Soundbreaking: A Decade of Roots House Concerts

When Berklee’s American Roots Music Program was founded 10 years ago, Bob Davoli and his wife Eileen McDonagh offered their home for a house concert to launch the initiative led by artistic director Matt Glaser.

At that time, no one imagined the first-time concert would become an annual event to raise funds for and thank those who generously support the program. From its humble beginnings as a homegrown hootenanny, the event has become an elegant dinner featuring over-the-moon performances by students and faculty involved in Berklee’s American Roots Music Program. Over the past decade, many students and faculty have performed at this unique modern home, including current Berklee Today cover artists Sierra Hull ’11 and Molly Tuttle ’14. Other up-and-coming Berklee Roots alumni who’ve played at the Davoli-McDonagh home include Courtney Hartman ’12 of Della Mae, Carolyn Kendrick ’16 and Jake Howard ’17 of the Page Turners, Joe Walsh ’06 (formerly of the Gibson Brothers), and Julian Lage ’09 and Charlie Worsham ’06.

Adding to this event’s tradition of roof-raising music, the past few years have featured the added element of Donna McElroy’s Jubilee Spirit Ensemble performing American Negro spirituals. In the spring, they ended the evening with a moving rendition of “My Lord, What a Morning” leaving guests exclaiming, “My Lord, what a party”!

Berklee is grateful to Davoli and McDonagh, not just for their role as founding partners of the Roots program by establishing support for country blues visiting artists Woody Mann and Paul Rishell, but also for opening their home for an annual Berklee American Roots house concert.