Corn Potato String Band, Oct 15th, 2017. Hbg, PA

The Corn Potato String Band will make their first appearance on the Susquehanna Folk Music Society stage when they appear at on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn located at 5300 N. Front Street in Harrisburg, PA. Tickets are $24 General Admission, $10 Students, and $20 Susquehanna Folk Music Society members. For tickets and information visit http://www.sfmsfolk.org/concerts/CornPotatoStringBand.html.

The band has delighted audiences with their driving fiddle tunes and harmonious singing across the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and India. In addition to being champion fiddlers they play banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin and deftly handle many different old-time styles including ballads, “ho-downs,” country “rags” and southern gospel, specializing in twin fiddling and double banjo tunes.

Onstage they are infectious, fun, and VERY ententertaining! Aside from humorous songs and stellar musicianship, we’ll also get a chance to see a “crankie” (scrolling picture show) and some flatfoot dancing!

 

We had the chance to learn more about the band during a chat with band member Aaron Jonah Lewis.

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FOLKMAMA: What can people expect to hear when they come to a Corn Potato Soup concert?

AARON: We play old time music in a broad sense.  You will hear old time Appalachian tunes, Country Rags, Mexican Polkas, Early Country and some Western Swing.  We like to dig up beautiful and unique songs and instrumentals from the 1920s and 1930s.  You will definitely hear something you haven’t heard before, and if you have heard it before, we might do it different.  We recently have been featuring “Classic Banjo” which is a style of music that comes from the 1890’s-1900’s.  The banjo music of this era has a ragtime feel and reminds you of silent movie music, which is why we have our own scrolling picture show to accompany a couple of the banjo pieces.  We also can’t get through a show without letting Lindsay do some flatfooting.

FOLKMAMA: How did all the members in the band meet?

AARON: We all met for the first time at a Spaghetti Dinner in Richmond, VA, where our mutual friend was hosting a variety show.  None of us remember it, so the second time we all met was at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, WV.  Lindsay and some friends recruited Aaron and Ben to play Klezmer music for a latke party.

FOLKMAMA: How did the band get its unusual name?

AARON: The Corn Potato String Band got its name in the tradition of band names that evoke a bucolic setting with a suggestion of gaiety.  We have since realized that it gives us the tag line:  “The Ears and Eyes of America” which is kind of fun and weird at the same time.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me a little bit about the band members—specifically what they bring to the band.

AARON: Aaron is the Brains, Ben is the Face and Lindsay is the intestines.  Aaron and Ben played in a bluegrass band in Richmond for a long time.  They love to play fast and have great chops on fiddles and banjos.  Lindsay is a puppeteer but when she met up with Aaron, who is her household companion, she always wanted to be in a band.  She has managed to sneak some cranky shows and the occasional novelty song into the Corn Potato repertoire.

FOLKMAMA: Are you all full time with the band, or do you have other projects?

AARON: We are not a full time band right now.  We do have other projects.  Ben Belcher plays with the Hot Seats, based in Richmond when he can. Lindsay and Aaron play and tour with Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings.  Aaron also performs solo and plays with several other bands in and around Detroit and some Chicago and New York based projects when he can.  Lindsay continues to make puppet shows and works with puppet companies in Minneapolis and Vermont.

FOLKMAMA: Tell us about any CDs which you have recently made. (Which concert goers may want to purchase!)

AARON: Our latest CD is called: “Good Job Everybody” and features a little of everything we do.  Highlights include a double fiddle polka, an old country song about UFOs, an original double-banjo “stomp,” and one of our favorite novelty songs about drinking too much from 1928.

Our three previous CDs are currently out of print but they are available on our website http://www.cornpotato.com. We will also have a couple of Aaron’s CDs from other projects available: Square Peg Rounders’ “Galax, NYC,” an all-instrumental album of traditional fiddle tunes played with fiddle, banjo and guitar, and lots of flair, and “Wild Hog,” an experimental/traditional album of classic old time songs and tunes played with fiddles, banjo, guitar and bass, in the style of old time musicians who also love free improvisation.

 

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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!

Master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas to delight audeinces in Harrisburg, PA on Sunday, April 27th!

By John Hope

Alasdair and Natalie, smallMaster Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and dynamic young American cellist Natalie Haas, who have teamed up for appearances in Scotland, Spain, France, and throughout the U.S., come to central Pennsylvania on Sunday, April 27, 2014, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society matinee concert at 4 p.m. at Appalachian Brewing Company’s Abbey Bar, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg

 

“People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound,” Fraser says, “but they’re surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands. Natalie Haas unleashes textures and deep, powerful rhythms that drive fiddle tunes. We can ‘duck and dive’ around each other, swap melody and harmony lines, and improvise on each other’s rhythmic riffs. She has such a great sense of exploration and excitement for the music; it’s a joy to play with her.”

 

Alasdair Fraser, hailed by the San Francisco Examiner as “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling,” is a consummate performer whose dynamic fiddling, engaging stage presence, and deep understanding of Scotland’s music have created a constant international demand for his solo appearances and concerts with a variety of ensembles for more than 30 years. He is credited with being a major force behind the resurgence of traditional Scottish fiddling in his homeland and the U.S.

 

Fraser has been featured on more than 100 TV and radio shows in the UK and on several US national broadcasts, including Prairie Home Companion and Thistle and Shamrock. He has released several critically acclaimed albums, including the Indie Award-winning Dawn Dance (Best Celtic Album of 1996).

 

Haas is a Juilliard School graduate who is accomplished in a broad array of fiddle genres in addition to her extensive classical training. She was encouraged to explore the cello’s potential for rhythmic accompaniment to Celtic fiddle tunes while a student at Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School. Fire & Grace, her 2004 album with him, was awarded Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards. She also has toured extensively as a member of Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio. She teaches privately, at workshops and fiddle camps, and at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

 

In addition to their concert, Fraser and Haas will present an Arts in Education program at Harrisburg School District’s Foose School, with support from the Hall Foundation, the Lois Grass Foundation and the Foundation for Enhancing Communities.

 

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com. Funding is provided by the Cultural Enrichment Fund and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, administered locally by the Cultural Alliance of York County. “Your Name in Lights” sponsors for this event are Fred and Kathy Fries. The concert is presented in collaboration with Greenbelt Events. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

The Steel Wheels Live in Harrisburg on April 6th!

Selling out coast-to-coast and appearing at many top music festivals, The Steel Wheels come to Harrisburg for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society matinee concert on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at 4 p.m., at the Appalachian Brewing Company Abbey Bar, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

Based in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, The Steel Wheels have captured audiences across the county with their heady brew of original soulful mountain music and their deep commitment to roots and community. This dynamic four-piece string band marries old-time musical traditions with their own innovative sound and lifestyle.

The group is known for their raw energy and chemistry on stage, where they often cluster tightly around a single microphone to support Trent Wagler’s unmistakable tenor with four-part harmonies inspired by their Mennonite heritage.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.BrownPaperTickets.com.

Following is an interview with the band’s leader Trent Wagler.
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FOLKMAMA: I’ve actually never seen the band, but I’ve seen a lot of your You Tube Clips and I really love what I see. I know that you toured with Red Molly and I asked them about you and they said that you were really good.

TRENT: Aw, that’s nice!

FOLKMAMA: So, you did a small tour with them so there must have been something about both of your groups that made you good companions.

TRENT: We’ve know Red Molly for a little while. We’ve played at a lot of the same venues and a lot of the same festivals. We were backstage at a festival in Vermont a couple of years ago and we were just talking about touring and we were joking around and someone was talking about how they were a super group of all females with three great lead singers and great harmonies and great songs and us being all male we joked that their audience must be all middle aged men looking to come see them and our audience must be all middle aged women and that we should get together for a Valentine’s Day tour. So that was the original impetus for doing the tour. We had such a great experience and I would say that the similarities are many. We definitely did connect with that band.

We are cut from a very similar cloth in terms of the kinds of music that we try to bridge. We bridge the mountain music with singer/songwriter sounds and original songs that are important to us. In our band we share, kind of by accident, a Mennonite heritage, we all grew up Mennonite in different parts of the country and we found that that common heritage has a lot to do with our harmony singing.   That’s a big part of the heritage of the Mennonites because they didn’t always have a lot of musical instruments so singing became their instrument. So we sing a lot of harmonies. That’s a lot of what we enjoy bringing to the stage.

FOLKMAMA: So in your music I hear a lot of gospel, but I don’t necessarily think of it as religious music. Sometimes I think there is a really division between modern Christian music and gospel music. Do you feel that your music is Christian, or are you just interested in following the gospel traditions?

TRENT: Where drawing from the environments that we grew up in, but we definitely don’t think of our music as Christian. Some of the themes and language and biblical imagery is Christian music is definitely in what we do and some of the forms of gospel music–particularly some of the a capella songs that we do–but I usually try in the lyrics to open it slightly so that it’s different in form and function than a bible beating gospel but instead trying to turn a lyric more towards an open audience.

FOLKMAMA: So are you the main songwriter or do you write together?

TRENT: We write together to a certain extent. I’ve been the primary songwriter and lyrically speaking I’ve written everything. And then always the band is extremely important to the arrangement and in some cases to the final rewrites of the song. They’ve always been a very helpful part of that. So in some extent there’s been a workshoping of songs that brings everybody into the writing process.

FOLKMAMA: So have you played in Harrisburg before?

TRENT: We played at the Appalachian Brewery a couple of years ago, and we’ve certainly played a lot of shows in the Philadelphia area. We’ve played at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem as well as Musikfest and we’ve played at the bluegrass festival in Gettysburg.

FOLKMAMA: I see that you release your recordings in CD form and also on vinyl. Have you had a lot of call for the records?

TRENT: Yeah. The whole interesting in renewing vinyl recordings is such an interesting thing to watch. For some of our fans and some of the folk crowd, we say that we released it on vinyl and go get the record and they look at us like they think we’re crazy, “We threw away our vinyl 10 years ago!” But then there is a population of primarily young people who are really getting into this music and who love to hear it in this older way. It seems like there is something really special about people seeing the value in some of the older ways. I think that’s why we keep on playing these traditional melodies and playing these old songs because there is value in it. It’s not just out of responsibility, feeling like we have to keep the old songs alive.

The Steel WheelsThe intentionality of putting on a record, and listening to one side, a really thinking about why this band or artists decided to put these songs in this order and then you turn it over and you have another mini set. You have to pay attention because that record is going to stop, and then you have to turn it over and put it on again. All these things are things that we’ve lost with digital music.

 

 

The Irish Band GOITSE to appear in Harrisburg March 9th. An interview with band member Tadhg Ó Meachair

GOITSE-PHOTOOn Sunday, March 9 at 4 PM the Susquehanna Folk Music Society will recreate the excitement and fun of a traditional Irish pub when they present the Irish band Goitse and dancers from the Coyle School of Irish Dance. The event will also featuring an opening act by the popular area Celtic band Irish Blessing and an Irish session held after the concert to which musicians are encouraged to bring instruments.

The event will be held at the Abbey Bar, Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.BrownPaperTickets.com.

I had a chance to speak to Tadhg Ó Meachair, one of the founding members of the band, about the group’s members, repertoire, and Limerick University’s Irish Music and Dance program where they met.

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FOLKMAMA: How long has the group been together?

TADHG: We’ve played   three or four years full time at this stage but we started 7 years ago. Colm and I put the idea of the band together originally and started putting some music together, and Conal joined and a year later James came to the University and we asked him to join the band. So it gradually happened.

FOLKMAMA: Were you still at school when the band started performing?

TADHG: Yes, we performed here and there over the course of the four years. It was in our final year that we first started going on tours. It was at our third year at University that we recorded our first CD. As soon as we finished we went full time into touring and traveling.

FOLKMAMA: Can you tell me about the members of your band? Several of them have Gaelic names. I’m curious how you pronounce them.

TADHG: So there’s Colm (CULL-um) Phelan on the drum, the bodhran. And then there’s Áine (AWE yeh) McGeeney who plays fiddle and is the vocalist for the band. And then we’ve got James Harvey on banjo and mandolin. Conal O’Kane is the guitar player. And my name is Tadhg (TYG) Ó Meachair and I play keyboard and accordion.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that they band writes most of the songs that they play.

TADHG: So basically in Irish music we have a large canon of music from which to draw from, and then there’s the strong tradition of composing as well. So what we tend to do is to kind of make our own compositions out of older tunes that sometimes have been in existence for hundreds of years. We take these melodies that are old and arrange them in a new way using variations and various ornamentations.

FOLKMAMA: How often does the band tour in the states?

TADHG: In the past years we’ve been in the states either twice or three times. At the moment we’re out for three weeks. We tend to be over for St Patrick’s Day and in the summer it’s largely Irish festivals.

FOLKMAMA: So you all met at Limerick University when you were all students at in the Irish Music and Dance program. It says on the school’s website that it’s the first program of its kind in Ireland, and it’s particularly unique because it encourages a lot of performance.

I’m curious what your experiences were like there and what encouraged you all to go there.

TADHG: Well I guess there is this huge imbalance when it comes to music education where a lot of the programs focus on classical music training, but it was a unique program because it gave a unique perspective. Obviously we started with western theory and things like that, but the focus was on Irish music. Just putting folk and traditional music on par with other kinds of music is right and proper I suppose.

But I guess what encouraged us to go there is just the environment that is there. It’s an environment that fosters a lot of creativity and it gives you the opportunity to meet like minded people. I suppose all of us went there to expand our understanding of Irish music and expanding our musicianship. We kind of clicked with each other musically and we went from there.

FOLKMAMA: Have there been a lot of groups that have come out of the Irish Music and Dance program?

TADHG: Yeah. I guess the cool band when we were growing up was a band called Beoga. They graduated just ahead of us. All sorts of different acts have been associated with the academy at different points.

FOLKMAMA: Your band members have won some pretty prestigious awards and actually it seems like in Ireland that there is a very robust system for recognizing talented traditional instrumentalists. We hear about the All-Ireland fiddlers, banjo players, and flute player—for example. How does the system work and how has it helped to keep traditional Irish music alive?

TADHG: So what you are talking about is the Fleadh (festival/competition of Irish music). And basically it starts out at the county level.  The first and second place winners from the county Fleadh go on to the provincial Fleadh, and then the first and second winners from the provincial Fleadh go on to the All- Ireland Fleadh.

Musicians compete in four different age groups; under 12, under 15, under 18 and senior. There are competitions on all different instruments like fiddle, accordion, whistle, pipes, and harp. It’s a great process, from a teaching point of view especially for young children. It provides a great focus for them to really think about and improve the tunes that they are playing. And wrapped around the competition you have this really festive atmosphere. The All-Ireland competition is probably one of the largest Irish Festivals in the world and a great place for musicians to meet and play with one another.

FOLKMAMA: Can musicians from the United States compete also?

TADHG: Yeah, it’s called the All-Ireland Fleadh but you have four provincial Fleadhs in Ireland, an  All-Brittan Fleadh and two provincial Fleadhs in the US. The winners from all of those Fleadhs come in and partake in the All Ireland.

FOLKMAMA: One of the claims that Limerick University makes is that the Irish Music and Dance program helps to make its students more marketable. How easy or difficult have you found it to make a living as a professional Irish musician?

TADHG: It’s really enjoyable work. It’s a lot of travel, obviously, but you really get to see the world from a different perspective. We just spent seven weeks in China, for instance. It’s definitely an enjoyable experience. We get along well on the road. A lot of us teach when we are at home, have private students or teach at the university.

FOLKMAMA: Can you describe to us what people are going to hear when they come to the concert?

TADHG: It’s Irish music with our own fun and energetic twist. It should be a good mix of some high edgy stuff and some beautiful songs .

The Honey Dewdrops in Concert, January 11th, Hbg. PA

Honey Dewdrops1The Virginia-based roots duo The Honey Dewdrops, which features Laura Wortman and Kagey Parish,  bring their original Americana folk music to Harrisburg on Saturday, January 11, 2014 for Susquehanna Folk Music Society’s first  concert of the year to be held at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street in Harrisburg, PA. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

Wortman and Parish create inspired songs rooted in the experience and lives of people. Their songs shine with energy and emotion through intimate performances with a few acoustic instruments and tightly-layered harmonies.

Concert tickets are $18 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.sfmsfolk.org

Below is an interview recorded on December 23, 2013 with Kagey Parish.

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FOLKMAMA: A lot of Susquehanna Folk audience members really like old time music. I hear that style in your singing and playing. I’m curious how you would describe the relationship between your music and old time music.

HONEY DEWDROPS: Our music is kind of like new old-time music. The kind of music that Laura and I really got into together was a lot of traditional American music like old blues and old country and bluegrass as well. I think what first got us into that music was the feeling; emotion and energy that comes through old time fiddle tunes and blues. We want to sing and play with that kind of energy because it is infectious—it gets inside of you and it won’t get out.

FOLKMAMA: So I’ve been noticing fairly recently that I think there are really a lot of young people that have gotten into what you call on your website “Americana Music.” So how can you explain that phenomenon?

 HONEY DEW DROPS: We think and talk about this a whole lot because we do find ourselves in a community that is growing larger and larger each year.  Americana music has a really long history and there have been certain points in time where it has been highlighted and other times where the popularity has died off a little bit. There was what they call the “folk scare” in the early 60s and then there is the resurgence that is going on right now which may have been kindled by the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”which was a major movie that had an incredible sound track to go a long with it.

The sound track incorporated some people who had been around for such a long time; like Norman Blake, Ralph Stanley, and John Hartford, and combined them with some contemporary musicians like Allison Krause and Gillian Welsh. There was something in there for everybody but it had that sound, that old quality. What can be simpler than a voice and a guitar making a sound that just gets inside of you? I think a lot of young people were really attracted to the music, especially in our world with I-Phones and computers and the internet all the time. It’s something that is basic, pared back, simple—but really powerful.

FOLKMAMA: I noticed that some groups, like the Carolina Chocolate Drops for instance, made a conscientious effort to get to study with some of the masters. Have you ever done any of that, or have you wanted to go your own fresh direction?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Well, we have done a little bit of that. One of the ways that I first got into old-time music was by spending some time with Mike Seeger who lived in Lexington, Virginia. Mike was an extremely generous teacher. I think if there was one legacy for him it was that he was great at spreading the music around. Not just by making recordings or by putting on shows, but by sitting down with people–playing with them, helping them to learn songs, showing them something that he was working on—that was his legacy.

Mike was a guy who obviously knew so many different styles, he was really interested in the history of old time music, including blues, old country, old bluegrass—all this rural American music happening and being first recorded in the 20s and 30s—he was into all that stuff. But he was able to sing it in a voice that was his own; he put his own spin on it.

Some other folks that we’ve gotten to know and work closely with are Ginny Hawker and Tracey Swartz. Obviously we’re really into duets—we think it’s a really powerful way of making music together.  And those would be two that we are really influenced by. The quality of their voices singing their close harmonies—it’s like their voices are two sticks rubbing together—there is this spark, this fire.

FOLKMAMA: What’s your instrumentation in the group?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Lately we’ve been adding more and more things. We started playing two guitars together—a great way to do duets, two guitars, two voices. And slowly added a mandolin and Laura learned to play the banjo now. So its fun to explore new sounds and add things as time goes by, but its guitar, mandolin and banjo right now.

FOLKMAMA: And where does your name come from?

HONEY DEW DROPS: About 8 years ago now we were living in a little town called Scottsville which is just South of Charlottesville, VA. Near us was a little restaurant/bar called the Dew Drop Inn. It had been there for many, many years and was actually the idea of the Dew Drop Inn on for The Waltons TV show. At that time we had been going by our names Laura Wortman and Kagey Parish and we thought it would be fun to have a band name and we were married so there is that little thing with “Honey do.” So the name just came up and we’ve stuck with it; The Honey Dewdrops.

FOLKMAMA: Do you write your songs together?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Each song is a little different. Some of the songs that we sing we sat down together and wrote it in about an hour’s time, there are other songs that Laura has started and finished on her own, other she has stared and I’ve come in and finished, and the same for me. Each one needs a little something different to be brought to life so it’s a pretty wide open process.

FOLKMAMA: What are some of the common themes of your songs?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Themes that come up are things that come to us through our daily living and a lot of our life is traveling through various towns and if we are lucky getting to spend some time and making some friends in those towns.

One of the songs that we wrote was called “Hills of My Home” and it was based on traveling first out west and then in parts of Virginia and other parts of Appalachia like Kentucky and West Virginia. One of the things that we kept on seeing was the destruction of our mountains across the country to various forms of mining. One in particular was mountain top removal which is a form of strip mining where they blow the top of the mountain off in order to get to the coal seams underground. As you can imagine once they are done there is not much left of the mountain so they are actually bringing down the mountain in order to get the coal out of it so it seems like a crazy idea to us. Why would they want to destroy this permanent thing? That’s just one of the many things that we try to think about and write about. I think the main thing is that we write about things that are important to us, that touch a nerve or give us a feeling—positive or negative.

FOLKMAMA: So you’ve been performing professionally as a group for five years and you have three CDs. What are some of the most exciting, interesting places that you’ve played at?

HONEY DEW DROPS: You know it’s been really cool to do this for 5 years and travel around the country and go to places that we never would have gone to otherwise. Just last fall we were in a little town called Fairfield Iowa which is in the middle of vast fields of corn. Turns out it was the home of the Maharishi University, which is a transcendental meditation community. A lot of people are drawn to the university and a lot of them end of staying, wanting to be a part of that community for the rest of their lives. That was something that we really didn’t expect. It was a really welcoming community that had a lot to teach us. And that happens all the time, but it happens in different ways. Friendly people, beautiful landscape, so yeah, we just feel really lucky to travel.

FOLKMAMA: I think I read in one of your interviews that you don’t really have a home base. Is that still true?

HONEY DEW DROPS: This year we are living on the road. We had lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for the past 5 years which is Laura’s home town. I grew up in Richmond which is about 60 miles east of there. And after 5 years we got to thinking, hey, why don’t we change something up here? So we decided to take about a year and go on the road and stay with friends and family along the way and anybody else who might be generous enough to give us a bed for an evening and it’s been a really interesting experience. We started off in May of this year and we’re going to do it until May or June 2014 before we get another apartment.

FOLKMAMA: I imagine most people couldn’t even imagine not having a home. Where would they put their stuff?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Well what we tried to do is pare down over the years. We like to travel as lightly as we can. Now we have four instruments in the car, we have our bags and our hiking boots, but trying to reduce the stuff and clutter all around us has been a really positive part of doing this.

David Bromberg Plays Harrisburg Solo on November 17, 2013

David BrombergThe musician’s musician, fan favorite, and Grammy nominee David Bromberg, who conquered the American music scene, left it, and then returned to it, comes to Harrisburg on Sunday, November 17, 2013, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. This very special concert with an American music icon starts at 4 p.m. His 2010 Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert sold out.

Concert tickets are $40 General Admission and $38 for SFMS members and members of the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania. 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.

The following are excerpts from an exclusive interview conducted with David Bromberg on October 3, 2013.

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Folkmama:  We’re looking forward to your performance for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society on November 17th. What can the audience expect to hear from you?

David: I never really plan what I’m going to play in a set. I never know what I’m going to play next, so I let it roll along by itself.

Folkmama: Last time you performed for us you played more blues than you usually do in a larger band configuration.

David: I have kind of a different repertoire of tunes that I do by myself than what I do with the band. Sometimes it might be more country blues– it’s maybe just a bit more rootsy than the band performances. I might play some fiddle tunes, so things like that as well.

Folkmama: We always like to reach out to the uninitiated– people who may not know your music. So I wonder if you can give us a David Bromberg 101.

David: OK, well… I’ve played with Bob Dylan, I wrote a song with George Harrison, I’ve played with Phoebe Snow, Carly Simon and Tom Paxton.  I recorded with Blood, Sweat and Tears and Rick Derringer. I’m been basically all over the map. I was a studio guitar player for a number of years and I also play Dobro and mandolin on some records. John Prine—I played some mandolin with him as well as guitar. I played with Dr. John quite a bit. I’m on over 150 recordings of other people’s.

Folkmama: How about your career as a solo musician or with one of your own bands?

David: I have a band and we play roots music or Americana as they call it today. We started performing in the 70s. At around 1980 I got burned out because I was performing too much. I didn’t realize it was burn out. I just didn’t feel that I was a musician any more. So I decided to find another way to live my life so I didn’t play again for 22 years. (He pauses) I shouldn’t say I didn’t play again totally; every now and then I’d do something. My career was doing really well at the time though. I mean, you work that much it better be doing well. But I was more interested in keeping my sanity than my career.

Folkmama: And you were living in California then?

David: Yes, that’s right.

Folkmama: I read that you attended a violin school. You learned how to build violins. So how long did that schooling last?

David: Four years, I graduated. I’m technically a violin maker. I found it really fascinating that a person could look at an instrument and by looking at the way its build tell when and where it was built and by whom. And that’s what I wanted to learn. And then I continued to study for quite a few years.  So now people bring me things, they want to know what they are or what they are worth and I can frequently tell them.

Folkmama: So do you build violins at all now?

David: No people bring me things for identification or appraisal. I have a full service violin shop and in the shop I do the appraisals and other people build violins and bows and do repairs. We do everything there.

Folkmama: And that’s in Delaware?

David: In Wilmington, Delaware.

Folkmama: So through the years I’ve listened to your music a lot and I’ve found you to be a great entertainer. You have a lot of really wonderful humor on stage. Is it part of you intent when you play the blues to make it accessible to listeners as a way to preserve it?

David: I play music that I like and I love the blues. I never thought of myself as a conservator, or a museum or anything close to that. This is music I like. And as to the humor, there’s a point where irony and humor intersect. And irony is essential to the blues.

Folkmama: When you play for us in Harrisburg, you’re going to be playing in a very informal setting–at a brew pub.  It’s a neat little venue. Do you enjoy playing in smaller venues?

David: There is something nice about being really close to your audience. It feels a little more interactive. There is something more intimate and conversational about it. But there are times that you like to kick out the jams [in a larger venue]. So it’s good to do both.

Folkmama: Tell me about your new CD “Only Slightly Mad” . I guess it came out just last month.

David: The new CD is the best recording I’ve ever done. It was produced by Larry Campbell. We recorded it at Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock, NY. Levon was an old friend of mine. Even though Levon was gone, he was all around us when we recorded.

Folkmama: Anything I missed?

David:  The shows—people who see them, enjoy them. It’s just human stuff. It’s real.

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