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.

Pride of New York (Irish music w/ Joanie Madden, Billy McComiskey, Brian Conway + Brendan Dolan) coming to York, PA January 15. Read about the members!

As our first concert of 2017 the Susquehanna Folk Music Society offers the very rare opportunity to hear an Irish-American super-group with some of the best-known players on this side of the Atlantic Ocean!  Described as “a killer ceili band,” Pride of New York has members who have won pride-of-new-yorkfour all-Ireland championship awards, recorded multiple solo albums, and logged countless miles touring across the U.S. and abroad.

The concert will be at 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 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.

Read below to learn about these fantastic musicians and their impressive accomplishments!

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Joanie Madden

Joanie Madden is the award winning whistle and flute player who, aside from playing in The Pride of New York, is the leader of Cherish the Ladies. Joanie is the first American to win the Senior All-Ireland championship on the tin whistle and is the youngest member to be inducted into the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame. Committed to promoting and preserving Irish culture in America, she was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; an award that pays homage to the immigrant experience. Joanie has played on hundreds of albums and is the top selling whistle player in history having sold over 500,000 solo albums. Joanie Madden is online at Cherish the Ladies.com.

Billy McComiskey

Billy McComiskey has been called the finest and most influential Irish button accordion players to ever emerge from the United States. A Brooklyn native, he started studying accordion with the late Sean McGlynn from Galway and in 1986 won the All-Ireland Senior title. Billy has played with Greenfields of America, Irish Tradition and the internationally acclaimed Trian. In June of 2016 he was named a NEA National Heritage Fellow, the highest honor bestowed to a traditional musician in the United States. Billy McComiskey is online at Compass Records.com

Brian Conway

A New York born fiddler, Brian is a leading exponent of the tastefully ornamented Sligo fiddling style. The winner of two All- Ireland junior titles in 1973 and 1974 and the All-Ireland senior championship of 1986, he has been called one of the best fiddlers of his generation. His latest CD, First through the Gate, is a long-awaited and stunning solo debut which exemplifies the versatility that characterizes his concert performances and festival appearances. Visit Brian Conway at his website.

Brendan Dolan

Brendan Dolan is one of the most respected and inventive keyboardists in Irish music today. He has worked with accordionist John Whelan, singer/songwriter Cathie Ryan, Andy Statman and Itzhak Perlman, and can be heard on the latest recordings of Billy McComiskey, Brian Conway and The Green Fields of America. Brendan has recently completed a Master’s degree in Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU, where he currently works as an archivist on the Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection.

 

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

PART TWO–dirk-powell-smalldirk-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 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.

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. Today’s post will focus on DIRK POWELL.

A post on Riley Baugus, published on November 29, 2016, can be found here: https://folkmama.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/old-time-musicians-riley-baugus-and-dirk-powell-perform-in-york-pa-on-december-3rd/

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Dirk Powell has expanded on the deeply rooted sounds of his Appalachian heritage to become one of the preeminent traditional American musicians of his generation. In addition to his widely influential solo recordings, he has recorded and performed with artists such as Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Jack White, Joan Baez, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.

In addition to performing under his own name in a wide variety of settings, Dirk also tours regularly with Joan Baez, playing 7 instruments during each performance.

Dirk is a recognized force within the international musical scene. His bonds with Louisiana and with the mountains of Kentucky are unmistakable – but so is his far-reaching vision and ability to translate the essence of tradition to audiences who need the timeless and sustaining messages that tradition brings.

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is privileged to be presenting such an esteemed musician.

Here are some of the amazing things that Dirk has done.

  1. COLD MOUNTAIN: Dirk worked extensively with Anthony Minghella on the Academy Award-winning film Cold Mountain included on-set consulting, arranging traditional and original music for the screen, performing the banjo parts of a central character, and acting.
  2. TELEVISION APPEARANCES: Dirk has appeared twice on Late Night with David Letterman and also on The Today Show and the American Masters series on PBS.
  3. RADIO: Dirk has appeared on the radio programs All Things Considered, World Café, Weekend Edition, A Prairie Home Companion, E-Town, Mountain Stage, and many others
  4. STUDIO WORK: Dirk was a featured studio musician on four recordings that won Grammys
  5. RECORDING STUDIO: Dirk designs and runs a recording studio that has been used by Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt and James McMurtry.
  6. Dirk was a founding member of the important Cajun group Balfa Toujours
  7. Dirk has been a regularly featured artist in the award-winning BBC series The Transatlantic Sessions.

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

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