Martin Hayes, John Doyle & Kevin Crawford–The Teetotallers– appear in Harrisburg April 26, 2013

The Teetotalers by Jordan KoepkeOn Friday, April 26th at 7:30 PM the Susquehanna Folk Music Society is THILLED to be presenting three of the very best Irish musicians alive, six times All Ireland Fiddle Champion Martin Hayes, John Doyle who the Irish Echo called the best guitarist in traditional Irish music today and Kevin Crawford from the group Lúnasa who is known for his excellent Irish flute playing and wit.

This trio—who call themselves the Teetotallers will appear at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 Front Street, Harrisburg. Opening for The Teetotallers will be local favorites Irish Blessing. Tickets and information can be found at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/352854

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Read the interview below with the Teetotalers guitarist JOHN DOYLE to find out more about the concert.

1. How long have the Teetotallers been together?

We’ve been doing it for the last couple of years. Very seldom we’ll do a tour because we’re busy with other things. Kevin Crawford is with Lúnasa and Martin is Martin, you know with all sorts of projects going on—and myself too. We try to get our calendars together to do at least one tour together a year. This is our second tour in the states.

2. Where do each of you live?

I live in Asheville, North Carolina and I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in County Sligo. Ireland the last year and a half—been back and forth. Kevin lives in County Clair and Martin lives in Clair also, although he’s back and forth a lot too.

3. How did the band first get together? How did you pick your name?

We were all doing this festival called the Sebastopel Celtic Festival in California back in 2010 and this man named Cloud Moss who organizes the festival does this thing during one show where he throws a bunch of people together to play. So this is one of the configurations that he picked. He actually even named us the Teetotallers because none of us drink. So we thought it was pretty apt and we figured that no one else would take the name. So it was great to not have to ponder or worry about the name.

4. Style of music?

Its old reels—flute, fiddle and guitar. It’s going back to the roots of the music and playing simply but at the same time deeply. We play mainly music from County Clare. I sing too so there will be a combination of songs and tunes.

5. Which Counties are you all from in Ireland?

They are both from Clare and I’m from Dublin originally.

6. What strengths does each person bring to the group?

Martin and Kevin are really in-depth. They have been studying the tradition and played it all their lives. Myself too. We all started from a very early age. We all started in the tradition itself—we grew up in a family of musicians—all of us. That’s one of the things about Irish music or folk music; it’s very familiar—familiar based. It’s serving the tradition—serving the culture to a degree even though you’re not consciously thinking about that. There’s an overriding feeling about that somehow—subconsciously maybe. From that—Martin has keep the tradition from his family—this depth of fiddle playing that he has. And it’s more of a feeling—the feeling of a country, and Kevin really does the same thing. And I’m different in a way. I bring a different quality to the band—a different feeling and a different energy. And as far as songs are concerned I really try to go back and get some old—some really traditional ballads. I also write some songs, but the songs I write sound very much like the traditional ones, and they give the feeling of the country too.

7. So how long have you known each other?

We’ve known each other a long time. Off and on we’ve met each other at festivals and airports a lot. But the last couple of years were the first time that we have played together.

8. Do you have a CD together yet?

No, we’ll figure that out when it comes.

9. And have you had pretty good reception at your concerts?

People understand where we are coming from. The music—it’s not about trying to impress anyone, it’s about playing the music how we feel it. We’ve been playing it long enough to know that just playing it from the heart and playing as well as you can. It’s about jelling together when we play, it’s about the community. When people get together to play its like there is a jelling of spirit, of tone, and of experience. If you really pay attention to each other’s playing, there is something special that happens in the music. Any form of music—any tradition. That’s what I feel when I play with the Teetotallers. I feel the energy that is there. I love it.

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Blues icon Rory Block to perform in York, PA April 21st

Rory smallRecognized as “a national treasure,” “a living landmark,” and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists,” Rory Block comes to Central Pennsylvania for an April 21, 2013, concert at 4 p.m. at Marketview Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia Street, York. The concert is sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society in association with the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania. Tickets are available here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/303057 or at the door.

Rory Block has been interviewed so many times that she has elected to post interview questions and responses on her website. The below interview is just a small portion of a longer interview. To read the full interview go here: http://www.roryblock.com/Pages/HeaderLinks/Interview.htm

In the interview she talks about her beginnings living in Greenwich Village during the folk and blues revival of the 1960s. She also speaks about her memories of meeting and interacting with blues legends Son House, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt and others.

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When were you born?

November 6th, 1949 in Princeton, New Jersey.

Where did you grow up?

For the first year of my life I lived in a tiny shack on a hillside in Neshanic, New Jersey. It was pretty crude, no plumbing, a well outside in the grass, an outhouse and all that. My parents were probably the world’s first “hippies.” I have tender memories of that house as we went back many times in later years and it looked tinier and tinier each time, the driveway more endless and overgrown, the woods denser and more remote.When I was a toddler we moved to New York City to a neighborhood known as “little Italy.” Back then it was almost like a small European city. Now the area is known as Soho, but in those days we didn’t have boutiques, fancy restaurants and stars walking the streets. Mostly kids on bicycles and nannies pushing strollers. There were men’s social clubs, Italian bakeries and ma and pa grocery stores.

Where do you live now?

Early on I knew I had to get out of the City. I had a three year old and felt I needed space and light and greenery to raise him. We moved to Upstate New York and have been there ever since.

Can you tell us about your first experiences with music and what inspired you to start playing the guitar?

When I was very young my mother sang to me at bedtime and my dad would often play the banjo or fiddle in the evening. I knew music was important and central to everything; most particularly it had a powerful healing value and created a sense of peace and security. This stood out to me as I always felt the world was precarious and dangerous, and music supplied those moments of real peace and safety.

At the age of ten I was suddenly inspired to play guitar, so I picked up my mother’s old Galiano and began figuring out “Froggy Went A Courtin’.” From that moment on the guitar was virtually welded to me – all I did was play. I have a picture of myself at summer camp when I was ten years old. My friends were all smiling at the camera, and I was looking down at my guitar.

Tell us about Greenwich Village in the 60’s and about your dad’s Sandal Shop on West 4th Street which became a meeting place for acoustic musicians from all over the city.

In the sixties Greenwich Village was a neighborhood with a small town atmosphere. Everyone knew everyone. You could count on the same old restaurants, stores, and pizzerias to be there year after year. The chef at the local breakfast place knew how you liked your eggs and coffee.. stuff like that. But of course it has changed and it is much more anonymous and crowded, just like everywhere.

The first big music scene started in Washington Square Park somewhere in the sixties. In those days everyone would get together and jam. It was a really fantastic period of time with an incredible amount of musical energy everywhere. That’s the period of time when Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and so many other great artists were getting established. I came into my dad’s store one day and saw a pale, artistic looking man sitting there with a small cap and long fingernails holding a guitar. After he left my dad told me he was a musician and a poet, but that he didn’t want any part of the pressures of the business and just wanted to be true to his art and his poetry. It was Bob Dylan. Later my dad told me he had seen a great singer in a small club in the Village who’s voice had the power to make you weep. He said, “You watch, this young woman is going to become very famous.” It was Joan Baez.

My dad would bring his fiddle to work and every day he’d put down his leather tools and start to play. Needless to say the sound of Appalachian fiddle music wafting into the streets on West 4th and Jones drew interest from people strolling down the street, and before long the word was out to bring your instrument and come on down. Saturday afternoon was the big day for gathering musicians, and there were frequently crowds jammed well out into the streets, craning their necks to get a glimpse of some of the finest live music you could hear anywhere for free. These were serious, real players. David Grisman, Maria Muldaur, Frank Wakefield, Eric Weissberg, Roger Sprung, John Herald, Jodie Stecker and many others were frequently present. I was about 12 or 13 years old at the time and I got in there with the others and wailed away on my guitar. My dad was often asked if he had to force me to practice. “How did she get so good?” he would be asked. But no one ever told me to practice, I just lived and breathed the guitar. I did most of my learning at this time and I have never equaled the intensity and focus of that period at any other time in my life.

When did you first become aware of blues?

I first heard Stefan Grossman playing ragtime guitar in Washington Square Park in 1964 when I was 14. He gave me a record called “Really The Country Blues” and that was the beginning of my love affair with the music.

It must have been profound meeting and playing music with blues masters such as  Do you think that led to your lifelong infatuation with country blues?

I was already infatuated with country blues before I met any of the masters, but there’s no doubt that meeting in the flesh was an incalculable inspiration and helped to cement my knowledge of and passion for the music.

At the time I was friends with a group of musicians and scholars who were involved in “rediscovering” the old blues masters, going door to door asking for any word of their whereabouts. In this way, quite a few of the old players were found and brought up North for concerts. During this time I was lucky enough to meet Son House, Bukka White, Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell, Skip James, Reverend Gary Davis and others. Here are a few of my recollections:

Reverend Gary Davis: I met Reverend Gary Davis at his house in the Bronx. Stefan had known him for some time and used to lead him onstage for his performances. The Reverend was a guitar genius who also had a razor sharp and insightful mind. His sense of humor was shattering, and he kept Stefan on his toes with what amounted to a non-stop back and forth roast session. He told Stefan he had robbed the cradle as I was 15 and must have seemed like a complete baby. But keep in mind that Stefan was only 19 himself at the time. It was over my head and I just sat there watching him play. His teaching style never involved taking apart licks or explaining anything, he just played at you and you had to run like the wind to follow along. He also visited our apartment in the city, and I had the occasion to draw him as he sat with his characteristic slump and his cigar burning slowly down. Stefan’s hand was always outstretched catching the ashes.

Skip James: Stefan and I visited Skip James in the hospital when he had cancer, and I never saw a greater manifestation of quiet sorrow. I got chills in his presence as his mood and personality matched the raw emotion in his music. Reverend Gary Davis’ old version of “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” came to mind.

Mississippi John Hurt: We stopped in on Mississippi John Hurt at his home in Washington, DC, where he welcomed us with typical Southern hospitality. His demeanor was incredibly shy and sweet and he was in every way a gentleman. When we played “Frankie & Albert” together I was blown away by the strong, simple beauty of his playing – my dad always said music was not about speed and flash but about feeling and the power of the individual notes – and Mississippi John embodied this lesson as he rocked back and forth, moving his shoulders from left to right with the rhythm. He also had a sly sense of humor and was always offering us Maxwell House coffee. He’d say “Good to the last drop!” with a mischevious smile.

Son House: Sitting in the same room with Son House was deeply moving and inspiring. He was the most influential blues master to me. I would say I learned more about delivery and how to express passion from Son House than anyone else. He did not have Reverend Gary Davis’s humor and was a far more serious presence. To know I was sitting in a room with a man who hung out with Robert Johnson, that was goose pimple material. I played Willie Brown’s “Future Blues” for him and he kept asking where I had learned to play like that.

Fred McDowell: I spent a fair amount of time with Fred McDowell when he stayed at our house in Berkeley, California. He was a real character and seemed quite a bit younger than Son, The Reverend, Mississippi John and Skip. We performed together one night at an open mike gathering, and that’s when someone jumped up and shouted, “She plays like a man!” I was dumbfounded.. what did they mean? Why were women not expected to play this way? I didn’t get it.

Bukka White: I met Bukka White at a little jazz club in New York. He was broad and powerful and really slammed the guitar. Oddly enough I didn’t fully appreciate his style until recently, when I was listening to an old compilation CD and mistook him for Blind Willie Johnson. Suddenly I noticed his powerful growl and incredible slide playing. He was the master of playing, singing and talking all at the same time.

I don’t think these older bluesmen who had lived with the worst kind of racism and separatism all their lives could really understand why white people were all of a sudden interested in their music. I always felt that Son, Mississippi John, and Skip James were somewhat shell shocked by the whole thing, like they’d pinch themselves and wake up.

People have repeatedly asked you the same question: “Why did a young white girl from New York City play 1930’s era black blues from the rural South?” and you have answered “It’s not your skin, it’s your soul.” But I still have to point out that most girls your age were listening to the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, not crackly old 78’s of Willie Brown. What do you think drew you to the music?

I always make an analogy to falling in love. It’s a mystery. Who knows why we are drawn to things or why they resonate with us? That’s the mystery of why we are who we are. I can only say that it sounded like the most hauntingly beautiful music I had ever heard and that it spoke to what was in my heart. I could list off various life events and experiences I have had in an effort to convince you that I have “the right to sing the blues,” but in the end that explains nothing. It’s a deeper matter, and it does come down to the soul. We are all one seed, and inspiration is not limited by skin color.

 

You have received rave reviews for your live shows and many people say you are better in person than on record. What is it about performing live that inspires you?

I get massive amounts of energy from the audience, and no matter what mood I may be in, I always connect with them within a song or two and from there the sense of being among friends actually overtakes me and I open up. I never have a set list and each show is as different as it can be as a result. There is a sense of suspense, of the unknown. I use the audience as a guide, I feel their mood and take the cues. This is one reason why I hate playing in one place for two nights, because it robs me of this particular need for spontaneity. I become really stale if I know what to expect.

An Interview with GARNET ROGERS Who Will Perform in Harrisburg, PA, APRIL 13!

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Editor’s Note:

***This interview was conducted in October, 2010 and has been adapted to include information on Garnet Roger’s upcoming performance at the Fort Hunter Barn, Harrisburg, PA at 7:30, Saturday, April 13. Additional information at http://www.sfmsfolk.org/concerts/GarnetRogers_2013.html ***

Garnet Rogers is a Canadian songwriter who has performed throughout the world for the past 35 years. From 1973-1983 he was an accompanist for his brother Stan Rogers, perhaps one of the most influential songwriters that Canada has ever produced. Since his brother’s death, Garnet has become a phenomenal songwriter in his own right and has continued on as a solo performer.

FOLKMAMA: Good morning Garnet and thanks for speaking to me.

 GARNET: Good morning. I’m just sitting here watching the snow. First snow of the year. It’s not massive snow, just flurries.

FOLKMAMA: You live on a farm, right?

GARNET: Yeah. It’s a small farm, 20 acres. We have horses. We have little breeding operation here. We have a thoroughbred stallion. And we own a few rescue mares. It’s kind of winding down, though. At one point we had 22 horses and at two other farms that we were renting. That was ten years ago, but we’re down to just a handful of horses now. It’s much easier on the back.

FOLKMAMA: I’m a presenter for Susquehanna Folk where you are going to be playing on April 13th. Two years ago you performed an opening set for a Susquehanna Folk Greg Brown concert opening for Greg Brown.

GARNET: Yeah. I had made an inquiry as I was sort of down in that area. I knew that Greg was playing there and I just love him to bits. We don’t get a chance to see each other very much. I think that I did a show for you guys 7 or 8 years ago at the Fort Hunter Barn. You guys do such a good job. It was a beautiful room and I just had a great time. I just have this really nice memory of a very warm evening. It was a beautiful landscape around the barn. It was one of those nights when you think “You know, this is not a bad way to make a living.”

FOLKMAMA: Well, thank you. We love presenting there; it has a lot of warmth. But I think that you have done another concert for Susquehanna Folk too touring with Archie Fisher

GARNET: I remember doing one with Archie Fisher a million year ago.

FOLKMAMA: You put a CD out with Archie, right?

GARNET: We did a couple.

FOLKMAMA: Can you tell me what people should expect at your concert?

GARNET: Well, I never quite know what I’m going to play until I have the guitar in my hand. My songs tend to be fairly serious. The stuff between the songs tend to be not. I sort of have this—I don’t know if you call it “bi-polar” approach to doing shows where the songs all tend to be of a fairly series nature and between them I’m just basically making fun of myself and whatever I see around me. So, it’s supposed to be funny and people are supposed to be laughing. They generally do. I’m not doing stand-up comedy or anything; it’s just “observational weirdness”.

 FOLKMAMA: And since you are a guitar collector, I’m wondering which guitars you will have with you.

GARNET: I’ll probably just have a couple of guitars with me. Last night I did a show locally and I had more. I generally have anywhere between 7 and a dozen guitars with me. They are all tuned differently and they all have different sounds and personalities, different problems that I have to adjust to. That’s really part of my thing; I go around with a museum collection of old  guitars. My wife and I have two houses. One of the houses is just full of guitars. That’s my workhouse. I got a guitar in last week and another one that I’m hoping to pick up in Ithaca on my way to Harrisburg. It’s just a constant quest for new sound.

FOLKMAMA: Are you trying out new luthiers too, or is it mostly antique stuff?

GARNET: It’s mostly antiques. Anything made before 1944. After  that it has to be a pretty spectacular instrument or something really special for me to truly lust after it. There is a period between 1942 and 1944 that I particularly like guitars from the Gibson guitar factory where the guitars were mostly made by women because of the war thing. There is something really special about those guitars. They were just made really beautifully. I think that women tend to focus better on details. There were a handful of old guys who were teaching them, they were too old and frail to do war work, so these women learned from the masters. That’s sort of the period that I like the best. But, I have guitars that go all the way back to 1890. It’s partly conservationas well. If I find something that needs a home, to be brought back to life—it’s sort of the guitar version of the horse rescue that we do. It’s like finding some broodmare that shivering in a field and you say “damn”, and you take her home and you put a blanket on her and she spends the rest of her life in a friendly place. It’s kind of an impulse to sort of preserve things.

FOLKMAMA: I read an article that said that you had 9 solo CDs, but you probably have more by now. Do you know what number you are up to?

GARNET: 12 or 13 I think—but another dozen with other people.

FOLKMAMA: Do you have your own label?

GARNET: I’ve always had my own label since 1976. Snow Goose.

FOLKMAMA: You recorded one on Red House Records though. How did that come about?

GARNET: Well Bob Feldman, rest his soul, he just always said to me, “I think you are a Red House artist”. You know, even as good and fair as Red House is, it’s the best of all the independents, it just financially didn’t make sense for me to have to buy back my own music from my record company. So they just said if I wanted to do a record that I could do a compilation and I could have whatever I wanted on it from the first 9 albums. So that’s what they did. The put together a nice compilation and they did a lovely job on it, but I didn’t really have any input on it. It was nice. It got the name around a little more. [Editor’s note: All That Is: The Songs of Garnet Rogers] But that’s as far as it went. I really strongly believe in keeping control of my own deal. Once you give the record company the right, you give them the right to have input. I’m not really big on that.

FOLKMAMA: Your newest CD “Get a Witness” features quite a few songsthat showcases other songwriters. Is that unusual for you?

GARNET: It’s just a little bit different as I wanted to record some songs that I had in the repertoire. There was a Karen Savoca song that I really, really wanted to do. There was a Bruce Springsteen song which dovetailed nicely with the last two songs on the CD, one of which is mine, the other one of my brother’s. [Editor’s note: Stan Rogers] That ended up being a whole half hour piece. Those three songs plus an instrumental break in the middle. They were all performed live with no editing. It’s as it was performed. I’m so proud of it and the way that the band performed. It’s an extraordinary band. At one point there are 8 people on stage and they are just really giving it hell.

FOLKMAMA: Is this your own band?

Garnet: It was actually the core of another band and then some people that I played with for a couple of years including David Woodhead [Editor’s note: bass player who recently played in a SFMS concert with James Keelaghan] who I have been playing with since 1975. He has been on about every folk album in Canada for 35 years.

FOLKMAMA This CD seems to be a little more electric then some of your others.

GARNET: The whole CD is not that way but the first one in particular is really a kind of mean spirited slap at your X-president, George W. And that kind of just needed a very loud and aggressive treatment. There is also a gospel number dedicated to Coretta Scott King that needed a full, what I was imagining to be a gospel treatment. So that got pretty big. And the last half an hour gets pretty big, but the rest of it is quiet and a little more folky. But for your show on November 12th, I’ll just be a guy with his guitar.