Presenting and Supporting Folk & Acoustic Music
in the Washington, DC Area

Upcoming Shows

    • Sunday, March 01, 2020
    • 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM
    • Tikvat Israel Congregation | 2200 Baltimore Road | Rockville, MD 20851

    Matt Nakoa is an award-winning songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. A modern troubadour, he makes his home on the highways and concert stages of America, and appears regularly with folk music icon Tom Rush. The Boston Globe says of Nakoa, “Between his piano chops and heartfelt originals on guitar, he drops jaws.”

    Born on a small goat farm in New York State, Nakoa trained to be a concert pianist before accepting a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music as a vocalist. He developed his dramatic songwriting style with his college alt-rock band, The Fens, and after the band dissolved, he landed in NYC. It was in Manhattanʼs all-night piano bars that Nakoa developed an uncanny ability to command the attention of any audience. His first solo albums, released in 2012 and 2014, garnered multiple songwriting awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festivalʼs New Folk Competition.

    Nakoaʼs newest album, Casting Shadows, is a spellbinding blend of pop, soul, and classical influences that tells a story of childhood dreams crashing headlong into grownup reality. The Ark of Music magazine proclaims, “What we have here is a truly encouraging sign of what pop could once again become …”

    • Sunday, March 08, 2020
    • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    • The Music Room at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike North Bethesda, MD 20852-3224

    We have partnered with SAW (Songwriters Association of Washington) to bring you the best in local, original music with SAW's Second Sunday Showcase series. Please register/buy tickets for this event through the SAW website.

    Our March show features Conor and the Wild Hunt, Emily Mitchell, and Juels Bland. If you can't make the show, please consider a donation to help support this series. 

    Emily Mitchell is a local treasure who has emerged as a compelling composer and performer of songs that reach to a softer, thoughtful place and wistfully challenge us til we are there with her. She is the overall second place in this year’s Mid Atlantic Song Contest (MASC) and won Gold Awards in both the Pop and Gospel / Inspirational Categories.

    Juels Bland is unique adult dose of great song performances that explore the colors to be imagined in the gray areas of our lives.  We first saw him in The Darkest Timeline, a wickedly listenable partnership formed with Zachary Parkman and other notables of music notion. Listen to this voice that makes the original so familiar.

    Conor & The Wild Hunt are three professional, committed, generational musicians working together to create immersive musical experiences and animate soulful original songs with fresh perspectives on Americana, Folk, and pop traditions. They encompass a wide dynamic range, from contemplative cinematic ballads to anthemic explosive peaks, with story-weaving lyrics, artful and driving instrumentation, impassioned duets, blooming three part harmonies, and a compelling stage presence.

    • Saturday, March 14, 2020
    • 7:00 PM
    • St. Aidan's Episcopal Church 8531 Riverside Road Alexandria, VA 22308
    Anne Hills is one of the most beloved voices of the contemporary folk music scene, receiving awards and recognition for her live performances, her unique solo and collaborative recording projects, and her overall artistry and benefit work. Her song "Follow that Road" was the title cut of the Martha's Vineyard Songwriter Retreat and has been a certified folk classic since the late 1990s. Whether she is singing her own songs, the words of six-year-old Opal Whitely, or her song settings of the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley; accompanied with her guitar, banjo, or simply a Tibetan bell, she puts her whole heart and soul into the moment. You won’t want to miss a chance to hear her songs and stories in person. She tours extensively, winning over audiences with her warm, lively and humorous performances. 

    This show is cosponsored with the World Folk Music Association (WFMA.) WFMA regularly produces great shows. More information about WFMA and their upcoming shows is on their website.

    • Saturday, March 28, 2020
    • 7:30 PM
    • Community Lutheran Church of Sterling 21014 Whitfield Place Sterling, VA 20165

    A roots balladeer with a rare personal warmth, Alberta's Scott Cook has distilled the stories collected over twelve years touring full-time across Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and elsewhere into straight-talking, keenly observant verse.  

    His fourth DIY release, One More Time Around, was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award, and its opening track "Pass It Along" won the Folk and Acoustic category in the 2013 UK Songwriting Contest, with UK magazine Maverick Country naming him "one of Canada's most inspiring and imaginative storytellers". In 2017 he released his sixth studio album, Further Down the Line, which earned him a second Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for English Songwriter of the Year. 

    He's currently touring in support of his 2020 album Tangle of Souls, which comes packaged in a hardcover book of road stories and ruminations.  Cook is one of the hardest-working troubadours on the road today, averaging over 150 shows and a dozen festivals every year since 2007.  All the hard miles notwithstanding, he still believes that songs can change your life, and your life can change the world.

    • Sunday, April 05, 2020
    • 7:30 PM
    • Gaithersburg Art Barn 311 Kent Square Road Gaithersburg, MD 20878

    Singer-songwriter, David Mallett  is one of America’s true original troubadours.  In a career spanning four decades, he has recorded 17 albums, had several hundred covers of his songs, including the American folk classic “Garden Song” [Inch by Inch, Row by Row] and performed in clubs, concert halls and festivals across the US, Canada and Europe. He has appeared on numerous broadcasts, including National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. Known for his carefully written, poetic offerings, his body of work has provided material for an eclectic list of artists that includes Alison Krauss, Pete Seeger, Hal Ketchum, Emmylou Harris, John Denver and the Muppets.

    As Sing Out has said about David Mallett, “Songwriting doesn’t get much better than this, and performing doesn’t get much more honest.”  People everywhere seem to understand what David Mallett’s songs are about.  Although they are rooted in place, they speak to the essential things that move us all.  If you grow up in a small rural town, as Mallett did, you can’t help but learn its stories.  He knows about the people who shouldn’t have stayed, but did, and those who shouldn’t have left, but did.  The loss of American towns and rural landscapes is the subject of many of his songs, as are the issues of wilderness preservation and the struggle of the common man.

    Siobhán O'Brien is opening for David Mallett. Dubbed “a voice the world should hear” by Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains), she is writing music for the risk takers of this world.  Certainly a woman who made the trek from Ireland to America, with only two suitcases in hand, to be a full-time songwriter knows a thing or two about risk.

    Tickets purchased in advance for this concert will be $30. WMFA members will receive a 10% discount.  If available, tickets may be purchased at the door for $35, starting at 6:30 PM, April 5.  No tickets will be mailed.  The list of all ticket purchasers will be at the door. More information and tickets can be found at

    This show is cosponsored with the World Folk Music Association (WFMA.) WFMA regularly produces great shows. More information about WFMA and their upcoming shows is on their website.

    • Saturday, May 09, 2020
    • 7:00 PM
    • St. Aidan's Episcopal Church 8531 Riverside Road Alexandria, VA 22308

    Joe Jencks is an international touring musician, award-winning songwriter, and celebrated vocalist known for his performances of musical beauty, social consciousness and spiritual exploration. A 20-year veteran of the international Folk circuit, Jencks has released 15 CDs in that time. Merging conservatory training with his Irish roots and working-class upbringing, Joe delivers engaged musical narratives filled with heart, soul, groove and grit. Blending well-crafted instrumentals and vivid songwriting, Jencks serves it all up with a lyric baritone voice that has the edgy richness of a good sea-salt caramel.

    Joe’s most recent solo CD – The Forgotten: Recovered Treasures From The Pen of Si Kahn - contains 14 previously unrecorded songs from American Folk legend, Si Kahn. Joe recorded the CD in Canada, with famed producer Ken Whiteley, and the collection of songs represents a return to Joe’s more traditional Folk roots in both theme and musical styles. Celebrating the lost legends of hard working people from New England textile mills to Appalachian coal mining towns, from the Civil Rights movement to forgotten industrial towns in the Midwest. The Forgotten shines a welcome light on the lives of people whose experiences still need to be told and remembered.

    Blend a powerful, passionate singer, a crisp, acoustic guitar player and a warm heart and you will have, singer-songwriter, Lynn Hollyfield. From great jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to the Beatles, Cream and CSNY, Hollyfield launched into her own songwriting infusing these influences to create a diverse repertoire of contemporary folk, pop, blues and jazz.

    • Saturday, May 16, 2020
    • 7:30 PM
    • Community Lutheran Church of Sterling 21014 Whitfield Place Sterling, VA 20165

    Scott Ainslie is a traditional acoustic Blues singer, guitarist, historian and songwriter with personal roots in the Civil Rights era and a great affection for cross-cultural exchange. 

    Ainslie has received numerous awards and grants to acknowledge and support his work in documenting and presenting traditional music including support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, The Independent Weekly community artist award and the 21st Annual Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award from St. Andrew’s College in Laurinburg, NC. 

    As a traditional musician with expertise in both Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, and East Coast and Delta Blues, Ainslie has specialized in performing roots music and presenting programs on the African roots of American music and culture in community and educational settings since he joined the prestigious North Carolina Visiting Artist Program and took his first artist-in-residence position in a racially segregated community in eastern North Carolina in 1986.

    Ainslie has spent decades looking for the right story, the right set of facts, the right bit of history to introduce a song, a personality, a moment in history to give a song a chance to awake and breathe among us. Along the way, he has developed expertise in the many African retentions–musical and cultural–that remain active in our culture today.
    • Sunday, June 28, 2020
    • 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM
    • Tikvat Israel Congregation | 2200 Baltimore Road | Rockville, MD 20851

    John Flynn is an American singer-songwriter and activist known for his powerful music and tireless efforts on behalf of the lost and the lonely, the shackled and scarred. His career has embodied an authentic troubadour odyssey that moved legendary folk DJ Gene Shay to call Flynn "the most quintessential folk singer in my life", and Deana McCloud, Executive Director of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma to write, "John Flynn is the real deal. His work follows in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, and other social justice troubadours as he speaks the truth and gives a voice to society's disenfranchised. His work fills your heart and opens your eyes as he continues to walk the walk of a true advocate for equality, justice, and peace."

    Over three and a half decades, John Flynn's music has carried him from Jersey shore bars to Nashville's Music Row; from home plate performances in major league ballparks to concerts in maximum-security prisons; from star-studded benefit shows at Tipitina's in New Orleans to appearances at the Walter Reed Military Hospital and the Dover Air Force Base. Along the way Flynn has continued to make new friends and fans as he has given of his defiantly unguarded heart and optimistic spirit from large and small stages, living rooms, pulpits and schools across this country.

    These days John's performances draw widely from a significant body of work, ranging from his early country offerings to story songs, love songs, songs for kids, funny songs, songs of social justice, and meditations on love, loss, presence, forgiveness, and hope. 

    Among the recognitions John has received for his work are the Phill Ochs Award for Music and Social Activism for Political and Social Justice, the Dominican's Shining Star Award, Rotary's Paul Harris Fellow Award, and Pacem in Terris's Peacemaker Among Us Award. Additionally, The American Library Association has recognized John for family recordings; and in 2012 he was a Grammy honoree for his song "Two Wolves' on the anti-bullying compilation, All About Bullies, Big and Small.

See a list of past Focus concerts here.

Monday Open Mic Showcases hosted by Rob Hinkal

Focus sponsors the Teavolve Open Mic every Monday evening with host rob of the band ilyAIMY and we are honored to have a weekly helping of some of the best local and traveling singer/songwriters, musicians, poets and random whathaveyous all in one spot.

We have a featured artist somewhere in the middle of the night (LIKE the Facebook page for constantly updated listings) for whom we pass a tip pitcher (please be generous) but otherwise the show is free. The drinks are great and the food's even better. The night is videoed and recorded and archived on YouTube.

More information here and here

Monday Showcases

  • No upcoming events

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Focus Music is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 4249, Rockville, MD 20849-4249

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