Dorset Theatre Festival Announces An Evening with Natalie Merchant on August 4

(Dorset, VT– February 26, 2019) Dorset Theatre Festival, under the leadership of Artistic Director Dina Janis, is excited to announce the addition of AN EVENING WITH NATALIE MERCHANT to the Festival’s 42nd season. A special one-night-only concert at the Dorset Playhouse (104 Cheney Rd, Dorset, VT 05251) on August 4, the event is co-produced with Higher Ground Presents.

‘Natalie Merchant is a rare breed: an artist who has never compromised, but instead evolved with integrity, thought, and meaning.’ – Daily Telegraph

‘An artist with a singular voice and vision.  Time has only amplified the power of Merchant’s music.’ – Mojo

Natalie Merchant has announced ‘An Evening With…’ summer tour of intimate venues across New England. Two years after 2017’s “Three Decades of Song Tour,” which played mostly large amphitheaters in major markets, this will be a unique opportunity for fans to see the celebrated singer play towns and cities chosen by Merchant herself and not usually included on her tours.  She will be joined by her long-time guitarist Erik Della Penna, who has been playing with her for 20 years, performing material from the past 35 years of Merchant’s career. “I’ve reached a point in my career of wanting unique experiences on tour, of not settling for the predictable routing and venues. Last July, Erik and I had a very pleasant experience touring the United Kingdom as an acoustic duo. This Summer, we’ve decided to do a tour of New England following the same format as last year, steering clear of big cities and playing unique and intimate venues in small, picturesque towns. We’re looking forward to seeing the rocky coast of Maine, the green rolling hills of Vermont, the historic village squares and white steepled churches of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. I imagine we will meet many locals and visitors seeking the same sort of experience that we are and I expect the audiences and the settings will inspire us.”

Q magazine has called Natalie Merchant ‘among the most compelling and distinctive voices of the last decade’, while Vogue has said she is ‘one of the most successful and enduring alternative artists to emerge from the Eighties intact and uncompromised’.  Her career began in 1981 when, as a college student, she joined the seminal alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, which signed to Elektra Records in 1984.  As lead vocalist, lyricist, and sometimes pianist, Merchant released six critically acclaimed studio albums with the band, including the platinum-certified In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man’s Zoo (1989), Our Time in Eden (1992), and the multi-platinum MTV Unplugged (1993), which became the band’s most successful release as well as one of the best-selling in the Unplugged series.  She left the group in 1993, and in 1995 released her multi-platinum solo debut, Tigerlily (which included the hit single ‘Wonder’ that inspired the best-selling novel by RJ Palacio), followed by the platinum Ophelia (1998) and Motherland (2001).  In 2003 she independently released an album of traditional and contemporary folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, which also coincided with the birth of her child.   For the next seven years she lived quietly in New York’s Hudson Valley devoting herself to family and community, while taking opportunities to collaborate with other musicians and strengthen her commitment to activism and philanthropy.

In 2010, Merchant returned with a thematic double album, Leave Your Sleep, her debut for Nonesuch Records.  For this meditation on childhood and mothering Merchant set nineteenth- and twentieth century American and British children’s poetry to music.  She also collaborated with award-winning children’s book illustrator Barbara McClintock for a picture book based on the album.  In 2014, Nonesuch released Natalie Merchant, her sixth solo album and first of entirely original songs in thirteen years, followed by Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings in 2015, a collection of all-new recordings revisiting her solo debut, Tigerlily, and accompanied by a documentary DVD.

In 2017 Nonesuch Records released The Natalie Merchant Collection, a deluxe 10-CD box set compiled by Merchant, comprising all eight of her solo studio albums from the past three decades, as well as a new studio set, Butterfly, a disc of rare and previously unreleased tracks, Rarities, and a 100-page lyric book and pictorial history of her solo career.  In a five-star review, Mojo described it as ‘Magnificent.  This is a definitive and absorbing celebration of an artist with a singular voice and vision.’  The Times proclaimed, ‘A welcome re-evaluation of the folk singer’s impressive catalogue.  Listening to Merchant’s calm, authoritative voice as she interprets old folk tunes, sings uplifting pop songs or offers her considered take on current affairs, it seems that she was right all along.’  The New York Times wrote it ‘sums up the quietly remarkable solo career of a songwriter curious about matters of the heart, historical oddities and the search for truth, pondering them all with folky melodies and a luminously melancholy voice.’

During her career, Merchant has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Billy Bragg, Gavin Bryars David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mavis Staples, REM, and Wilco.  Merchant remains dedicated to a wide array of social justice and environmental causes. Recently, she spearheaded the making of the protest concert film Dear Governor Cuomo (2013) with New Yorkers Against Fracking, actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, and filmmakers Jon Bowermaster and Alex Gibney, and she directed and produced SHELTER: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence (2014).

Tickets for An Evening with Natalie Merchant are available starting Friday, April 12 at 10:00 AM at

Single tickets and Subscriptions for the 2019 Summer Season are on sale now. Off-season, the box office may be reached by calling (802) 867-2223 ext. 101, Tuesday through Friday, 12 – 4 pm. For more information, or to purchase subscriptions and tickets online, visit


Dorset Theatre Festival’s mission is to create bold, innovative, and authentic theatre that engages a diverse, multi-generational community, and economically broad region: enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring our audience through the celebration of great plays. We aim to redefine the landscape of theatre by presenting thought-provoking productions drawn from the new and classic canon, as well as through the development of new work, new audiences, and new artists for the future of American theatre. We produce theatre that matters.

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