Walter Parks and Elise LaBarge
perform at The Ozark Theatre
December 27, 2014 in St. Louis, MO
Elise LaBarge is a professional singer, actress and teacher, who relocated to Chicago from St. Louis in 2012. Elise has worked as a singer-actress with a number of opera and theatre companies in various roles and ensembles throughout the Midwest. Her recent Chicago credits include Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Jane in Babes in Toyland, and the Witch in a student version of Hansel and Gretel. In St. Louis, she appeared in Union Avenue Opera’s summer, concert and fundraising productions starting in 2001, including Acis and Galatea (Damen/ensemble), Lakmé (Rose), L’elisir d’amore (Giannetta), The Pirates of Penzance (Edith), and Le Nozze di Figaro (Barbarina). Engagements with Muddy River Opera in Quincy, IL include The Marriage of Figaro (Cherubino), The Merry Widow (Valencienne), the world premiere of the musical Abe (Ann Rutledge), L’elisir d’amore (Giannetta) and The Mikado (Peep-Bo). She was First Lady in the St. Louis Symphony’s family version of The Magic Flute, Amaranthe in Chicago Folks Operetta’s English language premiere of Lehar’s Mitislav the Modern, and Adele as a guest artist in Washington University Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus.
“Walter Parks is an extraordinary singer whose songs can break your heart as well as get you dancing. Lyrical and political, personal and otherworldly at the same time, transcendent as well as down to earth, Walter is a musical treasure, an artist of the highest caliber. To hear him is to be lifted into a mystical sphere. I adore him.” – Judy Collins
Veteran blues and jazz guitarist Walter Parks has built an international career as the lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens, as half of the folk-duo The Nudes, and as leader of the neo-southern rock group Swamp Cabbage. Just as Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp has served as the headwaters of Florida’s Suwanee River, so has it served as the inspirational headwaters for Walter’s unique guitar concept – a banjo-esque fingerpicking style that toggles between expressing the swamp’s foggy, ambient underbelly and it’s eminent danger via the use of a modicum of pleasant distortion. Inspired by the sultry black gospel that wails from storefront churches and roadhouses in the American southeast, Parks’s raspy vocal lows and soaring operatic falsetto explore the frontier of the modern human spirit in search of a place where it can flourish.
“A listen to Parks’ soulful Americana rock is to be immersed in warm guitar melodies, smoky vocals and troubadour narratives that gather strength with age.” – WNYC