Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homegrown String Band on Fios 1 News TV

On October 23, 2011, The Homegrown String Band performed in the auditorium of the Commack Public Library. The show was covered by Fios News video journalist Eric Alfredo. To view the five minute interview/concert footage as it appeared on Fios "Push Pause" on December 5, 2011, click on the link below or on the screen shot to the right. I wasn't able to embed the video, so you will be taken to the Fios 1 News website.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ramblin Rooster Rick

I was ramblin' through some old Mp3 files on my computer and found this solo banjo piece from our first CD Blind Dog Thumpin' on the Porch (2000). It's called Ramblin' Hobo. I learned it from the playing of Doc Watson and his father-in-law Gaither Carlton. This "little ditty" is a cool tune in an odd F tuning (fCFCD). It's easy to get into this tuning from double C, just drop the two G strings down to F.

Ramblin' Hobo, to me, personifies the unique (and sometimes strange) percussive, melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic qualities of old time banjo. Playing the banjo can be a grand adventure in self expression and artistic freedom. This song lends itself perfectly to the type of individual interpretation that makes playing the banjo so much fun. It's like a puzzle whose pieces can be rearranged to form different pictures. . .  There I go ramblin' again.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer - Thank You Song

We had a great time playing out in Montauk last night. I'd like to thank everyone for coming out to see us and we sure hope to see y'all again real soon.

Here's a little Thanksgiving prayer I wrote sometime around 1990. This was a totally unrehearsed moment captured on "tape" by Larry Moser. We included it in our 2004 CD release "Rock Hollow."

Happy Thanksgiving from The Homegrown String Band!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The End is Near!

As we near the end of our 15th year performing professionally as a family we will be heading out to the historic town of Montauk, near the end of our 110-mile-long Long Island. The Homegrown String Band (full Quadrupelo) will be performing at The Montauk Library from 7:30 - 9 pm on Saturday, November 19th. Come on out and have a relaxing evening with Long Island's "First Family of Folk" before all the holiday hub bub begins.

The Montauk Library is located on Montauk Hwy. (Route 27) just east of the village of Montauk, on the north side of the highway, as indicated on the map below. 631-668-3377

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pretty Polly

Here's a creepy murder ballad I played the day before Halloween at The Bayport-Blue Point Library in Bayport, NY. Before I sang the song I told the tale of Willy, The Cruel Ship's Carpenter, and the ghost of Pretty Polly who's undead spirit sought justice for herself and her unborn child. Freddy Krueger had nothin' on this murderous 18th century villain.

Our next show is 3:00 pm Sunday November 6, 2011 at The Newburgh Free Library

Newburgh Free Library
124 Grand Street
Newburgh, NY 12550

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sonny Terry Forever!

Country blues harmonica legend Sonny Terry would have been 100 years old today. Sonny Terry (Terrell Saunders) was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, on October 24, 1911.  His early musical training consisted of listening to his father play hoedowns and square dance tunes on the harmonica. Though he played in various string bands around the Shelby, NC area, Sonny had no intention of becoming a professional musician until two separate accidents, at the ages of eleven and sixteen, left him virtually blind in both eyes. Farming was no longer an option. After losing his sight, Terry took to the streets and medicine show circuit where his skilled harmonica playing drew large crowds. Sonny developed a strong rhythmic style that included lots of chugs, whoops, wails, and hollers. He used his hands, harmonica, and voice to create trademark sound effects, from baying hounds to lonesome whistles and driving locomotives. When Sonny was about eighteen years old he got his first taste of the blues and taught himself how to play his harmonica in the cross harp blues style. Sometime in 1937, while out busking on the streets, Terry met his future musical partner – guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. The pair formed a strong musical bond and played together for the next four years, until Fuller passed away in February of 1941 at the unripe not old age of thirty three years. Soon after Fuller's death guitarist Brownie McGhee was asked to accompany Terry on a trip to Washington DC, and so the seminal acoustic blues harmonica/guitar duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee was formed. The pair moved to New York in 1942 and became hugely successful in the New York City folk and blues scene of the 40s and 50s.  Sonny's solo playing had already been a big hit in New York since he performed in John Hammond's famous "Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938. In the 1940s, Terry's unique style landed him a part in the Broadway play "Finian's Rainbow", the show ran for five years. In the next decade Terry and McGhee appeared as a duo on Broadway in a three year run of Tennessee Williams "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

By the time I saw Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee perform together in the 1970s, they were still making great music together, but a rift that had been developing for some time was beginning to take its toll on the dynamic duo. They often argued offstage and by the 1980s they were no longer performing as a duo. Sonny spent his later years living on Long Island and passed away in Mineola, NY, on March 11, 1986. Thankfully, he left behind hundreds of recordings in the pre-blues and early Piedmont blues harmonica styles, as well as a legion of young players, including Phil Wiggins and our good friend Ken "The Rocket" Korb, who have been inspired to carry on the country blues harmonica tradition. Terrell Saunders was a true giant in the history of American music.

Sonny Terry CD: The Folkways Years, 1944-1963

Sonny Terry DVD: Whoopin' The Blues 1958-1974

Little Toby and the Rocket 2011 Reunion on The Long Island Blues Warehouse Show

John Cephas and Phil Wiggins perform at the White House July 1999

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Song Sprouts Artist of the Day

On Friday, October 14th, 2011, The Homegrown String Band will be the Featured Artist of the Day on the independent music site SongSprouts.com. Song Sprouts is a very cool site where music fans can listen and download music that has been posted free of charge by 915 independent artists. If you go to our fan page you can listen to three songs (Praying for Spring, Don't Let Your Deal Go Down, and A minor Catastrophe) from our Ragged but Right CD. If you create a fan account you can download Mp3s of the three songs absolutely FREE! Song Sprouts is a great way to discover new music. Check out the music posted by The Homegrown String Band and about 914 other independent bands and solo artists.

Our local Long Island fans can also get some free live music this weekend as the full band will be doing a free show as part of the West Hempstead Library's Sunday at Two Series. You probably guessed that the show is on Sunday at 2pm. If you did, you would be correct!

West Hempstead Public Library
500 Hempstead Ave
West Hempstead, NY 11552

2:00 pm
 Sunday October 16th, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garlic Time!

It's harvest season in New York! Over the past couple weeks we have played the Tomatoes and Tunes Festival in East Meridith, NY, and the Apple Festival in Setauket, NY. This weekend The Homegrown String Band returns to the world famous Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, NY. The HVGF is the biggest food festival on the east coast. Besides great food, fresh produce, cooking demonstrations, and lectures there will also be hundreds of craft vendors and 5 stages featuring 10 musical acts. We will be sharing the East Marketplace stage with the Barefoot Boys, a great traditional duo from the Catskill region. Also appearing will be: The Mojo Myles Band, Annie and the Hedonists, Captain Squeeze & the Zydeco Moshers, Mark Rust, One World Puppetry, and The Arm of the Sea Theater. Garlic growers and garlic lovers from around the country make the annual pilgrimage to Saugerties to sample the gourmet cuisine and to stock up on fresh organically grown garlic from around the region. Come join us in this festival that celebrates the wonders of "The Stinking Rose."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's a Connetquot?

 On Wednesday, August 10, 2011, at 7:00 pm the Homegrown String Band will be presenting a free concert at the Connetquot Library in Bohemia, NY. The word Connetquot means "Great River" in the language of the Secatog (Secatogue) people. The Secatogs were a Delaware-Algonkian community that lived on the south shore of Long Island, from Copiague to Bayshore. They were one of thirteen "tribes," identified by Suffolk County Historian Paul Bailey in his 1959 pamphlet "The Thirteen Tribes of Long Island," living on the island when European settlers arrived in 1635. 

Connetquot Public Library
760 Ocean Ave
Bohemia, NY 11716
(631) 567-5079

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Old and New

The Homegrown String Band has always been about blending the old with the new. For the last 15 years we have been performing a mix of original songs along with original arrangements of traditional American music. Throughout our performing career the unique approach we take, to what is essentially traditional music, has gone in and out of fashion. Our music has alternately been embraced and shunned by the gate keepers of various musical genres. We try to remain true to tradition, not being influenced by musical fads and fashions, while also being open to change and evolution. American music is all about cross pollination and the exchange of ideas. The Carter Family,  Charlie Poole, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and  Jerry Garcia were all people who added their own ideas to the canon of traditional American music. Some people  may choose to latch on to the music of an individual, a musical genre, or a particular stylistic era, believing that a particular style and or instrumentation are the ultimate and final word handed down by the musical gods; we believe in continuing revelation.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Aptucxet Trading Post

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, at 7:00 pm the Homegrown String Band will be presenting a free outdoor concert at the Jonathon Bourne Public Library in the historic town of Bourne, Massachusetts. Though the town wasn't officially incorporated until 1884 the area had been an important gathering place for centuries before. In 1627 the Pilgrims established the Aptucxet trading post on a site known as Manamet, "trail of burden carriers," by the native peoples. Today the town situated on Buzzards Bay is known as the gateway to Cape Cod.

On Thursday, July 28, at 7:00 pm the band will be playing a free indoor show at the Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield, Connecticut. The OWL is named in honor of Declaration of Independence signer Oliver Wolcott, a brigadier general of the Connecticut Militia during the American Revolution, and former governor of Connecticut.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Charlie Poole by Tracy Bigelow Grisman

A few years ago we (The Homegrown String Band) were playing at a bluegrass festival headlined by David Grisman. I found a beautiful water color like print of a famous photo of the Carter Family at his merchandise table. I couldn't resist. I bought the print, framed it, and hung it up in my music room right next to an 8X10 photo of Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham given to me by the late Ray Alden. The painting was made by Tracy Bigelow Grisman; a talented artist and musician from Petaluma, California . She has a web site, called OldtimeyArt.com, where you can see and purchase her beautiful prints of old-time country and jazz musicians.

Last week I was rummaging through eBay, looking for banjo ephemera, and I came across an auction for an 11X14 print of Charlie Poole done by Tracy. I won the auction and Charlie is now hanging with the Carters in my music room. I hope the Carters don't mind hanging out with this hard drinking rounder from North Carolina; Maybelle put up with Johnny Cash so I guess she'll be OK with Charlie. While the Carter Family advertised their shows as wholesome and "morally good;" Charlie Poole was at the other end of the spectrum. This hard drinking millworker made his own whiskey and played with his band, the North Carolina Ramblers, at speakeasies, mining towns, and lumber camps around the Piedmont area. Like the Carters, Charlie was an innovator, blending traditional mountain music with the popular music of the day. His three finger banjo picking was a precursor to the bluegrass banjo style made popular by Earl Scruggs. The music of Carter Family and the North Carolina Ramblers laid the foundation for the bluegrass bands of the 1940s and 1950s—and the Homegrown String Band.

Charlie Poole Music
You Ain't Talkin' to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music

Carter Family Music
The Carter Family: 1927-1934

Read about the musical contributions of Charlie Poole and other Piedmont textile workers to the development of American roots music.
Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lewes Delaware

On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, The Homegrown String Band will be returning to the ocean resort town of Lewes, Delaware. Located on the Delmarva peninsula, the city of Lewes (pronounced Lewis not Lews) was founded by Dutch colonists in 1631 and is known as the First City of the First State. The concert is free and starts at 7:00 pm in beautiful Stango Park.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bradley Kincaid

Today would have been Bradley Kincaid's 116th birthday. Born on July 13, 1895, in Garrad County Kentucky, the boy who learned how to play guitar on an instrument acquired in trade for a foxhound would eventually become known around the world as "The Kentucky Mountain Boy." In 1926, Kincaid made his first appearance on the WLS National Barn Dance radio program in Chicago. Originally booked by the station, which was owned by Sears Roebuck (the "World's Largest Store"), as part of a college vocal quartet, Kincaid was soon given his own time slot to sing his repertoire of Kentucky folksongs and ballads. He stayed at WLS for four years before moving on to other radio stations around the northeast. Kincaid published a popular song book called Favorite Mountain Ballads and Old Time Songs, which he  promoted and sold on air. He also recorded 95 songs, including the first commercial recording (2/27/28) of  Child Ballad #84 – Barbara Allen.

Barbara Allen by Bradley Kincaid

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pickin on a Park Bench

I guess pickin' in the park is the modern urban/suburban version of front porch pickin'; an opportunity to get out, get some fresh air, and share your music with your neighbors. One of my fondest memories of growing up on Long Island was our Sunday summer excursions into NYC during the mid to late 1960s. My dad would load the family up in the station wagon for an hour long drive into Manhattan. Once we got into "The City" we would head down to Greenwich Village, wander around the shops and art galleries, and listen to the city folk playing blues, jazz, and folk music in Washington Square. The day would usually end with dinner at Jimmy's, our favorite Chinatown eatery.

In this video I'm playing the classic American folk ballad "Wild Bill Jones" in clawhammer style on my Wildwood five string open back banjo. I guess "Wild Bill Jones" falls into that ever popular murder ballad category I mentioned in a previous post. A version of the song, as sung by Viney Norton of Big Laurel, North Carolina, was collected by Cecil Sharp in August of 1916. The first commercial recording was made in New York City on April 24, 1924, by Eva Davis, accompanying herself on the five string banjo, of course.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Concert Review and Flatfoot Dance Video

Here's a video and some excerpts from a newspaper article reviewing a show we did a couple weeks ago at the Pearl River Library.

The Sound of ("American Roots") Music Comes to Pearl River

The Homegrown String Band performed to a full room on Sunday at the Pearl River Public Library . . .  From the very start, Rick “Rooster” Jackofsky held the crowd’s attention with his natural storytelling ability and encyclopedic knowledge of the history of American roots music. Georgianne, Erica and Annalee had the crowd clapping along to their down-home style of Appalachian clog and buck dancing . . . “What a fantastic show!, I love that they are a family performing together as a unit. It’s wonderful" . . . "When I heard that they were performing at the Pearl River Public Library, I knew we had to go,” . . . One of the many stickers that adorn Jackofsky’s well-traveled guitar case is a quote from Jimi Hendrix: “Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.” And, people listened, intently.

By Rose Croke, The Pearl River Patch  (Read the full article) 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy was born on June 26 somewhere in Arkansas in either 1893,1898, or 1903. His sister cited the earlier dates, but according to research by his biographer, Bob Reisman, the later date is the correct one. Either way, today Big Bill "Key to the Highway" Broonzy would be well over a hundred years old. After serving time in the Army during WWI, Bill headed up the Mississippi to the bright lights and big city of Chicago. Broonzy, along with his friend and musical partner Tampa Red, was a prominent figure in the pre-war Chicago blues scene formed by and for the relocated southern blacks who migrated up the Mississippi in search of a better life. They say Muddy Waters discovered electricity, creating the first modern electric blues combo, but Big Bill was probably the first Chicago blues man to incorporate electric guitar and drums into a blues ensemble. Big Bill Broonzy represents the musical link between rural bluesmen like Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, and Son House, and the post war urban blues of Muddy Waters and Little Walter. Broonzy was the last minute country blues substitute for Robert Johnson, who disappeared shortly before the show, at John Hammond's famous 1938 Carnegie Hall "Spirituals to Swing" concert. Big Bill passed on August 15, 1958, at the age of 55, 60, or 65.

I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy

Introduction to Big Bill Broonzy

Young Big Bill Broonzy 1928-1935

Monday, June 20, 2011

Banjo History and Mythology

For the last one hundred and fifty years the banjo, along with the log cabin and the "Sweet Sunny South," has been a symbol of a mythical simpler time and place. The banjo, introduced to America by African American slaves, represents the evolution of a North African stringed instrument called an Ankonting. During the mid-nineteenth century, the banjo was often shown in the hands of a "happy, carefree" slave. Later, the symbol of a time left behind would become the barefoot, banjo playing, hillbilly, mountain man. Many sentimental country and folk songs have been written about log cabins, including Fiddlin' John Carson's 1923 Okeh release "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane." "The Little Log Cabin" 78 rpm backed by "The Old Hen Cackled and the "Rooster's Going to Crow" was such a huge, and surprising, success that it led to northern record companies setting up field recording sessions around the south, scrambling to find more hillbilly old time music. This postcard dated 1908, found in a Connecticut antique shop, makes use of  two nineteenth century stereotypes—the banjo playing slave and the log cabin—to depict a purely fictional pastoral setting that people beset by life changing technology and "progress" have been longing for since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

For more reading on the social history of the American banjo:

That Half-Barbaric Twang

African Banjo Echoes In Appalachia

America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Ninteenth Century

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Banjos, Murder, & Moonshine

For some reason it seems that banjo players have always had a fascination with murder. Is it because they are constantly being threatened with the possibility of meeting an untimely end, or maybe they are just a morbid group, who knows. In any case, solo clawhammer banjo and vocal seems to be the way to go when it comes to murder ballads. On July 29, 1927, in Bristol, Tennesee, at the same recording session that would launch the careers of The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, a banjo playing barber from Kentucky named B.F. Shelton recorded four tunes including two classic murder ballads. He chose the cheery "Pretty Polly," an Americanized version of the English murder ballad "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter," and the All American moonshine murder ballad "Darling Cora."  Doc Watson's neighbor, Tom (AKA Clarence) Ashley, recorded "Little Sadie" and "Naomi Wise" in 1929. The list goes on and on with murder ballads being prominently featured in the repertoires  of many early banjo players including Samantha Bumgarner, Dock Boggs, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, and Buell Kazee. I've kept up the tradition by including "Pretty Polly," "Darling Corey," "John Hardy," and "Little Sadie" in my solo performances.

Several years ago I decided to write a new murder ballad, God knows there is no shortage of dastardly deeds to tell a terrible tale about. I decided to compose my murder ballad based on a murder that took place in Berlin, NY, in 1845. This was a time when banjos were just beginning to be manufactured commercially and the instrument of African origin was gaining popularity in mainstream America. I found the grisly details, along with a 24 verse broadside that was hawked at the execution of Henry G. Greene, in "New York State Folktales, Legends and Ballads" by Harold Thompson. Greene, who murdered his wife of one week, Mary Wyatt, with a lethal dose of arsenic, confessed to his terrible crime only after being found guilty and sentenced to hang. In a final act of repentance, Henry sang "Rock of Ages" as he stood upon the gallows. I borrowed some verses from the broadside, added some of my own along with a spooky sounding minor tune, to come up with my version of The Ballad of Mary Wyatt.

Listen to The Ballad of Mary Wyatt by Rick Jackofsky

Watch a video of Rick Jackofsky performing Pretty Polly

Buy the Mp3 or the book

The Ballad of Mary Wyatt

New York State Folktales, Legends and Ballads

Photo by Ed Neale

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rainy Afternoon

Looks like tomorrow is going to be a rainy Sunday afternoon, but that doesn't mean it has to be dreary. Don't stay home and watch Rainout Theater! Come on out to the Pearl River Library at 80 Franklin Avenue in Pearl River, NY and enjoy a great performance of traditional and original song and dance, by the Homegrown String Band.

The Homegrown String Band at the Pearl River Library
3pm - Sunday, June 12 - FREE Admission 
80 Franklin Avenue, Pearl River, NY  10965
(845) 735-4084 

Photo by Rick Jackofsky

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sayville Celebrates its 250th Anniversary!

In 1761 John Edwards settled in Sayville and built a house at what is now the corner of Foster Avenue and Edwards Street. On Sunday, June 5th, 2011, from 1:00 - 4:00 the Homegrown String Band will be performing two sets of acoustic string band music on the grounds of the old Edwards homestead as part of the annual Edwards Farm Day celebration. Come on down to the farm and help us celebrate the 250th anniversary of Sayville. 

"An afternoon on the Edwards Farm . . . will feature hands-on activities including quilting, grinding corn, making ice cream, and seed planting along with baby farm animals, spinning and weaving demonstrations as well as the Homegrown String Band. To help defray expenses, admission is $4.00 per person, $15 for a family of four, $2.00 each additional person over 2 years of age."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

End of the World ?

For months Family Radio evangelist Harold Camping has been spreading the word that the rapture would take place on May 21, 2011, at 6pm. Well, the predicted time has come and gone and it looks like the sinners and saints are going to have to try and get along with each other for a while longer. I guess it's like the great baseball sage, Yogi Berra, said, "It ain't over till it's over."

Game two of the Yankees Mets subway series will go on as scheduled.
Lets Go Mets!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Commack Library Show Rescheduled

Our show at the Commack Library scheduled for Saturday May 22, 2011, has been rescheduled for October 23, 2011. Maybe a good thing; the weather is supposed to finally clear up this weekend. After all the rain we've had I think everyone will want to be outdoors anyway. I know I'm looking forward to tending my dandelion patch and getting my tomatoes and peppers in the ground. Yes, I have a dandelion patch. My Italian grandmother taught me to love and respect the lowly dandelion. What's not to love, beautiful flowers that can be fermented, tasty leaves that can be eaten raw or steamed, roots that can be roasted and brewed. I never understood why people spend time and money putting down toxic herbicides to rid their lawns of this delicious and nutritious plant that is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Hopefully the canceled Commack show won't inconvenience anyone. The next Homegrown String Band show is at Edwards Farm Day, June 5th, in Sayville, NY.

Photo by Rick Jackofsky

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Long Island Quaker Anniversary

Yes, there are Quakers on Long Island. The Religious Society of Friends was founded by George Fox in Great Britain during the mid seventeenth century and the faith quickly spread to Colonial America. The Conscience Bay Meeting in Saint James, NY, founded in 1961, is one of the newer Quaker meetings on Long Island, but Quakers have been on Long Island for over 350 years. The meeting house in Flushing, NY, was built in 1694 and is still in use today.

Come on down to Saint James, Sunday, May 15th, and help the Friends of Conscience Bay celebrate their 50th anniversary. Listen to the Homegrown String Band, walk the labyrinth, check out some local handmade crafts, and pick up a free Quaker Herbs & Spice cookbook.

Rain or Shine!  Free!
1:30 - 5:00 pm

4 Friends Way
Saint James, NY

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Turtle Power

Things have been kind of slow for the Homegrown String Band lately. I've been getting in a lot of miles running the trails in the old RCA property here in Rock Hollow. It's great to be back out in the woods with the deer, turkeys, hawks, and turtles. The box turtle in the picture must have followed me home. I went outside to water the garden this morning and the little guy was lumbering across the yard less than ten feet from my back door. I think the turtle must be my new power animal—it's OK to slow down, as long as you keep moving forward.

We had a great time playing at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY. on April 16th. They have a brand new beautiful building filled with fantastic artwork and historic artifacts.

This weekend, Georgianne and I will be taking our Homegrown Two act on the road. We will be performing out on the street at The 39th Olde York Street Fair in York, PA on Mothers Day May 8th..

Next weekend, on May 15th, the full quadrupelo band will be performing at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Conscience Bay Quaker Meeting in Setauket, NY. We will not only be the featured band, we will also be participating in the accompanying craft fair. Erica will be bringing along some of her Fiddle Knits  knitwear as well as a selection of printed patterns for knitters. Georgianne is hard at work making crocheted and woven pot holders and trivets. Annalee will be showing and selling her homemade soaps, and I will be selling my Roosterick pewter buttons, Navajo spindles, and kumihimo bookmarks and jewelry.

Photo by Rick Jackofsky

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Thanks to everyone who came out to see us this weekend; at the Homegrown Two show Friday night at the Buttonwood Tree Arts Center in Middletown, CT, and at The Homegrown String Band show at the Port Jefferson Library here on Long Island. It was great to see all the familiar faces at the Port Jeff show and it's always a pleasure to play at the Buttonwood Tree, a great venue and organization supporting the arts in Connecticut. "From its opening it has been a grassroots, avant garde center for all ages, all comers, artists and audiences." Here's a little piece of our Buttonwood show.

Next show is 7pm Saturday April 16 at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Amazing Annalee Works For Peace

A great photo of Annalee is being featured as part of a 15 second promo spot on the CBS Times Square LED screen located on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. The spot was produced by The Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith, international organization promoting peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world since 1915. The photo montage began running yesterday and will appear every hour eighteen hours a day (6 AM to 12 AM) for the next six weeks.

"The Fellowship of Reconciliation is composed of women and men who recognize the essential unity of all creation and have joined together to explore the power of love and truth for resolving human conflict. While it has always been vigorous in its opposition to war, the Fellowship has insisted equally that this effort must be based on a commitment to the achieving of a just and peaceful world community, with full dignity and freedom for every human being."

“Your goal is, in my opinion, the only reasonable one and to make it prevail is of vital importance.”
—Albert Einstein, in a letter to FOR

On another note: Come see The Amazing Annalee, star of the big screen and the Siberian Jaw Harp Museum, perform with her family, The Homegrown String Band, at The Irvington, NY Public Library Saturday March 26 at 2 pm.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake in Japan

The Homegrown String Band sends our prayers and good wishes out to the people of Japan after that country was hit by a devastating magnitude 8.9 earthquake and seven meter tsunami this morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ray Alden - Songcatcher

This Saturday night, March 12, 2011, at 7:30 pm The Homegrown String Band will be returning to the Croton Free Library in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. The last time we played there, in 2007, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ray Alden. After I played "When the Apples Bloom in NY," a song I wrote that mentions old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell, I made an announcement that I would give a free CD to anyone who knew who Tommy Jarrell was. Little did I know that Ray was in the audience. Of course Ray knew exactly who Tommy was. Not only did he know who he was, he had known Tommy personally. Ray Alden, a great old-time musician in his own right, had spent a lot of time visiting, recording, and photographing Tommy and many other old-time music legends. After the show Ray introduced himself and we had a long talk about banjos and old-timey music. I gave Ray a copy of our "Ragged but Right" CD and let him know what a pleasure it was to meet the man who had recorded one of my all time favorite albums: "Tommy and Fred," banjo/fiddle duets by Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham. A few days later I received a package in the mail with an 8X10 copy of a B&W photo of Tommy and Fred standing on Tommy's porch, along with a CD of his old-time band The Southern Schoolhouse Rascals. We were sad to hear in the late fall of 2009 that Ray had passed on in September. Though Ray is gone he has left an indelible mark on the old-time music community, with his stellar banjo playing and also by making his great field recordings available to the public through his Field Recorders' Collective. Ray started the collective in 2004; since then they have released dozens of priceless recordings of traditional American musicians that will go a long way toward keeping the music we love so much alive. Thanks Ray.

July 2, 1942 − September 19, 2009

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homegrown Two @ Trumbull

Sunday, February 27, Rick and Georgianne will be performing as Homegrown Two - the duo, at the Trumbull Connecticut Library. The show starts at 2pm and will focus on the oral traditions that helped shape American folk music. You will see and hear a lot of dulcimer/guitar duets as well as clawhammer banjo, doumbek, harmonica, banjo-ukulele, and some fancy foot work. Come on down and help us get over those Snow Shoveling Blues as we get Back to the Future of American Roots Music.

The Trumball Library
33 Quality Street
Trumbull, CT 06611
(203) 452-5197

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow Shoveling Blues

The record snowfall in January gave me a sore back and a new song.

The Snow Shoveling Blues by the Homegrown String Band
January 29, 2011 - Mineola, NY

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back by Popular Demand

The Happy Family at The Watkins Glen Oldtime Fiddlers Gathering June 2010
Happy New Year everyone! January 2011 marks the 14th anniversary of the Homegrown String Band. It's hard to believe the family has been performing in public for nearly a decade and a half. We have gone from home school music lessons in the living room to live radio and TV, recording sessions, and prestigious venues around the country, including The Festival of American Music in Branson, MO, and The National Theater in Washington DC. Being a band on the road isn't all fun and games, there's the loading and unloading, traffic jams, performing in less than ideal conditions, and sometime sub standard accommodations, (not to mention just generally getting on each others nerves) but overall the experience of traveling and performing as a family has been a blast (see photo above). In 2010 Georgianne and I did a couple shows as Homegrown Two. We also performed as The Homegrown String Band with Tim Hryvniak on bass. In 2011 look for various configurations of family and friends ranging from a one man band to a five piece ensemble.

As we begin our 15th year as a performing family, we are pleased and proud to be once again selected to be a part of the Town of Oyster Bay's Distinguished Artist Series, a program where outstanding local artists are invited to perform at various venues around the town. Our performance will take place in the auditorium of the Plainview Old Bethpage Library on Saturday, January 15th at 8:00 pm.