Joel Mabus may be called a singer-songwriter, but he doesn't sound like one. He's the son of a 1930's old time fiddle champ and a banjo-pickin' farm girl. His performing career began in college during the Vietnam era, where he studied anthropology and literature by day and played coffeehouses by night. One critic writes, "Joel Mabus knows his way around the English language and American culture just as well as he knows his way around a fretboard." Born in 1953 in the southern Illinois town of Belleville, Joel has recorded 20 solo albums of original and traditional music since his recording career started in 1978. For three years running, Mabus has been in the top 10 most played artists in the Folk Radio Charts for North America (folkradio.org) [The only other top 10 artists who share that 3-year distinction are Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.] Joel's latest CD is 2011's American Anonymous, an album of traditional American folk songs. which has been garnering high praise from the critics. A one-off in the folk world, Mabus defies any easy pigeon-hole. His palette ranges from mountain banjo to jazz guitar -- from sensitive introspection to wicked satire. He's both picker & poet, and from coast to coast over the past 40 years this Midwesterner has brought audiences to their feet, wanting more.
Joel Mabus is a maverick in the folk music world. He defies any easy pigeonhole. By turns, he picks a mountain banjo to accompany an ancient ballad, sings a witty song about modern life, plays a sweet Irish melody on guitar, swings a hot jazz number, and then reaches deep for a soulful expression of values in a troubled world. He tops it all with a fiddle tune or old Carter family song -- all skillfully blended into a seamless flow. One fan said, "Its music from the heart that hits you right between the eyes." A mainstay on the folk circuit these past 30 years, Joel has 21 albums to his credit; the latest is American Anonymous.
Mabus plays outstanding banjo and flat & finger-picked guitar. He sings too. He punches up the songs and brings to them what they need. And pick? With the fingers of a genius and the taste of an angel. FOLKSCENE
Joel is one of those quintessentially Midwestern American artists. He lives in Lansing, Michigan, but he has a style we will always associate with Will Rogers or Mark Twain, and a great sense of humour which compliments, rather than contradicts, some very serious material. Joel can reduce us to tears with a song about the Vietnam War Memorial, Touch A Name On The Wall, and then make us laugh hard with a song like Hitler Was A Vegetarian. He has perfected the art of being entertaining without pandering, he teaches without lecturing, and does it all with great style. VANCOUVER FOLK FESTIVAL
It's not just a wealth of musical styles or his smooth and expressive voice that have made Mabus such a fine artist. His songs, which range from thoughtful to silly to poetic, show that he knows his way around the English language and American culture just as well as he knows his way around a fretboard.
JEFF GARRITY - CAPITAL TIMES
Joel Mabus sings with sincerity and character, he writes with veracity and vision. ...this is a refreshing return to the folk side of singer-songwriters, full of heart-felt music honestly performed. RICH WARREN - SINGOUT!
First Parish UU in Watertown (View)
35 Church St.
Watertown, MA 02472
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