Interview with Jesse Periard of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, Performing September 24th in York, PA

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, a Celtic folk trio from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, comes to the area for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.

Expanding on the Scottish and Acadian roots of PEI’s traditional music, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin weave old-school Franco-Canadian, Breton, Irish, and Scottish tunes with wickedly current grooves and clear quirks, flirting with indie’s best moments.

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 HERE or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

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SFMS Staff Writer Peter Winter had a chance to chat via email with TSGS Guitarist Jesse Periard.

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How long have the three of you been playing together and how did the band start?

Rowen and Caleb are brothers, so they have been playing music together for a long time now. I met the boys when I was in the 6th grade, and we started playing music together a couple years after that. We’ve now been playing together for 10 years.

 What different elements make up the traditional Prince Edward Island sound that you draw from?

We take a lot of our inspiration from the Acadian culture that comes from PEI. Very playful and energetic music. But other traditional styles play a huge part in  PEIs sound, including Scottish and Irish, which we also love to play.

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 The title for your 2016 sophomore record  “Aupres du Poele” translates to “Around the Woodstove.”  Could you speak a bit about the significance of that title and how it came about?

We recorded our latest album in Joliette, Québec, during the months of October and December of 2015. We started our days very early in the morning, and always finished very late at night, and it was always cold. So we always looked forward to coming back to our friends house. She hosted us and always had a wood stove burning for us when we got home. We would eat, drink, and even rehearse in the same room as the wood stove. A lot of times we had people over and we all told stories and played music and joked around. It was very inspiring and seemed a very appropriate theme for the album. The wood stove to us, is a representation of community and people banding together during hard times, such as winter.

How do you think Ten Strings and a Goat Skin developed as a band from your first record to your second record?

Between our first and our latest record, there’s been a lot that’s happened. The three of us have each grown as people and as musicians. Caleb studied music business in college, and I studied contemporary music, and we’ve been able to apply our knowledge to the group and develop our music and business. Along with all of our travelling, we’ve been exposed to so many different styles of traditional music, as well as some amazing players, and we’ve learnt a lot from these different experiences and that has all definitely made an impact on our compositions and writing styles.

Tradition is often described as “Remembered Innovation.” Ten Strings and a Goat Skin has connections to both the trad and indie folk scenes of PEI.  Where do you feel the group fits in between these two worlds?

We definitely consider ourselves more on the trad side. A lot of trad bands these days play with a lot of pop and indie influences, but still fall under the trad category. I think that’s because along with our instrumentation, the tune structures are still very rooted in traditional music.

What Musicians have been sources of inspiration to all of you?

We could make you an entire book with the bands and people who’ve played a major role in our lives as musicians. To name a few in the traditional world, we love bands like Flook, Lau, The Olllam, Les Poules à Colin, The East Pointers, and Vishtèn to name a few. But we also take inspiration from bands like Bon Iver, Chance The Rapper, Vulfpeck, and other bands that don’t fall into the traditional category at all.

What do you want an audience to take away from a TSGS show?

Our goal during our live shows is to simply make people happy for a night. If people can go home a bit happier after our show, we feel like we’ve done our jobs.

 

——Nerdy Guitar Quesions——-

What tuning do you prefer and why?

I mainly play in Drop D tuning. It’s a lot of fun and allows for some open, but still jazzy voicings. I also really enjoy playing in DADGAD.

What are some good things to remember when backing up tunes?

My biggest thing in terms of backing tunes is making sure your rhythm is on. You could be making the nicest coolest tastiest chords, but if you’re not on the beat, those chords are pointless.
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Peter Winter is a musician and writer from Harrisburg, PA.  He plays in the Celtic band Seasons and blogs about music at All The Day Sounds
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The Western Flyers perform February 24th in Harrisburg, Hot Western Swing with Joey McKenzie, Katie Glassman + Gavin Kelso

Recently named the 2017 Best Western Swing Group at the Ameripolitan Awards in Austin, Texas, the award winning Western Flyers are one of the most exciting new bands to glide onto the music scene in years!Their music is a distinctive cross section of the Great American Songbook: authentic Western swing, Hot jazz and swing standards, cowboy songs and electrifying old-time fiddle tunes.

 

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The Western Flyers come to central Pennsylvania on Friday, February 24, 2017, for a 7:30 p.m. concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg.

Internationally renowned guitar master Joey McKenzie drives the train with his powerful rhythm, while reigning National Swing Fiddle champion Katie Glassman and world-class upright bassist Gavin Kelso add fuel to the fire. A blending of tradition and innovation, The Western Flyers are a singular musical experience; a fresh take on a venerable American art form performed by three Western swing virtuosos.

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 Gavin Kelso about the band, the music that they play and the big award that they just won!

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FOLKMAMA: Wow! Congratulations on winning Best Western Swing Group! That must have been pretty exciting!

GALVIN: Yes, thank you. We were all surprised. We’re really a pretty new band. We didn’t expect it.

FOLKMAMA: So, what are the Ameripolitan Awards and how does it all work?

GALVIN: The Ameripolitans are an organization that is interested in promoting roots music from the Western states. They give awards in several genres; Western Swing, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly and Outlaw. The have a fabulously produced awards ceremony and concert and hold it in a beautiful Neapolitan style theater—the Paramount Theater—in Austin. What happens is the DJs who specialize in these genres compile a list to be considered for the award and people vote for the band that they like best on social media.

FOLKMAMA: So did you win the vote because you’ve been really getting around during the last few years and getting better known or do people listen to MP3s and select their favorite that way?

GALVIN: A little of both. We’ve tried to keep the road as hot as we can given everybody’s availability. Sherry McKenzie, Joey’s wife and our manager has just done a really tremendous job of making sure that we have the opportunities that are going to present our music in the best light and people who are going to get the most out of it.

That’s why we’re playing at your concert series again. That was a really wonderful experience for us the first time. We go where we think people are going to dig hearing it. You can only be one place at a time and we try to go where it’s going to make a splash and I think we have done that.

FOLKMAMA: Thanks, glad you enjoyed playing for Susquehanna Folk! But for those that didn’t get to see you last time you were in Harrisburg, tell me what a Western Flyers concert is like.

GALVIN: If you come to a Western Flyers show you are going to see a three piece band, and you’re going to see way too much energy on stage than three people ought to have! We’re pretty enthusiastic about what we do.

All three of us come from the Western Swing tradition. It’s a genre within American traditional music, that’s broad on one hand, but narrow and specific on the other. For example we play swing music, but the slice of swing music that we play is from the 1920s, 30s, 40s. And we play country music too, but mainly from around that time period. And of course the meat and potatoes of what we do is Western Swing and the greatest artist and composer in that genre is Bob Wills. So we’re the biggest Bob Wills fans that you could encounter!

And then fiddle music kind of rounds us out. Fiddle music is kind of the “kingpin” of so many traditional American styles like Appalachian old-time, Ozark fiddling, Cajun, Celtic fiddling. But when we talk about fiddling we are primarily concerned with Texas style breakdown fiddle.

So Western Swing is a narrow section of American music but it draws from a much larger pot including swing, different styles of fiddling and some country shuffle music. There is a lot of gold to pan for a band like us because the repertoire of possible music is big.

So that’s the kind of music that people are going to hear and how we pull it off is there are three of us and me and Joey form up the rhythm section and I play upright bass and Joey plays acoustic rhythm arch top guitar. Katie is our fiddler and we all three sing.

 

FOLKMAMA: I’m curious of the “arch top guitar”. What is it and why does Joey choose to play that style rather than a more common flattop guitar?

GALVIN: Before guitars were amplified with electromagnetic pickups they were designed in a way acoustically to give the most volume and ensemble projection, while still maintaining a really beautiful bell like tone. If you look at photos of the Count Basie Band, for example, you’ll see that their guitarist Freddie Green played an arch top guitar. It’s been called an “orchestra guitar” because it’s built to be loud enough to be heard over the drums and horns in a traditional swing band.

Joey is a real flame keeper in terms of the style of guitar that he plays and the instruments on which he plays that style.

 

 

 

Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret & Bruce Campbell on Saturday February 18th at the Fort Hunter Barn in Harrisburg

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is excited to be presenting a concert and an Early Jazz Clinic with t_neidig_koretzky_gehret_campbellat 5300 N Front St in Harrisburg, PA. The Early Jazz Clinic begins at 4:30 and is open to any instrumentalists, singers and listeners. The concert begins at 7:30.

These four extraordinary folk musicians from south-central PA represent some of the best acoustic musicians in our area. During Saturday’s concert they’ll share with us their great blend of originals, bluegrass, old-time and jazz. Always looking for ways to keep their music fresh and lively, this year the band is delving a little deeper into vintage jazz and swing.

This concert is part of a National Endowment of the Arts’ grant which has explored the banjo. This concert will focus, among other styles, how the banjo has been used in jazz.

Not sure that the Early Jazz Clinic is for you? Ken Gehret, who will lead the clinic, says that any ability level and players/singers of every genre are welcome! Just bring an instrument and your singing voice. The focus of the workshop will cover a little bit of the history and characteristics of this uniquely American form of music, and the connections between jazz and folk music. Participants may play a simple song like “Wayfaring Stranger” or Scat along/improvise to a 12 bar blues progression. We’ll have fun together and learn that playing jazz is not daunting at all!

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members and $10 for students. The early Jazz Clinic is free. For tickets and information visit www.sfmsfolk.org.

We had a chance to speak to Ken Gehret about what attendees should expect and what it’s been like preparing for this concert.

FOLKMAMA: I know that the four of you don’t usually play together and that you are each involved in many different musical projects. What’s it like playing with these exception musicians and how have you been preparing for this concert?

GEHRET: It’s really been an absolute joy. I’ve known these guys for many years and have played in some different combos with all of them, but playing for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society periodically is just about the only chance that we get to play as a quartet. We all started with bluegrass and folk, but along the way we have each taken on some different styles. We’ll bring all of that to this performance…a little gypsy jazz, bluegrass, folk, vintage and contemporary jazz, some originals and lots more.

Everyone’s playing is of the highest caliber, which has allowed us to be able to pull two sets together without actually being in the same room together very often! We send MP3s around, pool our resources; decide who is taking the lead—that kind of thing. Then there’s always the Fear Factor! The show’s coming up and we thrive on that feeling of urgency. That really helps to kick us into gear!

FOLKMAMA: One thing that I wanted to bring our readers attention to, especially those that are Susquehanna Folk Members, is the zippy jazz number “Monday Morning” that you recorded for the 2016-2017 Concert Sampler. That’s a really fun piece! I understand that you wrote it just for us. A SFMS original!

GENRET: Yes, as you know we wanted to add a few more jazzy numbers into this year’s concert, so I wanted a piece that represented one of the styles that we will be performing. I wrote “Monday Morning” well, on a Monday morning just in time for the deadline to turn in the recording. It’s all my playing; tenor banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass.

FOLKMAMA: Wow! Talk about being a multi-instrumentalist! Will other musicians in the group be playing multiple instruments too?

GEHRET: We will definitely be doing some switching around on the stage. Kevin and Henry, for example, will be picking up banjos for a few of the numbers. I’ll be bringing two banjos myself, a tenor one that is usually found in jazz and also a five string bluegrass banjo.

FOLKMAMA: I hear the banjo a lot in early vintage jazz recording, but in contemporary recordings, not so much. Why is that?

GEHRET: It’s really because the banjo is a much louder instrument and before sound systems, a louder instrument was needed to be heard along with wind and brass instruments. Today, if a band has a strumming instrument, it would most likely be a guitar.

FOLKMAMA: A folk music enthusiast may not think that they like jazz. Would you still encourage them to come to your performance?

GEHRET: I always tell my students that “It’s all jazz”. What I really mean is that music is all connected. We’ve attached labels to the different genres, but there is really a lot a movement between different styles of music. On Saturday night everyone, no matter what their preferences, will hear a lot that they will really enjoy!

January 19th, Charm City Junction at The Ware Center in Lancaster

Baltimore-based Charm City Junction features of the most talented and promising young acoustic roots musicians in the country; Patrick McAvinue on fiddle, Brad Kolodner on clawhammer banjo, Sean McComiskey on button accordion and Alex Lacquement on upright bass. They bring their fresh take on bluegrass and old-time music to a concert sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society on Thursday, January 19, 2017, at the Ware Center, 42 N. Prince Street, Lancaster, PA. The fun begins at 7:30 p.m.

Concert tickets are $25 General Admission, $22 for SFMS members and $5 for students ages 4-22. Advance tickets are available through the Ware Center website at http://www.artsmu.com, by calling 717-871-7600, or the Ware Center box office in Millersville or Lancaster.

For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

 

We got a chance to speak to Brad Kolodner about the band’s sound, how they met, and where the band is going.

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FOLKMAMA: How did you all meet? When did you decide to form a band?

BRAD: Charm City Junction formed in the fall of 2013 after jamming a handful of times at Patrick’s house in Towson. Patrick, Sean and I grew up in the Baltimore area but we didn’t cross paths very often as we grew playing different genres (bluegrass, Irish and old-time, respectively). Patrick started attending the Irish sessions where he met Sean. I met Patrick at our bi-weekly Old Time jam shortly thereafter and we decided to get together to jam. I suggested we invite my bass-playing friend Alex.

We weren’t quite sure how a bluegrass fiddler, Irish button accordionist, old time banjoist and jazz bassist would blend but we opened our minds as much as possible to find common ground. The four of us got together to play and Charm City Junction was born!

FOKMAMA: Despite having very different backgrounds you bring all those influences together to make a unified sound. How did you make it work?

BRAD: We all come from a different point of view, and the same time it is all centered around traditionally-rooted music—making music in a very cohesive way. Musically we try to make these arrangements that are cohesive and make sense but still speak from our point of view. in essence we’re threading together Irish, Old-Time and Bluegrass music together to form something fresh and unique.

Everything that we play we strive for clarity. Clarity of sound and clarity of ideas and clarity of arrangements. If we were going to label ourselves we’d say we were an acoustic roots music quartet.

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FOLKMAMA: Is your sound evolving?

BRAD: We’re trying to keep the integrity of our tradition and build upon that and find a common ground. That’s actually been how some new genres have been created; by taking musical ideas from different worlds. We’re taking a step back, seeing what is available to us and taking that knowledge, and moving forward with it.

FOLKMAMA: Where did the name come from?

BRAD: We use the name Charm City because we are from the same area geographically. It really speaks to the communities that are in an around Baltimore [Charm City is Baltimore’s nickname]. You have the Irish community, the old-time community and the bluegrass community. We are pulling from those wells and pulling what we think is best representative of our personalities.

Junction—how we’re coming together. Like a junction on the highway or railway.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me a little bit about where you have been. What’s next for the band?

BRAD:We released our debut album on Patuxent Music in the fall of 2015. It hit the top 25 on the Folk DJ charts. We played about 40 shows in 2016, our busiest year to date. We played on the main stages at some of the biggest bluegrass and folk festivals in the country including Grey Fox, Old Songs, and the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival.

Our 2017 schedule is mostly filled out with appearances at the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, and Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival just to name a few. Our full schedule can be found at http://www.charmcityjunction.com

FOLKMAMA: Rumor has it that your fiddler, Patrick McAvinue, has moved to Nashville. How does that affect the band moving forward?

BRAD: Patrick moved to Nashville at the beginning of the year to hit the road full time with the bluegrass band Dailey and Vincent. He will continue to perform with Charm City Junction. While we may scale back our performing a little this year, this is a collaboration we hope to continue for many years and decades into the future.

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Interview with Legendary Button Accordionist Billy McComiskey Coming to York, PA January 15th with Irish Super Group The Pride of New York

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is proud to present our first concert of 2017 with The Pride of New York on 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.  The Pride of New York is an Irish-American super group comprised of some of the best known players on this side of the Atlantic. Between them, they have won four All-Ireland championship awards, recorded multiple solo albums, and logged countless miles touring across the US and abroad. But, at its essence, this quartet of singular talents is defined in spirit by the city of New York which gives the group its name.

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The Pride of New York includes Joanie Madden — leader of Cherish the Ladies, and the first American to win the Senior All-Ireland championship on the tin whistle, Billy McComiskey — the finest button accordion player ever to emerge from the United States, Brian Conway — one of the best fiddlers of his generation, playing in the Sligo style, and Brendan Dolan — stellar multi-instrumentalist who’s worked with some of the brightest stars on the Irish-American scene.

Concert tickets are $27 General Admission, $23 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

Recently we interviewed the Pride of New York’s acclaimed Irish Button Accordionist Billy McComiskey about his early influences, playing in the Pride of New York, and a prestigious award that he received recently.

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FOLKMAMA: Recently you were named a NEA National Heritage Fellow, can you explain a bit about this award and what it means to receive it?

 

BILLY: The National Heritage Fellowships are awarded annually, to Americans representing every conceivable ethnic and cultural group, and I cannot even begin to tell you how humbled I am to have even been considered for such a high honor.  The award goes to musicians, but also to visual artists, dancers, craftspeople, and really anyone who has helped to preserve and perpetuate the cultural identity of his or her community.  So, while it is certainly a national award, it is every bit as much, if not even more so, a recognition of ongoing work done at the local and community level.  And, in that regard, I can take pride knowing that I have tried my very best to keep Irish traditional music alive and well in the mid-Atlantic region.

 

FOLKMAMA: What was is like growing up and playing traditional Irish music in Brooklyn, sections of which have been called westernmost counties of Ireland? Did you have a strong cultural identity growing up?

 

BILLY: I had a very strong cultural identity growing up in Brooklyn. In New York City, when I was still a boy, Irish Traditional music was not marketable; in fact, it was almost on the verge of extinction.  What saved Irish music in New York at that time were the Irish immigrant clubs, and especially the Irish musician clubs, which were really the genesis of today’s CCE (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann).  All five boroughs contained many of those clubs, and my family — the McComiskeys, as well as my Sweeney and Caplis relatives — were known and welcome in those clubs.  And it was also around that same time, in 1967 to be exact, that my uncle Matt Caplis — who owned a boarding house in upstate New York, in an area known then and now as “The Irish Catskills” — first introduced me to Sean McGlynn, from Tynagh. Co. Galway, who became my dear friend and musical mentor, and whose grey Paolo Soprani accordion I still play to this very day.  Anyway, between Brooklyn and upstate, there really was never a time when I wasn’t keenly aware of my Irish heritage.  And from a very early age, I realized that one of my own heritage’s most remarkable aspects is the beautiful traditional music, which attracts not just Irish and Irish-Americans of course, but people from virtually every ethnic background as well.

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FOLKMAMA: All four of you have had very successful solo careers and projects with other musicians and groups. What is it that you like most about performing in The Pride of New York?

BILLY: Well, by way of answering your question, let me first give you a bit of historical background.  In 1986, my good friend Don Meade was running a concert series at the Eagle Tavern in lower Manhattan, and one night he hosted a performance featuring accordionist Martin Mulhaire, fiddler Brian Conway, and pianist Felix Dolan. My mother played me a cassette tape of the concert, and it struck me that this was exactly the style and standard of music that I love, especially since it emulated the music recorded by accordionist Joe Burke, fiddler Andy McGann, and the same Felix Dolan, in 1967, on the landmark “Tribute To Michael Coleman” album — it was the epitome of the New York style.  Anyway, when Don asked me soon afterwards to put a band together for that same series, I asked Brian to join me, and to round out the group, I then asked Joanie Madden to join us on the flute, as well as Felix Dolan himself to join us on piano.  We must have gone over very well, selling out two seatings, so I suppose you could say we were an immediate hit.

And at some point after that, when Felix was unavailable for a performance, his son Brendan came on to do the gig, and he soon became a permanent band member.  Anyway, we played whenever we got the opportunity, both as a ceili band and as a performing band, but it wasn’t till we were asked to do a concert set at Catskills Irish Arts Week, in East Durham New York, about ten years ago, when Paul Keating, who was directing the event, introduced us as The Pride of New York, and the name stuck, even to the point of it our using it when we recorded our CD not very long thereafter.

So, aside from the fact that Joanie, Brendan, Brian and I are lifelong friends, with nearly identical musical influences and inspirations, the music we make always seems effortless, and it never ceases to be a source of immense joy for all of us.

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Pride of New York on 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.   Concert tickets are $27 General Admission, $23 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

November 3rd: Anna & Elizabeth and Their Crankie Perform with the Murphy Beds

Join us for this very special evening when performing separately and together, two traditional music duos that feature music from Appalachia and the British Isles come to Harrisburg on Thursday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m. for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street. Featured will be Anna & Elizabeth, who present a mesmerizing collaboration on Appalachian music and stories, sung in close harmony, and The Murphy Beds, offering traditional and original folksongs with tight harmonies and deft instrumentation.

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Anna and Elizabeth perform with a CRANKIE. According to the duo a CRANKIE is a long scroll that is placed in a frame. As they sing a ballad or tell a story, the scroll is cranked around (it has a crank at the top) so the audience sees one part of the scroll at a time. Anna and Elizabeth make the scrolls together. Some of them are quilted and stitched together, so they’re giant 16-yard collages. They also make them with paper cuts and put a light behind them so they can be in silhouette.

Each scroll takes about a month to create. The Crankies help the duo to engage audiences in the stories behind the traditional music that they sing.

The event will be signed for the hearing impaired by Deb Maul. There is special pricing for families.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22, with a $25 maximum admission for families (parent(s) and child(ren) age 22 or under). Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online, or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

Read excerpts of an interview with Anna and Elizabeth from the April 15, 2016 Bluegrass Today publication, used by permission.

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BLUEGRASS TODAY: Listening to [your] record, the first thing that hits you is the arrangements; some of them are risky and not so traditional. And vocally there’s some complex interplay between you and Elizabeth. Is everything planned to the note or do you leave room for improvisation?

 

ANNA AND ELIZABETH: Our music is rooted in an approach we learned from playing old-time music, which is about feel. We hear a song and figure out what kind of feel we want, and then within that framework a lot is improvised. We don’t do a ton of planning. Old-time music has really given us an aesthetic of simplicity.

 

BLUEGRASS TODAY: Do you feel any pull to stay true to the “classic” versions of some of the songs you cover? Ever think you might be messing with something sacred when you arrange them so unconventionally?

ANNA AND ELIZABETH: I think in some ways we’ve avoided that issue. We’ve done a lot of work trying to learn music from field recordings as a way to not get bogged down in more recent old-time recordings. If you’re learning from a field recording you only have one voice that you learned the song from and it’s not really giving you any harmonic or rhythmic information. That gives us a lot of leeway to say, “Well, how do we hear it?”

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BLUEGRASS TODAY: So then is it difficult balancing your creative impulses with staying true to the music?

ANNA AND ELIZABETH : As a pair we really value the relationships we have with some of the families of the singers who we draw a lot from. It’s important to know that we have their support. Like with Texas Gladden, it means a lot to us that her family is excited that we’re carrying on her music. And weirdly, they help us be ourselves in her music. Because who better to know that we’re not Texas Gladden than Texas Gladden’s granddaughter? She’s not expecting us to sound like her granny.

 

BLUEGRASS TODAY: For newcomers to this music, they generally need a way into it. And its players like you who’ll be their gateway. How do you bring them in and get them interested?

 

ANNA AND ELIZABETH : The coolest thing we do in our travels is plant the spark of, “You can learn this too!” We take stagecraft really seriously because it’s a crazy challenge to explain to someone how moving a little song is. This is subtle music and I think you have to figure out how to invite people into that space where they can hear it. We rely a lot on storytelling techniques and creating a whole show that can put the music in context. Because I think the context is what makes it magical.

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This interview was taken from “Anna & Elizabeth: New Twists on Old Tales” written by Robert Kimmel. Read the full article HERE.

Bumper Jacksons Come to Harrisburg October 23rd!

The Bumper Jacksons, a hot and sweet six-piece band that paints America’s story from New Orleans brothels to Appalachian hollers, comes to Harrisburg on Sunday, October 23, 2016, for a 7:30 p.m. Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert in the Abbey Bar at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

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The Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagined roots music with both power and tenderness. This is a sit-down concert in a listening-room environment.

Members of the Bumper Jacksons include Jess Eliot Myhre on clarinet, vocals, and washboard, Chris Ousley on guitar and vocals, Alex Lacquement on bass, Don Samuels on drums and suitcase percussion, Dave Hadley on pedal steel guitar and Joe Brotherton on trumpet.

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 or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website .

I had a chance to interview Jess Eliot Myhre about the band’s sound, origins and even where the band’s unusual name came from!

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FOLKMAMA: The Bumper Jacksons have such a great, fun, jazzy sound. I’d like to hear a little bit about how the band came to be.

JESS: Chris, the guitar player and I started the group almost exactly five years ago. We grew to become the sextet that we are today pretty organically and slowly over time. We’ve asked lots of musicians to sit in with us over the years, either at music festivals or at house parties around the DC/Baltimore area. Slowly over time the people that we really clicked with, both musically and personally, we’ve invited to become actual band mates.

There was never a grand vision at the beginning that we would be this roosty band with bass and drums and horns and pedal steel. They happened to be the people that we enjoyed playing with that added new textures and fun sounds and nuances to the songs that Chris and I were writing.

FOLKMAMA: It’s unusual to find a pedal steel guitar player in a jazz band. I imagine that this has really allowed you to broaden your sound.

JESS: One can find pedal steel guitar players that play in jazzier ways, but no, usually people would think of the pedal steel guitar to be in country music or Hawaiian music…or of course Western Swing music would be the most apt influence for us. Often these big Western Swing bands did a lot of the same repertoire as the early jazz bands.

FOLKMAMA: So where did the name of the band come from?

JESS: We’re actually named after a dog named Bumper. A lot of dogs do this–where the sound of certain instruments will get them to chorus with you, basically howl along. And Bumper was very drawn to my clarinet. And would just howl right a long and run right up and sit next to me. We named the group after Bumper and Jacksons was the name of the people who owned him.

FOLKMAMA: You are a fabulous singer and a great improv jazz clarinet player. How did you get your start?

JESS: I grew up singing in church and I didn’t really get serious about music until after I was already out of college and I moved to New Orleans. That was in 2010 and I really fell in love with the music that I was hearing and I had a couple of great informal teachers down there that would let me sit in with their band and gave me listening homework. So I really started diving into traditional forms of music.

I learned to play clarinet in the middle school band in the Florida public school system. Then I put it down for a long time. I owned a little plastic clarinet that was still at my folk’s house in Florida and so I after I graduated from college I called my mom up and asked her to ship it to me so that I could learn the New Orleans sound on it.

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FOLKMAMA: What singers do you like to listen to? Who are you most inspired by?

JESS: I really like a lot of female vocalists from the early jazz era. Ella Fitzgerald in particular is one of my favorites. Then also Lena Horn and Billy Holiday to a certain extent. Recently I’ve been getting into classic country female vocalists like Patsy Kline.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me where you get your repertoire from.

JESS: The majority of songs that one hears at a Bumper Jacksons show are either written by Chris or me. Most of it is original material. We mostly write separately although we have been experimenting over the last few months with being more collaborative.

FOLKMAMA: What should audiences expect when they come to one of your shows?

JESS: I would say in general that our shows are pretty high energy, “dancey” kinds of events, with some moments of intimate tenderness. We both like to really move people bodily, but also emotionally.

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The Abbey Bar is located upstairs at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.  The Concert begins at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 FOR SFMS Members, and $10 for students.  Tickets are available at the door as well as through Brown Paper Tickets online or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website .

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