Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble to play at SFMS Cabaret, Sunday evening, June 16

Harrisburg Mandolin EnsembleThe members of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society (SFMS) Board warmly invite South Central Pennsylvania music and party lovers to the 2nd Annual Susquehanna Folk Music Society Cabaret, on Sunday, June 16 from 7-10 pm at the Appalachian Brewing Company located at 50 N. Cameron Street in Harrisburg. The “fun, festive and funky” fundraising event features live music and dancing, costumes, prizes, and an entertaining emcee duo!

Band featured will be the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble and The Chestnuts.

“Two terrific local bands, along with great desserts, our fabulous silent auction and cabaret-themed décor create the intimate, electrifying atmosphere of the stylish old-world cabaret,” says SFMS Executive Director Jess Hayden. The Appalachian Brewing Company, chosen for its vibrant party vibe, will be offering its regular full cash bar and dinner menu for our guests to enjoy if they like. Tickets for the festivities are $25 if ordered before June 5th or $30 after that date. Tickets must be purchased by June 10th at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

The Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble will bring to life the sounds of the historic mandolin ensemble, which at one time could be found in many communities across the United States. To learn more, check out the interview below with band member Henry Koretzky.


Interview with Henry Koretzky of the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble

By Chris Moulton

I recently interviewed Henry Koretzky, who plays the mandolin, mandocello and does vocals for the group. The Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble was founded about a year and a half ago, when 5 local musicians came together to form the band.

“A bunch of us who play mandolin found each other and started the band.” Henry said.

Tom Cook, a lawyer and mandolin player got together with Wade Yankey and started brainstorming a mandolin group. The ensemble resulted. They recruited Henry Koretzky, Greg Rohrer and Pete Netznik to round out the band. They have done about a dozen shows together since.

“A lot of people associate the mandolin with bluegrass.  I want to make sure that people understand that bluegrass is only a small part of what we play.” Henry said when asked about the style of music that the band plays.

Indeed, the band plays a mix of swing, jazz, bluegrass, folk and world music. Wade, the youngest member of the group, who also plays with Colebrook Road, even brings some classical pieces into the group. For example, he does a Bach cello piece as well as a piece by Bartok.

“Even though the group is blue grass based individually, the band has branched out in different directions,” Henry said.  “We now play a handful of bluegrass songs and a lot of other styles like swing.”

So just what is a mandolin and what is its origin?

“If you get into the traditions of a mandolin, it really is a pretty versatile instrument,” Henry said. Guitar, mandolin and lute are pretty much related. Every culture has a variation on the mandolin. There is the bouzouki which is Greek and the balalaika which is Russian, for example.”

According to Wikipedia, there was an instrument called the mandore which was prevalent in the 14th century and evolved from the lute. During the 17th and 18th century it later developed into the mandolin.

During the early 1900’s and late 1800s mandolin orchestras became very popular. Traveling mandolinists and teachers from Europe emigrated to other parts of the world such as the USA, Japan and Australia leading to orchestras in those countries. The orchestra would consist of 30-40 musicians playing different instruments from the mandolin family.

“You have mandolas instead of violas and mandolin base instead of base,” Henry said.

There are about 30 mandolin orchestras around the country today, including orchestras in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. In addition to the mandolin orchestra, there is the mandolin quartet which is modeled after a string quartet. Of course, Henry’s group is an ensemble.

“We were modeled after the mandolin orchestras. We decided earlier on to keep it a manageable size. We decided between each other to play different types of music. We wanted to find and arrange tunes for our various strengths”, Henry said.

For further information on the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble, visit their website at http://www.harrisburgmandolinensemble.com.


Red Molly to Wow Audiences with Beautiful Three Part Harmony–May 19th, Harrisburg, PA

Red MollySince 2004, the Americana/Roots female trio Red Molly has been bringing audiences to their feet with lush three-part harmonies, crisp musicianship, and a warm, engaging stage presence. With a new member in tow and a new CD out, Red Molly makes a return appearance in the Harrisburg area at a May 19, 2013, Susquehanna Folk Music Society matinee concert at 4 p.m., at Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. Tickets and information at www.sfmsfolk.org

In April I interviewed band member Lauri MacAllister about what the band has been doing since they last played Harrisburg and what the future holds for them.

Folkmama: What’s the band been up to the last couple of years?

Lauri: You probably know that back in 2010 was the year that Carolann Solebello stepped down and we added Molly Venter to the line-up. So Molly had just joined the band the last time we were in Harrisburg, which was a bit of an uncertain time for us because we weren’t really sure how all of our fans would react to the idea of having a new band mate.

The thing is that when you are established for like six years as being three certain people–Lauri, Abbie and Carolann–it can be kind of a stressful thing to change the line-up because the fans had come to know and love Red Molly as they knew it. So we were a little bit nervous but it turned out that our fans were as nice about this as they are about everything. They accepted Molly really wholeheartedly and were so enthusiastic and supportive. So it’s been wonderful the last few years of going through that process again of gelling together as a band, getting to know one another both off stage and onstage. It’s turned out that things have gone really, really well with Molly and I think everyone just agrees that she’s the perfect fit.

That’s the main thing that’s happened over the last few years since we’ve been to Harrisburg but in terms of the actual shows we’ve got to play a number of things that have been on our wish list. We got to play the RockyGrass Festival out in Colorado and we did get a couple of offers to open for Willie Nelson and that was up in Massachusetts last summer. So we do think that adding Molly to the band created a lot of positive buzz.

We recently got our first offer to perform in Europe which we will do in August when we play at the Tønder festival in Denmark and about a year ago we were invited to do a tour in Australia. We were there for the entire month and it was really fantastic. There were 1,000 people at many of the shows because it was festival season over in Australia and so we went at just the right time and we play four different festival and lots of smaller shows in between and it was really, really fun. We feel like we played for maybe 25,000 people, total which is a lot to do in a month.

There have been a lot of great highlights in terms of bigger shows and reaching more people and just being able to share our music with a larger audience.

Folkmama: For the uninitiated, what would a concert with Red Molly be like?

Lauri: When we’re talking to people who are not familiar with folk music or the Americana music scene, we like to say that it is mostly kind of a country sounding music, but more “rootsy” country. It’s generally focused on three part harmony vocals, that’s one thing that distinguishes us and Abbie plays the dobro– the resonator guitar–and that’s been sort of our signature sound from the beginning. The instrument itself has a very distinctive sound therefore Red Molly has a special sound that is created by the dobro being central to the band’s sound.

In terms of the experience at a concert, the main thing is that we love good music and love to play and I think that that really comes across. And we are also very good friends and love each other as people and so that makes the whole experience on stage fun and I think that translates to the audience because people have called it contagious where they can tell that we’re having a good time and so the audience has a good time.

We are also very grateful to the people who come out to the shows. We’re just naturally friendly and very inclusive. Basically people can expect to have a nice evening a better evening than if they stayed home and watched TV.

Folkmama: What’s next for Red Molly?

We have a bunch of really enjoyable shows coming up. We’ve played at many of these venues before, so it’s like visiting old friends. We’re doing the Kate Wolf Festival again in California and a small festival in Colorado called High Mountain Hay Fever which we’ve done before and we love. But really the highlight of the festival season for us will be the Tønder Festival in Denmark.

We’ll also be playing at the Falcon Ridge. It’s our ninth anniversary since forming the band right at the Falcon Ridge Folk Fest which we did in 2004. And then the fall and spring are full of lots of performing arts centers which is a new level for us. So we’re really looking forward to playing some of the places that we have done before that we love but also branching into a whole new audience at performing arts centers.

Folkmama: I noticed on your website that you now have your first official video. Can you tell me about that?

It took us awhile but we did put out our first official music video on March 1st and it’s to a song that Abbie wrote with her father called “Hello, Goodbye” and people can find that online on our website at RedMolly.com . It’s had over 7,000 hits. That will definitely give people a sense of our playfulness and the fun that we like to have with our music.