Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret & Bruce Campbell on Saturday February 18th at the Fort Hunter Barn in Harrisburg

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is excited to be presenting a concert and an Early Jazz Clinic with t_neidig_koretzky_gehret_campbellat 5300 N Front St in Harrisburg, PA. The Early Jazz Clinic begins at 4:30 and is open to any instrumentalists, singers and listeners. The concert begins at 7:30.

These four extraordinary folk musicians from south-central PA represent some of the best acoustic musicians in our area. During Saturday’s concert they’ll share with us their great blend of originals, bluegrass, old-time and jazz. Always looking for ways to keep their music fresh and lively, this year the band is delving a little deeper into vintage jazz and swing.

This concert is part of a National Endowment of the Arts’ grant which has explored the banjo. This concert will focus, among other styles, how the banjo has been used in jazz.

Not sure that the Early Jazz Clinic is for you? Ken Gehret, who will lead the clinic, says that any ability level and players/singers of every genre are welcome! Just bring an instrument and your singing voice. The focus of the workshop will cover a little bit of the history and characteristics of this uniquely American form of music, and the connections between jazz and folk music. Participants may play a simple song like “Wayfaring Stranger” or Scat along/improvise to a 12 bar blues progression. We’ll have fun together and learn that playing jazz is not daunting at all!

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members and $10 for students. The early Jazz Clinic is free. For tickets and information visit www.sfmsfolk.org.

We had a chance to speak to Ken Gehret about what attendees should expect and what it’s been like preparing for this concert.

FOLKMAMA: I know that the four of you don’t usually play together and that you are each involved in many different musical projects. What’s it like playing with these exception musicians and how have you been preparing for this concert?

GEHRET: It’s really been an absolute joy. I’ve known these guys for many years and have played in some different combos with all of them, but playing for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society periodically is just about the only chance that we get to play as a quartet. We all started with bluegrass and folk, but along the way we have each taken on some different styles. We’ll bring all of that to this performance…a little gypsy jazz, bluegrass, folk, vintage and contemporary jazz, some originals and lots more.

Everyone’s playing is of the highest caliber, which has allowed us to be able to pull two sets together without actually being in the same room together very often! We send MP3s around, pool our resources; decide who is taking the lead—that kind of thing. Then there’s always the Fear Factor! The show’s coming up and we thrive on that feeling of urgency. That really helps to kick us into gear!

FOLKMAMA: One thing that I wanted to bring our readers attention to, especially those that are Susquehanna Folk Members, is the zippy jazz number “Monday Morning” that you recorded for the 2016-2017 Concert Sampler. That’s a really fun piece! I understand that you wrote it just for us. A SFMS original!

GENRET: Yes, as you know we wanted to add a few more jazzy numbers into this year’s concert, so I wanted a piece that represented one of the styles that we will be performing. I wrote “Monday Morning” well, on a Monday morning just in time for the deadline to turn in the recording. It’s all my playing; tenor banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass.

FOLKMAMA: Wow! Talk about being a multi-instrumentalist! Will other musicians in the group be playing multiple instruments too?

GEHRET: We will definitely be doing some switching around on the stage. Kevin and Henry, for example, will be picking up banjos for a few of the numbers. I’ll be bringing two banjos myself, a tenor one that is usually found in jazz and also a five string bluegrass banjo.

FOLKMAMA: I hear the banjo a lot in early vintage jazz recording, but in contemporary recordings, not so much. Why is that?

GEHRET: It’s really because the banjo is a much louder instrument and before sound systems, a louder instrument was needed to be heard along with wind and brass instruments. Today, if a band has a strumming instrument, it would most likely be a guitar.

FOLKMAMA: A folk music enthusiast may not think that they like jazz. Would you still encourage them to come to your performance?

GEHRET: I always tell my students that “It’s all jazz”. What I really mean is that music is all connected. We’ve attached labels to the different genres, but there is really a lot a movement between different styles of music. On Saturday night everyone, no matter what their preferences, will hear a lot that they will really enjoy!

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