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 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.


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