March 26, 2017: The Outside Track to perform Celtic music in Harrisburg

The Outside Track, a Celtic group performing Scots, Irish, and Cape Breton tunes, songs, and step-dance comes to Harrisburg for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, March 26, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., at the Abbey Bar, Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street. The group features vocals, electric harp, flute, whistle, fiddle, and guitar.

For information on the band members visit http://www.sfmsfolk.org/concerts/OutsideTrack.html

The Outside Track was named Group of the Year in both the Live Ireland awards and the TIR awards and was nominated for a Scots trad award. The group’s latest CD, “Light Up the Dark,” was nominated for Best Album in the 2016 Indie Acoustic Project Awards.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

We had a chance to speak to the band’s accordion player Fiona Black about the origins of The Outside Track and what audiences should expect.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that throughout the history of the band you have had members from Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and the United States. Did you start out with the idea to become a Pan-Celtic band?

FIONA: It really didn’t start out as a concept band. We met in Limerick in Ireland at University. Originally it was myself and Ailie (we are the two Scottish members) and we also had a couple of Irish members at the very beginning and a Canadian member.

It has always seemed natural that we would play music from the countries that we were from. That’s how it came about and we have continued to do that.

FOLKMAMA: Would it be easy for an audience member to figure out the country of origin for the tunes or songs that you play?

FIONA: We all play music from our own regions and our own countries, but honestly there are many more similarities than differences between the music from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton.

FOLKMAMA: Can you describe your performances?

FIONA: Well, they are really quite lively. About half of what we do are tunes and the other half songs.  We do different arrangements of tunes; some traditional ones and some that we have invented. Each instrument is showcased at different points and we all work together on harmonies and chords. The fiddle player is the dancer. She does Cape Breton style of dancing which is really close to the floor and really beautiful.

FOLKMAMA: Who is in the band and where are they from?

FIONA: Teresa Horgan is the lead singer and flute and whistle player. She’s from County Cork in Ireland. And then Ailie Robertson is the harp player in the band—she plays electric harp. She creates a lot of the bass lines and a lot of the texture as well. And she’s from Edinburgh in Scotland. My name is Fiona Black and I’m from the Highlands in Scotland and I play the piano accordion. And then we have Emerald Rae who’s from Boston. She’s the fiddle player and the step dancer in the band. She spent a lot of time in Cape Breton. And then Eric MacDonald is also from Boston and he’s the guitar player in the band.

FOLKMAMA: How long have you been playing together?

FIONA: We started about 10 years ago. Ailie and I are the two original members left.

FOLKMAMA: Anything you want the readers to know?

FIONA: We just put a new music video out on Facebook. We have another week in the tour and then off we’ll go to Germany. We’ll be back in the US in August!

FOLKMAMA: Is this the main gig for everyone?

FIONA: We tour about six months out of the year. We all have different side projects, other bands and different teaching projects and composing project—but for everyone this is the main band.

 

 

 

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.

Irish music with CILLIAN and NIALL VALLELY along with ALAN MURRAY , Sept 15, Harrisburg, PA

niall and cillian hiresThree of the greatest names in traditional Irish music today, all acclaimed soloists in their own right, are coming together this fall for a unique U.S. concert tour, and Harrisburg will be one of their early stops. Brothers CILLIAN and NIALL VALLELY along with ALAN MURRAY will appear in a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

Known worldwide for their work with the Irish acts Lúnasa, Nomos, and Karan Casey, the Vallely brothers hail from Armagh City in the north of Ireland. They are being joined by Scottish guitarist and singer Alan Murray.

Cillian Vallely is the uilleann pipes and low-whistle player with Lúnasa, praised by Irish Voice as the “hottest Celtic band on the planet. Niall Vallaly has been recognized throughout the world as one of Ireland’s greatest concertina players. Alan Murray is a highly respected guitarist and singer who has toured extensively across Ireland, Britain, Australia, and the U.S.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.BrownPaperTickets.com. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

The interview below with Cillian Vallely was conducted and edited for Susquehanna Folk Music Society by Lesley Ham, Sept 2, 2013

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Lesley: First of all, we’re looking forward to you coming here; we’re excited to hear you.

Cillian: Yes, I was there about seven years ago with Lunasa. We had a nice time, it’s good to be going back there now.

Lesley: Usually, we’re used to seeing you with Lunasa, but this is the first time I’ll be seeing you with your brother.

Cillian: Yes, we grew up playing together. We both started when we were very young. We started playing formal concerts and tours about 2001-2002. We decided to record an album together, Callan Bridge. We put together tunes to record and went on the road.

Lesley: Callan Bridge is the only one you’ve done together, right?

Cillian: Yes, it’s about 10 or 11 years old now; maybe we should get cracking on another one.

Lesley: Yes, you should. It seems surprising that you haven’t.

Cillian: In the last year and a half we started playing a bit more together, we’ve got some new stuff.

Lesley: That’s great. It’s also surprising that it took so long to put an album together since you’ve been playing together since you were kids.

Cillian: Niall left Armagh when he was 18 to go to Cork (Niall got his Bachelors of Music degree from University College Cork) and two years later when I was 18 I went to England and then from England to America, so I wasn’t really around much for 10 years after that. We’d meet up at Christmas or whenever. We’d only play with our parents, we never played formally. We didn’t have set tunes or a program that we could do. That only came about for the album. We had barely played as adults until that point.

Lesley: Your parents started the Armagh Pipers Club over 40 years ago. That must have been fun growing up in such a musical family.

Cillian: Yes, it was always there; I don’t know anything else. That was just the reality of growing up. My parents ran a club of about 100 kids, we just went to the classes with everybody else. There was always music and concerts. We even did a few tours as a family when I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember we went to Switzerland and France. So I had an early feeling for going on tour and going on stage.

Lesley: That’s quite young!

Cillian: I only have one upbringing, so I don’t know how to compare not having that music.

Lesley: So, when it came time for you and Niall to put together your album, how did you choose what to put on it?

Cillian: There are few different elements. We got a few sets of things we’d always played, things we learned from our parents, standard tunes; and then both of us had a lot of tunes we knew that nobody else played, old, traditional tunes, so we did a bit of research and found tunes that suited the instruments; and then Niall also composes tunes, so he had 5 or 6 tunes that he hadn’t recorded with anyone else that suited the pipes. So a mixture of new stuff and very old stuff from manuscripts; a varied program.

Lesley: Do you also compose tunes?

Cillian: Yes, recently I’ve written quite a few tunes that Lunasa did on the last album. Some of them I wrote 10 to 15 years ago, but only recently got the confidence to let them loose.

Lesley: I’m glad you got brave enough to let us listen to them!

Cillian: I don’t do it a lot, but sometimes you find yourself doodling and then develop a melody. It’s always a bit nervy playing for someone else; it can be a humbling experience.

Lesley: Do you still have that session in New York?

Cillian: No, but there are always sessions most days of the week in Manhattan I can sit in.  But when I’m back home I play. Most of my friends play; it’s as much as a sociable evening out as a musical one. When I’m home for a while I like to get out and see everybody and have a few drinks with them.

Lesley: Your parents’ philosophy is that listening is just as important as learning how to play the instrument.

Cillian: At the Piper’s Club, they were very against the competition angle of music for children, in favor of putting together groups and doing concerts and arrangements. They’ve always been keen to stress that element of music, listening to each other; fiddle players play with pipers and flute players. Everybody is taught as a group. The focus is on the music itself and the ensemble and social aspect of it. Pipers tend to be all around musicians instead of solo pipers. I think that’s a healthy way to teach young people. People can play with all instruments and all styles. You get a balanced musical education at the Pipers Club.

Lesley: You have an album with Kevin (Crawford from Lunasa, On Common Ground). How did that come about?

Cillian: We’re always playing a certain style with Lunasa so we decided to do something different, a little less arranged, with lower instruments called flat pipes, that give a mellow sound. It’s a relaxed album. I enjoyed doing that; it’s a different style of music than I play with Lunasa or Niall. For a few years we did a lot of concerts, just myself and Kevin, or myself, Kevin and a guitarist.

Lesley: That sounds nice. We’ll have to bring you back with that ensemble! I notice that Karan Casey is your sister-in-law. Your family holidays must be fun.

Cillian: It’s more social; we all get together and our children play together while we chat. I often play with Niall and Caoimhin (his younger brother, who plays the piano, tin whistle, and fiddle) and Karan. Karan often sings with Lunasa, so I end up doing quite a few gigs a year with Karan, but we don’t do a lot of casual playing. It’s the nature of when it’s your profession. We’re usually playing formally, so it’s nice when we have a casual night.

Lesley: Do your daughters play?

Cillian: Not yet. One is three and one just turned six. I want them to play forever, so I’m not going to force them yet; let them run around the park. When they’re ready for an instrument hopefully they’ll take it serious.

Lesley: Thank you. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

Cillian: See you around.

 

Erica Lyn Everest, Talented Young Jazz Vocalist

Back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s gutsy young female musicians
like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were setting the standards for what great
jazz and blues singing was all about. Now, more than a half century later, their
work continues to inspire talented young vocalists such as Harrisburg native Erica
Lyn Everest.  “I’m 23 years old.  I know it’s really unusual for someone my age
to be interested in early jazz and blues” Everest says, “But I just really like
the old jazz standards and the older singers. The most influential vocalists in my life have been jazz singers.”

Everest has been singing for audiences since she entered
grade school. As a little girl, she sang the national anthem for school and
professional sports teams, entertained government and civic organizations, sang
for various churches, enjoyed local musical theatre, and was a solo presence on
several recordings.

She first developed a love of jazz and blues during a two year stint as lead singer with the
Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz (CPFJ) Youth All-Star Band. This group, led by Ron
Waters, introduces school aged musicians to jazz orchestration and improvisation.
While in the band Everest performed at venues such as Artsfest and the Central
PA Jazz Festival and was able to expand her jazz standards repertoire. She says
being mentored by director Ron Waters was important to her as was playing with
other talented young musicians such as saxophonist and composer Jonathan
Ragonese , who has helped her to get into the local music scene. She’s also
been lucky enough to sit in occasionally with jazz pianist Steve Rudolph during
gigs at the Hilton Hotel in Harrisburg.

Throughout the years Everest has developed a beautiful, sultry voice that lends itself well to the jazz and blues songs that she loves. She
keeps pretty busy performing at corporate function (like for the American Heart
Association’s Black Tie Ball) and at bars, coffeehouses and restaurants. She plays
with drummer John Tuzza and guitarist Ken Geist and the group generally gets
rounded out by a bass player as well. They just completed a demo  CD which she will take with her to Los Angeles
on an upcoming business related trip. “I’m looking to get signed to a record
label or anything,” she said. “I’d just like to get my name out there, be
heard, and maybe get someone to critique the music.”

The Erica Lyn Everest Band will be playing at numerous mid-state venues during the summer months including at the Colonial Lounge,
Harrisburg on June 10th, at the Whole Cannoli, Camp Hill on 6/11, at Stage on Herr, Harrisburg on 7/2, at Suba Tapas, Harrisburg on 7/8 and at the
Market Cross Pub, Carlisle on 8/5. For more information visit Everest’s website
at http://ericalyneverest.com.