Sunday, December 20, 2009

John Fahey " The New Possibility "

My all time favorite Christmas recording has got to be the inimitable John Fahey's slide and finger style solo guitar instrumental album "The New Possibility." Originally issued in 1993 on the Tacoma label it is now available in CD and Mp3 formats. (I'm listening to my 16 year old cassette as I type)  "The New Possibility" is a tasteful, unique, laid back, non commercial soundtrack to the holiday season. Give it a listen. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. - Rick




Merry Christmas From The Family!
Rick, Georgianne, Erica, and Annalee  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Homegrown String Band Web Pages: Are we addicted to the Internet?



When we released our first CD (Blind Dog Thumpin' on the Porch) in 2000, we decided it was time for The Homegrown String Band to establish a presence on the World Wide Web (that's what we used to call the Internet). In July 2000 we registered our domain name and began selling CDs on Amazon.com. Our first website was a primitive one page html document built using Adobe Page Mill and posted using AOL's Hometown free hosting. Since then we have added an EPK, a Myspace page, (I've yet to heed the call of Facebook or Twitter), a Youtube channel, and this blog. Our website has grown to twelve glorious pages and I spend way to much time on the internet. Once these sites are established they have to be maintained and monitored. I do my best to keep our website and EPK current and up to date; Myspace and Youtube. . . ahh, not so much. A lot of bands use Myspace pages as their band website—we have had a page since 2005—but I've always thought of it as an add on to our website and have invited all our imaginary Myspace friends to check out our concert schedule, come to a show and become a real friend. A couple of weeks ago, while checking in on Myspace, I found some of the photos had been deleted by our photo hosting service due to the fact that we hadn't logged in for more than six months. Well, I couldn't remember the user name or password so I just deleted the photo links. Then last week, while checking the site again, I noticed that the music player was not loading. I made a comment about it and my daughter said "Myspace is so passe." I always found the long load times and ads on Myspace to be very annoying, but lots of people would ask about the site and go there to hear samples of our music even though it is all available in a more accessible form on our EPK. Now that Myspace is passe, (will the last person to leave Myspace please turn out the lights), I felt free to move the link to a less prominent spot on our website. So, last Thursday I decided to do some remodeling. I spent the bulk of the next four days adding three new pages—a photo page, a video page, and an Mp3 player, as well as updating and cleaning up the other pages. By Sunday night I had a most heinous headache, the wife (the lovely and talented "Mother Hen" Georgianne) suggested—no make that ordered me—to stay off the computer for a day. It was hard but I did it; 24hrs without touching a computer.  The little beast kept calling me (am I addicted to the Internet?) "check your e-mail," "track your packages," " see if you sold any buttons or Navajo spindles on your Roosterick.com site," "read some blogs," "It's Hot Stove time better check the MLB trade rumors." Well, guess what? My packages were delivered without me tracking them, the Mets didn't make any blockbuster trades, and most of the e-mail that accumulated in my mailbox was junk and the rest was not particularly urgent. Maybe I can live without the Internet..... Maybe. I did sell a spindle, which is winging it's way across the country, via Priority Mail, as we surf.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Heifer International



Well, it's "Black Friday" and the holiday season is upon us. A lot of people are hoping the economy will come out of it's funk and people will get out and shop. A company rep who used to call on me in my photo shop once said "Christmas is God's gift to retail." So much money is spent in the days between Thanksgiving and New Years. A lot of the buying is folks purchasing things that they would have bought anyway, but some of it is just frantic buying, looking for gifts for people who don't really need anything. If you have a "man (or woman) who has everything" on your shopping list consider making a purchase from, or a donation to, a cause that will help out the "man (or woman) who has nothing." Many businesses are struggling with economic downturn, so go out and buy what you need, but don't forget the charities who have also been hit by hard times. There are lots of places that sell gifts and donate all or part of the proceeds to charity. For those people who have everything you can make a donation to a cause in their name. One place we have given to over the years is Heifer International, a charity that has been around since 1944. Their philosophy is it is better to teach a man how to fish than it is to give him a fish. You can donate various amounts that can go toward the purchase of anything from a flock of chickens for an African family to a llama for a Peruvian weaver. They in turn are required to pass on the gift by donating the first offspring to a neighbor in need (viral charity!). Your gift recipient gets a nice card and you both get that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do something nice for someone you don't know.

"This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for over 60 years. Since 1944, Heifer has helped 8.5 million people in more than 125 countries."

Heifer Project International, 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR/USA 72202
Tel.: (800) 422-0474

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ZenPro Audio


ZenPro Audio is owned and operated by musician/engineer Warren Dent; the equipment he carries in his online store is top shelf audio gear personally selected and recommended based on his own recording experience. I don't have a recording studio and thus don't have a need for much of his high end equipment, but I am always looking for ways to improve the live sound of The Homegrown String Band. The key to our success has been "keeping it real." Keeping our performances down to earth involves interacting with our audience while maintaining a relaxed and sincere performance style, as well as preserving the natural sound of our acoustic instruments. (We have pickups we can use but only as a last resort.) To my ears, the beauty of acoustic music has to be captured, in the air, by high quality microphones. That's where Warren comes in. I've purchased two very reasonably priced high quality mics from him in the past six months.

About twelve years ago we started using a one mic set up, gathering around an AT 4033 (recommended by Del McCoury). Two years ago we added a second AT 4033 to our main stand and a Shure SM 57 on a separate stand for Mama Georgianne's dulcimer and doumbek. The new set up allows us to get closer to the microphones, which improves the sound quality and increases the volume a bit while remaining unplugged. This summer, in an effort to boost the volume of the guitar and mandolin, I decided to add a third mic to our front line. I thought I already had the perfect mic, an old AKG C1000, but that microphone seems to have vanished, either left behind at a gig or got up and walked away, who knows. Anyway, I started using a Shure 545SD, which was working pretty well, but I thought a small diaphragm condenser mic might be better. I contacted Warren at ZenPro and sent him a list of mics I was considering. He quickly responded and suggested the CAD M179, a large diaphragm condenser with dial in pick up patterns. WOW, this mic is great! It grabs the sound from the guitar and sends it pure and unadulterated through the PA and out to the audience. I never would have even considered this mic if not for Warren's recommendation.

Oh, did I mention the quality of ZenPro's service? I received the mic within 48 hrs, free shipping, a free xlr cord, and, get this, a bag of roasted coffee beans!  If you read my last post you know how I love my coffee!  

"ZenPro Audio is owned and operated by me, Warren Dent. I have family and friends who assist me to keep things running as smoothly as possible, so most things here would be referred to as "I" but there is a "we" involved in many aspects of this operation. I'm the guy who decides what lines to carry, and most times that reason is because I have used the gear in the studio and realize it has value. We can assist you in your purchase and recommend the right products for you, not based on profit. I am not a low pressure guy, I am a no pressure guy. I have found happiness in ZenPro Audio and it is my goal not to just treat you "fair", but to go above and beyond to make it the greatest gear buying experience on Earth for YOU."  - Warren Dent / Owner

In these days of megastore monopolies it's refreshing to do business with a guy like Warren Dent. If you're in the market for any quality recording or live sound gear check out ZenPro Audio.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

String Band - Powered by Dean's Beans

My name is Rick and I'm addicted to coffee. I start every day with a cup of fresh ground organically grown coffee. I'm not talking about four dollar a cup boutique blends. I grind my own with a hand cranked coffee mill, I don't pay ridiculous prices, and the money I pay isn't ending up in the pockets of some huge corporate agricultural conglomerate. The supplier for my habit is Dean's Beans, run by a fellow from Massachusetts by the name of Dean Cyon. This coffee crusader travels the world in support of social justice and ecological responsibility, searching for the perfect cup of certified organic fair trade shade grown coffee all the while teaching third world indigenous farmers how to use organic farming methods and market their product. All the coffees sold by Dean's Beans are the product of sustainable agriculture methods and the growers are fairly paid for their crop. Dean has documented some of his travels in his book "Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee," which won an award from the Independent Publishers Association for best travel book. This is a five star company that provides a quality product at a fair price (mostly $7-$8 a lb.) while doing the right thing.

"We only purchase beans from small farmers and cooperatives, largely made up of indigenous peoples working hard to maintain their culture and lifestyles in a hostile world. We do not buy beans from large estates and farms. We've been there, and have seen the conditions of chronic poverty and malnutrition within which these farms produce those other coffees. Look in your kitchen—do you know where your beans come from?"

Dean has a wonderful selection of light, dark, light/dark blends, espresso, decaf, and flavored coffees, all with inventive names like Ahab's Revenge, Obama Rama, Aztec Two Step, Monkey Knife Fight and Rattle Snake Gutter Brew. Dean's coffee is always freshly roasted and packed with flavor, but if you want an even fresher brew you can  buy unroasted green beans and the equipment to roast them at home one cup at a time!

"Dean's Beans only purchases beans from villages and importers that are committed to Fair Trade and working towards better economic opportunity, improved health and nutrition in the villages. We are proud to be a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, Inc., the first roaster's cooperative created to buy direct, Fair Trade coffee from farmer coops, and make it available to any small roaster who wants to participate in the Fair Trade movement. We are also active members of the Fair Trade Federation, an international organization of dedicated Fair Traders (no poseurs allowed)."


Dean also sells organic fair trade sugar and chocolate. His chocolate covered java drops have kept me awake on many an overnight road trip allowing me to drive through the night so I could get home to my morning cup of Rattle Snake Gutter Brew.

Organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee makes a great holiday gift.

The Homegrown String Band is powered by Dean's Beans
You should be too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Picturing America



The next Homegrown String Band show will be on November 8th at the Northport Public Library. Our performance will be part of the National Endowment for the Humanities "Picturing America" celebration

Picturing America
September through December 2009

"The Northport-East Northport Public Library is the proud recipient of a Picturing America grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association. The Picturing America initiative consists of forty poster-sized reproductions of American masterpieces and has been awarded to public libraries and schools across the country. In the Museum Cove, the display case will feature arts and crafts made by staff members. Creative pieces by Northport Library artisans serve as a lively complement to the images of famous paintings, photographs, sculpture, and architecture mounted on the walls of the room."

Our performance will be on Sunday November 8th at 2pm. Looks like it will be a fun day. Hope to see some familiar faces in the audience.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Apples, Pumpkins, and Hay, Hay, Hay


The band has been busy closing out our outdoor festival season. This weekend we played two fall/harvest festivals here on Long Island. I guess The Homegrown String Band is the perfect harvest festival band! Apples, pumpkins, hay, banjos, fiddles, flatfoot dancing, apple pie, and crisp fall air! It's nice to see folks out enjoying the nice fall weather before winter and cabin fever sets in. Saturday we played at Deepwell's Farm Fall Festival; we thought this was going to be a music festival, but we were sandwiched between a magic act and a talent show, we were basically background music adding atmosphere to the various fall activities going on around us. Sunday we played a sit down concert in a listening room at the Paramus, NJ Library, and Monday we did another fall festival in Great Neck. At the Great Neck festival we had the privilege of  splitting the entertainment duties with a great traditional jazz band, The Banjo Rascals. This talented, quartet, featuring soprano sax, trumpet, bass, and tenor banjo played some great ragtime, dixieland, and jazz standards. Next weekend's Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay, NY will be our final outdoor performance of the year. Hopefully we will have another nice fall weekend, and then it's indoors for the coffeehouse, library, and tavern circuit.

HGSB Logo by Georgianne Jackofsky

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival



In 1989, Pat Reppert, AKA The Goddess of Garlic, a Hudson Valley herb farmer (Shale Hill Farm and Herb Gardens) organized the first Garlic Festival held in the Hudson Valley—and perhaps on the first on the East Coast. The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, a celebration in honor of "the stinking rose," has been a Homegrown String Band fall favorite for the last 4 years. Every year we look forward to the food, music, crafts, and good people we will be enjoying on the last weekend of September in Saugerties, NY. This festival is a real class act; everything about it is top notch, and it's no wonder up to 50,000 garlic lovers from around the country attend each year. The weather was not great this year, but the festival was still very well attended. As usual, we came home with 15 or 20 lbs. of various varieties of organically grown garlic, including some seed garlic that I'll be planting in the next few weeks. If you attend the HVGF you will be able to sample an amazing array of garlic and garlic-flavored products like roasted garlic, garlic ice cream, garlic pretzels, chocolate covered garlic, garlic scape guacamole, garlic salsa, and garlic shots (better than flu shots!), as well as 10 bands performing, everything from bluegrass to zydeco, continuously on 5 stages scattered throughout the park. Be there in 2010, we will!

Garlic Photo by Rick Jackofsky

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fun in the Sun: Solar Powered Sound & Music Blowing in the Wind


 
ATECH Wind Turbine - photo by Rick Jackofsky
We just got back from a three day "mini tour" of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We performed at libraries in Princeton and Flemington NJ and at the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival in Kempton PA.  At the Energy Festival we played on a really cool, solar powered stage with sound provided by Crow Weaver. His solar collectors, batteries, and DC powered amps provided enough power to fill the air with music throughout the day. Crow also played sax, guitar, and flute with his band, The Native Earthling Band, an eclectic outfit that performed jazz, rock, folk, and jamband music. All in all it was a great day, beautiful weather, good music, children's activities, vendors selling organic food and produce, crafts, native plants, and, of course, wind, solar, and other alternative energy products. Throughout the day lecturers provided festival goers with information on the politics, economics, and technologies of alternative energy and sustainable living. The day was capped off with a performance by saxophonist Paul Winter and the Makoto Taiko Japanese drummers. All in all this was a really nice and very well run little festival.
Highly recommended by The Homegrown String Band 
"A 100% Natural Organically Grown Family Band"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lakemont Park


This weekend we had a great time playing at the Altoona First Festival. The festival was held on the grounds of an historic amusement park, Lakemont Park, in Altoona PA, which opened in 1894. It was one of those gigs where our music becomes part of a larger soundscape; kind of like participating in a Charles Ives symphony. Our music became part of a mosaic of sound that included carnival barkers, fire eaters, jugglers, a roller-coaster, monster truck rides, etc. Performing at an event like this is more like busking on the street than playing in a concert setting; the audience is transient, you have to keep the energy level high to attract and hold their attention. One thing we were able to take advantage of was the fact that the seating in front of our stage was the closest place woozy riders could sit to regain their equilibrium after disembarking from the Skydiver; a ride that looked like the ferris wheel from hell; cars spinning around as the wheel turned at a disturbingly high rate of speed. One of the perks of performing was free ride tickets. Georgianne and I decided to skip the rides, Erica enjoyed the Monster Octopus while Annalee said the Merry Go Round was more her speed. Maybe next time I'll try the Skydiver. If you ever find yourself in the Altoona area during the summer months be sure to stop in and visit with the good folks at Lakemont Park; a real old fashioned amusement park.

Follow the wild and crazy ride of The Homegrown String Band here and atwww.homegrownstringband.com

Skydiver Photo by Erica Jackofsky

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little House in the Megalopolis

Today three-quarters of The Homegrown String Band took a field trip. Rick, Georgianne, and Annalee visited the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a 19th century living history museum here on Long Island, to take in the oldtime baseball and music festival. We watched baseball players (I don't think any of them were millionaires) playing without gloves and musicians (no millionaires here, either) playing without microphones. It was a beautiful day and a refreshing and relaxing break from the 21st century. Our good friends Larry Moser and Mary Nagin were set up on the green in the center of town performing 19th century tunes and songs on hammered dulcimer and fiddle. I especially enjoyed "Sackett's Harbor," a War of 1812 era instrumental. After a short break the duo provided the music for some community dancing as Chart Guthrie (with some help from Amazin' Annalee) called dances and led folks through some beginning contras. After the dance the string musicians gave way to a concert by a Civil War era brass band.

We visited a decoy carver, a tavern, a general store, several farm houses and a hat maker before settling down at the one room school house where fiddler Eric Martin was entertaining folks with bad jokes and excellent fiddling. He was joined by two young men; Sean, who sang in a powerful tenor voice, and Richard, who backed up Eric on harmonica. I wish I had my camera to capture the scene when Richard, a young teen, accompanied Eric, who is probably 40 years his senior, on a spirited version of "Swing Nine Yards of Calico" by tapping a rhythm on the fiddle neck with two wooden knitting needles (while Eric fiddled) and played the harmonica with no hands (and no rack).

I remember coming to the Old Bethpage Village the first year it opened in the early sixties. Sadly, it has been a constant struggle for local governments and historical societies to keep the site up and running. Unfortunately in this day and age of blaring music, flashing lights, and non stop movement, a quiet look into the past isn't a big draw. At one point during his performance Eric asked audience members where they were from. When one audience member responded Massapequa Eric asked if she knew the Native American meaning of the town name. When she responded negatively, Eric told her it means  "Let's go shopping." Ah, America's favorite pastime has ancient roots. So many things to buy and so little time to learn from our past.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Cuckoo

Photo by Steve Gravano  http://stevegravano.blogspot.com
 
A song that has moved in and out of The Homegrown String Band's repertoire, "The Cuckoo" is really an old English folk song that made its way to America in the memories of early American colonists. The song found a home in the southern Appalachians where it entered the oral tradition of the mountain folk. Over time verses were added and dropped and the song developed a distinct American character. Cecil Sharpe documented several mountain versions of "The Cuckoo" during his Appalachian song catching expeditions between 1916 and 1918. The seminal American version of the tune is Clarence Ashley's 1929 Columbia recording, which helped restart Ashley's music career when it was included on Harry Smith's Folkways 1952 "Anthology of American Music." English folk rocker Richard Thompson's version, clearly influenced by Ashley's recording, shows how folk music continues to evolve by moving back and forth across the Atlantic. Listen to a live performance of "The Cuckoo" by The Homegrown String Band recorded at the Stone Soup Coffeehouse, by visiting our website www.homegrownstringband.com

English Folk Songs From The Southern Appalachians (1917)



Monday, August 24, 2009

Fishin' For Blues

"Rooster" Rick and the "Amazing" Annalee took advantage of a day off and the super high tide caused by Hurricane Bill today and headed down to their fishin' hole, the Long Island Sound. We dug up two old fishing rods, sharpened some hooks, and took the short walk down to the beach. ("Went to the hardware got me a hook, cinched that hook right on that line . . . I'm a goin" fishin' yes I'm goin' fishin' . . . ") I thought we might catch some bluefish, but we each caught a sea robin, which many people consider garbage fish. But I discovered years ago that it is well worth the effort it takes to clean and de-bone these strange creatures. Between the two fish we got a little less than a pound of meat, enough to make four delicious fish cakes.
   While we were walking down to the beach the song "Fishing Blues" popped into my head. Most people know the great Taj Mahal version from "De Old Folks at Home" album, but the tune was originally recorded in the 1920s by Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas. Thomas, a black man born in the late nineteenth century, was equally adept at country two steps and dance tunes as he was at the blues. His lively dance music gives us a glimpse of the type of music that might have been heard at a nineteenth century African American house party. Dead Heads may be interested to know that Thomas also made the first recording of the Grateful Dead standby "Don't Ease Me In."
  Check out "Henry Thomas Texas Worried Blues: Complete Recorded Works 1927-1929" on YaZoo Records. My personal favorite version of "Fishing Blues" is Bruce Molsky's rendition from his Rounder Records release "poor man's troubles." On this tune Bruce shows that not only is he world class fiddler he can also do some pretty fancy pickin' on the acoustic guitar.

Henry Thomas Texas Worried Blues CD

Henry Thomas Texas Worried Blues Mp3

Bruce Molsky Poor Man's Troubles CD

Bruce Molsky Poor Man's Troubles Mp3

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Banjo Lesson

Yesterday I gave a beginning clawhammer banjo lesson. It reminded me of the paradoxes involved in learning to play a musical instrument. Teaching someone how to play a musical instrument is like teaching someone how to ride a bike or drive a car—you have to take something that you do without thought, analyze it, simplify it, break it down into steps, and then help the student reassemble it and develop the muscle memory and confidence that will allow them to perform the task without thinking about it. The beginning student learns the skill by consciously and deliberately reconstructing the process, but it's important to move away from the mindful approach as soon as possible so that technical execution doesn't get in the way of musical expression. A beginning musician has only one approach available to them, that is an intuitive approach. The experienced musician works to acquire knowledge and highly developed fine motor skills only to strive to get back to the intuitive approach of the beginner. So, grasshopper, the circle is complete, the teacher becomes the student.

The Banjo Lesson, 1893. Oil on canvas, by Henry Ossawa Tanner currently on display at the Hampton University Museum.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Guitar Hero"
Les Paul Passes

Another music legend passed this week. On August 13, 2009, Guitar virtuoso and music visionary Les Paul died at the age of 94. Famous for his duets with Mary Ford and, of course, inventing the solid body electric guitar, Les Paul also changed the way music is recorded and listened to by pioneering the use of multitrack recording. This was the first step in the evolution of music being created in the studio rather than just being captured by a recording device. When electronic recording technology was originally made possible by the Western Electric Company's invention of the microphone, the idea was to replicate the sound of a live performance. Now digital technology, with sampling and audio cut and pasting, has evolved to the point that there is no live performance and musicians performing live strive to duplicate music created in the studio rather than the recording process duplicating the sound of a live performance.

There has been a bit of a backlash to the digital music manufacturing. More and more venues insist on seeing a band perform live, or at least reviewing a live audio or video performance, before booking to be sure they are going to get the performance they want and expect. There is also a movement known as "Real Stereo"  promoting the use of recording music using a "live" 2 mic true stereo process.

So far all of The Homegrown String Band's CDs have been recorded "live" in the studio. We record one or two takes of each song with all of us playing at the same time, but recorded on separate tracks so that the volume and EQ can be adjust to optimize the sound of each instrument. Basically what a good sound man would do at a live performance. In the end I think we usually sound better live than on our recordings because we are more spontaneous and we can feed of the energy of the audience and bounce off each other. There is also less pressure to get it "right," which ironically means we are much more likely to get it right.

However you look at it, Les Paul's innovations have had a huge and lasting impact on the way music is performed and preserved.

Vaya con Dios mi amigo!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A 21 Jaw Harp Salute to Mike Seeger

Mike Seeger goes to the West

Last week, while performing at the AFBA bluegrass festival in Wind Gap PA, we had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum. After their set we were back stage chatting and I asked Laurie about a song she had sung that has gone in and out of our repertoire over the years, "Going to the West." I had learned it in 2001 from Joe Herrmann of the Critton Hollow String Band when he and his brother John were house guests in our humble abode. I had often wondered about the origins of the song, but hadn't been able to dig up any historical background. Laurie told me she had learned it from Mike Seeger, who learned it from his sister Peggy, who learned it from a book called "Folk Songs of Alabama." So the mystery was solved, or at least I got a really good clue. Laurie also informed us, and the rest of the audience, that Mike was gravely ill. I knew that Mike had been battling cancer for a long time because when John Hartford passed in 2001 Mike revealed that he was suffering from a similar affliction. During our shows we often tip our hats to Mike and his work preserving traditional American music. During our show with Carlene Carter we made mention of his documentary film "Talking Feet" and told the audience that he had been ill and that we were praying for him. Sadly, after the show Mike Kornfeld of Acoustic Music Scene.com informed us that Mike had passed on Friday night. His passing is a huge loss to the traditional music community. Mike was an amazing musician. He played guitar, banjo, autoharp, jawharp, harmonica, panpipes, and fiddle. He was also an ethnomusicologist who had more to do with reviving interest in old time country music than anyone I know of. He introduced or reintroduced numerous traditional musicians, including Elizabeth Cotton and Dock Boggs, to audiences around the world. Though we never met him we did correspond, and Mike was always supportive and willing to dispense helpful advice. He was best known for his work with the revivalist group known as The New Lost City Ramblers, which he co-founded with John Cohen and Tom Paley in 1958. But it was his solo work that inspired me and served as a model for my early children's shows that in turn inspired my children to become interested in American folk music. I guess there would be no "Amazing" Annalee if I hadn't learned Mike's version of Fooba Wooba John and passed down the fine art of jawharp playing to my daughter. We are so greatfull to Mike for making oldtime musicians and their music available to us. His presence will be missed, but his musical legacy will be with us forever. Mike leaves behind a huge body of work that includes, books and video as well as his wonderful discography of old-time music.

Music from the True Vine: Mike Seeger's Life and Musical Journey

Old Time Country Music by Mike Seeger

Southern Banjo Sounds

Jaw Harp Photo by Rick Jackofsky

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Honorary Members of the Carter Family!


Almost Famous!

The big rain closed out a busy week for the Homegrown String Band. The previous weekend we made our fourth appearance at The Appalachian Fiddle & Bluegrass Association's Annual Bluegrass Festival in Wind Gap, PA. We had a great time despite the mud and rain, but lucked out with great weather for both our sets though it did rain on our flatfoot dance workshop. We always enjoy going back to Wind Gap, reconnecting with old friends and making new friends. This year we were happy to see our old friends Joe and Jamie Booher, whom we had met when we were all performing in Branson, Missouri in 2005. At that time they were performing with their family band, The Boohers. The two brothers are now part of a killer bluegrass band called New Found Road. Check them out! Our Thursday night set went off pretty well, and ace soundman Harry Grant handled our new three mic set up without a hitch. We stayed up till the wee hours of the morning listening to Harry tell some great stories about his bluegrass adventures. No sooner did we finally go to sleep then the rain started, which put a damper on our dance workshop later on in the afternoon, but it cleared out before our Friday night set, which I think was one of our all time best performances.

This past Friday night The Homegrown String Band rocked Argyle Park in Babylon, NY. We did a two hour high energy set for a great audience, as once again everything was clicking for the band. Then Saturday night was a show we had been looking forward to all year: A performance at the Huntington Arts Council's Summer Festival. We had the privilege of opening for country music legend Carlene Carter who is the daughter of June Carter, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, and granddaughter of Mother Maybelle Carter of the original Carter Family. We were a bit nervous going on before a Grammy winning artist at a world class venue, and also felt a bit rushed squeezing a dance number into a short set, but I think we made a pretty good showing. Our set, which consisted of four original numbers including a tribute to Johnny Cash ("The Man Who Dressed in Black") as well as three trad numbers and the flatfoot demo, was very well received. At the end of the evening Carlene invited us back up to join her in a rendition of the Carter Family classic "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" after which we were pronounced honorary members of The Carter Family! - Life is hard..... but it's GOOD!!!!

Concert Photo by Chris McKay

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rain Out

Today we loaded up our 10 instruments, full 4-speaker sound system, and our bad selves to drive 3 hours to Redding CT. We got there an hour and a half before our scheduled start to set up the stage. The sound check was a little tricky as the wood stage was resonating with the lower frequencies. Well, we finally got it sounding just right and played one song when the thunder storm hit. The audience ran—or more accurately, sprinted–for cover and the show was canceled. We dried everything off as best we could in the downpour, packed up, grabbed a quick dinner at Subway and headed home. A lot of work for one tune, but were told it sounded great! At least we got to see our old pal WPKN DJ Chris Teskey.