On April 20th Daisy Castro Quartet plays Fiery Gypsy Jazz in York, PA

The Daisy Castro Quartet will bring fiery Gypsy Jazz music to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York on Thursday April 20th at 7:30 pm during a concert sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and Songside.com. The venue is located at 925 S. George Street in York

Daisy Castro is an outstanding interpreter of the Gypsy Jazz of the 1930s and 40s (in the style of Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli), and has emerged as a revitalizing force for the genre. At just 20 years old she stuns first-time audience members–continuing to enthrall even those that have seen her perform many times before. Her dynamic playing channels some of the early greats, while adding a modern edge Gypsy Jazz tradition.

Daisy will appear onstage with Quinn Bachand, on lead guitar Max O’Rourke on rhythm guitar, and bassist Greg Loughman. Quinn come from Canada’s West Coast where he performs frequently with his sister Qristina. He has been nominated a total of 16 times for prominent Canadian awards. Max O’Rourke and Greg Loughman play with the popular Gypsy Jazz group Rhythm Future Quartet.

To get a preview of the Daisy Castro Quartet, tune in to Good Day PA! at 12:30 pm on Thursday, April 20th on ABC27 or ABC27.com. The Daisy Castro Quartet will be featured on this “lifestyle” program.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available toll-free at (800) 838-3006 or online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. Funding is provided by the Cultural Enrichment Fund and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. For more info visit www.sfmsfolk.org.

We had a chance to talk to Daisy about the music that she plays, how she learned it, and who she is currently playing with.

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FOLKMAMA: Can you tell us a little about Gypsy Jazz? Where did it start and where is it played now?

DAISY: Gypsy Jazz is a genre that was started in the 1930s in Paris by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. It has progressed and changed through the years to become more diverse than just the standards; like Nuages, and Minor Swing, to incorporate more world music. I’ve seen a lot of people putting Balkan influences into it. Sort of taking it back into the Gypsy aspect of it, rather than jazz. That’s kind of where it stands now as I see it; very mixed and very diverse.

FOLKMAMA: Is this World Music sound something that you also incorporate into your playing?

DAISY: Absolutely. Especially lately, I’ve been putting a Middle Eastern influences into what I do. Turkish music–Greek music. Lots of Eastern European type stuff so that goes along with the Balkan thing. I’m really trying to get as many different sounds into the genre as I possibly can.

FOLKMAMA: I’ve noticed that Gypsy Jazz is usually played in a quartet format; with a fiddle, a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar and a bass. Has this introduction of a broader World Music sound altered this standard composition?

DAISY: I haven’t noticed that so much. I know there has been evidence of clarinets and different horns in various bands throughout the years. On my latest album I have involved things such as an oud from Turkey and a bouzouki which is a Greek instrument

FOLKMAMA: What first sparked your interest in Gypsy Jazz?

DAISY: Violin was my first instrument. When I was 5 or 6 I expressed an interest in playing it. My parents got me a really tiny violin and I started taking lesions. I started with classical music initially, but the same year that I started playing I went to France which is where I discovered this kind of music. I didn’t start playing it until probably six years later. But I’ve always had an interest in it.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that you grew up playing in a family band. (The Infidel Castros). What was that experience like?

DAISY: I don’t play with them as much as I used to because I’m not it the area very much, but growing up I used to play a lot with them. We had a very diverse repertoire; lots of jazz standards. My dad would play some Gypsy Jazz stuff with me. Really a wide variety of things like singer/songwriter, folk music, even some classically inspired pieces.

FOLKMAMA: Since you started out playing classical music, I’m curious how you took the leap to being a jazz improv player. Was it difficult?

DAISY: I was vaguely afraid of improvisation for the first few years, but I think that was just a mental blockade on my part. It wasn’t something that technically would have been an issue if I hadn’t been sort of putting up a wall and making it more difficult for myself. But I know it’s very difficult to get off the page—especially the longer that you’ve stayed with classical music. But I do know many classical musicians who are excellent improvisers as well. So it really depends on the person and the attitude towards it I suppose.

FOLKMAMA: What are some of the experiences that you’ve had that have really pushed your music forward? s

DAISY: The most recent thing that has really influenced me is going to Brussels to study with a violinist named Tcha Limberger. I basically lived with him for a month and learned his perspective on music of all genres. We played lots of Greek and Romanian tunes together. I was really able to concentrate on improving my sound and improving my ear. Also touring with people such as Gonzallo Bergara. This has taken me to many places in North America and Canada. This year I’m going to be going to Russia with him and Panama.

FOLKMAMA: Tell about members of the group. Who are they, how does you know them?

DAISY: I have met these people in various places. Max O’Rourke, one of the guitar players, he also plays with Gonzallo and that’s really how I got to know him. And two out of the three of them were on the latest album. I met Quinn at a festival on Widbey Island in Washington State and I played with him a little bit and we stayed in touch. And Greg Loughman is a bass player for a band called RHYTHM FUTURE which is based out of New England and Max is also in that band. So they are really from everywhere.

This time we’re planning on getting together and having a day for rehearsal, basically playing as much as we can. Because they are not all in one location, it can get difficult for rehearsals but we have a lot of trust in each other and they are really good.

FOLKMAMA: What is concert going to be like?

DAISY: I think the audience can expect sounds from various places in the world and a mix of Gypsy Jazz standards and more world music type stuff. There is really not much that you can try to expect to be definitely happening because it is quite spontaneous sometime. But I think it’s a very unique sound. I think that’s its worldly and interesting.

FOLKMAMA: From looking at your You Tubes, I think people ought to realize how virtuosic all of your playing is. I’d like to say to the public, “If you are a guitar player…you ought to be there. You ought to come see those fingers flying if you are a violinist.”

DAISY: Our music can get very fiery! At the same time there are a lot of very slow pieces that take a lot of time to convey a soulful feeling.

FOLKMAMA: It’s says in your bio that the Gypsy jazz world is very male dominated. I’m curious if you’ve run across barriers, perhaps put up because of your gender or even your age.

DAISY: I have never felt anything in this community other than respect. I think it’s a very respectful community. I think there are a lot of people that come together to play this music that really have an appreciation of each other and what they are doing to keep the genre alive, which is from the past and has the potential to die out.

FOLKMAMA: Penetrating the Gypsy jazz world at such a young age must have meant that you have very supportive parents. What has their role been? What has it been like growing up with music as such a strong focus?

DAISY: My parents have always been extremely supportive of what I have been pursuing in my life. They’ve always helped me a lot along the way while still allowing me a lot of room for me to figure out my own way. . Music has been really the biggest influence on all areas of my life such as friendships, traveling and experiences that I have. I’d say that a huge portion of those experiences and things that I have gone through are because of music or related to music.

FOLKMAMA: Are you also a composer, or mainly an interpreter?

DAISY: I’m trying more and more to compose more pieces. Up until the past two years it’s largely been covering other people’s music and expressing it in the way that I would express it, but one of my goals for the very near future is to compose more of my own stuff, and I think I’m growing closer to that.

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April 1st in York, PA: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar and Hula with Keola Beamer & Jeff Peterson, with Moanalani Beamer

Hawaiian slack key guitar master and legend Keola Beamer, who has stretched the boundaries of slack key guitar music while remaining true to the soul of its deeply Hawaiian roots, comes to York, Pennsylvania, for an April 1st Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society of York, 925 S. George Street. He will be joined by his wife, Moanalani, a hula dance master and musician, who will lead a free hula dance workshop at 5 p.m., and by slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson.

Working together, Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson present a concert of superb guitar playing that explores the resonant, multi-cultural beauty of Hawaiian music. They will be accompanied by Moanalani Beamer, who brings hula and Hawaiian chants to the stage, and adds musical texture with ancient Hawaiian instruments.

At the free 5 p.m. hula workshop, Moanalani will teach basic hula movements, including hand motions that are used to tell a story. Learn about the close relationship between hula dance and nature.

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.

Below is a story about Slack Key guitar which features quotes by Keola and Moanalani Beamer and information about their performance. The story appeared in The Burg Magazine, used by permission.

 

 

Some of the sweetest, most melodious guitar music can be found in Hawaii, and Keola Beamer is considered to be the foremost master of the style of guitar playing called Slack Key. He has been exploring this beautiful traditional music, which uses open tunings and loosened strings, for the past 35 years.

It is only in Beamer’s lifetime that Slack Key guitar music has been played outside of the home. “It used to be that a dad would come home from work, take off his boots and pick up his guitar. It was really a back door kind of thing.” Beamer said in a recent interview. “Families would be very secretive about the songs that they knew and the tunings they used. If you weren’t a member of the family and wanted to learn the music, well just forget it.”

All this changed when pianist George Winston fell in love with Slack Key guitar music and decided to record Slack Key musicians for his record company Dancing Cat. “He’s a very able musicologist and preservation was his object “said Keola’s wife Moana. “He especially wanted to be sure to record the older musicians.  He wanted a chance to meet with them and talk to them before they weren’t here anymore.”

It was through these Slack-Key guitar compilations that Slack-Key guitar music began to gain popularity outside of Hawaii. “We never could have toured before the records were released” said Beamer.  “We tried, but we just couldn’t get out of Hawaii. Nobody knew what it was, nobody sold it. And all of a sudden the music was in Borders. And then the whole touring thing opened up for us.”

Slack Key guitar music can be played on any standard guitar, although the magnificent guitars that Beamer tours with were built by a German luthier and designed to be able to project more sound. There are approximately 46 different tunings, and each one conveys a different feeling or tonal pallet. “The true art of the Stack Key guitar is to match the tuning with song. It has to elevate the piece” says Beamer.

On Saturday, April 1 Keola Beamer, Jeff Peterson and Moanalani Beamer will give a performance of Hawaiian Slack-Key guitar and hula at 7:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York. Moana Beamer, an experienced hula dancer who began her training at age four, will lead a hula dance workshop at 5 PM during which she hopes to show people “how varied,  rich and wonderful hula is.”During a concert Keola and Jeff will play guitar and sing in Hawaiian and English while Moana plays traditional percussion instruments, recites poetry and dances.

These events are sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and are funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts and Bob and Donna Pullo.

Old Time Musicians Riley Baugus and Dirk Powell perform in York, PA on December 3rd

dirk-and-rileyAmerican traditional music icons Riley Baugus and Dirk Powell come to York for a Saturday, December 3rd concert at 7:30 PM sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society to be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street.

This will be a very rare opportunity to see these two important folk music luminaries perform together.

The Powell and Baugus concert will be preceded by a 6 PM 45-minute square dance workshop with caller Kim Forrey who grew up in York County and now lives in Annapolis, MD. She has been calling dances for 10 years. There is a $5 separate fee for the workshop. Dancers are also encouraged to free-style dance during the concert.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $21 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. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

Because of the expansive histories of each of these two old-time music masters, we will be presenting separate Folkmama Blog Posts for each musician. Todays will focus on Riley Baugus. Look for the companion Blog Post, this time on Dirk Powell, later in the week.

About Riley Baugus

For a long time Riley Baugus has been one of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society’s heroes of Appalachian old-time music. Riley Baugus is the real deal. He grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and learned fiddle and banjo as a young man from all the greats, especially Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham. He not only grew up with old-time music; briley_lsr_largeut also with the deep religious singing of the South.

In fact it was his haunting and authentic singing style that encouraged producer T Bone Burnett to tap Riley for the soundtrack of the major motion picture “Cold Mountain” where he contributed key vocals and also made all the banjos that appeared in the movie.

He has been part of other big projects also, including appearing on the Willie Nelson album “Country Music” and the famed Alison Krauss/Robert Plant album “Raising Sand”.

Riley and his mentor Tommy Jerrell

Riley Baugus first met Tommy Jarrell (an influential fiddler, banjo player, and singer from the Mount Airy region of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains who Riley names as one of his biggest influences) when he was just 17 years old. Riley says that his first exposure to the great old-time musician was when he went to his house one time to play music. At the time Jarrell was 81 years old. (He died three years later.)

Riley says this about what he learned from Jarrell:

“Tommy had a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about all sorts of things. Life in general, tunes, how to play them in the archaic style that he learned as a boy, hundreds of stories about things that happened to him in his life, stories about his family, the community, other musicians that he played with over the years, where he first learned the tunes that he played, stories relating to particular tunes, how to attack a tune….. and the list goes on and on.

When you went there you didn’t just go to learn one thing. You might go with the idea that you would learn, “Sally Ann,” but come away with three versions of the tune from different time periods, but the stories of why it was changed at certain times and what the song lyrics in the tune meant. I learned and still learn from him about tunes on the banjo and fiddle and guitar and mandolin and singing that are from the 1800s that he learned from his father and his uncles and his neighbors.

To learn from Tommy Jarrell was like having a time machine at your disposal. He was in his 80s, learned most of his music as a teenager at about 15 or 16 years old, from men and women who were in their 80s and 90s at the time he was learning, so the information you were getting was one person removed from the mid 1800s, and to people removed from and even earlier time, likely the late 1700s.”

Meeting and playing with Dirk Powell

Riley and Dirk first met at The Galax Fiddler’s Convention in the mid 80s. They started hanging out in jam sessions together with mutual friends and became friends themselves. Through the years they have performed together often, although both musicians have been more active with other projects.

Riley has this memory of one of his favorite times that he played with Dirk:

“Dirk and I have played tunes for a long time, but one of the best times was a few years ago at Tonderfest, in Tonder, Denmark. You are literally playing for 10s of thousands of people at any performance at that festival, and usually on a huge stage with really big time professional sound systems.

He and I sort of went over into a little shed that was provided back stage at the festival, away from the sound of the stage and the other performers and the spectators and the whole big scene. We just played a Round Peak tune together. It was the most magnificent feeling to be there at that moment, just the two of us, right in the midst of that huge environment, playing with total abandon and pure emotion, feeling each other’s music and soul and talking with each other using the instruments as our voices. We knew we loved playing with each other and being with each other, but that moment was really special. “

 

Riley talks about old-time music:

“The performances of the music that I give today are not merely recreations nor an attempt at preservation, but a living, breathing example of music and tradition that still lives in the mountains near my home, where my family has been living since the 1700s.

In these mountain communities you can still go to several dances every weekend, jam sessions within the community, and to performances of old time music all over this area. It is not an art form that is dead and simply being recreated by people as a spectacle, but the music and culture of people from the Southern Appalachians. “

 

Riley talks about the church singing that is associated with the region where he is from:

“The singing that is done in the Baptist churches takes many different forms in the mountains. The style that is done by the Old Regular Baptists in Eastern Kentucky and the Mountain Primitive Baptist styles are similar. They sing old songs in a lined-out fashion. That is to say that a song leader “Chants” the first line of a verse and the congregation repeats the line to the melody. This continues for each line of each verse. That way no one except the song leader has to have a book or know the words to a song.

This method is also still used in the churches in the Hebrides, on the Isles of Scotland, except they sing the songs in Gaelic. It is called Psalm singing there and the melodies are very similar to the ones used in the Southern Appalachians for many of the old songs. “

Material for this Folkmama Blog was mostly obtained from the following source: http://nodepression.com/interview/hearth-music-interview-riley-baugus