The Musers like their music folksy, jazzy and sassy

Musicians rarely like to label the types of music they play, preferring to mix and match different styles to their liking.

When they need a description of their music, they often find it easier to create a customized terminology for that music. I came up with the phrase “fork”.

What is a free range fork? Her Megan McLaughlin, the Musers’ mandolinist and guitarist, was asked to define it further.

“People tend to dance on our shows. We encourage everyone to shake their butts.”

The Musers will perform a show on January 7th in a double building shared with the Evie Ladin Band at the Occidental Center for the Arts.

The show celebrates the release of The Musers’ fourth album, Beautiful Mysteries.

“In five years, we’ve done four full-length CDs and toured the Pacific Northwest three times, and it’s been a blast,” says McLaughlin.

The band also includes Anita Bear Sandwina on banjoline, fiddle, mandolin and guitar. Upright bass Tom Kuhn. And Leslie Jackson on cajon and body percussion. (The cajon is a box-shaped percussion instrument that originated in Peru.)

“I met Anita Bear Sandwina at various musician parties when I was living in Oakland,” recalls McLaughlin.

At another musician’s show at the HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol, both McLaughlin and Sandwina took the stage to sing backup.

“During the encore, we shared the mic,” McLaughlin said. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Are you hearing what I’m listening to?'”

Discovering that they share harmonies like the sisters sing together, they decide to team up in a band. Both are songwriters, with repertoires that include original bluegrass, swing, blues, Appalachian, and Irish style songs.

Musers has performed at Santa Rosa’s Juilliard Park Live Concert Series, Bodega Seafood Festival, Gravenstein Apple Fair, Peacetown Concert Series and Rivertown Revival.

This year, the quartet released its first two professional music videos, “Turn It On” and “The Bees Keep Me.”

The other half of Double Bill features Ladin, a banjo player, singer, songwriter, percussive dancer, choreographer and square dance caller.

The daughter of an international folk dance teacher and a longtime folk music lover, Laden seemed destined to play folk music.

She has been immersed in traditional Appalachian culture and arts while living in New York City, Baltimore, and now Oakland.

She has appeared on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion, the Lincoln Center and the Hadley Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. Laden has toured internationally with Keith Terry and her Evie Laden Band.

You can contact Staff Writer Dan Taylor at or 707-521-5243. Follow us on Twitter @danarts.

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