Woodstock Opera House concert to showcase emerging Americana artists, Gigable app

Hoping to hear some of the best new Americana music? There’s an app for that. A concert, too.

An Emerging Artist Showcase on April 2 at the Woodstock Opera House aims to do two things: provide exposure to talented singers and songwriters “on the cusp to some bigger and better things” and launch Gigable, an app designed to do the same through technology.

It’s “Pandora meets Ticketmaster,” but focused on Americana music and independent singers and songwriters, said Mike Echlin, CEO of Gigable (, which is launching the app and hosting the showcase.

“It enables people to discover music. ... It will have the best of Americana, alt-country, the indie scene and simple navigations to buy tickets to shows where you live,” Echlin said.

He and Gigable’s co-founder, John Mayer, saw the showcase, under the title “Gigable Presents,” as an ideal way to promote artists who might get lost in the shuffle of today’s growing amount of music being produced in home studios.

The two lined up three artists they believe should be heard. Among them are Kevin Presbrey, a singer/songwriter from Aurora with a debut EP, “Dust Unto Dust”; Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings, a band formed in Brooklyn in 2010 with a recent album, “I Wasn’t Planning On The End,” gaining worldwide attention and a song placement in the film, “See You in Valhalla”; and Devin Dawson, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter whose YouTube videos have more than 30 million views.

The showcase will take place at 7 p.m. April 2 at the Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock. Tickets cost $30 a person at the door, or 815-338-5300.

“This is one of the first of its kind,” said Echlin, a musician himself. “What we’re doing is finding the cream of the crop within this independent space, and we’re giving them more of a voice and helping them get their music out there.”

Presbrey began performing more than 10 years ago, recording albums with his band at the time, the rock/alternative Painkiller Hotel. He left the band to explore his roots of Americana and folk, influenced by the music of the early ’70s, especially Jim Croce.

The past couple of years, he has been touring the Midwest as a solo act and plans to record an album in Nashville this year. He’s performed throughout the Chicago area, including in McHenry County, which apparently left an impact. One of his songs, “Something in the Water,” has a verse about Woodstock.

In Nashville making music for the past four years and earning a college degree, Dawson gained his YouTube following after videotaping a duo performance with a friend of some Taylor Swift covers.

“It kind of just snowballed, started getting momentum,” he said of his YouTube video.

Focusing on writing music, he really hadn’t planned to delve into a solo career, as he’d decided to take a break after touring for five years with his former band, Shadow of the Colossus, which focused on heavy metal.

“There’s only one thing I was put here to do, so I moved to Nashville because I knew that was the spot I wanted to be in,” Dawson said.

He’s now working with a major Nashville producer on a debut solo album with an alternative country sound influenced by soul and classic rock.

He describes it this way: “If John Mayer and Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran kind of had a baby or something like that. It’s definitely got some soul and roots to it.”

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