Bumper Jacksons Come to Harrisburg October 23rd!

The Bumper Jacksons, a hot and sweet six-piece band that paints America’s story from New Orleans brothels to Appalachian hollers, comes to Harrisburg on Sunday, October 23, 2016, for a 7:30 p.m. Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert in the Abbey Bar at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.


The Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagined roots music with both power and tenderness. This is a sit-down concert in a listening-room environment.

Members of the Bumper Jacksons include Jess Eliot Myhre on clarinet, vocals, and washboard, Chris Ousley on guitar and vocals, Alex Lacquement on bass, Don Samuels on drums and suitcase percussion, Dave Hadley on pedal steel guitar and Joe Brotherton on trumpet.

Tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website .

I had a chance to interview Jess Eliot Myhre about the band’s sound, origins and even where the band’s unusual name came from!


FOLKMAMA: The Bumper Jacksons have such a great, fun, jazzy sound. I’d like to hear a little bit about how the band came to be.

JESS: Chris, the guitar player and I started the group almost exactly five years ago. We grew to become the sextet that we are today pretty organically and slowly over time. We’ve asked lots of musicians to sit in with us over the years, either at music festivals or at house parties around the DC/Baltimore area. Slowly over time the people that we really clicked with, both musically and personally, we’ve invited to become actual band mates.

There was never a grand vision at the beginning that we would be this roosty band with bass and drums and horns and pedal steel. They happened to be the people that we enjoyed playing with that added new textures and fun sounds and nuances to the songs that Chris and I were writing.

FOLKMAMA: It’s unusual to find a pedal steel guitar player in a jazz band. I imagine that this has really allowed you to broaden your sound.

JESS: One can find pedal steel guitar players that play in jazzier ways, but no, usually people would think of the pedal steel guitar to be in country music or Hawaiian music…or of course Western Swing music would be the most apt influence for us. Often these big Western Swing bands did a lot of the same repertoire as the early jazz bands.

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

JESS: We’re actually named after a dog named Bumper. A lot of dogs do this–where the sound of certain instruments will get them to chorus with you, basically howl along. And Bumper was very drawn to my clarinet. And would just howl right a long and run right up and sit next to me. We named the group after Bumper and Jacksons was the name of the people who owned him.

FOLKMAMA: You are a fabulous singer and a great improv jazz clarinet player. How did you get your start?

JESS: I grew up singing in church and I didn’t really get serious about music until after I was already out of college and I moved to New Orleans. That was in 2010 and I really fell in love with the music that I was hearing and I had a couple of great informal teachers down there that would let me sit in with their band and gave me listening homework. So I really started diving into traditional forms of music.

I learned to play clarinet in the middle school band in the Florida public school system. Then I put it down for a long time. I owned a little plastic clarinet that was still at my folk’s house in Florida and so I after I graduated from college I called my mom up and asked her to ship it to me so that I could learn the New Orleans sound on it.


FOLKMAMA: What singers do you like to listen to? Who are you most inspired by?

JESS: I really like a lot of female vocalists from the early jazz era. Ella Fitzgerald in particular is one of my favorites. Then also Lena Horn and Billy Holiday to a certain extent. Recently I’ve been getting into classic country female vocalists like Patsy Kline.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me where you get your repertoire from.

JESS: The majority of songs that one hears at a Bumper Jacksons show are either written by Chris or me. Most of it is original material. We mostly write separately although we have been experimenting over the last few months with being more collaborative.

FOLKMAMA: What should audiences expect when they come to one of your shows?

JESS: I would say in general that our shows are pretty high energy, “dancey” kinds of events, with some moments of intimate tenderness. We both like to really move people bodily, but also emotionally.


The Abbey Bar is located upstairs at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.  The Concert begins at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 FOR SFMS Members, and $10 for students.  Tickets are available at the door as well as through Brown Paper Tickets online or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website .


Ruthie Foster Comes to Harrisburg October 16th!


For one night, Austin musician Ruthie Foster migrates to our Northern capital.

“I love my work. I think that’s my fuel for all that fire onstage.”

So says Rruthie-foster-bootsuthie Foster, a captivating performer who uses her strong, soulful voice to inspire, lift and move audiences.

Foster combines elements of blues, folk, soul, and gospel to create a distinctive style that has won her legions of fans both in the U.S. and abroad. During concerts she exudes energy and passion while moving effortlessly from one powerful song to another.

On October 16th at 7:30 PM, Foster comes to Harrisburg courtesy of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania. The event will take place at the Abbey Bar of the Appalachian Brewery Company in Harrisburg. Unlike some of the shows held at the Abbey Bar this is a sit-down concert in a listening-room environment. The venue is located at 50 North Cameron Street in Harrisburg. Tickets are $24 General Admission, $21 for SFMS and BSCP members and $10 for students and can be purchased at www.sfmsfolk.org or at the door.

Although Foster often performs with a band, this show will be solo. She says that she is looking forward to the change in pace.

“I get more freedom with the direction of the show, and can work with the energy in the room differently, she says. “In some ways, playing solo is more relaxing than with the band and in other ways, it’s more challenging.”

Ruthie Foster is one of the most decorated blues artists performing today.

Besides her 2010, 2012 and 2014 Grammy nominations, Ruthie has been recognized by organizations such as the Austin Music Awards (2007, 2008 and 2013 Best Female Vocalist), Blues Music Awards (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013), Living Blues Awards (2010 Critics’ Poll Winner and 2011 nominee for Blues Female Artist of the Year).

Ruthie says that she’s equally excited about all the awards that she receives.

“They’re all pretty awesome. I don’t think I could pick a favorite. Being recognized is a great honor.”

A native of Gause, Texas, Ruthie is part of a large gospel-singing family and it’s obvious that many of her original songs are influenced by the full throated and joyous music of her youth.

“Music was all around me growing up,” she said.” I sang with my relatives in church and started playing the organ before I could even reach the pedals. On the radio in Texas, I got to listen to everything from Conjunto to blues.”

All that listening has led her to embrace a wide variety of styles. “I think that there’s a little bit of everything in my work, “she said.”I love the old soul, blues and gospel singers like Etta James, Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson and Howlin Wolf. Along with my originals when I perform I also do some Mississippi John Hurt and even a traditional Georgia Sea Islands song called Travelin Shoes.”

Sometimes she’ll throw in a cover song like Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. Her treatment of the song is so innovative, that you might not even recognize this iconic 1960s favorite.

“I like to cover songs that are timeless and still relevant,” she said. “I look for songs that I can do a little something new with it and something that moves my spirit.”

Ruthie wrote about half the songs on her newest album Promise of a Brand New Day. On the CD is a beautiful a capella song, “Brand New Day” which Ruthie wrote for her grandmother.

“I wanted to dedicate this to her and her spirit,” she said. “In church she used to tell us all the time to ‘follow the promise of a brand new day’”

The CD was produced in LA by rapper and bassist Meshell N’degeocello who Ruthie called ‘an inspiring artist’ who was ‘very accommodating’ in the studio.

“She made it very easy for me to just come in and sing,” Ruthie said. “Her playing was impeccable, I’m so proud of this record.”

Now living in Austin, Texas, Ruthie says that she doesn’t get as much time as she’d like to enjoy one of the country’s music meccas.

“I’m out of town so much, I really only get to play there a couple times a year at most,” she said. “But it’s a great place to live, and there is a whole lot of music going on there at any time. “


The Appalachian Brewing Company is located at 50 N. Cameron St in Harrisburg. Concert tickets are $24 general admission and $10 for students. Tickets and information can be found online at www.sfmsfolk.org or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006. This concert is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lois Lehrman Grass Foundation.


—-This article appeared, with minor adaptations, in The Burg Magazine’s October 2016 edition. Written by Jess Hayden. Used with permissions.



Susan Werner performs October 7th in York, PA for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society

Photos by Robert Yahn

Dubbed by National Public Radio as the “Empress of the Unexpected,” singer/songwriter Susan Werner will play homage to the American farmer, singing songs about farming (along with her other contagiously clever repertoire) when she performs at 8 PM on Friday, October 7th at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York.

Complementsusan-werner-1-bob-yahning this agriculture-themed concert will be a Farmer’s Panel to be held at 7 PM. The church is located at 925 S. George Street in York.

The groups participating in the Farmer’s Panel include Sonnewald Natural Foods, the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, Sunnyside Farms, and York Fresh Food Farms. Displays and literature will be available. The Farmer’s Panel is free.

Concert tickets are $25 General Admission, $21 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22.  Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838–3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at www.sfmsfolk.org.


During the concert Werner will keep her audiences guessing and laughing simultaneously, lending her wry humor and passionate voice to subjects such as farmer’s markets, agrochemicals, climate change, drought, longing for a sense of place, and the movement towards sustainable agriculture. The characters in her songs are varied and colorful and the lyrics are sharp as thistles. With this new selection of songs Werner continues her reign as one of the most bold and creative forces on the acoustic music scene

“A concert is like going on a date,” singer/songwriter Susan Werner told Daniel Gewertz of the Boston Herald. “You want to be honest about who you are. You can’t just show up in a chiffon dress and expect a limousine to show up. You have to introduce yourself to an audience, take them by the hand.” A concert date with the always feisty and perceptive Susan Werner is an eventful ride, with stops in folk, pop-rock, and classic jazz styles. Since making a name for herself in the crowded folk scene of the early 1990s, Werner has kept audiences guessing with new ideas and approaches.

Born around 1965 in Manchester, Iowa, Werner grew up on her family’s hog farm. But she took to singing rather than farming. When she was three, she grabbed attention at a family party with her rendition of a beer commercial jingle. “That was it. My life direction was fixed,” Werner told Paul McKay of the Ottawa Citizen.

Werner has recorded numerous CDs including Hayseed which she dedicated to “my father and mother, and their fathers and mothers, and their fathers and mothers, and their fathers and mothers… farmers, all.”

This concert is presented in cooperation with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York. Funding for this Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert is provided by Donna and Robert Pullo and the Puffin Foundation. Additional funding comes from the Cultural Enrichment Fund and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, administered locally by the Cultural Alliance of York County. ________________________________________susan-werner-2-bob-yahn

To learn more about Susan Werner, read the following excerpt for the Riffs Magazine interview conducted in 2013 by Joe Montague. To read the full interview, click here: http://www.rivetingriffs.com/Susan%20Werner.html


When singer-songwriter-musician Susan Werner puts on her advocacy hat for farmers, talks about reeducating farmers and about more organic ways of doing things she does so with a great deal of credibility. Susan Werner grew up on a farm in Iowa and her family has been farmers for several generations. When she sings “herbicides done made me gay,” she takes a playful poke at the ultra-conservative element in farming who are homophobic. Werner who is gay felt this was an effective way to get those farmers to reconsider their position on continuing the use herbicides. All of which leads us to Susan Werner’s new Folk album Hayseed on which the song “Herbicides,” appears.

This interview is protected by copyright © by Riveting Riffs Magazine, All Rights Reserved.