Skip to content

Minnesota-Based Artist Receives Jazz Road Tour Funding

Headshots of four jazz artists arranged in a rectangle.
Photo Credit: Spark Quartet
Eri Yamamoto, William Parker, Steve Hirsh, and Chad Fowler of Sparks Quartet.

Fourteen jazz artists and groups, including Sparks Quartet led by Steve Hirsh from Willow River, MN, have received grants to tour their work across the United States.

Today, South Arts announced Spring 2023 Jazz Road Artists—14 artists and ensembles receiving funding from the Jazz Road Tours initiative to promote and tour their artistry around the nation. Among these artists is Minnesotan Steve Hirsh, who leads Sparks Quartet.

Four musicians stand on the stoop of a house with copy that reads Sparks Quartet overlaid on top
Photo Credit: Sparks Quartet

A core component of South Arts’ national Jazz Road initiative, Jazz Road Tours is coordinated in partnership with five fellow regional arts organizations, including Arts Midwest.

Relaunched in 2022 by South Arts with funding from Doris Duke Foundation and the Mellon Foundation, Jazz Road Tours annually supports approximately 50 jazz artists with grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 to cover a portion of tour expenses and tighten the pay gap between artists and presenters. Some of these expenses include venue and travel fees, equitable pay for the artists, or costs of management, coordination, and promotion.

Each of the artists submitted a written application and work samples, which were reviewed and selected by a panel of experts across the jazz field. Based on the artistic excellence and merit of the proposed tour, the Spring 2023 Jazz Road Artists were selected supporting their performances between June 2023 through January 2024.


“We are excited to announce the Spring cohort of Jazz Road Artists and support bringing their work on the road to stages and audiences across the country,” said Drew Tucker, Director of Jazz with South Arts. “These artists span the entirety of jazz as a genre, from traditional jazz, bebop, hard bop, post-bop, swing and modal to fusions like Indo Jazz and Latin Jazz. Exploring the breadth of this iconic genre, this cohort also shares a variety of backgrounds, cities, and stories that further expands the program and its mission.”

Apply for Jazz Road Tours

Applications to Jazz Road Tours are being accepted through 2026 with multiple deadlines per year. The next deadline is June 15, 2023.

Learn More

A black and white photo of a trio Jazz Ensemble performing
Photo Credit: Caleb Curtis

About Sparks Quartet

Sparks Quartet (Eri Yamamoto, William Parker, Steve Hirsh, and Chad Fowler) formed for a recording session in Brooklyn in October 2021. Prior to that meeting, the members had played with each other in various combinations, but they had never played all together. The resulting record, Sparks, was critically acclaimed, and the record made it onto several “best of 2022” lists. Following a SRO record release appearance at Bar Lunatico in Brooklyn, the group was invited to perform at the Vision Festival in June 2022. Since then, the group has performed at An Die Musik in Baltimore.

Steve Hirsh plays music on the drumset. Like it was a piano. Or a symphony orchestra. His touch can be light as a caress or as intense as a jack hammer. In his hands (and feet), the drum set is a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds and moods. Steve has been fortunate to play with, among others, Eri Yamamoto, William Parker, Joel Futterman, Matthew Shipp, Luke Stewart, Dave Sewelson, Steve Swell, Mara Rosenbloom, Gabby Fluke-Mogul, Sean Conly, Matt Lavelle, Babatunde Lea, George Cartwright, Christopher Parker, Kelley Hurt, Donald Washington, Chad Fowler, Douglas Ewart, and Zoh Amba. Born and raised in New York City, Steve now makes his home in the woods of northern Minnesota.