When jazz trombonist Emily Asher and her best friend, trumpeter Bria Skonberg, shared a home in Brooklyn a few years ago, they invited people over for homegrown salads, a few rounds of bocce ball and maybe some sangria.
You may have missed that get-together, which Asher described as “an actual garden party,” but you’re welcome to attend the musical version — a concert titled “Emily Asher’s Garden Party,” set for 8 p.m. Monday at Misericordia University, where it is part of the Under the Stars Summer Arts Festival.
“Bria suggested the name (for the band) because we had a great backyard and we were spending so much time in the garden,” said Asher, a one-time teacher of junior-high-school band who does some of her best thinking while running marathons. “I love gardening, too. There’s nothing so satisfying as planting a seed and watching it blossom. It’s meditative, like the running.”
She’s happy to welcome Skonberg to appear as guest artist when the group comes to Misericordia’s campus in Dallas Township, where the two musicians expect to sing a few duets as well as play their respective instruments.
Asher is likely to include on the play list some tunes she wrote herself, such as one that “just came to me after I’d been in Israel. I thought I had started to have some understanding of the conflict over there, and just seeing it made me that much more confused. When you look at world crises from a human level and get to know people on both sides of a conflict and have wonderful experiences with both of them … ” her voice trailed off. “I wrote a tune called ‘Great Big Wall.’ It’s funny, even though it was inspired in the Middle East it has a kind of salsa flavor.”
The influence of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington also will be apparent in Asher’s music, along with some New Orleans style. She’s also likely to perform an Irving Berlin classic called “Marie,” which Asher finds intriguing because “it’s gently tragic. The melody itself has a lot of ascending lines so it has a feeling of euphoria about it even though the lyrics have a feeling of melancholy: Marie, you’ll soon be waking to find your heart is breaking and tears will fall as you recall the moon in all its splendor …”
It’s safe to say the splendor of la luna will not be visible for Monday’s concert, which coincides with the new moon, but perhaps the stars will be out in full force as people gather outdoors in the amphitheater on campus.
On July 13, music lovers will gather at Misericordia once more as the Under the Stars events continue with an appearance by the legendary Boz Scaggs.
A prolific writer with a voice that can be soft as a caress, he counts among his favorite songs “We’re All Alone” from his album “Silk Degrees,” which you might remember from 1976: “Outside the rain begins, and it may never end. So cry no more on the shore. A dream will take out us to sea. Forevermore, forevermore … Close the window, calm the light, and it will be all right. No need to bother now.”
“Several songs resonate with me over time,” he said, citing also “Thanks to You” from the 2001 rhythm-and-blues album “Dig” as well as the Grammy Award-winning “Lowdown,” which he calls “the song I’m pretty much known for. It’s sung in so many different contexts, adaptable to many different situations.”
The song mentions a woman who seems to be causing trouble for her man. “Baby’s into runnin’ around. Hanging with the crowd. Putting your business in the street talking out loud. Saying you bought her this and that ...”
“There’s a lot of dirty, lowdown, cheating-woman kind of stuff” in his music, Scaggs said. “But it’s not too serious.”
What he is serious about is enjoying a tour in support of his new studio album, “Memphis,” his first in five years.
The album includes his version of “Rainy Night in Georgia,” “Corinna, Corrina” and “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl.”
“I love being on the road,” he said. “I love being with my band.”
But when he’s not traveling, “I love being home. I love Napa Valley.”
Scaggs and his wife maintain a small vineyard there, and a nearby winery processes the grapes.
“I like the dry reds,” he said.