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Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman
Arcata Playhouse
Arcata, CA
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Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman
Humboldt Folklife Society and Arcata Playhouse present singer-songwriter Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman as part of UpStage Live.
Electrifying, unique and always uplifting, these improvisational performers possess "the fearlessness of a high wire act working without a net." With Savoca's seventh CD, Promise, just released, she is out on the road with her musical and life partner, Pete Heitzman. His "inspired and transcendent guitar work is central to their signature sound." You might hear a cello, a pedal steel or a rutting elk. With his broad pallet of tones and textures he paints the ideal landscapes for Savoca's engaging songs.
They first met on stage and immediately recognized each other as the ideal musical partner. Years of leading their all-original, dance-driven band imbued the duo with the sonic power of a larger group, be it pulsing funk or haunting ballad. Together Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman have been called acoustic soul music with deep roots. Notable appearances include The Today Show, A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, Big Top Chautauqua, The Vancouver, Edmonton & Winnipeg Folk Festivals. They are also independent record producers and have scored several feature films and documentaries.
This show is the second in a series of three that will be a part of the local live broadcast show UpStage Live! which is one hour of music and an in-depth conversation with the artists. KHUM's Mike Dronkers brings his genuine enthusiasm and curiosity as an interviewer to find out more about the artist behind the music.  UpStage Live is a multi-media platform show and has three live audiences through KHUM's radio broadcast, live streaming video, and the audience at the Arcata Playhouse.  UpStage Live was created by Lynette Nutter, of A Nutter Production, as a way of "shining a spotlight on the creative voice."
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with music starting at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $14 general & $12 Playhouse and Humboldt Folklife Society members and are available at Wildwood Music and The Works or online at For additional information phone (707) 822-1575 or visit  Arcata Playhouse is located at 1251 9th Street in the Old Creamery Building in Arcata.

Additional bio
Born in Bergen County, New Jersey, Karen Savoca's baby diary reads "20 months, knows 6 songs." At the age of five, Karen was the emcee of her kindergarten play. Karen's mom had been a big-band singer and the featured vocalist on a nightly TV show in Fresno, so it was no surprise that her little girl was always dancing and singing. At the age of ten, Karen bought her first album... it was Life, by Sly and The Family Stone.
Although she'd always wanted to play the drums, she was given piano lessons instead. At thirteen Karen's family built a log home on a mountain top in upstate New York. Her new friends were astonished at her ability to learn the lyrics to any song in just one listening. At fifteen, she bought herself a guitar with saved birthday money, and when no one was around she would write songs. Living on a mountain offered plenty of solitude for a little poet, and she wrote privately for many years. During High School she was a frequent soloist in the choir, and earned leading roles in both dramatic and musical plays. Her expressive alto was soon sought out by regional musicians, where she was finally free to choose her repertoire.
Knowing that she wanted to pursue a musical career, she attended Syracuse University's Crouse College of Music. She enjoyed her Classical studies, but to someone who had already found her own true voice, the operatic vocal training was far too restrictive. After two years as a music major she switched to Elementary Ed where she developed passionate views about education. During that time she continued to perform with several groups on campus and throughout the city.

Pete Heitzman, was born in Syracuse, New York and was long known as one the region's premier guitarists. He spent several years touring the US playing in rock and country bands. On a visit home he went to a club to hear a friend play and Karen was the new singer. Their powerful chemistry was evident right from the start. They jammed all night, Pete joined the band the next day and the two have been together ever since.
Karen and Pete soon moved to New York City where they gigged, worked strange temp jobs, wrote songs, and accumulated recording gear. After four years in the city they returned to central New York where they converted an 1890's church into a recording studio.
With their return came the decision that they would now perform only Karen's songs. This was a bold move in a club scene that was years from being supportive of original music. Karen and Pete formed the Mind's Eye which featured a revolving membership of some of the best musicians in the area.The Mind's Eye played every Monday at a club just off the Syracuse University campus. Karen played a Hohner Clavinet, hand percussion, and finally got herself a conga drum. Their fans danced and improvised in a call and response style, often developing elaborate contrapuntal routines.
Walkin' The Bridge appeared in 1988, and charmed T-Bone Wolk into collaborating for On The River Road in 1993. The song, "Language Of Love" was chosen out of 3,500 entries to win the Grand Prize in MUSICIAN Magazine's Best Unsigned Band Contest in 1995.
The duo split off from the band to develop their unique, spare sound, but somehow retained the pulse of their dance band. By now Savoca's vision as a composer was in full bloom, and after many years of pleading, Heitzman finally convinced her that they should perform under her name. In 1997 they signed with a major talent agency and began their travels. 1998's Sunday In Nandua was an artistic milestone, and was added to many radio playlists across the country and abroad.
Karen's appearance on the contemporary folk scene says more about the broad-minded audience of folk than it does about her music. The duo's live performances are uplifting and hypnotic, they put some funk in the folk. At the Vancouver Folk Festival '99, as the Sunday sun was setting, for the first time in 22 years, 10 thousand people inexplicably removed their shoes and waved them over their heads.
Playing conga and hand percussion, Karen infuses the music with her love of Soul, R&B, and World rhythms. Together she and innovative guitarist Pete Heitzman have been described as a self-contained mini-band with "the fearlessness of a high-wire act working without a net." It's an elusive mix... melodic, funky and spontaneous.

Arcata Playhouse
1251-9th Street
Arcata,CA 95521
(707) 822-1575



Arcata Playhouse
1251-9th St.
Arcata, CA 95521
United States

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Music > All Ages
Music > Folk

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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