Bluesman & Entertainer ROY BOOKBINDER to play in Harrisburg, PA October 12, 2014

press2_1600x1200Guitar-pickin’ hillbilly bluesman and storyteller Roy Book Binder appears at Harrisburg’s Fort Hunter, 5300 N. Front Street, on Sunday, October 12, 2014, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. A free 6 p.m. potluck dinner precedes the show. Bring a covered dish to share; drinks and place settings will be provided.

Roy Bookbinder talks about his music, his time with Reverend Gary Davis, how he came to be friends with Jorma Kaukonen, his gig as M.C. of the Blues Stage at MearlFest and being on the road at 70 plus years old.

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FOLK MAMA: Tell me about your early days. How did you come to be a blues singer and entertainer?

BOOK BINDER: I started out when I went on the road after I was in the service. I met Dave Van Ronk and from there I went to Reverend Gary Davis and I dropped out of school, yet again, to go on the road with Reverend Gary Davis.

I picked up some tricks from him. I never intended to be a Gary Davis—I don’t know what the word is– “copier”. I don’t play a thing like Gary Davis but I do a couple of his tunes. I also met and traveled with old “Pink” Anderson from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He made records in the 20s. He was an entertainer, more known for entertaining and singing than his guitar playing, although he was more than adequate.

FOLK MAMA: It was lucky that you got to play with some of the old bluesmen.

BOOK BINDER: And now everybody’s dead. The last old friends I had were Honeyboy Edwards who died in his 90s and Robert Lockwood, Jr. who dies in his 90s. Those were the last two guys who recorded pre- World War II.

FOLKMAMA: I like that you play a lot of the old songs, yet you interact well with the audience.

BOOK BINDER: I always like to tell people that I’m an entertainer. That’s what I call myself. I play enough guitar to impress the front row but that’s not my goal. I tell young players that the only way that they’ll ever make a living playing this kind of music is to be able to entertain the friends and neighbors and relatives that the guitar plays and the blues music enthusiasts bring to your folk show, kicking and screaming.

FOLK MAMA: You’re a pretty funny storyteller, and you’ve had your brush with country music too!

BOOK BINDER: It’s true; I put a lot of humor in my performances. I did 32 shows on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now TV show back in the 80s where I would do a song, sit on the couch and tell stories and play the guitar. That was a pretty exciting time. I always say when I went country all I did was get a bigger guitar, a bigger hat and a bigger mustache. Everyone in Nashville liked me. Grandpa Jones was nervous, but he came around.

FOLK MAMA: You’ve been on the road for a long time and have seen a lot.

BOOK BINDER: Well, I’ve certainly met a lot of characters in my life. I’m in my 70s now. I’m in a good time in my life. My last album was all originals songs, and some of them could pass for old time songs if I didn’t tell anybody. It’s my proudest accomplishment—that last album. It took me ten years to get around to doing it.

So, you have to make a mark at some time. My favorite songs are my own. In concert I do about 40 or 50 percent of my own, they seem to go over really good. Back when I had just a few songs that I wrote, it was quite often that people would ask, “Who wrote those last two songs?”And I’d say, “They were mine.” And they’d say, “Those were the best.”

FOLK MAMA: You have a long association with Jorma Kaukonen and you teach regularly at the Fur Peace Ranch ( Jorma and Vanessa’s concert hall and teaching camp in Ohio). How did you first meet Jorma?

BOOK BINDER: I’ve been teaching there a long time. Jorma Kaukonen was in Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna and back in the 60s when I was starting to play the clubs Hot Tuna was recording a similar kind of music: they were very influenced by Gary Davis’ music. Jorma was always a fan of Gary Davis’ music.

I’d be playing the Hesitation Blues somewhere and someone in the audience would yell out “Jorma!” I didn’t know what they were talking about. And when I found out that Hot Tuna was a group and that they were doing “my” songs, I was not thrilled about that. I thought, “What are these rock stars coming into my turf playing coffeehouses?”

So I called up a place that I played every year and I said that I needed this particular weekend. So the club owner said that we have Jorma Kaukonen that weekend. So I said to myself, “Oh Darn”, but he said why you don’t open up for Hot Tuna?

So I played and people were very receptive to me, and afterwards I went in the dressing room and saw Jorma and he said, “I never saw anyone do that to my audience before. You’ll killed them.’ Then he said that he had all my records, and I said, “Really?” And then he said, “We ought to be pals.” I went to dinner at his house the next day and all of a sudden we were pals and I did some shows with him and its funny how it worked out. You never know in this business.

FOLK MAMA: You’ve been an M.C. on the Blues Stage at MearlFest for years and years. How did that come about?

BOOK BINDER: Well that started during my Nashville period, when I got discovered by Nashville TV. I was doing a lot of shows with John Hartford at the time. I ran into Jerry Douglas at the airport one day and I asked Jerry, “What’s with this MearlFest? Is it a paid gig?” And he said, “You call them up and you tell them your price.” And I’ve been there for 21 years in a row.

Every year on my stage I book four or five finger picking, bona fide acoustic people and that stage is very popular now. No blues festival in the world has done what Merlefest has done for acoustic blues. Doc and Merle used to love John Hurt and all those old blues people.

FOLKMAMA: So, what should people expect at your show on October 12th?

BOOK BINDER: It’s a very comical show. When I went to Australia, one of the concert reviewers in the Sydney Morning Herald said,” Behind the humor lurks a musical master. “I like that quote. My greatest joy is to hear people laugh. But the music gives me the audience.

 

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Bluesman PHIL WIGGINS performs with the Dovetail Ensemble, Feb 23rd in York, PA

Phil Wiggins is considered by many to be one of our countries’ foremost blues harmonica virtuosos. For over 30 years he toured with celebrated blues musician John Cephas as Cephas and Wiggins. The duo performed all over the world on US State Department sponsored tours and at many famous festivals and concert halls. Since the death of his partner John Cephas, Phil has brought his exceptional playing to a variety of musical collaborations including the Dovetail Ensemble.

The Dovetail Ensemble brings together an array of musical styles for a performance that promises to be unique, fresh and surprising. Aside from Wiggins, the group features percussive dancer Nic Gareiss, classical cellist Jodi Beder, guitarist Owen Morrison, ballad singer and fiddler Daron Douglas, tap dancer Baakari Wilder and Swedish fiddler Andrea Hoag.

The Dovetail Ensemble performs Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 4 pm at Marketview Arts located at 37 W. Philadelphia Street in York.

The concert is preceded by a free Rhythm Workshop at 2:00 pm. Participants are invited to bring instruments, or just come ready to use their voice and dancing feet to explore simple and complex beats. All ages and experience levels welcome.

For more information visit www.sfmsfolk.org.

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Following is an interview with Phil Wiggins who speaks about his own experiences with the group and what audiences should expect from a Dovetail Ensemble concert.

FOLKMAMA: How did you first become involved with The Dovetail Ensemble?

WIGGINS: In my neighborhood here there is a recording studio, Airshow Mastering, that is owned by Charlie Pilzer who I’ve known for years because he used to do sound for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the National Festival. He is really good friends with Andrea Hoag who is the leader of the Dovetail Ensemble. So he recommended me to her and she called me not long after my partner John Cephas had passed on.

At that point in my life I was just trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  I was just saying yes to whoever called me up!  But when Andrea told me what she was doing it sounded really fascinating.

So joined, and it’s been pretty amazing. Sometimes I feel that I’m way over my head and I’m out of my comfort zone, but I’m enjoying the challenges and I’m enjoying the new things that I’m discovering about common ground between cultures.

FOLKMAMA: Since the group is all about blending styles, playing with them must be very different for you. What has the musical experience been like?

WIGGINS: We have a fiddler and the Appalachian ballad singer in the group and I found that style really accessible to me and my way of playing. Nic Gareiss, he does clogging, and also Irish step dance—and those rhythms are pretty accessible to me too.

Andrea is the Swedish fiddler and I’ve spent a lot of time listening to her playing.  She’s counting and people dance to it so there’s a downbeat somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me figure out where it is! I just watch her tap her foot. A lot of it is like a ¾ rhythm–there is a breath that happens. I started trying to figure out that breath, and that’s kind of what opened the door for me.

Some of these different genres, some of them are readily accessible, some of them aren’t. They just take me down to the most rudimentary, the most basic thing to get a handle on it and then I go from there and build on that.

FOLKMAMA: What kinds of things should people expect at a Dovetail Ensemble concert?

WIGGINS: There is going to be a lot of dance music. To me that’s one of the things that ties music of different cultures together. And we’re also going to hear people use their instruments in ways that they never imagined before. Like someone using the cello to play a blues bass line or using the harmonica to jam on a minor key classical piece. They are also going to be able to witness the process. Where do this one thing where someone plays a solo and the next person picks up inspiration and it continues building from the next player to the next.

They’ll see two amazing percussive dancers who are also very different. Nic likes to learn a song note for note and almost dances the melody. Baakari has the melody in his ear but he also improvises-improvising is a big part of what he does.

They’ll see some amazing Swedish fiddle. I don’t know how many people are familiar with Swedish fiddle. I had certain ideas in mind but it was not what I expected. It is really fiery and the rhythms are crazy.  So they’ll hear that crazy rhythm against a Piedmont blues style harmonica rhythm.

They’ll be singing. I guess the main thing is that they will hear traditional being stretched out of their elements and being played in unusual ways.

FOLKMAMA: What happens during the workshop?

WIGGINS: It really depends a lot on who comes. We have a plan and then things happen in an organic way.

FOLKMAMA: Sounds like it might not be the whole group playing together all the time. Will we see some pairing and some breaking down into smaller groups?

WIGGGINS: Exactly. There are some solos and there are duets and trios plus some with the whole ensemble together. They’ll be a variety of sounds and a variety of combinations.

FOLKMAMA: So if someone really loves Swedish fiddling or really loves blues harmonica, they won’t come any be disappointed, will they? They sound be able to hear people playing in their own genres too, right?

WIGGINS: Absolutely. I think whatever they are interested in, they’ll be satisfies for sure. Especially harmonica playing. They are going to get a belly full!

DOVETAIL-PORTRAIT

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.

Susquehanna Folk Music Society Announces New Season

By Jess Hayden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie & Alonzo Pennington to Give Guitar Workshop/Concert November 20 in York, PA

by John Hope

Editor’s Note: Champion Thumbpick Guitarists Eddie and Alonzo Pennington will play 7:30 Sunday, November 20th at the Unitarian Church in York. The pair will give a guitar workshop at 3 pm. More information at http://www.sfmsfolk.org/concerts/Eddie+AlonzoPennington.html

What people are saying about Eddie Pennington:

Lancaster’s popular singer songwriter BOBBIE CARMITCHELL is signed up to take Eddie and Alonzo’s guitar workshop. “He’s phenomenal” she says. “You really have to watch him to make sure that it’s not more than one guy playing!”

Folk DJ (The Chords Are Stacked and The Song Parlor) and co-founder of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society JOHN PATERSON says,” Eddie certainly is an impressive picker!”

The father and son team of Eddie and Alonzo Pennington, both National Thumbpicking champions, perform in concert and give a guitar workshop on Sunday, November 20, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York. Their 3 p.m. guitar workshop and 7:30 p.m. concert are sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society.

Eddie Pennington, a National Heritage Fellowship recipient, is widely recognized as one of the greatest living thumbstyle guitarists. He has appeared in venues throughout the U.S. and Europe to keep alive the sound popularized by Kentucky native Merle Travis in the 1940s. Due to his ability to adapt well-known tunes to the alternating bass rhythms that characterize “Travis pickin’,” Pennington’s performances have generated renewed interest in the art form.

On stage he mixes his music with Travis stories and down-home humor backed by his own observations, transporting audiences to the days of the old mining towns and to his front porch for a few neighborly gospel tunes. Reviewers have noted that Pennington’s love of the guitar, and of live performance, bring to life the rich musical traditions of western Kentucky, making him an entertainer who appeals to all ages throughout the world. His strong sense of place, combined with flawless performances of folk and contemporary guitar tunes, attracts and keeps a legion of loyal listeners.

Eddie Pennington’s son Alonzo has been described as a smattering of vintage Allman Brothers Band, a dash of Stevie Ray Vaughn, a spoonful of James Burton, a dollop of Danny Galton, and a pinch of Jerry Reed. He is a multi-award-winning guitar player who’s been performing his own music since he was 13. He uses his passion, energy, and drive to create a soulful and unique blend of rock, country, and blues that is all his own. He had a stint playing guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, and singing backup vocals for country music legend John Michael Montgomery. During his time working with Montgomery, he appeared at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. As he says in one of his songs, Alonzo Pennington was “raised in the country, but born to rock and roll.”
Guitar workshop tickets are $20 general admission, $16 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22.Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members, and $10 for students. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com. This concert is part of a series funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and with support from Shipley Energy. SFMS is supported by funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, administered by the Cultural Alliance of York County, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

Blues Guitarist Mary Flower to Perform in Harrisburg

World class guitarist and blues singer Mary Flower brings her artistry to Harrisburg for an April 9 blues guitar workshop and concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society in partnership with the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The 4:30 p.m. workshop will be followed by a 6 p.m. potluck dinner and the 7:30 p.m. concert.

 Flower is acclaimed as one of the preeminent fingerstyle guitarists who continue in the rich acoustic blues tradition. She has mastered the intricate, harmonically subtle Piedmont style with its good-timey, ragtime feel, and also is an unrivaled interpreter of Mississippi blues and an ingenious composer whose tunes take American music into new places.

 She got her start playing in her native Indiana and then became a much-loved part of the Denver music scene. During the 1970s and 1980s Flower helped develop the core curriculum at Denver’s Swallow Hill Music School and taught there in the early 1990s. She continues to teach at venues such as the Augusta Heritage Center and the Swannanoa Gathering.

 Since moving to Portland, OR, in 2004, Flower has performed all over North America. She’s a regular on the blues and folk festival circuit and also has eight recordings to her credit. She was nominated in 2008 for a Blues Music Award and won the coveted Vox Populi award in the 2009 Independent Music Awards’ Acoustic Song category for “Slow Lane to Glory,” a track from her 2009 Yellow Dog Records release “Bridges.” That recording has been described as “incredibly musical and soul-satisfying.”

 Before the concert, Flower will lead a blues guitar workshop during which Mary will demonstrate, discuss and teach left and right hand techniques that all work together to provide the bounce to this particular brand of blues. This class will explore a few different arrangements that combine alternating bass and melody. Songs might come from the repertoire of Tampa Red and Blind Boy Fuller.

The class is appropriate for advanced beginners to intermediate players. Ability to read tab will be very helpful and audio recording is encouraged.

 Workshop tickets are $20 general admission, $16 for Susquehanna Folk Music Society and Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania members, and $10 for students ages 3 to 22. The potluck dinner following the workshop is free. Bring a covered dish to share; drinks and place settings will be provided. The concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS and BSCP members and $10 for students. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. This event is made possible with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Foundation for Enhancing Communities. Additional sponsorship is provided by SFMS members Bob Lane, Rob Bleecher and by the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

 –John Hope

Concert Review: Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey and Garnet Rogers

By folkmama, 12/07/10

Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey and Garnet Rogers performed in front of a full house on Sunday, December 5, 2010 near Harrisburg, PA for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert. Garnet did an opening set, and later joined Greg and Bo for four numbers at the end of the evening.

GARNET ROGERS OPENS

It was a special treat to start of the evening’s concert with one of Canada’s best and most prolific songwriters; Garnet Rogers. A great friend and admirer of Brown’s, he asked Susquehanna Folk if he could share the bill.  Garnet is everything audiences could possibly want in a folk singer—lovely voice, masterful guitar work, lots of humor and terrific lyrics. He’s is also an enthusiastic collector of vintage guitars, all produced before 1944. For his short set he had one end of the stage lined up with a selection of some of his beautiful, antique guitars—each one gleaming and clearly well looked after.

 Garnet opened up his set up with the lovely song Soul Kiss which is a good choice for showing off his stunning baritone voice. The song has the beautiful lyrics “Seal it with a soul kiss. Nothing is as beautiful as this. Soul kiss changed your life. Have mercy on a soul kiss”. After switching guitars (and moods), he lit into the bluesy number Welcome to Hell–a cleverly written  “walking tour” of hell—who’d you see, what you’d hear and whose books you’d be expected to read. Love the last stanza; “You could have been a better guy, not so much of a jerk. Quit your whining here’s your banjo, get to work.”

Last on his set was another slow, beautiful number; this one a song of thanksgiving. He told the audience that he’d recently bought a little house in Nova Scotia (four houses down from where his grandmother used to live) where he could look out and see the cove. The reflective lyric “The small boats outside my window reflect their color to the water, like gaudy gypsy caravans, bright yellow red and blue” is a good example of Garnet’s ability to use words to paint crystal clear images in the listeners’ minds.It was a very strong set from an exceptional performer who Susquehanna Folk hopes to bring back soon for a full evening of music!

GREG BROWN AND BO RAMSEY

After an intermission we welcomed Greg Brown with his sideman, fellow “Iowan” Bo Ramsey. For those that are unfamiliar with Greg Brown in concert, he’s a little difficult to describe. He definitely has a mystique about him, created, in part by his ultra-relaxed persona on stage and his unusual outlook on life. If you are used to those entertainers that jump around and really play to the audience, Greg is certainly on the other end of the spectrum.  Audience members feel such an honesty and intensity from him that it puts them on the edge of their seats and makes them really want to listen–hard. Like Garnet, his songs paint vivid pictures of everyday wonders, fears and struggles.  He brings his music and beautiful poetry to audiences in an unassuming manner which reflects who his is and what he stands for.

He started his set with one of my favorite Iris Dement songs Let the Mystery Be (“But no one knows for sure, and so it’s all the same to me, I think I’ll just let the mystery be”) and continued  with “Freak Flag”—an anthem about being proud of who you are. (“For every soul you can be down. For every child who sees the light and turns around, come on now; let’s let the freak flag fly.”) The next number One Wrong Turn showed off Brown’s gravelly voice. He continued his set with a couple of unnamed rhythm and blues numbers, featuring some nice guitar licks by Bo Ramsey. Then he lit into the humorous Fat Boy Blues (“I looked down in consternation, I couldn’t even see my shoes. Houston we have a situation. I’ve got the fat boy blues”)

Greg did a few more numbers, but like me, the audience was probably getting anxious for one of his off-beat stories, and we weren’t disappointed.  Towards the end of the evening he told a very funny story about the whippoorwills outside of his farm making such an “insane amount of noise” that they should go to see “bird therapists”, even though they were just making all that noise “looking for love.” The lyrics of the Whippoorwill song are quite nice too:  “You are dearer to me than the birds or the stars, Sweeter to me than the hills and the flowers. Long as I have you I can take anything. So let love be home, and let the whippoorwill sing.”

The long night of terrific music ended with Greg, Bo and Garnet performing three songs together. It was quite a memorable concert full of excellent music and good stories. I recommend that you take a listen to Garnet and Greg’s music by checking out the You Tube’s below.

Garnet Rogers, Soul Kiss:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySn-WEePnW4

Garnet Rogers, Welcome to Hell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_08LRIhTSG0)

Greg Brow, Fat Boy Blues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqBG-ml3LgI

Greg Brown, Whippoorwill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyLMOItxlKY

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