Saturday: 3:40 PM on the Urban Roots Stage.
See the full schedule

Samirah Evans & Her Handsome Devils


Samirah Evans is known for her dynamic, soulful approach to jazz and blues, among other genres. Her style is also heavily influenced by the New Orleans sound where she was one of the city’s most in-demand singers.

Her 1990 debut at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival began a stint of 15 consecutive years performing there as a leader or featured vocalist, and she was a fixture in both clubs and concert venues throughout the Crescent City, including Snug Harbor, Tipitina’s and the House of Blues. During her career, she has toured North and South America, Europe and Asia, sharing stages with a multitude of New Orleans notables and legendary artists, including James Brown, B.B. King, Dr. John, Levon Helm, Aaron Neville, Charles Neville, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Jr., Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty and Sheila Jordan.

Hurricane Katrina caused Samirah to relocate to her husband’s hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont. She assembled a band called Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils and developed notoriety throughout New England touring upon their 2009 CD release “Hot Club” “Live at the Vermont Jazz Center”, Evans 3rd release.

Evans dedicates time to perpetuating indigenous American music. In New Orleans, Evans participated in the Blues Schoolhouse sponsored by the House of Blues Foundation and hosted a show for the N.O. Jazz & Heritage Foundation radio station, WWOZ. She is currently an Artist Associate in Jazz Voice at Williams College and offers voice instruction in her home studio and is a faculty member of the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro.


Matt Dwonszyk is an accomplished bassist, composer, arranger and educator from Rocky Hill, CT. He graduated from the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz studying under his mentor and world-renowned bassist, Nat Reeves and then went on to receive his Masters degree from SUNY Purchase College. After living in New York City for 5 years, Dwonszyk returned back home to Connecticut during the 2020 pandemic. In 2023, Dwonszyk moved back to Astoria, NY and performs frequently throughout New England, splitting his time between performing and teaching.

Throughout his career, Dwonszyk has performed and recorded with numerous contemporaries as well as legendary jazz artists including Steve Davis, Bennie Wallace, Harold Mabern, Larry Willis, George Cables, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Jazzmeia Horn, Joey Alexander among many others. He currently plays bass with Jonathan Barber and Vision Ahead, The Jon Davis Trio, Julieta Eugenio Trio and the Sarah Hanahan Quartet.

In 2019, he toured through Canada with the Oleg Butman Trio and in 2022 with Jonathan Barber and Vision Ahead through the West Coast of the U.S. Dwonszyk’s last tour was in October of 2022 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He frequently performs at some of the top jazz clubs in New York City including Smalls Jazz Club, Mezzrow, Ornithology, Dizzy's Coca Cola Club, Smoke and The Blue Note. Since 2019, Dwonszyk has been a faculty member of Manchester Community College and Central Connecticut State College teaching jazz bass and jazz history. In the summer, he teaches at Bennie Wallace’s Back Country Jazz Program and Litchfield Jazz Camp.


Michael Zsoldos has performed with Paquito D’Rivera, Sheila Jordan, Kevin Mahogony, Houston Person, Luis Perdomo, Jason Palmer, Matt Wilson, Helen Sung, George Schuller, Armen Donelian, Bernadette Peters, Carole King, the Temptations, and many others. Michael’s debut CD as a leader, “Off the Cuff”, is playing on streaming services and jazz radio stations worldwide.

Currently, Michael is a member of the Miro Sprague Quintet, the Jason Ennis Quartet, Samirah and Her Handsome Devils and Eugene Uman’s Convergence Project; a group whose original music merges Colombian rhythms with jazz harmonies.

Since 2005, Michael has been the instrumental arranger for the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir and Dartmouth Idol. Michael composed the music for the 2017 documentary “Seeing Through The Wall: Meeting Ourselves in Palestine and Israel”. He was the orchestrator for the musical,“21”, based on the life of baseball legend, Roberto Clemente, which had its premiere at Pointe Park University in Pittsburgh in October 2014.

Michael is a lecturer in classical saxophone and music theory at Dartmouth College, and was the jazz and classical saxophone instructor at the University of Vermont from 2009-2017. He is on the teaching faculties of the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, and Interplay Jazz and Arts, based in the Upper Valley.


Benny Kohn is a Berkshire based pianist. He plays with numerous groups and artists spanning a variety of genres and styles including electric blues, funk, R&B , jazz and gospel and New Orleans grooves. He is a regular with a number of bands including the Misty Blues band, Hot Sauce and The Greystone Quarted as well as leading his own piano based combos. At MCLA Kohn was the accompanist for the jazz choir as well taught piano to private student for ten years. He established himself as a recording artist with his album of his own originals in 2016 entitled “Fingers First”.


Conor Meehan is a versatile drummer and in demand sideman. Conor has appeared on over 50 recordings and has toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Brazil.

Meehan has shared the stage with a number of notable artist such as B.B. King, Sheryl Crowe, Buddy Guy, Lifehouse, Susan Tedeschi, Tedeschi/Trucks Band, Trampled by Turtles, Rusted Root, Matt Nathanson, Marc Broussard, Feist, John Hyatt, Robben Ford, Natalie Merchant, James Cotton, Johnny Winter, Pinetop Perkins, Amos Lee, Josh Raden, Medeski Martin & Wood, John Scofield, McCoy Tyner, Jamie Cullum, Martin Sexton, Lettuce, Soulive, Delbert McClinton, Guy Davis, Duke Robilliard, Roomful of Blues, Carribean Jazz Project, Jon Newman, Charlie Musslewhite, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Marshall Tucker Band, Fifth Harmony, Kaki King, Gregory Porter, Tommy Castro, Brandie Carlyse, David Grey, Rosanne Cash, among others.

Since 2005, he has held the position "Artist Associate of Jazz Drums" at Williams College and has also served as a clinician at numerous summer institutes including Jazz in July at UMass and Interplay Jazz Workshop.

Footer Subscribe

Are you on our list?

Subscribe and be the first to get the latest festival news.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

New Location!

The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival takes place on July 12th – 13th, 2024 in the streets surrounding Stearns Square.

About Us

This festival is produced by Blues To Green, a nonprofit organization that harnesses music and the arts to celebrate community and culture, build shared purpose, and catalyze social and environmental change.
Copyright © 2024 Blues To Green Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Site by Laudable Productions
chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram