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THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT



Welcome to the home page of THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT, an innovative trio that plays melodic modern jazz and is based in Minnesota in the United States.
Scroll down or click on a link below to proceed...



"The Willie August Project plays durable music that expertly straddles the line between easy groove and challenging absorption."

--Cadence magazine, April 2004
SEE THE COMPLETE REVIEW IN THE CDs/SURRENDER TO THE WIND SECTION OF THIS SITE!


Web site copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 The Willie August Project.
Photos copyright 2003, 2004 Erin DeRuggiero, Mike Raymond, Tom Herbers.



CONTACT INFO - BIOS/PHOTOS - ABOUT - AWARDS - SHOWS - NEWS - CDs

NOTE: If these links do not function properly, CLICK HERE to view a simplified version of our site.
















CONTACT INFO

Willie August Project

THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT
Melodic Modern Jazz

Ben Siems (left) - guitar, composer
Jeremy Hauer - drums

Information & Bookings: 612-825-9952
Email: WillieAugust@hotmail.com
URL: http://WillieAugust.tripod.com

BIOS/PHOTOS - ABOUT - AWARDS - SHOWS - NEWS - CDs



ABOUT THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT

click here for
BIOS & PHOTOS



Please also check out our pages at the TWIN CITIES MUSIC NETWORK and at the internationally acclaimed independent music site, PLANET CD.com!

The Willie August Project is also listed at:
BAND MECCA
and
THE MUSICIANS RESOURCE CENTER.

The Willie August Project was founded in 1998 by guitarist/composer Ben Siems, who used the stage name Willie August (borrowed from his late grandfather) while performing in the Midwestern and Northeastern United States as a solo acoustic performer in the 1990s. Siems and percussionist Jeremy Hauer are the group's principals; upright bass duties are rotated between several topnotch players based in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

Inspired by the small group jazz of the fifties and sixties, The Willie August Project builds its sound around extraordinarily cohesive ensemble playing, with an emphasis on collective improvisation. Each member of the group is both a fine soloist and an excellent supporting musician and listener. As a result, this trio is able to maintain a remarkable consistency of mood throughout each tune, with each passage flowing seamlessly into the next.

CONTACT  - AWARDS - SHOWS - NEWS - CDs



AWARDS & RECOGNITION



The Willie August Project

*Minnesota Music Awards Nominations:


Jazz Artist of the Year, 2003

Jazz Artist of the Year/Acoustic, 2002

Jazz Recording of the Year, 2001

Jazz Group of the Year, 2000

*Selected for the Walker Art Center's, "Five Minutes of Fame" series, 2002, 2003

*See below for additional honors for Surrender to the Wind!*



Ben Siems

*Winner of the 2001 Harriet Tubman Center Composer's Commission

*Recipient of two grants from New York City's MEET THE COMPOSER, INC.

CONTACT - BIOS/PHOTOS - ABOUT - SHOWS - NEWS - CDs



UPCOMING
PERFORMANCES



NOTE: Last-minute changes in start and end times of shows are fairly common occurrences. Please call the club on the date you plan to come to a show to verify times.




THURS., JUNE 10, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
THE WINE CAFE
, 301 N. Riverfront, Mankato, 507-345-1516.
The trio's first performance since the North Shore Jazz Festival! Great to be back in action in Mankato.

WED., JUNE 16, 7:30-10:30 p.m.:
CREMA CAFE
, 3401 Lyndale Av S, Minneapolis, 612-824-3868.
The trio begins its annual series of informal summer shows at the cozy little cafe where Ben Siems played his first jazz gig nine years ago. Beautiful room - fantastic outdoor patio - and ice cream that CAN'T BE BEAT!!

WED., JUNE 23, 8-11 p.m.:
ACADIA THEATER
, corner of Nicollet and Franklin, Minneapolis, 612-874-8702.
The trio performs in one of our favorite settings: a small and intimate theater space. A great chance to hear the intricate interplay of our trademark extended improvisations!
($4 cover)

WED., JUNE 30, 7:30-10:30 p.m.:
CREMA CAFE
, 3401 Lyndale Av S, Minneapolis, 612-824-3868.
See above for a historical note on this very special cafe. And the ice cream really is THAT good.

THURS., JULY 8, 8-11 p.m.:
ACADIA THEATER
, corner of Nicollet and Franklin, Minneapolis, 612-874-8702.
An encore performance in this intimate theater. If you can't make the June Acadia show, don't miss this one. And if you made it in June, come again -- it's never the same show twice, after all! ($4 cover)

WED., JULY 14, 7:30-10:30 p.m.:
CREMA CAFE
, 3401 Lyndale Av S, Minneapolis, 612-824-3868.
The trio continues its annual series of informal summer shows at this cozy little cafe with stylish Mediterranean decor. Beautiful room - fantastic outdoor patio - and ice cream that CAN'T BE BEAT!!

THURS., JULY 15, 7:30-11 p.m.:
BAR LURCAT/CAFE LURCAT
, 1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, 612-486-5500.
The trio is joined by special guest pianist extraordinaire LAURA CAVIANI, in her first performance with the group since the recording sessions for SURRENDER TO THE WIND! This one-of-a-kind quartet performance will be broadcast live on KBEM-FM 88.5 Minneapolis ("Jazz 88"). A big event -- see it live and in person!

SAT., JULY 17, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
THE WINE CAFE
, 301 N. Riverfront, Mankato, 507-345-1516.
The trio returns to this cozy and friendly Mankato venue. There's no where you can be closer to the music than at the Wine Cafe.

WED., JULY 21, 8 - Midnight
*THE DAKOTA*
, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-332-1010.
The trio returns to the stage of Minnesota's flagship jazz club, called "one of the world's most beautiful clubs" by jazz legend McCoy Tyner. Come out and experience this magical place!

CONTACT - BIOS/PHOTOS - ABOUT - AWARDS - NEWS - CDs



NEWS


In September, 2003 The Willie August Project received its fourth consecutive nomination for the MINNESOTA MUSIC AWARDS (Category: BEST JAZZ ARTIST).


The music of the Willie August Project can now be heard on the "Legends" channel of PrivateJazz.com, one of the best web radio stations for jazz. Be sure to tune in and check it out -- if you email them with a request for information about the station and our CDs, they'll send you back a schedule of play times!

Listen for The Willie August Project's SURRENDER TO THE WIND on a jazz radio station in your area:

MASSACHUSETTS: WGBH, Boston

NEW YORK: WKCR, WBGO, New York City;
WGMC, Rochester; WAER, Syracuse

PENNSYLVANIA: WRTI, Philadelphia;
WDUQ, Pittsburgh

WASHINGTON, DC: WPFW

GEORGIA: WCLK, Atlanta

OHIO: WRMU, Alliance

MICHIGAN: WEMU, Eastern MI

ILLINOIS, MISSOURI: WBEZ, WNUR, Chicago;
WSIE, Southern Ill., St. Louis, MO

LOUISIANA: WWOZ, New Orleans

MINNESOTA: KBEM, Twin Cities;
WTIP, North Shore

COLORADO: KUVO, Denver

WASHINGTON: KPLU, Seattle/Tacoma

OREGON: KMHD, Portland

CALIFORNIA: KSCM, San Mateo/SF Bay;
KKJZ, Long Beach; KSDS, Sand Diego

FEEL FREE TO CALL THE STATION IN YOUR AREA AND REQUEST THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT!!

(2/10/04)
The Best Feet Forward modern dance festival, to be held Feb. 12-22 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, will feature music composed by Ben Siems. Siems composed an original score for Deborah Jinza Thayer's surrealistic vision informally known as "Body Tank." The twenty-minute long piece shows Siems' versatility and fascination with minimalism in the spirit of the early work of Phillip Glass. The music features Siems on guitar, cello, keyboard, vibrophone, and percussion. Jeremy Hauer has done masterful work in a new area for him, working as the recording engineer for the project. For more information on Best Feet Forward, visit www.bestfeetforward.com.

(11/23/03)
SURRENDER TO THE WIND
, The Willie August Project's third CD, is now available! See "Upcoming Shows" for information on official CD release events and performances. A downloadable MP3 from S. T. T. W. can be found in the CDs section of this site, which also features a link to the Twin Cities Music Network, where you can purchase the CD online.

Surrender to the Wind features Ben Siems' most popular compositions from 2001, 2002, and 2003, including "Nothing Matters but the Joy" and "Andean Fire Circle." With over 75 minutes of music, topnotch production quality, and outstanding performances by the core members of the band and guest musicians like the great Laura Caviani on piano, this disc will be an absolute "must have" for all WAP followers!

(3/1/03)
In December, 2002 and February, 2003, PLAYING IN PLACE: RAMSEY HILL, a film short scored by Ben Siems and Jeremy Hauer, was included in the Walker Art Center's "Five Minutes of Fame" webcast of works by Minnesota artists. Selection for this juried exhibition was a great honor. More information about RAMSEY HILL can be found at www.mnartists.org. If you have a REAL player, you can also hear and view a version of RAMSEY HILL at that site.

CONTACT - BIOS/PHOTOS - ABOUT - AWARDS - SHOWS - CDs



RECORDINGS
& REVIEWS

The Willie August Project's CDs are on the DiPhoCal Jazz record label.

Click on a selection or scroll down.

*SURRENDER TO THE WIND (2003)
--Immediately below.


*DREAM TRUTHS (2000)
--Scroll down.


*TRANSPARENT SUNRISE (1999)
--Scroll down.


PURCHASING INFORMATION
--Scroll down.

 
SURRENDER TO THE WIND

Willie August Project
DiPhoCal Jazz Records #DiPh 03
Released 11/21/2003

From CADENCE MAGAZINE
The Review of Jazz and Blues:
Creative Improvised Music; April, 2004


WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT, SURRENDER TO THE WIND, DiPhoCal Jazz 3 Ben Siems, g; Jeremy Hauer, d, perc.; Scot Hornick, b; Jim Chenoweth, b; Laura Caviani, p. Sept., 03, Minneapolis.

Light, but firm, swing characterizes parts of SURRENDER TO THE WIND, while other parts have a textured approach that connotes New Age music. Fear not the bland, however, because The Willie August Project, so named for leader Ben Siems' grandfather, plays durable music that expertly straddles the line between easy groove, and challenging absorption.

Occasionally reminiscent of Gary Burton's DUSTER and LOFTY FAKE ANAGRAM-era groups in their synthesis of jazz with folk and rock sounds, SURRENDER TO THE WIND is pleasurable to listen to; it easily seems half its generous length. Laura Caviani fits into the trio's quietly compelling spaces beautifully on her two (opening and closing) tracks, the former of which is the disc's first out-and-out swinger. The Ornette-ish "Taunting the Duck Squat Impostor," with its tricky melody and extended soloing, also shows off this group's powere to hit the boards, but what impresses most here are the quieter, more spare tracks. "Aspirations in Cobblestone" and the excerpt from "Suite for a Dancer," for instance, have an earthy feel that quiets the mind, and resonates both physically and mentally.

Siems himself is a fountain of muted melody, with a masterful grasp of the guitaristic art of the octave. Although he plays electric throughout, his sonic approach gives even his highest, brightest notes the warmth of a candle flame. Jeremy Hauer is a sympathetic percussionist, laying back much of the time, and going for texture and color over forward propulsion, while the respective bassists fill the trio's mid-range with the necessary essentials. An off-the-beaten-path release that makes one want to hear more. --Larry Nai


DREAM TRUTHS - TRANSPARENT SUNRISE - PURCHASING INFO

**Included on music critic Tom Surowicz's Top 20 Minnesota CDs (all genres) of 2003 list**

**As of March 14, 2004, over two months on the KBEM-FM ("Jazz 88") TOP FIFTY list (A list of the 50 CDs most frequently played on air and/or requested on KBEM-FM, Minneapolis-St. Paul)**


"A very impressive CD. Siems' guitar work is sterling. Absolutely topnotch."
-Mike Raymond, Jazz Director, WTIP-FM North Shore, MN

"The Willie August Project takes us to far off places on SURRENDER TO THE WIND. The compositions of Ben Siems reverberate with the beauty of nature."
-Leigh Kamman, Minnesota Public Radio

"The Willie August Project is a beauty. It's good, creative, refreshing music."
-Linda Yohn, Music Director, WEMU-FM Michigan


Click here to hear an MP3 version of track 10,
Nothing Matters but the Joy.
Copyright 2003 Ben Siems and Thunder Cliff Music, ASCAP
All rights reserved.


TO PURCHASE SURRENDER TO THE WIND,
CLICK ON THIS ICON:

Detailed information on retail store purchase options for this Willie August Project disc can be found below in the PURCHASING INFO section. For mail order information, send an email to The Willie August Project.


  DREAM TRUTHS

DREAM TRUTHS
DiPhoCal Jazz Records #DiPh02
Released 12/1/2000


TO PURCHASE DREAM TRUTHS,
CLICK ON THIS ICON:



Listen for selections from Dream Truths on KBEM-FM 88.5 ("Jazz 88") in the Minneapolis - St. Paul metro area. Don't hesitate to call them at 612-529-KBEM and request The Willie August Project!



SURRENDER TO THE WIND
TRANSPARENT SUNRISE - PURCHASING INFO

NOMINATED FOR JAZZ RECORDING OF THE YEAR, 2001 MN MUSIC AWARDS

SONGS in MP3 FORMAT:

Pool Hall Chatter

Copyright 2000 B. Siems
Thunder Cliff Music, ASCAP

"The Willie August Project ... has achieved something quite personal on this sophomore CD. Siems writes blues-hued, graceful and often melancholy themes, while his guitar work is moving further afield from an obvious love of Wes Montgomery into an idio-syncratic realm. Hauer uses his drum kit in a painterly, post-modern way, spontaneously composing arresting intros, and adding cool running commentary to Siems' themes."
—Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/10/00

"A very fine album."
—Leigh Kamman, host of Minnesota Public Radio's, "The Jazz Image."

"Eight fine examples of what Twin Cities music critic Tom Surowicz has described as Siems' 'stellar composing.' From the swinging blues of 'Pool Hall Chatter' to the dark groove of 'Should Have;' from the introspective 'Ashes of My Dreams' to the explosively modern, 'The Trial and the Truth,' Siems shows his remarkable ability to capture a wide range of moods. Dream Truths truly offers something for every jazz fan."
—Twin Cities Jazz Society's, JAZZ NOTES, 12/00


  TRANSPARENT SUNRISE

TRANSPARENT SUNRISE
DiPhoCal Jazz Records #DiPh01
Released 6/10/1999


TO PURCHASE TRANSPARENT SUNRISE,
CLICK ON THIS ICON:




SURRENDER TO THE WIND - DREAM TRUTHS - PURCHASING INFO

SONGS in MP3 FORMAT:

The Terms of My Surrender

All selections copyright 1999 B. Siems.
Thunder Cliff Music, ASCAP

"Siems wrote a batch of grade-A songs for the group's debut CD"
--Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Free Time," 11/5/99

"Outstanding writing, good group cohesion, sure swing, well-schooled solos, catchy riffs, and healthy echoes of Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis and other 1960s post-bop icons -- TRANSPARENT SUNRISE delivers all that and more."
--Twin Cities Jazz Society's, "Jazz Notes," 11/99


WHERE TO BUY WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT CDs ...


With the help of our friends at the
TWIN CITIES MUSIC NETWORK, we are
pleased to offer our CDs for sale
directly from this site!!

Just scroll up and look for the
TCMUSIC.NET "Buy It Now" icons...


You can also hear sound samples from
Surrender to the Wind and Dream Truths
and/or purchase the discs from our page
at IndieJazz.com.



SURRENDER TO THE WIND - TRANSPARENT SUNRISE - DREAM TRUTHS




CDs may also be purchased at any Willie August Project performance.

If you live in the Twin Cities metro area, you can find several retail stores selling one or both CDs, including the Electric Fetus and all Cheapo/Applause Discs stores. For more information, send an email to The Willie August Project and request information on retail purchase of CDs.

CONTACT - PHOTOS - ABOUT - AWARDS - SHOWS - NEWS - CDs


THANK YOU FOR VISITING THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT WEB SITE!!

Please visit often to keep up to date on our activities.
BACK TO TOP

*Please also visit our pages at the Twin Cities Music Network and Planet CD.

THE WILLIE AUGUST PROJECT
Classic and Original Jazz

Information and bookings: 612-825-9952
Email: WillieAugust@hotmail.com
URL: http://WillieAugust.tripod.com