August 20, 2017 Laura Cortese and the Dance cards in Harrisburg, PA

Fresh from an appearance at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards come to Harrisburg on Sunday, August 20, for a 7:30 p.m. Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg.

The band features cellist Valerie Thompson, fiddler Jenna Moynihan, bassist Natalie Bohrn and band leader Laura Cortese. During the course of a live performance the band switches up their sound—first sounding like a string band and then morphing into a string quartet, female a cappella group, or indie band, while still remaining true to their identity as folk instrumentalists.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at www.sfmsfolk.org.

Recently we had an opportunity to speak to band leader Laura Cortese about the band’s involvement with “American Music Abroad,” how they got their name, and their exciting new signing with Compass Records!

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FOLKMAMA: I know that you spend a lot of time abroad abroad and Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards has done a lot of overseas touring. Tell me a little bit about some of the band’s travels.

LAURA: As touring musicians, we like to take our music to other parts of the world where we can share all the genres that we do and also meet musicians who are doing similar things. With this band specifically, we’ve done work with the State Department with a program called “American Music Abroad.” The program is all about cultural diplomacy. We’ve had the opportunity to share American culture while at the same time learning about the culture of the country that we were visiting.

With “American Music Abroad,” we have been to India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Greece, Montenegro, Ukraine, and Estonia. But we also have toured to Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Canada, Italy, and Sicily. We’re always trying to connect with people who love acoustic music and are interested in breaking down any barriers that might exist between the stage and the listener.

FOLKMAMA: As a group that is so vocal heavy, do you have trouble getting your message across to people who speak a different language?

LAURA: When we visit a country, we learn a few phrases of the native language and will often translate the chorus of a song into that language, too. That’s been fun to do but, in general, I think the spirit of the music, the grooves, the melodies, and the emotion of each song is conveyed even without specific understanding of the words.

But we are also sort of lucky with speaking English in that English is the current spoken language which people around the world use to communicate with each other when they don’t have the same native language. So we run into a lot of people who understand our lyrics no matter what country we are in.

FOLKMAMA: When did state department tours actually occur?

LAURA: We did one in 2014 and one in 2016. Most often we were part of an International Women’s Day, at least in one of the countries. That has given us a chance to meet female artists in many countries.

In Ukraine, for example, we met the mothers and the wives of a lot of the men who lost their lives in their revolution which happened in 2014. Actually we were on our first cultural diplomacy tour when the Euromaidan Revolution began to unfold, and two years later we were there in Kiev witnessing the three year anniversary. And we got to meet the mother of Nadiya Savchenko, she’s the helicopter pilot who went down in Crimea and was a prisoner of war for two years. And we got a chance to meet the woman who led the medical station during the Euromaidan Revolution in the Ukraine.

FOLKMAMA: When you started the group, was it your intention to form an all women group?

LAURA: That came about really by chance. When formed the band in 2010, I had decided to do an all-string project that showcased the unique sound that came out of pairing my songs with the music of some friends of mine who I grew up with at fiddle camps. It was a much different style than other singer-songwriter friends of mine, and certainly my Indie-rock friends, but it felt true to my journey and my experience.

The first generation of this sound included fellow campmates Hanneke Cassel and Natalie and Brittany Haas, but it felt so comfortable to me that I began to shore up the concept and widen the circle of string players. By chance,  most of the professional players from my fiddle camp days happen to be women.

FOLKMAMA: Where did the band’s name come from?

LAURA: We wanted to come up with something that reflected the feeling of the band so we held a Facebook Contest. At the end of the contest, we put out every name that had been suggested and the name “The Dance Cards” came up on all of our lists.

It has really felt likes it’s a good fit. All of us that are in the band are drawn to some form of dance, either as a player or a dancer. Also, the name is reminiscent of all the dances in the past when the women had dance cards that partners could sign to reserve a dance. My mom had a dance card; it was part of youth. It’s an older tradition but so much of our music is so influenced by older dance forms so it fits.

FOLKMAMA: What will people hear when they come to your concerts?

LAURA: We’ll play a couple of traditional tunes but we play mostly original songs composed by me and arranged by the band. Our music is influenced by Appalachian traditional music, modern music, and indie rock. But it’s all within this acoustic string concept–so groves, as well as texture. It’s not just a listening show. We consistently ask the audience to engage in some way.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that you just signed with Compass Record. That’s a great label!

LAURA: Yes, we just signed with Compass Record for our new album which comes out October 6th. We’ve released one song and video so far and more to come soon. We are just so pleased to be on a label that has a curated group of artists who are making music that is truly unique and not just cookie cutter. When we look at the musicians on the roster, we see that they are not only all excellent but they are also adventurous and all authentic to themselves. Our new album is called California Calling.

May 13th, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, live in Harrisburg, PA!

Grammy-nominated fiddler Bruce Molsky, who has been acclaimed as “one of America’s premier fiddling talents,” brings his newest musical group, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, to Harrisburg on Saturday, May 13, 2017, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society old-time mountain music workshop at 5 p.m., potluck dinner at 6 p.m., and concert at 7:30 p.m., all at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. Joining Molsky in the Mountain Drifters are Allison de Groot and Stash Wyslouch.

“I was looking for a new voice,” Molsky says about the trio, “a new avenue of expression using old time mountain music as the jumping off point, but not being constrained by hard core traditionalism. Allison and Stash are showing me the way just where the music is headed, in directions I never would have imagined when I started my own journey into the mountains a long time ago.”

Participants in the free 5 p.m. Old-Time Mountain Music Workshop will learn about the fiddle tunes and songs that come from the rural south. Bring an instrument and your singing voice. There will be some whacky instruments to try such as kazoos, slide whistles, nose flutes, and spoons. For the free 6 p.m. potluck supper, bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided.

Concert 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 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.

Read below for an exclusive interview with Bruce Molsky

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FOLKMAMA: I’ve followed your career for a long time and you’ve performed for us a number of times and one of the things that I think about you is that you’re incredibly versatile as a musician. You know in terms of who you play with, all the different instruments you’ve mastered and the different styles that you play. You’ve played for Susquehanna Folk as a solo musician and then you performed with Darol Anger and some years back for a magical concert with Ale Möller. I’d like to hear a little more about the collaborations that you’ve done.

 

BRUCE: I think the first time I was asked to collaborate outside the genre that I’m most associated with, (old-time music) was with Mick Maloney–you know the Irish- American expert. Maloney used to run these big shows every year in Philadelphia and Washington for St Patrick’s Day. He’d always have these amazing Irish American musicians and he always wanted to have me too! You know he knows so much about the music and there is such a strong link between Irish music and Scottish music and so much of the American stuff. At this experience is what really put the idea of doing collaborations in my head.

 

The first time I ever toured professionally as a collaboration was 1994. That was with a tour that really changed my life. It was with a group called Fiddles on Fire and it was in England and Scotland. That was my first introduction to all these other kind of fiddle styles because there were musicians from Sweden and South India, England, Scotland, Ireland and France. That was when I first met Alasdair Fraser, who was on the tour with Kevin Burke, Chris Wood and Ellika Frisell. And it was Alasdair who first started twisting my arm about becoming a professional musician because I was the only one on the tour that had a day job. And one thing led to another.

Since then I’ve done all kinds of crazy stuff. Mosaic was the first serious international band that I was in with Andy Irvine and Dónal Lunny and we’re actually working on putting out a third CD, which has been a long process but now it’s done. And Fiddlers Four with Michael Doucet, Darol Anger and Rashad Eggleston, that was really fun!

I started teaching around 2000 at Mark O’Conner’s fiddle camps. Mark of course would feature a whole bunch of different styles, the camp was meant to be all the different styles that had an influence on him. So there was old-time and Texas Swing, and Celtic music, and classical. And my association with Ale Möller led to the Transatlantic Sessions, which of course are a series live performances by various musicians from both sides of the North Atlantic. I did those concerts for about 10 years; both live and on BBC television in Scotland.

FOLKMAMA: I think one of my favorite You Tube videos of you from the Transatlantic Sessions is a lovely one that shows you performing with Scottish singer Julie Fowlis.

BRUCE: Yes, it’s really beautiful. That gets more views than anything else that I’ve put up on You Tube!

FOLKMAMA: Which brings us to your current group. How did you meet the two other musicians in your trio?

BRUCE: Well here’s how I met Allison de Groot. She was my student at Berkley School of Music. I was the only one that was qualified to teach clawhammer banjo as a main instrument. I ended up with her and she studied with me for three years. About a year and a half in we realized that we needed t be playing together. She’d come to her lessons and we’d study for ten minutes and we’d spend the rest of the time playing. Tony Trishka actually tapped me on the shoulder one day because he is an artist in residence at Berkley and he said, “You really need to be in a band with her.”

So we started thinking about it. Stash was also a Berkley graduate; he had graduated a few years before I got there. But Allison and I had decided that we wanted a guitar player that had deeper musical skills than the average folk musician, and we had Stash in and we played together a few times and the chemistry was there. It’s been a really education for me because I wanted artistically for everyone to be full members in this thing. They both have good ideas and they are brilliant players. Allison is writing some great tunes and Stash is a great singer.

FOLKMAMA: What sound can people expect when they come to your concert?

BRUCE: They are going to hear instrumental and vocal music; fiddle, banjo and guitar. It’s primarily Southern mountain music through all our individual filters with some very nice arrangements. So musical storytelling and dance music; some old, some new.

To learn more about the band visit http://www.brucemolsky.com/molsky-s-mountain-drifters

LOW LILY SATURDAY, MARCH 11TH AT 3 PM AT THE FORT HUNTER CENTENNIAL BARN. ALSO! Folk Music 101 workshop at 2:15 followed by a folk instrument “Petting Zoo”

The string and vocal trio Low Lily, which explores the roots and branches of American folk music with traditional influences and modern inspiration, comes to the Fort Hunter Barn located at 5300 N. Front Street in Harrisburg for a matinee concert at 3 PM on March 11th.

The concert will be preceded by a fun and interactive Folk Music 101 workshop at 2:15 followed by a folk instrument “petting zoo” (both free).

This would be a perfect event to invite those family members, neighbors and co-workers who may not be familiar with folk music! Low Lily members include Liz Simmons on vocals and guitar, Flynn Cohen on vocals, guitar, and mandolin, and Lissa Schneckenburger on vocals and fiddle. They are all masterful musicians and vocalists with deep relationships to traditional music styles ranging from bluegrass to Irish, Scottish, New England, and Old Time Appalachian sounds.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22, with a maximum family fee for parents and children under age 23 of $25. Advance tickets are available toll-free at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.brownpapertickets.com. For info visit www.sfmsfolk.org

This event is made possible with an “Art for All Grant” from the Foundation for Enhancing Communities and the Cultural Enrichment Fund. Additional funding by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

We had a chance to speak to Liz Simmons who spoke to us about the band and their upcoming engagement in Harrisburg.

 

FOLKMAMA: We’re really looking forward to Low Lily’s appearance in Harrisburg and thrilled that you will be doing this special workshop to introduce “newbies” to folk music (and maybe teach the rest of us a thing or too also!).

LIZ: Yes, we’re excited too! We’ve been kicking around some ideas about the workshop and we’ve settled on a few things. First off I think we’ll talk about the backgrounds of the different members of Low Lily. Each one of us has a different way of how we came to music and there are some good stories there. For example, I started playing music because my dad put a ukulele in my hands when I was 4. Also, my parents are musicians so I was going to gigs from the time I was a baby.

We’ll definitely sing some songs together. We’ll hit on some from different regions in the country so that everyone can get a taste of the wide variety of folk styles there are in the United States. Lissa will do a traditional song from the state of Main where she is from and Flynn has done a lot of work in Appalachian traditional song, so most likely will do a song from that region. And I most likely will try a English or an Irish song so we can hear where a lot of American folk traditions are rooted.

We’ll introduce the instruments that we play and give some background about each. In general we’ll respond to the group that is in front of us, and go in what direction seems to make sense depending on how old or how young our audience is.

FOLKMAMA: And what about the concert? What should people expect to hear?

LIZ: We’ll do some traditional songs—you know songs that are so old that no one knows who wrote them but have been passed from generation to generation. We take these old songs and arrange them in a way that we feel is fresh; that presents the sounds that we like to make musically.

We also write songs, sometimes separately, sometimes together. There will also be some instrumental numbers. Flynn is a wonderful flat picker on the mandolin and guitar and Lissa, of course plays beautiful fiddle. So they’ll get to hear some of that beautiful melody playing. It will be a mix of up-tempo with some slightly slower stuff.

We do a lot of three part harmony, that’s a big feature of what we do, so that’s part of the sound as well. So audiences that like harmonies and choruses will be happy to hear us as well.

FOLKMAMA: I’ve followed Lissa Schneckenburger for a long time and love her fiddling [Lissa has appeared twice for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society, as the Lissa Schneckenburger Trio and as the Lissa Schneckenburger Duo). I’ve heard her style described as “New England Fiddling.” What does that mean?

LIZ: It’s a style that, like all American folk styles is made up of a whole slew of influences. When you think of where New England is—you can kind of guess where the influences come from. You have the Quebec and the Cape Breton influences which of course is French and Scottish, and then you have coming up from the South old-time and Appalachian music influences filtering in. Then you have the Irish and the Scottish through the Boston channel. You might even hear a touch of bluegrass because Bluegrass is big in Boston area.

FOLKMAMA: Do you have CDs that you are planning to sell?

LIZ: Since it’s our first time in Harrisburg, our 2015 CD will be a new recording to audiences there. It’s our only Low Lily title so far, but are working on the next one. Before we were Low Lily, we had a previous incarnation and were known as Annalivia. This was before Lissa joined. We have a title that we sell from that era as well as solo albums.

FOLKMAMA: Have you been to any interesting venues lately?

LIZ: We just did a tour out to Folk Alliance International–which I always explain to people is a trade show for folk musicians. So we turned that into a Midwest tour. We did five cities on the way out, which was really fun.

We hit Rochester, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Fairfield, Iowa, and Columbia, Missouri. We did many of the Northeast’s folk festivals last summer, which of course is such a rich place for New England and American folk music. And we often run into a lot of pals too, and get a chance to listen to and hear new music. So even though it’s a gig, it’s still a lot of fun.

And this summer we’re traveling a little further afield and will do a tour in England and in California in the fall. So lots of great traveling coming up!

Ken and Brad Kolodner with Alex Lacquement perform in Harrisburg on April 23rd

Brad, Ken and AlexThe dynamic father-son duo of Ken and Brad Kolodner, known for their tight and musical arrangements of original and traditional old-time music, come to Harrisburg on Saturday, April 23, 2016, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street. The Kolodners will be joined on bass, banjo, and harmony vocals by Alex Lacquement. The concert is preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

The Kolodners weave together a captivating soundscape on hammered dulcimer, banjo, and fiddle, pushing the boundaries of the Old-Time tradition into uncharted territory. They infuse their own brand of driving, innovative, tasteful, and unique interpretations of traditional and original fiddle tunes and songs.

Preceding the concert is a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner. Bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided. Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 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 http://www.sfmsfolk.org

BREAKING NEWS: Brad Kolodner + Alex Lacquement will be playing during Susquehanna Folk’s 2016-2017 series with their group Charm City Junction on January 19th. Keep an eye out for more information on the SFMS website!

I had to chance to speak to Brad about the band’s repertoire, the banjo style that he plays, the origins of the hammered dulcimer and playing in a father-son duo.

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FOLKMAMA: Is this still a good time to talk?

BRAD: Yes it is. I’m just about arriving at the studios at WAMU where I do a weekly radio show. I actually studied television and radio in college and so one day a week I have this radio show down in D.C. It’s a three hour show where I play a mix of contemporary, progressive bluegrass, old-time music and I get to interview bands.

You can stream it online [(https://bluegrasscountry.org/about/hosts/brad-kolodner/]. People listen to it in Germany, in Australia, Denmark…it’s cool .It’s a lot of fun and I get to use my degree a little bit, but mostly I play music full time and teach banjo and fiddle.

FOLKMAMA: You are coming to play for Susquehanna Folk on Saturday. What’s the music going to be like?

BRAD:  We play music that I would characterize as old time influenced, but we do take a lot of liberties with the tunes. We change the melodies a little bit and the chords, tempos, sort of breathe new life into the tunes that we play. Not necessarily try to restrict ourselves to the boundaries of what had traditional music is supposed to sound like.

It’s our own approach and takes into consideration that the banjo and the dulcimer are an unusual pairing of instruments. So we’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with how to bend the grove and keep on pushing that tradition forward.

FOLKMAMA: You play the clawhammer style banjo. Tell us what that means and how does it compare to the bluegrass style?

BRAD: The instrument itself isn’t any different-it’s still a 5 string banjo. The clawhammer is more about the way in which you pick the strings. In the old days clawhammer was actually the predominate style. It was the original style that has its roots back to Africa where the banjo came from. It’s very percussive; certainly more percussive than what is often heard from a banjo player in a bluegrass band.

‘Clawhammer’ actually refers to the shape of your hand when you play. I hold my hand like a claw and I don’t use any fingerpicks. It’s more strumming based, and less individual note picking whereas in the bluegrass style you use steel fingerpicks and it’s mostly single notes rather than strumming.

By far the most popular styles these days is the three finger bluegrass style but the clawhammer has had a bit of resurgence lately as old-time influences creep into more Americana and bluegrass music.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me about the hammered dulcimer. Where does it come from and where is it usually found?

BRAD: The hammered dulcimer is seen all over the world. It dates back thousands of years to Persia and it’s the predecessor to the piano. Essentially you open up a piano and bang on the strings with mallets. In our country the hammered dulcimer has been called “the lumberjack’s piano”. There is a common agreement that when it came to this continent it was first brought to the logging camps in Michigan and from there it made its way down to Appalachia.

So the hammered dulcimer is very old, but in its modern form in the US it’s more of a solo instrument. It’s not an instrument that you usually hear integrated into the old-time, bluegrass or Irish tradition. There really aren’t many players who perform on a large scale within the old-time tradition—just my dad and a few others. So as a duo, or trio, what we are doing is pretty unique.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me about Alex and how the bass fits into all this.

BRAD: Alex studies classical and jazz at the Eastman School of music up in Rochester, NY, but lately he’s really gotten into old-time and bluegrass. He adds a nice groove to our sound and helps to expand the sonic range so we get that really powerful bottom end.

As a player Alex is very versatile. He knows how to use the bow in really creative ways which is something that you don’t always hear in old time music. He does some interesting harmonies and can play fiddle tunes on the bass which is really cool.

FOLKMAMA: You’re a father-son duo. What’s that like?

BRAD: We really enjoy playing together. I have a lot of stories to tell the audience about growing up in a musical household and how my father is passing his music through me. Honestly, growing up and hearing the dulcimer all the time, it took me awhile to appreciate it and love it like I do now. We both play music full time and we’re primary performing partners now, so it’s really cool.

Acoustic Bluesman Scott Ainslie to appear in Harrisburg, PA on April 2, 2016

Scott Ainslie, an acoustic blues player who brings the history, roots music, and sounds of the rural South to life, comes to Harrisburg on Saturday, April 2, 2016 for an evening concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society in collaboration with the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania. The concert will be held at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. It begins at 7:30 p.m.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS and BSCP 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 http://www.sfmsfolk.org

I had a chance to talk to Scott Ainslie about the upcoming concert, his music, and the instruments that he plays.

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FOLKMAMA: You haven’t played for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society before, so we’re excited about your concert! Where else are you heading on this tour?

SCOTT AINSLIE: I’m starting at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem before coming to you, and then I’ll head out to the Midwest, to Wisconsin and Chicago

FOLKMAMA: Tell me a little about yourself.

SCOTT AINSLIE: I’m an acoustic blues musician. I started playing music when I was about 3 when my mother found me at the piano picking out melodies for the records that she listened to. I played everything that I could get my hands on during as I was growing up including the flute which I played in the elementary and middle school band.

A defining moment in my life came at about 15 years old when I heard John Jackson, a magnificent ragtime and blues guitarist, play in the middle of a Mike Seeger concert. I just fell out over what he could do with a guitar. And the first great folk scare was in full swing of course, but nobody was playing guitar like that. It was remarkably athletic, interesting, highly syncopated guitar style that I was just floored by.

After having played guitar for a couple of years I wound up falling in with old time musicians and so I studied southern old time banjo and fiddle and the ballad traditions from old time musicians.

From there I wanted to do the same kind of work with black blues and gospel musicians on the other side of the color line in eastern North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

So now I have almost five decades of playing stringed instruments and nearly 60 year at playing music.  What that gives me, along with my time with the old people, is a tremendous respect for tradition and also deep pockets in terms of how one goes about communicating with an audience.

FOLKMAMA: So how do you go about telling an audience what you have learned?

SCOTT AINSLIE: When I play I typically tell some stories to orient the audience about a repertoire and genre that might be unfamiliar to them. I’ve got a 30 second, and a minute and a half, and a 2 minute introduction to probably everything that I play and I choose when to talk and when to play. So it’s a lovely combination of music and background information.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me about your repertoire.

SCOTT AINSLIE: So I play a lot of slide guitar. I play a lot of Robert Johnson’s work [Scott transcribed all of Robert’s music and published a landmark book in 1992] as well as Mississippi John Hurt. I play things off of my new record “The Last Shot Got Him”–it’s named after a second line of a Mississippi John Hurt song called “The First Shot Missed Him”. My concerts are largely a tour of a variety of different blues guitar and song styles.

FOLKMAMA: What about originals?

SCOTT AINSLIE I have a select number of original songs that sits well in this repertoire. When I write a song it has to lay next to something that has been sung for a long time. It has to be as durable as a piece of artwork. So I’m careful about what I write and what I ask songs to do. But there are some originals that I like to play and there will be a few in both the sets.

FOLKMAMA: What instruments do you bring with you?

SCOTT AINSLIE: I usually travel with my 1934 Gibson and a 1931 National. Also a gourd banjo and a one-string, homemade diddley bow or cigar box guitar. Since you have been doing focus on the banjo this season, I’ll also bring a homemade clawhammer style banjo that I made in my kitchen when I was 18.

FOLKMAMA: It seems like blues musicians, more than just about any other musicians I know, are very concerned about paying homage to the masters and preserving the traditions. What are your thoughts on this subject?

SCOTT AINSLIE: My strategy for learning traditional music has always been to put myself in front of the oldest and the best musicians that I can find, and stay there until I learn something about the tradition. So I’m a great believer in apprenticeship.

I think that you should allow a tradition to transform you, to change you, before you change it. And some of the musicians that you have had in your series, John Hammond and Rory Block for example have all done this.

It’s especially important for those of us that are white who have crossed the color line to play a style of music that we adore, to do it with respect and care and to do more research than you might have had to do if you were raised in the tradition.

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Irish Music w/ Mick Moloney, Billy McComiskey + Athena Tergis March 13, Hbg, PA

Three icons of Irish-American music—MICK MOLONEY (guitar/banjo/vocals), BILLY McCOMISKEY (accordion), and ATHENA TERGIS (fiddle)—come to Harrisburg on Sunday, March 13, 2016, for a lecture, potluck dinner, and concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The concert is at 7:30.

The evening opens with a 5 p.m. with what is sure to be a fascinating illustrated talk on “Irish and African Roots of American Music.” Mick Moloney, who will be giving the talk along with Harrisburg’s own LENWOOD SLOAN, says that they will focus specifically on Appalachian music and the music of the minstrels. “Throughout history there has been a close association between Afro-Americans and the Irish, “Mick told me. “Both groups lived on the margins of society.”

“It might be a startling fact, but 38% of African Americans have Irish DNA,” he said. “Both BARAK AND MICHELLE OBAMA have Irish ancestry.”

Moloney has taught ethnomusicology, folklore, and Irish studies courses at several universities. Lenwood Sloan is a choreographer and scholar of dance history with a special interest in minstrel dance. Additionally Lenwood has served as director of PA’s Culture and Heritage Tourism Program and PA’s Film Commission and is active with the arts in Harrisburg.

Mick Moloney has recorded and produced over 40 albums of traditional music and has been an advisor for scores of festivals and concerts all over America. In 1999 he was awarded the NATIONAL HERITAGE AWARD from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest official honor a traditional arti

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st can receive in the U.S. Billy McComiskey is a highly regarded player and composer of Irish traditional music. He has won FOUR ALL IRELAND CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES. Athena Turgis has toured extensively with the Sharon Shannon Band and has appeared in the Las Vegas production of Lord of the Dance. She has also been principal fiddler for the Broadway production of RIVERDANCE.

All are welcome to a free potluck dinner before the concert. Bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $21 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. The lecture is included with concert admission. 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 http://www.sfmsfolk.org

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Following are a few more details from my conversation with Mick:

FOLKMAMA: Susquehanna Folk has been lucky enough to have Billy McComisky on our stage twice; once with Pride of New York (which features Cherish the Ladies’ JOANIE MADDEN) and Trian (which features fiddler LIZ CARROL). We haven’t had Athena play for us yet, but she sure has an impressive bio! What’s it like playing with these two powerhouses?

MICK: There is not too much more to say then they are the best of the best. They are just fantastic musicians and I love playing with them. They’re masters of their craft.

FOLKMAMA: How long have you been playing together?

MICK: About 10 years now. But we play in different configuration and sometimes with other musicians.

FOLKMAMA: What’s the music like that you play?

MICK: Well it’s all traditional Irish music, but between us we have such a huge repertoire that we can adjust to any situation. We don’t have to spend hours rehearsing. We just have so much stuff under the belt as it were.

FOLKMAMA: You might know that Susquehanna Folk has been doing a little bit of a focus on the banjo this season. You play the tenor banjo. I’m curious to know a little bit about the history of the banjo in Ireland.

MICK: Well, the banjo found its way formally to Ireland with The Virginia Minstrels in 1844, and it’s been a part of Irish music ever since. The banjo that we play, though, is the Irish banjo. It’s tuned an octave below a standard banjo. The tenor banjo is tuned like a fiddle, and the music fall on it fairly naturally.

FOLKMAMA: Anything else that you want to add?

MICK: We expect the concert to be fresh and lively because we’ll figure out what we’ll play a half an hour before! And we’ll enjoy ourselves immensely and hopefully everyone will too!

 

Yves Lambert Trio to appear in Harrisburg, PA January 10, 2016. An interview with band member Olivier Rondeau.

The Yves Lambert Trio

Hailed by some Quebec music critics as a beacon in the aesthetics of Quebec’s cultural heritage, Yves Lambert is a powerful singer and musician whose 36-year career has been full of risks and adventures. He and his trio brings the energy, multicultural ambiance, and colorful sounds of Quebecois music (a wonderful mix of Irish and French styles) to Harrisburg for a January 10, 2016, Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg.

Often seen as a veritable patriarch of the revival of Quebec’s musical roots, Lambert founded the legendary group La Bottine Souriante in 1976. In his 26 years with that group, Lambert was the link between its various incarnations and was its heart and soul.

In the summer of 2010 he joined with multi-instrumentalists Yves Lambert Trio and Tommy Gauthier in a trio that brilliantly demonstrates how traditional local music continually reinvents itself within a modern context.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 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 http://www.sfmsfolk.org

I caught up with band member Olivier Rondeau and had a chat with him about the roots of Quebecoise music as well as the innovations that the Yves Lambert Trio brings to the genre.

FOLKMAMA: I know that Quebecoise music was heavily influenced by two groups that settled in Quebec; the French and the Irish, but how did the style first become popular?

OLIVER: The traditional music from Quebec just starts from the kitchen party. There were people down there that were playing fiddle during the night, just to entertain the people and there were singers too. And people go with foot tapping on the floor, just to keep the beat and all the dancers going crazy!

Mainly all the music influence is from Ireland and stuff like that. When people come, when there is a deportation, they come with traditional music.

Quebec music is a big ear training tradition and there are many different versions of songs just because they were interpreted differently. So extra beats, a lot of extra beats here and there [Known as “crooked tunes”]

FOLKMAMA: How does Yves Lambert fit into all this?

OLIVER Back in the 70s there was a folk revival in Quebec and he became really impressed with accordion playing. He’s totally self-taught. Yves helped to keep the music alive. He was an original member of La Bottine Souriante, one of the most famous bands in Quebec.

And now for over 40 years now he keeps going the tradition. He keeps on looking for new airs and new reels on the accordion. Yves role in the band is to keep it alive and to always bring new traditional music to the band.

FOLKMAMA: And what’s the instrumentation of the trio?

OLIVER: Yves Lambert is the lead singer and plays accordion: diatonic accordions and he has a chromatic one too. I play the guitar and kind of bass on my guitar and the response [Quebecoise music is characterized by call-and-response singing) , and we have Tommy Gauthier on the fiddle and mandolin, and he’s the [foot] tapper of the band. And he’s on the response too.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that the Cajun accordion and the Quebecoise accordion are the same.

OLIVER: Yes, actually Yves has two Cajun accordions that were built in Louisiana by Mark Savoy.[a famous Cajun accordion builder] Old ones. One is back to 1976 and the other one may be in the beginnings of 80s. So he is playing with those two beautiful instruments, both diatonic One in “C” and one in “D”.

FOLKMAMA: Does the band play straight Quebecoise music, or are you influenced by other styles?

OLIVER: For me, and for my generation , every music that I hear that has a good groove is an influence. So that’s the way it works. If it’s good music and we hear it, it could influence our sound.

And I could say since we’ve played more in the United States we hear other bands and we’re intrigued by their style. We love it so much that we put some in the last recording. When you listen to us you can hear a hint of old time, bluegrass, and the kind of rhythmic phrasing that you hear in Appalachian music

FOLKMAMA: Your guitar has a pretty distinctive sound and the times that I’ve seen you I’ve noticed a lot of electronics at you feet. What’s the purpose?

OLIVER : Mainly it’s so that the two lower strings on my guitar can be processed with an “octaver” to give an extra lower octave to the notes. The two lower strings have two functions; they are guitar and they are a bass as well. This creates a powerful sound.

When we all play together Tommy is doing the rhythm with his feet and playing the fiddle at the same time, Yves singing and. playing the accordion and I got the guitar and the bass going on so as a trio one thing that we love is to make the sound way bigger than it looks.

FOLKMAMA: What else would you like people to know?

OLIVER : One thing we love to do, Tommy and I, is to arrange music. We love the texture and we put a lot of work in the arrangement. We try to make each song distinctive; make it grow. So we work pretty hard on this.

When you listen to the song you can hear the roots of it, but there are a lot of influences that come to the music. There are a lot of surprises!

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