Laurie Lewis and her longtime bluegrass partner, Tom Rozum, a former Tucsonan, come to the Vail Theatre of the Arts with songs that Lewis wrote during a retreat in Wyoming.


Saturday night is a homecoming for Tom Rozum and Mark Robertson-Tessi, whose names resonate with fans of Tucson's acoustic music scene.

And it's a rare chance for headliner Laurie Lewis to catch up with her niece, professional mountain biker Chloe Woodruff, who lives in Tucson.

"I love any chance I get to visit with her," an obviously smitten Lewis said during a phone call from her Northern California home last week.

Lewis, with her longtime bluegrass partner Rozum, comes to the Vail Theatre of the Arts with a new batch of songs that she wrote during a monthlong retreat last November in a quiet arts community in Wyoming. It was Lewis' longest songwriting retreat in a career that goes back to the mid-1970s.

"It was the best thing for my writing," said the 62-year-old performer, who said she will include some of the new songs in her set Saturday. "They gave me a beautiful studio where I lived and worked, and I would go every evening and have communal dinners with the other artists.

Lewis' shows tend to be "fairly fluid, and I don't write set lists way in advance. We sort of play what we want to play at the time."

The night also will be a reunion of sorts with Rozum, Lewis and their former band mate, national flatpicking champion and Tucsonan Peter McLaughlin. McLaughlin played in Lewis' band Grant Street in the late 1980s with Rozum before Rozum and Lewis split off as a duo.

"We have so many good friends (in Tucson). Tom used to live in Tucson, and he introduced me to the town in the best way possible," Lewis said. "He already had a strong network of close friends. So the first time we came there it was like a homecoming to him. And the community, including (community radio station) KXCI, really seemed to embrace us right off the bat. It's a place that's very welcoming to our music."

Robertson-Tessi, who attended the University of Arizona and was a fixture in the Irish and folk music scene in Tucson throughout the mid-2000s, is part of Nathan McEuen's band. He is now based in Tampa, Fla.

If you go

• What: Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum, Nathan McEuen and Mark Robertson-Tessi in concert.

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Vail Theatre of the Arts, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way, two miles north of Interstate 10 and two miles south of Valencia Road on the campus of Empire High School.

• Tickets: $17 and $22 in advance through or by calling 879-3925; it's $20 and $25 a the door.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.