Inga SwearingenBZ SmithSheridan MaloneJoe Craven

Inga Swearingen

“Inga’s melodies unfold like Virginia Woolf’s best sentences, patiently building to an expected climax before transcending it like a sweet exhalation of air.” – American Songwriter

                                      –  American Songwriter” 


Inga is continuing to be rooted in jazz, she is now revisiting her folk and classical influences and creating a sound all of her own. “I studied voice and choral conducting in school,” Inga explains. “In fact, I first sang, “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”, as an art song with lots of vibrato. It was fun to arrange it as a bossa nova on this album. I like to blur the line between genres and draw inspiration from anything that speaks to my heart. I was influenced early on by Ani DiFranco, and at the same time I love how Bobby McFerrin used his voice as an instrument. I also admire the joy I heard when listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing with all of her being, as though she held nothing back for her next gig. I think the commonality is that all three made music that reflected their life experience.” With First Rain, Inga is digging in and singing from her heart. Carpinteria, CA.

BZ Smith

” Her Words Go Far, and Then Return to Her.”

                                           –  “Mehndidehtee”

BZ, winner of the National Storytelling Network’s 2011 Oracle Award for Service & Leadership in the Pacific States Region, B.Z. has dedicated nearly 40 years to the presence of storytelling in the Sierra Nevada region.  One of California’s premiere tellers and an innovator in the Tandem Storytelling style, B.Z. helped found 3 popular tandem groups: The Moonbeams (1977 to 1980), the Story Tailors (1981 to 1988) and the widely acclaimed Story Quilters (1995 to 2009).  With her tandem partner Cynthia Restivo, the Story Quilters won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award for their premiere recording, toured extensively throughout California and were featured at the National Storytelling Festival’s 2005 Exchange Place, representing the Pacific region.

Now entering her fifth decade in the storytellers’ community, B.Z. enjoys mentoring young tellers, teaches a class called “The Art of Storytelling for Filmmaking” for aspiring film students, and still keeps an active performance calendar.  A tribal member of Wyandotte Nation through her mother’s blood lines, this year she was honored with her tribal name “Mehndidehtee: Her Words Go Far, and Then Return to Her.”

Life can be like a poem that way, with the unexpected appearing in the room, not just on the page.

                         – Susan Goldsmith Woodridge 

Sheridan Malone

Sheridan is a loud ray of sunshine, he can bring the light out in any song

Sheridan is a singer/songwriter from Ukiah, California, at Vocáli for the first time with vocal production his primary love. He’s been studying the mysteries of voice for many years, has a slightly different take on technique and harmony, and still explores what’s possible with first one, then multiple voices. He also plays ukulele, guitar, and upright bass, and really enjoys playing ensemble, especially with multi-part harmony. In addition to teaching at RiverTunes Camp for now 7 years , he’s taught workshops at Ukiah Ukefest, Ukes On The Loose,  California Bluegrass Association Camp, Walker Creek Music Camp, El Cerrito Free Folk Festival, and  at Emandal Art Stays in Willits. He performs regularly around  Northern California, and gives private voice lessons. He’s looking forward to helping us all discover more of our vocal and aural capabilities, and ultimately more of  ourselves.

Visit Sheridan’s website at  

Presence stays with us. Fun to think we were making an entire story of the weekend. – Vocali Student

Joe Craven

Joe Craven

 Your Improvisation class introduced and connected me to many ideas; spontaneity as movement without “thinking”… all of us already improvisers in speech and ways to connect that to improvised music, hearing music in speech, (that was way cool), metronomic rhythm in our walk … The value of vocal scatting … I know there was more. This is an onion with a lot of layers. More please and thank you!

                                                                  – Vocàli student

Award winning educator, former museum curator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, and event emcee, Joe has so enjoyed making richly diverse music over 30 years with many folks whose music you may well know and many whose amazing music you may never know.Whether with corporate heads in Contra Costa, CA, Goodwill Industries, The United Way, young men in a juvenile detention center, families in homeless shelters, a university lecture in Washington, jamming with Gnawa musicians in Morocco, on stage at Carnegie Hall with Stephane Grappelli, or on a ladder with an angel food cake pan in front of thousands of school kids in Scotland… no matter who and what Joe’s connected with, he’s at home and loving every minute.

A multi-instrumentalist in the world of strings and percussion, Joe’s favorite instrument is the human voice. Vocáli is a longtime dream and community he’s finally being able to see and hear with the help of some extraordinary people.

Joe Craven is Magical

– San Francisco Chronicle