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Brown Bag

The Brown Bag Concert Series (1982-2009) are free, lunch-time shows produced by WICN Public Radio and Mechanics Hall in partnership with Bank of America and broadcast live on WICN 90.5 FM. "Studio 3" is a half-hour music and interview television program featuring some of the best jazz groups in New England and beyond. The shows were taped between 1993 and 2000 before live audiences in the studios of WGMC-TV3 or on location, including Brown Bag concerts at Mechanics Hall. All shows were produced and hosted by jazz vocalist Toni Ballard, with production support from Greater Media Cable, and aired from 1993 to 2003 on WGMC-TV3. The Brown Bag Concerts taped for "Studio 3" were edited for web content by Jason Gabriel and a team of WPI students under the direction of Professor Richard Falco, Director of Jazz Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Brown Bag Concert Series Spring 2016

Wednesdays at Noon
Free Admission

Mechanics Hall
321 Main Street, Worcester, MA, 01608; 508-752-5608
Broadcast live on WICN 90.5 FM and streaming at

The Brown Bag Concert Series has crossed over the 30 Year mark! WICN and Mechanics Hall are proud to offer 9 free noontime concerts annually.

March 9
United States Navy Concert Band

The U.S. Navy's premier wind ensemble, the Concert Band repertoire includes marches, symphonic selections, patriotic works, and popular favorites (no table reservations accepted). 



March 16
MIXCLA - Berklee College of Music Piano Trio
Pulling from three dynamic spirits of The Zahili Gonzalez Amora Project, the MIXCLA mixture of cultural spices is a perfect recipe for a masterful sonic experience. MIXCLA is a play on words and a play on sounds from the mountains of Chile to the traditions of Japan and driven by the fires of Cuba - a truly unique Latin Jazz experience. The trio features is a play on words and a play on sounds hailed from the mountains of Chile, to the traditions of pianist, composer & vocalist Zahili Gonzalez Zamora; bass player Gerson E. Lazo Quiroga; and percussionist Takafumi Nikaido.

March 23
Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo
One of the "brightest stars of the guitar," Frank Vignola teams up with Vinny Raniolo in a Brown Bag for the history books! Often featured on National Public Radio, Vignola and Raniolo have also become familiar figures on Public Television. With Vignola's stunning virtuosity and RanioloÕs stellar accompaniment, between them they have played with Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul plus Leon Redbone, Vince Giordano, Deana Martin and Olli Soikkeli.

March 30
Cassandre McKinley

A Brown Bag veteran, Cassandre McKinley has a vocal style that walks the line between jazz and soul - a voice that is commanding, vibrant and rich - with "chops" to spare. But, she's no diva - though she'll confidently and easily weave her way through The American Songbook and Soul Classics alike, singing with the maturity and wisdom of a veteran performer, she will stop to tell you a story - unwittingly disarming you like the "girl next door" she truly is.

Karrin Allyson

Hailed by fellow Kansas City native Pat Metheny as “the best new jazz singer I’ve heard in 15 years,” Concord Jazz recording artist Karrin Allyson has appeared at festivals and jazz clubs from coast to coast and around the world. Invited to sing at the Ella Fitzgerald Tribute at Carnegie Hall, Karrin graces the Mechanics Hall stage for a Brown Bag Concert with a trio of Boston’s finest jazz musicians: Brad Hatfield on piano, John Lockwood on bass, and Jim Gwin on drums.

Lynne Jackson and Mike Palter

This Brown Bag Concert, a tribute to Irving Berlin by the sublime cabaret jazz duo (and real-life spouses) Lynne Jackson and Mike Palter, with Jim Repa on reeds, garnered Studio 3 the award for best cable program series in New England produced by a woman from the New England Chapter of Women in Cable and Telecommunications in 1997. The internationally acclaimed duo’s performances include Carnegie Hall, L.A.’s Jazz Bakery and Maybeck Recital Hall, and concerts in Normandy, France commemorating the 51st anniversary of the end of World War II. They performed their song “We Dream a Brighter Day,” co-written with Arthur Hamilton, at the 40th anniversary of the United Nations.

Harry Skoler

Clarinetist Harry Skoler performs for the Brown Bag Concert series as his second CD on Brownstone Recordings, Reflections on the Art of Swing, a tribute to his original inspiration, Benny Goodman, climbs the charts. His stellar quartet includes Ed Saindon on vibraphone, Mark Pucci on bass, and Tim Gilmore on drums.

Tuxedo Classic

The Tuxedo Classic Jazz Band brings the spirit of New Orleans jazz of the 1920s to Mechanics Hall for this unique Brown Bag Concert. The band formed in 1976 when a group of Worcester musicians acquired the music library of trumpeter, arranger and composer Lu Waters, who had transcribed instrumental parts from 1920s recordings of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong for his Yerba Buena Jazz Band of 1940s San Francisco. The Tuxedo Classic Jazz Band had the honor of being the first musical group to play at the newly refurbished Mechanics Hall in the late ‘70s. Led by trombonist Bud Trow, the group includes trumpeters Jim Mitchener and Louis Borelli, pianist Joe Sheppard, drummer Bob Hogan, Bob Long on tuba, Harold Woodrow on banjo, and Wesley Trow on soprano sax and clarinet.

Billy Novick and Shade of Swing

Billy Novick, who plays clarinet and alto saxophone, and has been known to sing on occasion, can be heard on his many recordings with guitarist Guy Van Duser as well as the New Black Eagle Jazz Band; on soundtracks of several John Sayles' movies and television shows. Besides several records under his own name, Billy has been featured on over 150 other recordings. With Shades of Swing, he blends original tunes with jazz standards and songs from Tin Pan Alley.

Steve Marvin and Mac Chrupcala Trio

This show is the first of many Studio 3 tapings at one of Worcester's architectural wonders, the visually and acoustically beautiful Mechanics Hall. The Brown Bag Concert Series is produced by WICN 90.5 FM and Mechanics Hall and sponsored by Bank Boston. Vocalist Steve Marvin performs selections from his recently released CD, Live at Scullers, recorded with the Mac Chrupcala Trio, who also back him up today.

Warren Chiasson and Joe Cohn

Mechanics Hall in Christmas array provides a beautiful backdrop for this great paring of Warren Chiasson on vibraphone and Joe Cohn on guitar. Canadian-born Chiasson spent 10 years working with George Shearing and also played with the Chet Baker Quartet, the Tal Farlow Trio and Roberta Flack. After a 15-year collaboration with guitarist Chuck Wayne, he's been performing as a duo since 1992 with Joe Cohn, son of the late saxophone great Al Cohn. 

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