February 3, 2 PM, Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretsky, Ken Gehret & Bruce Campbell in Concert

Neidig, Koretzky, Gehret and CampbellDear folk music Fans,

This reprint of a 2012 interview with Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretsky, Ken Gehret and Bruce Campbell has been updated to include information on their 2013 concert which will be held on Sunday, February 3 at 2 PM at the Appalachian Brewing Company at 50 W. Cameron Street in Harrisburg.

Start your Super Bowl Sunday Celebration early! Funny wisecracks and sport references—enjoyable if you are a football fan or not—are sure to be “on tap” for the afternoon along with that great Appalachian Brewery beer! Tickets at www.sfmsfolk.org

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Four of  Harrisburg, PA area’s most talented acoustic musicians —Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret, and Bruce Campbell– have been scheduled to appear, for a unprecedented fourth year in a row, in a concert to be held on the Susquehanna Folk Music Society stage . The group will play a matinee concert of bluegrass, Americana, Celtic, jazz and original music.  The concert will be held on Sunday, February 3 at 2 PM at the Appalachian Brewing Company at 50 W. Cameron Street in Harrisburg. Tickets and information are available at www.sfmsfolk.org.

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Following is a reprint of a 2012 interview:

Folkmama: So Kevin, from your posts on Facebook it seems like you’ve been really busy, plus you’ve gotten yourself a new guitar. What have been some of the highlights in your musical life since you played for Susquehanna Folk last January?

Neidig: Well, I’ve gotten to play with some really great musicians like Missy Raines and Jim Hurst. I was teaching down at the Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster Maryland and they were teaching there too. We were all part of the staff so we were doing a lot of work together. And of course I’m still playing a lot with Voxology.

Folkmama: And your new guitar?

Neidig: My new guitar is awesome. It’s definitely allowed me to get better. It’s one of the best guitars that I’ve ever played. It has a really balanced tone—punchy bass, great everything. I don’t think that Collings makes a bad guitar.

Folkmama: And what about you Henry? How has your year been?

Koretzky: Probably the most interesting thing has been the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble. A fellow named Tom Cook who is a lawyer and a mandolin enthusiast got the idea to put together a Harrisburg equivalent of a mandolin orchestra. Mandolin orchestras were a popular tradition in the early part of the 20th century. Every town would have them. There are still a few around; they have been making a comeback.  But they tend to be large groups with dozens of people so what has evolved with our group is a six piece band. We’ve got mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and even a mandobass. This has been interesting because even though it’s an old tradition the fact that it’s a six piece we have to arrange and choose all our own stuff so we’re doing some original tunes and we’re doing almost all original arrangements of tunes.

Folkmama:  Bruce, I know that you’ve always been pretty busy with a multitude of bands. Any particular highlights, or has the recession really cut into your gig schedule?

Campbell: Mmmm…let me go to my Excel spreadsheet. Gigs, 2011. I keep everything on my Excel spreadsheet—the gig, the band, the mileage, supplies, equipment, repair, turnpike, parking , miscellaneous. Yup, it’s been a really busy year. I did a lot of work with this new trio/quartet Rue de la Pompe, which is the spin on the Gypsy jazz stuff that I’m doing with Ken Gehret. So that’s one of the busiest bands, and then there is a jazz trio—a piano trio basically called the Troy Isaac Trio and we released our first album last year and then the Dixieland band was very busy. We played for the third time at the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Connecticut—playing with the big boys. And then every once in awhile Jamie O’Brien comes into town and Henry and I will do a flurry of work with him doing concerts and contra dances. That band is called Unbowed.

Folkmama: Ken,  I know that you identify yourself more with the Reading, PA area so our readers may not be as familiar with your various project. What kinds of things have you been up to musically?

Gehret: I’ve been playing a lot of different styles of music; jazz and Brazilian music, Irish, and some classical too. I do some different band situations and I do some solo performances too. I have a band called Irish Mist and I’m in a band with Bruce Campbell and others called Rue de la Pompe which is Parisian swing—Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli . And of course Irish Mist does Celtic music, traditional, but some originals. The Brazilians do Brazilian music—a lot of Jobim, Bonfá—that sort of thing and some original material also. And I have the Violin Quartet–it’s a jazz group, but instead of having a tenor sax I play the violin. We play modern jazz—Coltrane, Miles Davis—that sort of thing.

Folkmama: Henry, you’re really responsible for putting this Neidig, Koretzky, Gehret, Campbell composition together. You selected guys that are all so good individually, but have terrific chemistry on stage together. How has this worked for you?

Koretzky:   I’ve always enjoys putting different groups together and seeing how they interact.  All the time that I’ve been playing, that’s always been a fun thing to do. I play with a lot of different ensembles and a lot of different styles and I’m always thinking, “Mmmm…I wonder how these two people would get along. I wonder how they would interact.”  The opportunity that this concert presents gives me the chance to do this on a more public stage.  It’s been great, for example,  to get Ken and Kevin together to bounce ideas off of each other and support each other’s ideas. It’s always fun for me to do this and in this case I’m doing it in a concert situation with a great listening room atmosphere so that the audience can be part of the experience as well.

Folkmama: Bruce, you play with some of these guys in different bands already. What has it been like playing together as a foursome?

Campbell: It’s fun to think that I play regularly with Ken in the gypsy band and sometimes bluegrass bands, I play with Henry in contra dance bands like the Contra Rebels, and I play with Kevin Neidig usually in concert situations where I play his original tunes. Now we’re all getting together and we are all going to play what we want to play or what we want to feature. It’s a completely different repertoire for the most part than anything I play with these guys on an individual basis. It’s a completely different band made up of people that I routinely play with using a completely different repertoire.

Folkmama: What about you Ken?

Gehret: Playing with this composition of musicians is a lot of fun; it’s certainly the right chemistry. We all hook up very well musically and personally.

Folkmama:  Anything to add Kevin?

Neidig: Henry, Ken and Bruce are just the real deal. They are just fine acoustic musicians that are always trying to hone their craft. They are really the cream of the crop and to get to play with them is just really awesome. It’s very exciting.

Folkmama: So you’ve played this gig for the Folk Music Society two years in a row already, and you’ve been invited back for a third concert. Do you have any special memories of past concerts that you’d like to share?

Neidig: I think I was just so surprised by the attendance and that got us so energized. I talked about this with the group afterwards. You know we are not even a real band, we’re just a bunch of guys who get together to put on a show and we’ve got this packed house. That is just so cool!

Folkmama: And what about you Henry? What has it been like preparing for shows with this group?

Koretzky: I think it’s interesting how every musician prepares for it in a different way. Kevin, for instance is ultra-organized and he will do very precise demos of his original tunes and post them on a private website that we have access to so that we have a choice to work every chord off those tunes individually.

It might surprise audiences to know how fresh the material is, that we don’t have much of a chance to play together, all four of us, before we hit the stage. It’s actually been part of the energy that has gone there. We prepare the stuff, we know exactly what we are going to do, material wise, and we’ve all had a chance to rehearse individually and in small groups. When we played last year we had one four-piece rehearsal the week before. So we knew where the edges of the tunes were, we knew what work we had to do individually, but when we got on stage everything was extremely fresh and exciting. That was part of the excitement of what we were able to deliver up there.

Folkmama: What’s the experience of preparing for these gigs been like for you Bruce?

Campbell: The pattern starts with Henry being the driving force and the disciplinarian.  As of last week said, “Come on boys! Crack the whip. Crack, crack. Snap, snap. We need to get together; we need to make some decisions. We need to decide what our set list is. We need to have MP3s and demos flying around between us so that we can all individually learn this stuff so that when we get together we can launch from there.” So Henry is the driving force. If it wasn’t for Henry nothing would be happening until like two days before the concert and then there would be this panic.

As far as the concert itself, just from me doing sound all those years and me playing there the last couple of years it’s just a wonderful audience and a wonderful venue. Everyone hangs on every word and every lyric and every note. They are attentive and they are sober and they’re appreciative and it’s just a wonderful gig.

Folkmama: And when the band hits the stage, what has been your experience Ken?

Gehret: Well, I was so taken by the warmth of the audience. It has been so wonderful to play for Susquehanna Folk audiences—they are just so into the music. They really made us feel at home.

Folkmama: What’s in store for audiences at the upcoming February 25th concert?

Neidig: For this next concert we’re going to really try to outdo ourselves and get some really cool songs that we normally wouldn’t play because we have these fabulous musicians that can really handle it.  It’s like, “Let’s do a Paul Simon song but do it in a bluegrass format.” I think it’s really going to be a great, interesting show.

Interview by Jess Hayden, Executive Director of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society, January 2012.

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The Trio Brother Sun to Appear, Give Workshop in York, PA January 26th

The all-male trio BROTHER SUN will perform at 7:30 PM on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at Marketview Arts located on 37 W. Philadelphia Street in York, PA.

A Community Singing Traditions workshop will focus on songs of social conscience from 3:30-5:30 PM. Tickets for the concert are $20 for general audiences and $10 for students and can be bought online through visiting

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/265706. The workshop is free. Attendees of the workshop are encouraged to join us for dinner at the White Rose Bar and Grill (right across the street!) and stay for the concert.

Greg Greenway and Pat Wictor have made their mark as veteran touring singer-songwriters. The trio’s harmonies, as much as their lyrics, tell what they are about: warm as a campfire, stirring as a gospel church, rousing as a call to arms. Fusing folk, Americana, blues, pop, jazz, rock, and a cappella singing, Brother Sun is an explosion of musical diversity and harmony, in the finest of male singing traditions. From three major points on the map — Chicago, Boston, and New York — Joe, Greg, and Pat celebrate the amazing power of singing together, their rich voices blending on a well-crafted foundation of guitar, slide guitar, bouzouki and piano.

I caught up with the group recently and had a delightful chat with them about their music and what they hope to bring to audiences.

FOLKMAMA: If someone would walk into a concert and they would have no idea who you were and might not even know anything about folk music–your concert might even be their first venture into folk and acoustic music, what kinds of things should people expect from your concerts?

BROTHER SUN: Harmony. Good harmony. Powerful harmony. The kind that makes you feel uplifted.

GREG GREENWAY: Yeah, I’ve been working on the 21st Century media answer to that question and it’s “Harmony, harmony. Feel good., feel good. Feel free.”

FOLKMAMA: So, what about the song selection. Are they all self-penned or do you do some covers?

JOE JENCKS: A lot of our song are originals. But you know there is such a wealth of material in the world, and not just in folk. So we touch on jazz, we touch on pop and rock. We touch on some unexpected things over the course of an evening.

FOLKMAMA: So listening to you, I wouldn’t necessarily call you a folk band. Do you have any particular genre that you identify with the most or would you just say that it is a mixture of different styles of music?

JOE JENCKS: Our biggest criteria is that it be good music. You know one of the interesting thing about Brother Sun is that we all come from diverse backgrounds, and we can bring this all together as an ensemble. We all have a handful of styles that we have really studied and been students of and have incorporated into our own playing and singing. A then we find common ground among those styles. We draw easily from a dozen styles over the course of an evening .

FOLKMAMA: So do you do every thing on acoustic instruments? You use a keyboard, don’t you?

GREG GREENWAY: Yes, but it’s only used as a piano. We really do stick to acoustic instruments , but at the same time we really push the boundaries. Really, the one unifying factor to Brother Sun is the harmony. From one song to the next we can switch styles really quickly.

But I think what we borrow from folk is the communication between the band and the audience. I think that this the biggest factor that unites us with folk music is that we are in this room together, that we’re here right now. You’re part of this. You’re part of what we do and we’re all in this together. We’re going to sing this together sometimes, sometimes not. That total cognizance of the fact that we’re all in this room together –this is a special night and there will be no other night like this anywhere on earth . So we are going to give you everything we have. We are going to do everything we can to relate what we do to you.

FOLKMAMA: Thanks Greg. You really put into words what the Susquehanna Folk Music Society, who I do the booking for, really expects from our concerts. I think our audiences come in hoping that there is going to be a lot of warmth between them and the performers and I think this is part of the reason that people seek out such intimate venues to go to concerts.

I also know that during your afternoon workshop that you’ll be sharing some songs that later on you’ll sing during your performance. You’ve said that you’d want the workshop singers to be able to sing along during the evening concert. Is that something that you generally welcome from your audiences?

 BROTHER SUN: Yes, absolutely! We don’t want to be the only ones working in the room! Hearing all the singers in the room is always the high point for us.

FOLKMAMA: So, where did the name of the band come from?

JOE JENCKS: We spent a lot of time trying to quantify what it is we are about in a name. First we had to understand what we are about musically and then we literally went though hundreds of names. Just my chance I happened to be the one that promoted Brother Sun. We all thought that it touched on a lot of the elements that we were looking for; it references nature, something that has positive, masculine energy associated with it, we want something that is hopeful and uplifting. We all had different reference points from ancient Greek to Roman mythology to St. Francis of Assisi and Native American spirituality –we all had something to attach to that name and to feel really good about it representing us.

FOLKMAMA: So, how long has the group been together?

BROTHER SUN: We’ve been touring a little over two years together.

FOLKMAMA: So, it’s a relatively recently formed group. And you sound like you are good friends, like you really like each other and enjoy playing together?

GREG GREENWAY: Absolutely, we really do. One of the things that we consistently get said to us after the show is that it is really wonderful to see three men working together in a supportive way with each other. That’s the common compliment.

JOE JENCKS: This is not just a musical, or professional or career oriented journey for us, it’s a very personal journey for us as well. There is nothing more personal than singing. Where with a guitar it is outside of yourself, but singing IS yourself. And to learn to how to sing with other people in a way that is mutually supportive is a very personal journey–it’s one of realizing our own personal potential.

We kindly and gently and lovingly supporting one another as we each reach a little further and each seek to reach our own potential, and then learning to weave that all together. Throughout the years we have each been in different communities that focus on cooperative efforts; whether it be spiritual communities, social justice works or trade unions. Through these experiences we’ve learned that at times it’s important to suspend a little bit of ourselves in order to function as part of the community which has helped us to be able to think more about the ensemble.

PAT WHICTOR: Part of what makes Brother Sun work so well as that we each get to contribute our strengths. Each one of contributing each of our strengths is what makes the whole work that much more hard hitting and spectacular.

GREG GREENWAY: It’s a beautiful thing to be in a group, where like the musical strengths of the two other guys standing beside me are really immense . So I know what it going to happen is REALLY good and I can’t wait to see the audience respond to it. I’ve never been in a group with such talents, guys being to stop the room all by themselves. And those moments are just great because you are thinking, “OK, let’s see what happens when they hear THIS.” You really take pride in the strengths of your partners.

FOLKMAMA: So, anything particular that’s new for the group?

PAT WHICTOR: Since September we have been working on a new CD, and we’re in the home stretch. YEAH! We even have a title for it, it’s called “Some Part of the Truth.”

FOLKMAMA: You’ll be leading a Community Singing” Workshop. Do you want to tell us a few things about the workshop?

JOE JENCKS: We have been moved in our careers, both individually and together, by the power of singing. And certainly we hope with sharing that with the people who attend the workshop that it can become contagious and that we can offer a little bit of the excitement that we have found in singing. We’ll be singing in unison, singing in harmony, singing in rounds, and teaching specific parts to people.

FOLKMAMA: Anything else I missed?

GREG GREENWAYT_BrotherSun: We have yet to say how much fun we have on stage. There is a lot laughing and fun in our show. There is also a lot of depth to our show but it is just a joy to do. People walk out of there uplifted and so do we.