Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret, and Bruce Campbell appear in concert January 18th

Central Pennsylvania is home to many fine musicians and four of the best—Neidig, Koretzky, Gehret and Campbell—appear for their unprecedented sixth Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, January 18, 2014, at 4:00 p.m. at the Appalachian Brewing Co. Abbey Bar, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. Whenever the four appear in a Susquehanna Folk Music Society program, the audience response is so great that it is obvious they should be invited back again.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. (Note: Appalachian Brewing Company welcomes guests under age 21 for this matinee concert.) 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 Web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

I had a chance to speak with mandolin and guitar play Henry Koretsky about this year’s concert and what new and different things that we should expect.

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FOLKMAMA: What do you have cooked up for us this year?

HENRY: As always we set ourselves up to do two sets of new material every year. It can be a real challenge for four people to come together to learn two 45 minute sets of new material from scratch. But that’s what we try to do; we try to set that bar high for ourselves.

And we’ve got all kinds of things going on. Everything from bluegrass versions of Beatles and Warren Zevon  to gypsy jazz and some great new originals by Kevin. Also some Darrell Scott and some Celtic tunes and even some straight bluegrass, just to show that we can do it.

FOLKMAMA: So remind our readers how you go about learning these pieces. Do you get together and rehearse or so you fly around MP3s or what?

HENRY: The preliminary process is really involves just running some ideas amongst ourselves. I know that I’m thinking about it all year and considering possibilities and refining my list. Each of us, at least Kevin, Ken and I kick in about a third of the set a piece. And then as the concert approaches we get together—we actually had a couple of harried rehearsals, one as a trio and one as a quartet we worked the stuff out.

Normally we do send out charts, demos and MP3s to each other so that we can prepare before we all get together. And then it’s really amazing how quickly they come together once we’re all there. It’s a tribute to how these guys are.

FOLK MAMA: You said that you think about it all year, but when does the push really begin?

HENRY: Usually about a month before. About two months before I send out what I jokingly call my Marine Sergeant e-mail and tell the guys that they have to start thinking about what’s coming up here—then once we get within a month we’re really finalizing tunes. We’re continuing that process even until the last couple of days before the show.

FOLK MAMA: Now have you all played together as a foursome in the last year?

HENRY:  Well in this past year no opportunities really came up. But there are always things that crop up that at least some of us play together at. Kevin has his new group “Kevin Neidig and the Fold” and Kevin, Bruce and I play in that band along with Justin Clouser although sometimes that group is a duo or a trio. And then Ken and Bruce Play with Davis Francis play in the Gypsy jazz group called Rue de la Pompe and they have a rotating fourth member when they play their semi monthly gig at The Press Room in Lancaster and I sometimes play with them.  So we’ve had almost a forum of three people.

But that’s part of what makes this concert a special treat because it’s kind of a rare thing for all four of us to get on stage at the same time together.

FOLKMAMA: So what new things are going on with the different band members?

HENRY: We Kevin has been teaching ukulele as well as guitar at The Perfect 5th. Voxology isn’t as active now because Les is living up in Corning, NY, but they still get together and they make Voxology concerts more like special occasions and they book a couple of gigs on the same weekend. But he’s put a lot of energy in his new group called Kevin Neidig and the Fold and we’ve talked about possibly doing a recording. Ken has been working like a madman as always. He’s been doing a lot of bluegrass teaching camp—I guess he calls them bluegrass jam camps. And he’s been very busy with his Celtic group, Irish Mist and leading a lot of Irish sessions in Reading and Philadelphia. Bruce is as always busier than ever playing a lot of jazz gig and he’s actually looking at retiring from his day gig which should give him a little more time. I can see him getting busier than he already is, if that imaginable.

FOLK MAMA: And I know that you Henry play with the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble. How active is that right now?

HENRY: We’re keeping busy. We just played a coffeehouse in Northumberland and we’ve been working up all kinds of new material so we’ve got some things lined up this summer but we’re always looking for some new stuff. And now you know that Kevin has joined the group too.

 

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Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret & Bruce Campbell perform for SFMS May 18th in Harrisburg

Central Pennsylvania is home to many fine musicians, and four of the best—Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret, and Bruce Campbell—appear for their unprecedented fifth Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Brewing Co. Abbey Bar, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. The four have drawn such acclaim in their four earlier concerts that the decision was made to bring them back again for 2014.

Concert tickets are $18 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students to age 22. (Note: Appalachian Brewing Company requires guests to be age 21 and over for evening shows.) Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. Funding for Susquehanna Folk Music Society concerts is provided by the Cultural Enrichment Fund and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, administered locally by the Cultural Alliance of York County. This concert is presented in cooperation with Greenbelt Events­. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society Web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

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Following is a reprinted, but updated, interview done in 2012:

Folkmama: So Kevin, from your posts on Facebook it seems like you’ve been really busy. What have been some of the highlights in your musical life since you played for Susquehanna Folk last time?

Neidig: This past year has been wonderful musically.  I have been teaching various instruments and voice in private lessons, classes and workshops at the Perfect 5th Music and Arts Center.  I bought my first ever classical guitar, which I love.  I play a lot of classical guitar when I am home by myself but I haven’t taken that part of myself to the stage.  In some ways I feel like that music is just for me.  Actually most of the music I practice and play at home never reaches the stage.  It’s a funny thing.  Maybe I am selfish with that part of me or maybe I just haven’t found the right avenue to express that side of myself yet. I am not really sure.  I have also fallen in love with gypsy jazz and have been listening to it almost exclusively all this year.  I have always liked the style but maybe a certain gene switch on from a solar flare or something and it’s made me obsessed with this music.  You’re definitely going to hear me and the boys play some of this music at the show on Sunday!

Folkmama: And what about you Henry? How has your year been?

Koretzky: Probably the most interesting thing has been the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble. A fellow named Tom Cook who is a lawyer and a mandolin enthusiast got the idea to put together a Harrisburg equivalent of a mandolin orchestra. Mandolin orchestras were a popular tradition in the early part of the 20th century. Every town would have them. There are still a few around; they have been making a comeback.  But they tend to be large groups with dozens of people so what has evolved with our group is a six piece band. We’ve got mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and even a mandobass. This has been interesting because even though it’s an old tradition the fact that it’s a six piece we have to arrange and choose all our own stuff so we’re doing some original tunes and we’re doing almost all original arrangements of tunes.

Folkmama:  Bruce, I know that you’ve always been pretty busy with a multitude of bands. Any particular highlights, or has the recession really cut into your gig schedule?

Campbell: Recession?  What recession?  As a hired gun, I’m open and willing to commit to any gig with any band, provided that A. it’s challenging, B. it’s fun, and C. It pays enough to cover expenses.The Rue de la Pompe gypsy swing band that I’m doing with Ken continued to be busy throughout 2013, as well as Ruby and the Hummingbirds, the Isaak Trio and other jazz piano trios I get called for. The Vintage Jazz Dixieland band stays steady and I’ve picked up some big band work as well.I work with Kevin occasionally and was proud to add the bass parts to his latest recording.Contra Dances keep popping up on my schedule both with the Contra Rebels, as well as Henry’s group, Unbowed.As a backup bassist, I fill in any holes in my schedule taking work from Vinegar Creek Constituency, Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble, Barbone Street Jazz, The Launies, Rampart St. Ramblers, and Dixieland Express.

Folkmama: Ken, I know that you identify yourself more with the Reading, PA area so our readers may not be as familiar with your various project. What kinds of things have you been up to musically?

Gehret: I’ve been playing a lot of different styles of music; jazz and Brazilian music, Irish, and some classical too. I do some different band situations and I do some solo performances too. I have a band called Irish Mist and I’m in a band with Bruce Campbell and others called Rue de la Pompe which is Parisian swing—Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli . And of course Irish Mist does Celtic music, traditional, but some originals. The Brazilians do Brazilian music—a lot of Jobim, Bonfá—that sort of thing and some original material also. And I have the Violin Quartet–it’s a jazz group, but instead of having a tenor sax I play the violin. We play modern jazz—Coltrane, Miles Davis—that sort of thing.

Folkmama: Henry, you’re really responsible for putting this Neidig, Koretzky, Gehret, Campbell composition together. You selected guys that are all so good individually, but have terrific chemistry on stage together. How has this worked for you?

Koretzky:   I’ve always enjoys putting different groups together and seeing how they interact.  All the time that I’ve been playing, that’s always been a fun thing to do. I play with a lot of different ensembles and a lot of different styles and I’m always thinking, “Mmmm…I wonder how these two people would get along. I wonder how they would interact.”  The opportunity that this concert presents gives me the chance to do this on a more public stage.  It’s been great, for example,  to get Ken and Kevin together to bounce ideas off of each other and support each other’s ideas. It’s always fun for me to do this and in this case I’m doing it in a concert situation with a great listening room atmosphere so that the audience can be part of the experience as well.

Folkmama: Bruce, you play with some of these guys in different bands already. What has it been like playing together as a foursome?

Campbell: It’s fun to think that I play regularly with Ken in the gypsy band and sometimes bluegrass bands, I play with Henry in contra dance bands like the Contra Rebels, and I play with Kevin Neidig usually in concert situations where I play his original tunes. Now we’re all getting together and we are all going to play what we want to play or what we want to feature. It’s a completely different repertoire for the most part than anything I play with these guys on an individual basis. It’s a completely different band made up of people that I routinely play with using a completely different repertoire.

Folkmama: What about you Ken?

Gehret: Playing with this composition of musicians is a lot of fun; it’s certainly the right chemistry. We all hook up very well musically and personally.

Folkmama:  Anything to add Kevin?

Neidig: Henry, Ken and Bruce are just the real deal. They are just fine acoustic musicians that are always trying to hone their craft. They are really the cream of the crop and to get to play with them is just really awesome. It’s very exciting.

Folkmama: So you’ve played this gig for the Folk Music Society two years in a row already, and you’ve been invited back for a third concert. Do you have any special memories of past concerts that you’d like to share?

Neidig: I think I was just so surprised by the attendance and that got us so energized. I talked about this with the group afterwards. You know we are not even a real band, we’re just a bunch of guys who get together to put on a show and we’ve got this packed house. That is just so cool!

Folkmama: And what about you Henry? What has it been like preparing for shows with this group?

Koretzky: I think it’s interesting how every musician prepares for it in a different way. Kevin, for instance is ultra-organized and he will do very precise demos of his original tunes and post them on a private website that we have access to so that we have a choice to work every chord off those tunes individually.

It might surprise audiences to know how fresh the material is, that we don’t have much of a chance to play together, all four of us, before we hit the stage. It’s actually been part of the energy that has gone there. We prepare the stuff, we know exactly what we are going to do, material wise, and we’ve all had a chance to rehearse individually and in small groups. When we played last year we had one four-piece rehearsal the week before. So we knew where the edges of the tunes were, we knew what work we had to do individually, but when we got on stage everything was extremely fresh and exciting. That was part of the excitement of what we were able to deliver up there.

Folkmama: What’s the experience of preparing for these gigs been like for you Bruce?

Campbell: The pattern starts with Henry being the driving force and the disciplinarian.  As of last week said, “Come on boys! Crack the whip. Crack, crack. Snap, snap. We need to get together; we need to make some decisions. We need to decide what our set list is. We need to have MP3s and demos flying around between us so that we can all individually learn this stuff so that when we get together we can launch from there.” So Henry is the driving force. If it wasn’t for Henry nothing would be happening until like two days before the concert and then there would be this panic.

As far as the concert itself, just from me doing sound all those years and me playing there the last couple of years it’s just a wonderful audience and a wonderful venue. Everyone hangs on every word and every lyric and every note. They are attentive and they are sober and they’re appreciative and it’s just a wonderful gig.

Folkmama: And when the band hits the stage, what has been your experience Ken?

Gehret: Well, I was so taken by the warmth of the audience. It has been so wonderful to play for Susquehanna Folk audiences—they are just so into the music. They really made us feel at home.

Folkmama: What’s in store for audiences at the upcoming February 25th concert?

Neidig: For this next concert we’re going to really try to outdo ourselves and get some really cool songs that we normally wouldn’t play because we have these fabulous musicians that can really handle it.  It’s like, “Let’s do a Paul Simon song but do it in a bluegrass format.” I think it’s really going to be a great, interesting show.

Interview by Jess Hayden, Executive Director of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society, January 2012. (updated 2014)

 

Neidig, Koretzky, Gehret and Campbell

Robinella Headlines September 28, 2013 During Day of Music Near York, PA

It doesn’t get any better than an early fall picnic in a beautiful location with exciting musical entertainment all day long. Songside.com in association with the Susquehanna Folk Music Society invites you to a family-friendly event featuring an open mic, post-concert jamming, and performances by Beggar’s Ride, 3 Dollar Suit, Kevin Neidig and Friends, and Robinella. It all happens on Saturday, September 28, at Elicker’s Grove Park at 511 Roth Church Road, near Spring Grove, PA.

Gates open at 11 a.m. with the Open Mic at Noon, Beggar’s Ride at 2 p.m., 3 Dollar Suit at 3 p.m., Kevin Neidig at 4 p.m., headliner Robinella at 5 p.m., and post-concert jamming until 6:30 p.m. It is a rain or shine event. Tickets are $18 General Admission and $16 for SFMS members. Children age 16 and under are free. Advance tickets and information is available through songside.com.

Headlining the event, from Knoxville, Tennessee, is singer-songwriter and recording artist Robinella.

She will appear with her trio, including Mike Seal on guitar and Clint Mullican on bass. She has previously performed three times at the Wagon Shed (New Freedom) and at the Whitaker Center with guitarist Frank Vignola.

Art Wachter, of Songside.com says that on stage Robinella is very high energy and very fun loving. “Her strong southern roots really come through,” he says. “She’s very at ease on the stage. You feel that you are in a living room instead of a concert. Her voice is so natural…when she sings it seems effortless.”

I had a chance to speak to Robinella last week about her past influences, her songwriting and her plans for the future.

FOLKMAMA: Tell us a little bit about your musical history. The kinds of things that you’ve done and the things that you want people to know.

ROBINELLA: I’m from East Tennessee and grew up on a farm where we grew tobacco and my dad is one of ten and the whole family is all musical. They all sing. And my grandfather played the Jew’s harp and my dad started at an early age with a bunch of his other brothers playing and singing and farming.

We would sing in church with my dad. I grew up going to a Baptist church. It was a really rural church. So I started like that and then I went to college and got kind of caught up with some other folks playing music and I got really interested in starting to learn to play guitar and I met a guy (Cruz Contreras ) and married this guy and we started our first musical group together called Robinella and the CCstringband.

And so for a few years Cruz and I, we really worked hard on our music, and I started to develop my own style but really initially I was just playing catch up to all the styles and stuff I kind of missed out on growing up like I did—you know jazz and some more pop things from earlier decades and rock and roll and the blues and I really got into bluegrass there for awhile.

There’s a lot of bluegrass here where I was from, but my dad never thought of himself as a bluegrass player. He just thought of himself as country. But there are a lot of places around here like Buttermilk Grove and Rocky Branch–where people would just get together and pick. And that’s really where I picked up a lot of music—having to just be able to jump in and play with whoever is playing and I realized that my background came in handy, especially if they were playing gospel songs. They’ll be playing and I’d say, “Hey, I know this song!”

So we spent a lot of time diversifying and playing as Robinella and the CCstringband, which we started pretty soon after we met. I was a singer and played guitar and Cruz was the mandolin and we did some pretty extensive touring and got a record deal (with Columbia Records). I continued to write more songs, and eventually, I feel I really developed my own style.

FOLKMAMA: So when the band was together, you called yourself a string band. So in those early years, was your music rooted in bluegrass and country? Was that the sound you were after?

ROBINELLA: It probably was. In the rural county where I grew up, that was a lot of what was around us. Cruz is from Nashville and his brother is a very accomplished violinist. He had made his start in bluegrass and Cruz had accompanied Billy on guitar so he had learned all that bluegrass stuff too.

FOLKMAMA: So when the band together was together, did you write songs then, or is it more sing you’ve gone solo that you’ve gotten into songwriting?

ROBINELLA: No, I wrote songs all along. I wrote the song for our first video which is called “Man Over” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fFA-uvweOs  Uploaded in2009, over 85,000 views) and on our first Columbia album there was “Man Over”, “Mornin’ Dove”, “Honey, Honey Bee”and“Dress Me Down”– a song I wrote about being from East Tennessee and having a good family.

FOLKMAMA: Is Ode to Love your latest CD?

ROBINELLA: Yes, it’s my third solo album.

FOLKMAMA: And you composed most of the songs?

ROBINELLA: There are two not written by me; there is “Stardust” and “Over the Rainbow”.

FOLKMAMA: So, this really features your songwriting. Is this the first CD that you’ve made of mostly your own compositions?

ROBINELLA: No, I guess my first featured songwriting album was “Solace for the Lonely” (2006 Duotone Records). It came out after my Columbia record. I wrote all but one on that record. And followed by it was “Fly Away Bird” where  and I wrote most of the songs too.

FOLKMAMA: So when you come to us on September 28th, what musicians are you going to bring with you?

ROBINELLA: I’m going to bring Mike Seal who will impress everyone at the festival and people will say that he’s the best guitarist that they have ever heard in their whole life. And also a very accomplished bass play, Clint Mullican.

FOLKMAMA: And are your musicians acoustic or electric?

Electric.

FOLKMAMA: So I know that you have your own style, but what can you say to describe the style that you will be playing?

ROBINELLA: It will sound a lot like what you hear on my CD “Ode to Love”. I write love songs, and I’ll play songs off that album. And I’ve got some country songs. But I probably don’t have as many country songs as you would think that a girl with my background would have, I don’t know why. I guess with all the stringy, earthy bands that are coming out of everywhere now– I guess I feel I was doing that 13, 15 years ago.  Now I want to discover some other kinds of songs, things that are new that I might want to explore and find out what they are about and mix that kind of material with my country, Baptist roots.

FOLKMAMA: And some jazz too.

ROBINELLA: I like jazz because I have a little more freedom with the melody and it’s good to do that. Although anymore I seem to be satisfied with singing a simple line. I guess I just had to show everyone that I could fancier stuff!

FOLKMAMA: Where do you think you want to head next?

ROBINELLA: Well playing for a folk festival like this is a really big deal for me. You know I haven’t seen your audience, but I have a feeling that they are going to be my kind of crowd!  Robinella3394-photo Art Wachter

Susquehanna Folk Music Society Announces New Season

By Jess Hayden

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society, Harrisburg area’s champion of traditional and contemporary folk music, dance, stories and craft, is excited to present its new season of concerts, dances, workshops, jams and coffeehouses. This veteran group doesn’t own a venue, but instead uses a variety of interesting spaces to help create the cozy, informal atmosphere so often appreciated by folk music enthusiasts. Susquehanna Folk events are staffed by volunteers and frequently include opportunities for audience members to get to know one another over refreshments at intermission or during a potluck meal before the event.

Look for the group to return this season to one of their favorite haunts; the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn. Part of Fort Hunter Museum and Park in Harrisburg, this attractive historic barn has housed many Susquehanna Folk concerts, jams, coffeehouses and workshops. Concerts slated to be held at the barn this season are Nashville songwriter Darrell Scott on September 30th, multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid on October 26th, string band music and quirky humor from Molasses Creek on November 2nd, an eclectic mix ranging “from Celtic to Cowboy” with Small Potatoes on November 17th, local favorites Voxology on March 23rd, and Canadian singer-songwriter Garnet Rogers on April 13th. A jam, open to all, is held on third Sundays 1-3 pm, October through May.

New this season will be a series of Sunday afternoon matinee concerts held in collaboration with Greenbelt Events at the Gallery of the Appalachian Brewery in Harrisburg. This lovely, intimate space has old-world charm but boasts the latest in sound and lighting technology. This series of concerts includes Canadian fiddling and step dancing virtuoso April Verch on January 13th, a spotlight on local talent with Neidig, Koretsky, Gehret and Campbell on February 3rd, Blues Hall of Fame Inductee John Hammond on February 24th, and Americana music favorites Red Molly on May 19th. Concert goers are encouraged to stay for dinner or to try out one of the establishment’s famous brews! Parking is conveniently located and free of charge.

For those wishing to venture to York, Susquehanna Folk will hold three concerts there at another new venue; Marketview Arts. This recently transformed

Historic Fraternal Order of Eagles building has been turned into a downtown arts center complete with a large space which adapts well for concerts. In this venue the group will feature the Irish-American group Girsa on October 7th, beautiful three part harmony from the trio Brother Sun on January 26th, and country blues from the legendary Rory Block on April 21st.

Beyond its concert series Susquehanna Folk also features world class international dance instruction and dancing to live ethnic music. On October the 27th Balkan Dance Day will be held at Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Harrisburg with dance instruction by Michael Kuharski and on December 1st there will be a dance party with the Balkan music band Sviraj at the St Lawrence Club in Steelton.

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society has a website with information and tickets at www.susquehannafolk.org. All venues are handicapped accessible. The group gratefully acknowledges funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Cultural Enrichment Fund.

Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret and Bruce Campbell–Back to the Susquehanna Folk Stage, February 25th–for the Third Year in a Row!

 Four of  Harrisburg, PA area’s most talented acoustic musicians —Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret, and Bruce Campbell– have been scheduled to appear, for a unprecedented third year in a row, in a concert to be held on the Susquehanna Folk Music Society stage . The group will play an evening of bluegrass, Americana, Celtic, jazz and original music.  The concert will be held on Saturday, February 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Hunter Barn located at 5300 N. Front Street in Harrisburg. Tickets and information are available at www.sfmsfolk.org.

Folkmama had the opportunity to talk to the musicians about what they’ve been up to musically since last season, what they like about playing together and what special memories they might have about playing together.

Folkmama: So Kevin, from your posts on Facebook it seems like you’ve been really busy, plus you’ve gotten yourself a new guitar. What have been some of the highlights in your musical life since you played for Susquehanna Folk last January?

Neidig: Well, I’ve gotten to play with some really great musicians like Missy Raines and Jim Hurst. I was teaching down at the Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster Maryland and they were teaching there too. We were all part of the staff so we were doing a lot of work together. And of course I’m still playing a lot with Voxology.

Folkmama: And your new guitar?

Neidig: My new guitar is awesome. It’s definitely allowed me to get better. It’s one of the best guitars that I’ve ever played. It has a really balanced tone—punchy bass, great everything. I don’t think that Collings makes a bad guitar.

Folkmama: And what about you Henry? How has your year been?

Koretzky: Probably the most interesting thing has been the Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble. A fellow named Tom Cook who is a lawyer and a mandolin enthusiast got the idea to put together a Harrisburg equivalent of a mandolin orchestra. Mandolin orchestras were a popular tradition in the early part of the 20th century. Every town would have them. There are still a few around; they have been making a comeback.  But they tend to be large groups with dozens of people so what has evolved with our group is a six piece band. We’ve got mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and even a mandobass. This has been interesting because even though it’s an old tradition the fact that it’s a six piece we have to arrange and choose all our own stuff so we’re doing some original tunes and we’re doing almost all original arrangements of tunes.

Folkmama:  Bruce, I know that you’ve always been pretty busy with a multitude of bands. Any particular highlights, or has the recession really cut into your gig schedule?

Campbell: Mmmm…let me go to my Excel spreadsheet. Gigs, 2011. I keep everything on my Excel spreadsheet—the gig, the band, the mileage, supplies, equipment, repair, turnpike, parking , miscellaneous. Yup, it’s been a really busy year. I did a lot of work with this new trio/quartet Rue de la Pompe, which is the spin on the Gypsy jazz stuff that I’m doing with Ken Gehret. So that’s one of the busiest bands, and then there is a jazz trio—a piano trio basically called the Troy Isaac Trio and we released our first album last year and then the Dixieland band was very busy. We played for the third time at the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Connecticut—playing with the big boys. And then every once in awhile Jamie O’Brien comes into town and Henry and I will do a flurry of work with him doing concerts and contra dances. That band is called Unbowed.

Folkmama: Ken,  I know that you identify yourself more with the Reading, PA area so our readers may not be as familiar with your various project. What kinds of things have you been up to musically?

Gehret: I’ve been playing a lot of different styles of music; jazz and Brazilian music, Irish, and some classical too. I do some different band situations and I do some solo performances too. I have a band called Irish Mist and I’m in a band with Bruce Campbell and others called Rue de la Pompe which is Parisian swing—Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli . And of course Irish Mist does Celtic music, traditional, but some originals. The Brazilians do Brazilian music—a lot of Jobim, Bonfá—that sort of thing and some original material also. And I have the Violin Quartet–it’s a jazz group, but instead of having a tenor sax I play the violin. We play modern jazz—Coltrane, Miles Davis—that sort of thing.

Folkmama: Henry, you’re really responsible for putting this Neidig, Koretzky, Gehret, Campbell composition together. You selected guys that are all so good individually, but have terrific chemistry on stage together. How has this worked for you?

Koretzky:   I’ve always enjoys putting different groups together and seeing how they interact.  All the time that I’ve been playing, that’s always been a fun thing to do. I play with a lot of different ensembles and a lot of different styles and I’m always thinking, “Mmmm…I wonder how these two people would get along. I wonder how they would interact.”  The opportunity that this concert presents gives me the chance to do this on a more public stage.  It’s been great, for example,  to get Ken and Kevin together to bounce ideas off of each other and support each other’s ideas. It’s always fun for me to do this and in this case I’m doing it in a concert situation with a great listening room atmosphere so that the audience can be part of the experience as well.

Folkmama: Bruce, you play with some of these guys in different bands already. What has it been like playing together as a foursome?

Campbell: It’s fun to think that I play regularly with Ken in the gypsy band and sometimes bluegrass bands, I play with Henry in contra dance bands like the Contra Rebels, and I play with Kevin Neidig usually in concert situations where I play his original tunes. Now we’re all getting together and we are all going to play what we want to play or what we want to feature. It’s a completely different repertoire for the most part than anything I play with these guys on an individual basis. It’s a completely different band made up of people that I routinely play with using a completely different repertoire.

Folkmama: What about you Ken?

Gehret: Playing with this composition of musicians is a lot of fun; it’s certainly the right chemistry. We all hook up very well musically and personally.

Folkmama:  Anything to add Kevin?

Neidig: Henry, Ken and Bruce are just the real deal. They are just fine acoustic musicians that are always trying to hone their craft. They are really the cream of the crop and to get to play with them is just really awesome. It’s very exciting.

Folkmama: So you’ve played this gig for the Folk Music Society two years in a row already, and you’ve been invited back for a third concert. Do you have any special memories of past concerts that you’d like to share?

Neidig: I think I was just so surprised by the attendance and that got us so energized. I talked about this with the group afterwards. You know we are not even a real band, we’re just a bunch of guys who get together to put on a show and we’ve got this packed house. That is just so cool!

Folkmama: And what about you Henry? What has it been like preparing for shows with this group?

Koretzky: I think it’s interesting how every musician prepares for it in a different way. Kevin, for instance is ultra-organized and he will do very precise demos of his original tunes and post them on a private website that we have access to so that we have a choice to work every chord off those tunes individually.

It might surprise audiences to know how fresh the material is, that we don’t have much of a chance to play together, all four of us, before we hit the stage. It’s actually been part of the energy that has gone there. We prepare the stuff, we know exactly what we are going to do, material wise, and we’ve all had a chance to rehearse individually and in small groups. When we played last year we had one four-piece rehearsal the week before. So we knew where the edges of the tunes were, we knew what work we had to do individually, but when we got on stage everything was extremely fresh and exciting. That was part of the excitement of what we were able to deliver up there.

Folkmama: What’s the experience of preparing for these gigs been like for you Bruce?

Campbell: The pattern starts with Henry being the driving force and the disciplinarian.  As of last week said, “Come on boys! Crack the whip. Crack, crack. Snap, snap. We need to get together; we need to make some decisions. We need to decide what our set list is. We need to have MP3s and demos flying around between us so that we can all individually learn this stuff so that when we get together we can launch from there.” So Henry is the driving force. If it wasn’t for Henry nothing would be happening until like two days before the concert and then there would be this panic.

As far as the concert itself, just from me doing sound all those years and me playing there the last couple of years it’s just a wonderful audience and a wonderful venue. Everyone hangs on every word and every lyric and every note. They are attentive and they are sober and they’re appreciative and it’s just a wonderful gig.

Folkmama: And when the band hits the stage, what has been your experience Ken?

Gehret: Well, I was so taken by the warmth of the audience. It has been so wonderful to play for Susquehanna Folk audiences—they are just so into the music. They really made us feel at home.

Folkmama: What’s in store for audiences at the upcoming February 25th concert?

Neidig: For this next concert we’re going to really try to outdo ourselves and get some really cool songs that we normally wouldn’t play because we have these fabulous musicians that can really handle it.  It’s like, “Let’s do a Paul Simon song but do it in a bluegrass format.” I think it’s really going to be a great, interesting show.

Interview by Jess Hayden, Executive Director of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society

January 2012.

Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Bruce Campbell & Ken Gehret in concert, Harrisburg, Jan 29

By John Hope

The Greater Harrisburg area is home to many fine musicians and four of the best—Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret, and Bruce Campbell—are coming together for a very special Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Saturday, January 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner. A similar concert with three of the four performers played to a full-house last year and drew such acclaim that the decision was made to bring them back again this year with the addition of another fine area performer.

Kevin Neidig excels at singing, instrumental prowess, and songwriting. Whether playing guitar, mandolin, or banjo, his nimble fingers extract magic from the strings. The arrangements he writes are dizzyingly technical, with ingenious chordwork and melodic lines balancing the lyrics and vocals. In addition to his solo work, Kevin is part of the duo Voxology. He teaches guitar in Mechanicsburg and online at guitar-yoga.com, where he challenges guitarists with fresh ideas that exercise the body, the mind, and the spirit.Harrisburg native Henry Koretzky came to playing music late in life and has spent the past few decades trying to make up for that lost time. Since the early 1980s he has been a regular on the local roots music scene, playing bluegrass, contra dance music, Klezmer, swing, contemporary folk/Americana, and a bit of Celtic. He has played with High Strung, Medicinal Purpose, The Contra Rebels, The Gnu Tones, Sweetwater Reunion, Ithaca (NY)-based bluegrass band Cornerstone, Rootbound, KJ & Henry, the Sweet Nothings, Shades of Green and Blue, the Old World Folk Band, and Sink or Swing.

Ken Gehret has been performing as a musician for more than 30 years, primarily as a guitarist and violinist. He performs, teaches, composes and arranges for more than 17 instruments including voice, woodwinds, reeds, strings and keyboards. Coming from a primarily country music background, he has performed with well known stars including Roy Clark and Mel Tillis, and has performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Ken plays with several local bands, in genres ranging from Irish Traditional to bluegrass to jazz.

Sideman-for-hire Bruce Campbell plays string bass in nearly any style imaginable. He has played with anyone who’s anyone in the area, including The Contra Rebels, The Canal Street Hot 6, Not Your Father’s Bluegrass Band, the Gadjo Playboys, Octavia Blues Band and with jazz pianists Mark Huber, Trixi Greiner, Tom Pontz and occasionally Steve Rudolph if he gets lucky. Even those who haven’t seen him onstage may have found him behind the scenes, helping other performers sound good through his role as a sound engineer for many performers.

The potluck dinner is free; bring a covered dish to share. Place settings and beverages will be provided. Concert tickets are $18 General Admission, $14 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 http://www.sfmsfolk.org