Unsung Guitarists” on Fender.com. He is also a best-selling author and video instructor for music publisher Hal Leonard. Greg is a contributing columnist for a variety of guitar magazines including Guitar Player Magazine which listed Greg’s “Chief’s Blues” in their “40 Badass Blues Solos You Must Hear” and Premier Guitar.

Matt Jennings - Song/World Fusion/Rock


Matt Jennings is a guitarist-songwriter from Minneapolis. His music is an INTERNATIONAL FUSION of rhythms and styles. You can hear elements in his playing as varied as flamenco, reggae, surf, bossa nova, mariachi, and metal. Studying in Mexico, and living for a time in China, greatly influenced his worldview and approach to music. He has self-released three albums and one EP and toured the continent extensively, sharing the stage with acts such as Rodrigo y Gabriela, Jarabe de Palo, Dengue Fever, Donavon Frankenreiter, and Bombino.


Taylor Seaberg - Fusion, Experimental

A black genderqueer kid floating in the cosmos, Taylor Seaberg (Unknown Genre) is an experimental, multi-instrumentalist and looping artist of Kenyan-American ancestry.


Leonoris Causa - Contemporary Songwriter

The poetic-musical universe of Spain-based Leonoris Causa is urban, sober and multi-sound. The intensity of its interpretation and the quality of its voice make each song a small catharsis in which the invisible takes a sonorous form. Leonor connects with the public at an emotional level for its dynamic and expressive interpretation.Regarding her career, she has received classical training at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid. She is also a qualified teacher in primary and secondary in the specialty of music. Leonoris began coimposing at an early age showing influences from Rock, pop, indie, folk, classical music, electronic, jazz and hip-hop.


Julian Manzara - Black Improvised Music

Led by guitarist and vocalist Julian Manzara, this quartet plays a variety of original songs and standards, including both vocal and instrumental pieces. Concerts include classic and modern music and there is something for everyone to enjoy. The group has been featured in the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and highlighted by the Star Tribune.

Mike Michel - rock, songwriter

MIKE MICHEL is a Minnesota Music Academy award winning songwriter, modern guitarist, and music educator, who was raised in Cincinnati,OH, developed his craft in Los Angeles, California, and now creates out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. After 3 years of debilitating tinnitus and hyperacusis (auditory cortex conditions) which almost ended his career, Mike made a huge career comeback in 2017-18 with his first acoustic rock recording and music-health campaign called “On The Mend." Mike is currently touring and recording with his new electric trio, "MIKE MICHEL & THE ORANGE GOODNESS, " which is an inspirational, guitar friendly, groove-heavy, artful pop-rock group. Ian Allison (bass) and Reese Kling (drums) are helping put the "umph" in The Orange Goodness. Festivals, art spots, theaters, cool clubs and house concerts await! Mike has had the honor of collaborating with Minnesota artists like Haley, Dave King (The Bad Plus), Saltee, Carnage (Minnesota’s beatboxing champion), Iffy, The Unknown Prophets, DJ Woody McBride and a slew of talented and progressive MN artists. Mike has also lead some of Minnesota’s premiere art rock bands including The Bill Mike Band. The Rock And Roll Therapy Room in Minneapolis is Mike’s music education hub where he creates & hosts music programs for teens & adult musicians likePeace Den, Get On The Grid, Rock Camp For Dads, & Rock For A Cause. Mike is always committed to empowering the listener and helping the planet one gig at a time.


Parisota Hot Club - gypsy jazz, swing

Formed in 2001…Original members;  guitarists Robb Henry and Bobby E. Ekstrand, Bill Grenke on string bass and Parisian expatriate Raphaël Fraisse on violin…Original intention in getting together to explore the music of Django Reinhardt… First official date as Parisota Hot Club at Brasserie Zinc in Minneapolis Feb. 7 2002… At this time, it was the first Hot Club devoted to the jazz stylings of Reinhardt and violinist Stephan Grappelli to appear on the Mpls./St. Paul music scene. It has since become the longest running Hot Club locally in the Twin Cities. 

The name Parisota is a blend of two locations; Paris, hometown of original PHC violinist and founding member Raphaël Fraisse and the group’s home base, Minnesota. 


Michael Hauser - flamenco

Minnesota - a hotbed of flamenco? Michael Hauser, flamenco guitar player of repute lives and performs there. The north of the USA couldn't be more different from the home of flamenco in Spain, but Michael Hauser doesn't seem to mind shivering in those frilly shirts. 

Masters of the flamenco guitar are a bit thin on the ground in the USA but Mr. Hauser appears to have carved out a unique niche for himself

2nd St Quartet - www.macphail.org

Lili Kareken, Silvia Miller, Lukas Murdych, and Olivia Rapp have been playing together in the 2nd Street Guitar Quartet for a little over six years. Their ages range from 13 to 16 years old, but they have been studying guitar for a combined total of 36 years!

The 2nd Street Guitar Quartet has performed at the MIA, the James J. Hill House for the annual MN Without Poverty Dinner, the Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference 2018, The Edina Art Fair, Spain with the MacPhail Suzuki Orchestra tour and many recitals and events at MacPhail Center for Music..

They have also participated in Master Classes with Mir Ali, Elina Chekan, and Rene Izquierdo, Berta Rojas, David Crittenden, William Kanengiser as well as the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

Lukas studies individual Suzuki guitar with Brent Weaver while Olivia, Silvia, and Lili study individual Suzuki guitar with Jean Seils at MacPhail Center for Music in downtown Minneapolis.