Tėada, from Sligo, Ireland to appear March 18th in Harrisburg (tunes, music + dancing)

“One of the most exciting traditional groups to emerge in recent years” Irish World

Coming from Sligo, Ireland the band Tėada (the word means “strings” in the Irish language) has achieved worldwide acclaim for its ability to stay true to the timeless, expressive force of traditional tunes inherited from previous generations of great Irish musicians.

Midstaters can experience Tėada in a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, March 18, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., at Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. The five-piece band expands to seven for this event with champion step-dancer Samantha Harvey and legendary singer and musician Séamus (SHAY-mus) Begley.

Tickets are available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3050248)

Téada first appeared in 2001 on Irish television, led by County Sligo fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada. Though still in their teens, the young musicians were driven by the timeless, expressive force of music inherited from previous generations.

The band was quickly cheered for “keeping the traditional flag flying at full mast” (The Irish Times). “A fresh force in Irish music” said Earle Hitchner in the Irish Echo, and Irish Music Magazine described them as “the strings that bind…a young band with a deeply authentic sound [at] the cutting edge of the next generation.”

“We try to capture some of the rawness and individuality of the solo artist tradition, within the dynamic of a full band,” says Mac Diarmada.

The original quartet is now often a septet with Seamus Begley, the elder statesmen of the group. From a famous musical family in County Kerry, named 2013’s Traditional Singer of the Year (Irish TV TG4), Begley brings a deep trove of songs as well as fiery accordion playing and wit.

Téada’s most recent release, In Spite of the Storm (Gael Linn, 2013), follows a string of acclaimed albums on the Green Linnet and Compass labels, and the first to feature Begley. “One of the outstanding releases in recent memory,” raved Daniel Neely in The Irish Echo. “Another typically thoughtful and thought-provoking excursion from a band still hungry for tunes– and, belatedly, for songs,” added Siobhan Long in The Irish Times.

The American tour is supported in part by Culture Ireland, a branch of the Irish government promoting Irish arts worldwide. For more information on the band visit their website at teada.com

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling toll-free (800) 838-3006.

To listen/watch Teada visit these sites:


In Spite of the Storm: https://teada.bandcamp.com/album/ainneoin-na-stoirme-in-spite-of-the-storm


Song with Seamus Begley https://youtu.be/W2_-oHPm5C8


Blue and Ragtime with Del Rey on Thursday, April 6th at the Ware Center in Lancaster

West Coast blues guitar and ukulele queen Del Rey brings her quirky, infectious stage presence and command of blues and ragtime to Lancaster on Thursday, April 6th. A 7:30 p.m. concert is sponsored jointly by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and the Ware Center concert. The concert will be held at Millersville University’s Ware Center located at 42 N. Prince Street in Lancaster.

Del Rey is known for performing on both the resonator guitar and the resonator ukulele and is a foremost authority on the music of blues giant Memphis Minnie.

Del Rey began her musical training in classical guitar at the tender age of four. When she hit her teens and found blues music, the serene classical numbers fell to the side. Her music soon rang with the soul of blues, but jingled a little, too, with ragtime and jazz, and even some rock flavoring to stir things up.

Her distinctive fingerstyle playing has a fascinating complexity such that she makes her solo instruments sound like a whole band. Rags, blues, and tunes of the early 20th century are her specialty, even as she writes new music to add to the tradition.

Rey has taught and played all over the world, and has toured with Steve James, Suzy Thompson, and Adam Franklin. She writes about music for various publications, including Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and is a popular instructor at numerous guitar camps such as Ashokan and the Swannanoa Gathering.

Concert tickets are $25 General Admission, $22 for SFMS members and $5 for students ages 4-22. Advance tickets are available through the Ware Center Box Office in Millersville or Lancaster or by calling (717) 871-7600. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.


Below Hank Imhof, an area guitarist and blues enthusiast who is a favorite on the winery and coffeehouse circuit, tells about how purchasing a Del Rey teaching video was a “game changer’ for him.


The name Del Ray kept on showing up in my music studies, so after taking some time to read about her music, I decided to purchase one of her learning DVD’s called The Blues Styles of Memphis Minnie published by Homespun. I learned that Del Rey is considered one of the finest interpreters of the music of Memphis Minnie –a blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter whose recording career lasted from the 1920s to the 1950s. Memphis Minnie wrote, played and recorded many great blues songs, some of the best known being “Bumble Bee”, “Nothing in Rambling”, and “Me and My Chauffeur Blues“. She has inspired many great musicians, male and female, among them Del Rey.

While working with the video I have been really floored by Del Rey’s playing abilities and style. I started in and have very much enjoyed the lessons. Del Ray is very infectious and teaches with a light heart and a lot of smiles. I also bought the other Del Ray DVD Boogie Woogie Guitar before even finishing the first. I’m looking forward to spending as much time as I can to learn from these video lessons!

My discovery of Del Ray and her music talents have been a game changer for me personally. Del Ray’s study of blues, blues history and guitar along with her beautiful spirit and a bunch of smiles are a force to be enjoyed. Her guitar skills on her steel bodied resonator guitar set up a groove and infectious sound that is wonderful.

Del Rey’s music reflects a deep study of black history, blues history and especially channeling the female perspective of all of the above through the soul of her hero Memphis Minnie. Del Ray sings and tells stories about Memphis Minnie while adding her own musicianship and spirit to everything she plays and sings. It’s very much like hearing the two of them play together on the same stage.

Equally inspiring to me has been learning more about black history, black women’s history and the power of women, all women. Del Ray is furthering the awareness of this music and an history that maybe you’ve never heard before.

Please come and enjoy Del Ray, I’ll be there!



April 1st in York, PA: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar and Hula with Keola Beamer & Jeff Peterson, with Moanalani Beamer

Hawaiian slack key guitar master and legend Keola Beamer, who has stretched the boundaries of slack key guitar music while remaining true to the soul of its deeply Hawaiian roots, comes to York, Pennsylvania, for an April 1st Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society of York, 925 S. George Street. He will be joined by his wife, Moanalani, a hula dance master and musician, who will lead a free hula dance workshop at 5 p.m., and by slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson.

Working together, Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson present a concert of superb guitar playing that explores the resonant, multi-cultural beauty of Hawaiian music. They will be accompanied by Moanalani Beamer, who brings hula and Hawaiian chants to the stage, and adds musical texture with ancient Hawaiian instruments.

At the free 5 p.m. hula workshop, Moanalani will teach basic hula movements, including hand motions that are used to tell a story. Learn about the close relationship between hula dance and nature.

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 http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

Below is a story about Slack Key guitar which features quotes by Keola and Moanalani Beamer and information about their performance. The story appeared in The Burg Magazine, used by permission.



Some of the sweetest, most melodious guitar music can be found in Hawaii, and Keola Beamer is considered to be the foremost master of the style of guitar playing called Slack Key. He has been exploring this beautiful traditional music, which uses open tunings and loosened strings, for the past 35 years.

It is only in Beamer’s lifetime that Slack Key guitar music has been played outside of the home. “It used to be that a dad would come home from work, take off his boots and pick up his guitar. It was really a back door kind of thing.” Beamer said in a recent interview. “Families would be very secretive about the songs that they knew and the tunings they used. If you weren’t a member of the family and wanted to learn the music, well just forget it.”

All this changed when pianist George Winston fell in love with Slack Key guitar music and decided to record Slack Key musicians for his record company Dancing Cat. “He’s a very able musicologist and preservation was his object “said Keola’s wife Moana. “He especially wanted to be sure to record the older musicians.  He wanted a chance to meet with them and talk to them before they weren’t here anymore.”

It was through these Slack-Key guitar compilations that Slack-Key guitar music began to gain popularity outside of Hawaii. “We never could have toured before the records were released” said Beamer.  “We tried, but we just couldn’t get out of Hawaii. Nobody knew what it was, nobody sold it. And all of a sudden the music was in Borders. And then the whole touring thing opened up for us.”

Slack Key guitar music can be played on any standard guitar, although the magnificent guitars that Beamer tours with were built by a German luthier and designed to be able to project more sound. There are approximately 46 different tunings, and each one conveys a different feeling or tonal pallet. “The true art of the Stack Key guitar is to match the tuning with song. It has to elevate the piece” says Beamer.

On Saturday, April 1 Keola Beamer, Jeff Peterson and Moanalani Beamer will give a performance of Hawaiian Slack-Key guitar and hula at 7:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York. Moana Beamer, an experienced hula dancer who began her training at age four, will lead a hula dance workshop at 5 PM during which she hopes to show people “how varied,  rich and wonderful hula is.”During a concert Keola and Jeff will play guitar and sing in Hawaiian and English while Moana plays traditional percussion instruments, recites poetry and dances.

These events are sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and are funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts and Bob and Donna Pullo.

Workshop w/ Blues Master SCOTT AINSLIE, April 2nd, HBG, PA (concert too!)

Scot smallIf you are a blues guitarist or a guitarist who just wants to learn more about the music that rock came from (including Delta Blues, Slide Guitar, Open Tunings, Piedmont/Ragtime Style fingerpicking Blues) then you should plan on registering for Scott Ainslie’s “Blues, Give Me Your Right Hand” workshop which will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 2-5 pm at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn located at 5300 N Front Street in Harrisburg. The workshop is sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society.

Blues, Give Me Your Right Hand This 90 minute workshop will focus on right hand techniques used by acoustic blues masters. We’ll look at Mississippi John Hurt’s ragtime picking, Rev. Gary Davis’s stunning two-finger picking, Robert Johnson’s thumb-heavy attack, and work toward building on your understanding of coordinating the thumb and fingers without sacrificing power and versatility. Bring a guitar and come join us. Participants are also welcome to bring an audio recording device, paper and pencil are recommended.

The cost of the workshop is $45. We are asking that you get your workshop tickets by March 29th at www.sfmsfolk.org/concerts/ScottAinslie.html. Scott Ainslie will also be featured in concert at 7:30 on the evening of the workshop. A separate ticket is required for this concert and is available on-line or at the door.

Ainslie is the author of “Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads”—a book of transcriptions, history, and annotated lyrics from Johnson’s famous solo blues recordings of 1936-37. He is an experienced teacher and has an instructional DVD on Johnson’s music on Starlicks Master Sessions.

Ainslie has studied with elder musicians on both sides of the color line, in the Old-Time Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, as well as Black Gospel and Blues. He plays this music with affection, authority, and power.

He is a legacy instructor at both Common Ground On The Hill in Westminster, MD and at the Swannanoa Gathering’s Guitar Week. His popularity is such that his courses often fill up within the first 15 minutes of open on-line registration!

Questions? E-Mail Scott Ainslie at scott@cattailmusic.com

Legendary Musicians from Quebec to Perform in Harrisburg, PA March 27th

Legendary Quebec traditional musicians Lisa Ornstein, Normand Miron, and André Marchand, appearing together as Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town), come to Harrisburg for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Friday, March 27, 2015, at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free workshop on Quebec music at 5:30 and a 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

Ornstein and Marchand first met as bandmates in La Bottine Souriante, the iconoc trad super group that kickstarted Quebec’s folk music revival. Miron is a singer and button accordionist who grew up surrounded by family musicians in Lanaudière, the epicenter of Quebec’s folk music scene. As a trio, Le Bruit Court dans la Ville produces music that is at once deeply rooted, innovative, nuanced, and spontaneous.

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.

Join us for a free potluck supper before the concert. Bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org


Because these three legendary musicians were so important in the revival of traditional music and dance in Quebec some 40 years ago, I wanted to speak to the group’s fiddler LISA ORNSTEIN (who is a folklorist) about changes in Quebec’s cultural climate and also how she and her band mates were able to plant some of the seeds that have allowed Quebeoise music and dance to grow in popularity and flourish.

FOLKMAMA: Can you tell me some things about the members in your trio? I know that all three of you are considered legendary in Quebec’s trad music scene.

LISA: Well we’ll begin first with André Marchand. He’s from Jolliet, he’s lived here all his life. His father played violin but it was classical violin, a hobbyist. He got his start playing guitar in the early 1960s. He was listening to Bob Dylan because at that time there wasn’t really a “Quebecoise” tradition of guitar playing. He kind of invented an approach to backing up this music with the kind of guitar playing that you hear with the guitar tuned in standard tuning.

FOLKMAMA: I understand during the time when Andre was growing up that it was difficult to find traditional Quebecoise music because the French Canadian culture had been repressed. What were the politics in Quebec like at the time?

LISA: The 1960s in Quebec began what we call the Quiet Revolution. The Prime Minister who had been quite conservative died, and a liberal, Jean Lesage took his place and he had a completely different vision. The saying during that time was “Masters in Our own Country” because the Quebecoise since 1759 had really been second citizens here. All the administrators and the owners of industry in the province were Anglo-Canadians who had come from British forefathers. The Quebecoise were basically told that they were going to be water carriers.

So Jean Lesage came in and one of the first things that he did was to nationalize electricity. Which was huge in this province—there is hydro-electric power to sell to all of North America. That gave the government the capacity to create all kinds of social services, vocational training, and higher education opportunities. So by the 1970s there was a whole generation of Quebecoise who were beginning to be well educated.

FOLKMAMA: How did Quebecoise trad music and dance play a role in the Quiet Revolution?

LISA: The music got pulled into the equation very much in the same way that music got pulled in with the Civil Rights Movement. The folk and traditional music often had an ideological and political content –especially by some of the singer/ songwriters who became involved in the Quebec Sovereignty Movement. It was a time of Quebecoise pride when the Quebecoise were proud to be Quebecoise.

FOLKMAMA: Did Quebecoise Trad music start to become more widespread?

LISA: In Montreal a group of young university graduates organized a folk festival where they brought in elders. Nothing like this had ever happened– it changed the lives of a whole generation of young musicians who for the first time could hear and learn from the older generation of musicians. So you have this coming together of very traditional musicians who are being brought onto the stage, very much like the Newport Folk Festival, and you have these young urban Quebecoise who are just thirsty for music that looks and sounds like them.

FOLKMAMA: I know that the group La Bottine Souriante was one of most important groups to form during this era.

LISA: Yes, La Bottine Souriante formed as a direct result of this festival. The group was made up of all young musicians, including André Marchand who was an original member and now of course plays in Le Bruit Court dans la Ville. The group was so influential because it not only helped to increase the popularity of Quebecoise music in Quebec, but also brought it to France, the United States and around the world.

FOLKMAMA: So, I know that you are an American fiddler verse in both old-time and Quebecoise fiddling. I understand that you also played in La Bottine Souriante. How did that come about?

LISA: I had been playing fiddle from the time I was 13 or 14. I grew up in a musical family; my mother was a harpsichordist who played Renaissance music. My idea of what music was as a very small child was small ensembles who were improvising on dance melodies. I think that’s why I was attracted to traditional music rather than classical music; it was the social aspect of it and the way that music was made in these small groups. I appreciate orchestral music but I’ve always be interested in how much music can be made with the smallest, the most frugal means. And I think that traditional music is all about that. It’s about the frugality of the means with great creativity in the hands of exceptional artists with immense amount of virtuosity and depth of understanding.

Even though I really wanted to just play fiddle, my parents wanted me to go to college so I went to Oberlin.  In my last year the college asked me if I was interested in the Watson Scholarship which would allow me to study something outside of the country. By then I was so interested in Quebecoise music because of a friendship I had with a Franco-American fiddler Louis Beaudoin.

So I got this grant to come to Quebec and I didn’t know anybody. I went to Université Laval because I knew that they had a folklore archives, but the only Quebecoise musician I could find was a button accordion player names Albert who played on the streets for the tourists. So I played with him sometimes, and during the summer I went to this great summer festival and there he was on stage and he made me get up and play with him.

Afterwards we decided we’d go to this great bar that was right across from the stage that had an outdoor terrace and as we sat there I heard a tune that I thought I knew from my friend Louis Beaudoin, and then one of the members of the band who had heard me play approached me and he said, “Come join us.” And it was La Bottine Souriante. I couldn’t believe these young guys were there playing traditional music.

So we played together all night and then we lost track of each other but next night they invited me to play in their show in front of 20,000 people. Soon after they left for a tour in France, but on the way back some of the musicians couldn’t return because of an airline strike, so I filled in for their fiddler at the band’s next gig. Soon after they asked me to join the band. So I went to Jolliet and played in the band for about 8 years so.

FOLKMAMA: Was that what you were doing full time?

LISA: When I was in Quebec I worked for this traditional arts advocacy group and was really involved in promoting Quebecoise culture and heritage.

Although it’s taken 30 years, Quebec just this past year passed its law recognizing intangible traditional arts. We were working on that dossier in the 1980s. We had a center where there were classes for young people who didn’t come out of singing and playing families. These were young kids who loved the music and dance but didn’t have other chances to learn it. At the time there was no money available in the Quebec government to fund this kind of program. It’s changed now, although the law is in place and there is no budget to enact it. So our organization became more and more politically motivated because we realized that the traditional arts weren’t getting the government support that it should have gotten.

FOLKMAMA: It doesn’t seem like you are intimidated by working on the governmental level to promote traditional music.

LISA: I had worked at the Library of Congress. My mother in law was Bess Lomax Hawes. She created the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts program and was Curator of Folk Songs at the Library of Congress. She’s Alan Lomax’s sister.

So I had connections with Alan Jabbour at the Library of Congress and folks at the Smithsonian. We brought people from the Government of Quebec’s Minister of Cultural Affairs to visit in Washington to show them that there can be a different vision.  The United States government has acknowledged that not only is this worthy but it’s necessary to support the celebration and transmission of traditional cultural heritage.

FOLKMAMA: So what your third member?

LISA: Normand Miron is from a small village just outside of Joliette. He’s from a very traditional family of singers and instrumentalists. His uncle was an accordion player and his grandfather was apparently an extraordinary singer. The whole area around Jolliet is known in Quebec as being one of the strongholds of traditional singing and particularly especially song and response songs. Norman is the real stuff, he’s straight out of the tradition. Normand Miron was the go-to guy for many of the songs that La Bottine  Souriante was doing because his repertoire was so huge, although was never in the band.

FOLKMAMA: So I believe you have been playing with Andre and Norman informally for many years. Why have you chosen now to tour as a group?

LISA: My children are almost grown and Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer (the latest group that Andre and Norman performed in together) is on hiatus so the three of us just looked at each other and said, “This is our chance.”


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The Western Flyers perform Western Swing music on February 7th in Harrisburg

The Western FlyersOne of the most exciting new bands to hit the music scene in years, the Western Flyers, comes to central Pennsylvania on Saturday, February 7, 2015, for a 7:30 p.m. concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society Web site at www.sfmsfolk.org

I had a chance to speak to guitarist Joey McKenzie recently. Joey is recognized as one of the foremost practitioners of this style of music. He is a two time Texas Guitar Champion and is considered to be a state treasure.


FOLKMAMA: I’m really excited about your upcoming concert with the Western Flyers! The three of you are all such great musicians. I’m wondering if you can tell me a little bit about yourself and your band mates.

JOEY: I live in Burleson, Texas which is a suburb of Fort Worth, and I’ve been playing music my whole life, basically since I was about 11 years old. I play guitar and fiddle and mandolin and tenor banjo, and have really been enamored with Western Swing especially, and a lot of music that is played in the state of Texas

I grew up in Oregon and I moved to Texas 25 years ago to be close to the music and learn from the great Western Swing musicians.   I got to know a lot of those people and become friends with many of the Western Swing musicians and Texas style fiddle players.

So I’ve been teaching also for all those years. I taught the Quebe sisters and eventually we started a band and did that for 10 years. We made the mutual decision to go our separate ways. We wanted to slow down a little bit; we wanted to keep playing but not constantly gone. So we started The Western Flyers with Gavin Kelso and Katie Glassman.

Gavin left the Quebe band the same time that I did. We were on the same page with what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it so we started the Western Flyers. Katie is an old friend—I’ve known her since she was a kid, for 20 years, and we’ve always loved playing together and feel musically very compatible. So we had the opportunity to form The Western Flyers and Katie was as fired up about it as we all were.

Katie Glassman is incredibly talented. She’s been a two time National Fiddle Champion and a 7 time Colorado State Fiddle Champion and a wonderful singer and songwriter—truly one of the most talented people that I have ever known. She’s just a fun person to be in a band with.

You know the time that you play on the stage is only a fraction of the time that you spend together. Katie, Galvin and I get along great. You know you have lots of hours traveling together, staying at hotels, and eating together. It’s really fun to spend time with Katie and Galvin.

And Galvin Kelso and originally from Neosho, Missouri and he moved to Texas to go to school in Denton at the University of North Texas which has a world class upright bass program. Probably one of the largest program of its kind in the world. He has a degree in classical bass performance, but he really comes primarily from a jazz background.

You know, Western is just country jazz. I always say that we’re just playing jazz with cowboy hats on.

FOLKMAMA: It interests me that you would move to Texas to learn about Western Swing. Is Texas the hotbed for this style of music?

JOEY: Yeah, it was born here. That’s where it all started. You’ve probably heard of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Well, Bob Wills was known as the king of Western Swing. So he started it all in Texas and then he went to Oklahoma in Tulsa and was based there for awhile and then went to California. In those years Bob Wills was a huge star. He was making records and he was a radio star and he was in a lot of movies. He was a huge star back in the 30s and 40s and 50s and the Western Swing became a really popular music. So being in Texas where I’ve gotten a chance to play with a lot of the original Texas Playboys—although there are not many of them left—I’ve been really fortunate to be friends with those guys and learn a lot from them.

The Western Flyers are really trying to carry on the rich tradition that Bob Wills began. We love Western Swing and think it’s important to get it out there and bring it to the folks that aren’t as familiar with it. I really try to do the music authentically, as does Katie and Gavin. So on our individual instruments we really try to capture the style—but do it with our own kind of twist.

FOLKMAMA: So, what has happened to Western Swing music since the time of Bob Wills? Has it evolved? Is it still as popular?

JOEY: Bob originated the style in the 40s, and although it was really popular, by the late 50s and early 60s it became tougher to earn a living because of the advent of television. A lot of this is dance music and people started staying home and watching TV and staying away from the dance halls. The advent of television really changed music in a huge way. So the times got pretty lean and rock and roll came in and a lot of the young people that were listening to Western Swing started listening to rock and roll. So towards the end of the 50s there was a gradual decline in Western Swing music and it made it harder for bands to be able to make a living. It was always around, but you had to look music harder for it.

But in Texas and Oklahoma it still stayed, even in the years when it was not popular everywhere else, it still happened here. And then you know bands like Asleep at the Wheel came to be and they helped keep Western Swing alive and we really try to do our part with traveling and we do workshops. It’s really something that we love and we want to promote and help to perpetuate the music. It’s the sort of music, that when most people hear it, even if they are not familiar with it, they can’t help but like it.

Its fun music and I think a lot of the songs that are associated with Western Swing music are pretty timeless. You know you wonder about some of the music that is being played now, there are some big bands that are playing nowadays, but will their music be able to stand the test of time?

Bob Wills music is still very popular, in fact my wife Sherry and I and our production company, Twin Fiddle Productions, along with the city of Greenville Texas, started in 2014 the Bob Wills Fiddle Festival and Contest. And Bob Wills daughter Carolyn is a friend of ours and she got the Bob Wills Heritage Foundation on board so we started this huge festival.

We had the Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, a wonderful Western Swing band from Nashville and we had other Texas bands, Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys played plus Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band—they’re a great Western Swing band from San Antonio. And then we had a world class fiddle contest. We had competitors that came from 10 different states.  We also had a Bob Wills division where people had to play a song associated with Bob Wills. And that was very popular, and they also played the traditional Texas Breakdown style of fiddling. That was a first year event and people came from everywhere. The shows were sold out—it’s an indication that Western Swing music is really having a resurgence. There are so many young kids that are starting to learn to play Western Swing so I think the future is pretty bright.

FOLKMAMA: So, how would you describe a Western Flyers concert?

JOEY: We always have fun when we play. The main reason that we play is because we love it. And we love to travel.

So we play music that we love and it’s not entirely Western Swing. We’ll throw in an old swing jazz tune like you may hear some Benny Goodman, we throw in a Texas Style Fiddle tune every once in awhile, like you may hear from Benny Thomasson or Howdy Forrester. Or we might throw in a classic country song like you may hear from Ray Price or Connie Smith. And we try to play music that is not all just the same, but also has a connection.

So Ray Price loved Bob Wills and Bob Wills love Ray Price and the fiddle players loved Bob Wills and Bob Wills loved the fiddle players (of course he was a fiddle player). They were all listening to one another—Benny Goodman listened to Bob Wills and Bob Mills listened to Benny Goodman. It’s all related, so we try to do a little bit of all that and we have some fun and we talk a little bit about the music as we move through the show.

It’s just a real passion for all three of us, and a pleasure and an honor to go out and be able to share this music with the rest of the country.






Bluesman & Entertainer ROY BOOKBINDER to play in Harrisburg, PA October 12, 2014

press2_1600x1200Guitar-pickin’ hillbilly bluesman and storyteller Roy Book Binder appears at Harrisburg’s Fort Hunter, 5300 N. Front Street, on Sunday, October 12, 2014, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

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 www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. A free 6 p.m. potluck dinner precedes the show. Bring a covered dish to share; drinks and place settings will be provided.

Roy Bookbinder talks about his music, his time with Reverend Gary Davis, how he came to be friends with Jorma Kaukonen, his gig as M.C. of the Blues Stage at MearlFest and being on the road at 70 plus years old.


FOLK MAMA: Tell me about your early days. How did you come to be a blues singer and entertainer?

BOOK BINDER: I started out when I went on the road after I was in the service. I met Dave Van Ronk and from there I went to Reverend Gary Davis and I dropped out of school, yet again, to go on the road with Reverend Gary Davis.

I picked up some tricks from him. I never intended to be a Gary Davis—I don’t know what the word is– “copier”. I don’t play a thing like Gary Davis but I do a couple of his tunes. I also met and traveled with old “Pink” Anderson from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He made records in the 20s. He was an entertainer, more known for entertaining and singing than his guitar playing, although he was more than adequate.

FOLK MAMA: It was lucky that you got to play with some of the old bluesmen.

BOOK BINDER: And now everybody’s dead. The last old friends I had were Honeyboy Edwards who died in his 90s and Robert Lockwood, Jr. who dies in his 90s. Those were the last two guys who recorded pre- World War II.

FOLKMAMA: I like that you play a lot of the old songs, yet you interact well with the audience.

BOOK BINDER: I always like to tell people that I’m an entertainer. That’s what I call myself. I play enough guitar to impress the front row but that’s not my goal. I tell young players that the only way that they’ll ever make a living playing this kind of music is to be able to entertain the friends and neighbors and relatives that the guitar plays and the blues music enthusiasts bring to your folk show, kicking and screaming.

FOLK MAMA: You’re a pretty funny storyteller, and you’ve had your brush with country music too!

BOOK BINDER: It’s true; I put a lot of humor in my performances. I did 32 shows on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now TV show back in the 80s where I would do a song, sit on the couch and tell stories and play the guitar. That was a pretty exciting time. I always say when I went country all I did was get a bigger guitar, a bigger hat and a bigger mustache. Everyone in Nashville liked me. Grandpa Jones was nervous, but he came around.

FOLK MAMA: You’ve been on the road for a long time and have seen a lot.

BOOK BINDER: Well, I’ve certainly met a lot of characters in my life. I’m in my 70s now. I’m in a good time in my life. My last album was all originals songs, and some of them could pass for old time songs if I didn’t tell anybody. It’s my proudest accomplishment—that last album. It took me ten years to get around to doing it.

So, you have to make a mark at some time. My favorite songs are my own. In concert I do about 40 or 50 percent of my own, they seem to go over really good. Back when I had just a few songs that I wrote, it was quite often that people would ask, “Who wrote those last two songs?”And I’d say, “They were mine.” And they’d say, “Those were the best.”

FOLK MAMA: You have a long association with Jorma Kaukonen and you teach regularly at the Fur Peace Ranch ( Jorma and Vanessa’s concert hall and teaching camp in Ohio). How did you first meet Jorma?

BOOK BINDER: I’ve been teaching there a long time. Jorma Kaukonen was in Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna and back in the 60s when I was starting to play the clubs Hot Tuna was recording a similar kind of music: they were very influenced by Gary Davis’ music. Jorma was always a fan of Gary Davis’ music.

I’d be playing the Hesitation Blues somewhere and someone in the audience would yell out “Jorma!” I didn’t know what they were talking about. And when I found out that Hot Tuna was a group and that they were doing “my” songs, I was not thrilled about that. I thought, “What are these rock stars coming into my turf playing coffeehouses?”

So I called up a place that I played every year and I said that I needed this particular weekend. So the club owner said that we have Jorma Kaukonen that weekend. So I said to myself, “Oh Darn”, but he said why you don’t open up for Hot Tuna?

So I played and people were very receptive to me, and afterwards I went in the dressing room and saw Jorma and he said, “I never saw anyone do that to my audience before. You’ll killed them.’ Then he said that he had all my records, and I said, “Really?” And then he said, “We ought to be pals.” I went to dinner at his house the next day and all of a sudden we were pals and I did some shows with him and its funny how it worked out. You never know in this business.

FOLK MAMA: You’ve been an M.C. on the Blues Stage at MearlFest for years and years. How did that come about?

BOOK BINDER: Well that started during my Nashville period, when I got discovered by Nashville TV. I was doing a lot of shows with John Hartford at the time. I ran into Jerry Douglas at the airport one day and I asked Jerry, “What’s with this MearlFest? Is it a paid gig?” And he said, “You call them up and you tell them your price.” And I’ve been there for 21 years in a row.

Every year on my stage I book four or five finger picking, bona fide acoustic people and that stage is very popular now. No blues festival in the world has done what Merlefest has done for acoustic blues. Doc and Merle used to love John Hurt and all those old blues people.

FOLKMAMA: So, what should people expect at your show on October 12th?

BOOK BINDER: It’s a very comical show. When I went to Australia, one of the concert reviewers in the Sydney Morning Herald said,” Behind the humor lurks a musical master. “I like that quote. My greatest joy is to hear people laugh. But the music gives me the audience.


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