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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