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!


Gordon Bok, folksinger from the state of Maine appears in concert April 28th, Harrisburg, PA

By Jess Hayden

The incomparable Gordon Bok, hailed by Time as “the poet laureate of those who go down to the sea in ships”, appears at a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Saturday, April 28, at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, Harrisburg. A free 90-minute workshop on moving poetry towards music at 4 p.m. will be followed by a 6 p. m. potluck dinner and the 7:30 p.m. concert. Tickets and information can be found at http://ow.ly/aoyzM.

Gordon doesn’t tour as regularly as he used to, so we’re very fortunate to be having him perform this concert for our south central Pennsylvania community. I had a conversation with him recently and asked him some questions about what’s his repertoire like and what listeners may expect at his concert:

FOLKMAMA:  I’ve seen you perform many times and I’m always amazed by the variety of styles of music that you work into your program! For someone who has never seen you perform before, can you describe what they may experience when coming to one of your shows for the first time?

BOK: My folks exposed me to many kinds of music of the Americas and other countries and I’ve learned a lot from immigrants I’ve worked with.  Mostly these days I sing in English, performing both traditional and contemporary music and instrumentals from Scotland to Australia.

FOLKMAMA: How has living in the state of Maine influenced your repertoire?

BOK: The various musicians I’ve played with here since I was a kid exercised me in contradance and country music and I learned quite a few songs from people I worked with on the water.

FOLKMAMA: What instruments do you plan to play during the Susquehanna Folk Music Society performance on the 28th?

BOK: A Spanish guitar and a twelve string guitar, both locally made, are the instruments I tour with.

FOLKMAMA: Tell us about your CD “Gordon Bok in Concert”. What songs does it feature and why did you decide to record a live CD?

BOK: Folks told me my albums didn’t give me the flavor and feeling of my concerts so I recorded a few nearby gigs for In Concert.  My latest CDs are “Other Eyes” and “Because You Asked” (requests – coming out soon.)

FOLKMAMA:  I’m fascinated with the concept of your cantefables (story-songs). I remember years ago hearing the wonderful “Saben the Woodfitter” and “Sea Djiril’s Hymn”. Do these selections fit under the cantefable category? Are you planning to perform a cantefable for us?

BOK: Cantefable is not my word, but I started to mix spoken story with music forty years ago, and that’s what Sandy Payton [founder of Folk Legacy] called that form.  It’s become more popular since, but I think it’s an ancient way of doing stories.  I might perform a recent one at Susquehanna.

FOLKMAMA:  When you come to perform for Susquehanna Folk you will also give a workshop “Moving Poetry Towards Music.” Can you tell us a little bit about what attendees might expect during this workshop?

BOK: I would give some examples of poetry set to music, but if people could bring in some of their own poems to work with, I’d rather concentrate on that.  It would be good if folks could send me one or two poems in advance.

FOLKMAMA: I’m interested in your fascination with the music and traditions of the Kalmyk Mongolians. Where does your interest come from? I’ve read that a group of Tibetans immigrated to the US to work as lumberjacks for the Great Northern Paper Company in Portage Lake, Me. Has this somehow fueled your interest?

BOK: I didn’t know about the Tibetan lumberjacks.  The Kalmyk immigrants took me in when I worked in Philadelphia and gave me some of their music.  Now that they’re forgetting it, I’m just trying to return it in a form that will be accessible to them.

FOLKMAMA: Are you planning on reciting any poet during your show? I really love your renditions of Ruth Moore’s poetry.

BOK: I’ll probably recite a poem in concert if you like.

FOLKMAMA: Thank you for agreeing to an interview. Anything else that you want to add?

BOK: I’m so grateful for all the musicians that have nourished and guided me.  Especially at a time when I could learn from some of the finest singers in so many countries.  And then to understand that this work of love is useful to other people; that’s a gift.