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This article was published in U.S. 1
Newspaper on April 21, 1999.
NJ Folk Fest Headliners
A folksinger and storyteller, Jim Albertson has been
spreading the folksongs and folklore indigenous to New Jersey for
more than 20 years. The former president of the New Jersey Folklore
Society and the recipient of the New Jersey Folk Festival’s Second
Annual Award For Distinguished Contributions to Folk Music in New
Jersey, Albertson is a folk performer who, for many years, was active
as a teacher of speech arts, oral interpretation, acting, and theatre
arts. He also hosted a weekly folk music radio show and was a member
of the groundbreaking popular folk music group, The Bottle Hill Boys.
Dirdy Birdies Jug Band
Formed in the spring of 1965, at Montclair State University,
the Dirdy Birdies Jug Band descends from a tradition of jug bands,
utilizing a few "true" musical instruments, coupled with the
imaginative use of home-made instruments and tight vocal harmonies.
After forming as undergraduates at Montclair, the band went on to
play many folk venues in Greenwich Village, as well as many northeastern
universities. In 1972, after seven years of touring and recording,
the members of Dirdy Birdies Jug Band went their separate ways, starting
families and pursuing careers. After a 13-year hiatus, the band regrouped
in 1985 including original members Joe Bell, Barbara Brummer, Rich
Fedorchak, Joe Kloza, and Jack Pignatello, as well as newcomers Bill
Huber, Chuck Winch, and Jeff Bleeke. 1995 marked the 30th anniversary
of the Dirdy Birdies Jug Band’s formation, and the band is now playing
for a second generation of jug band aficionados. The band’s current
release, "Endangered Species," is now available on Guano Records.
David Amram, acknowledged as the pioneer of World Music,
has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, and
written numerous scores for Broadway theater and film. A pioneer player
of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, various flutes
and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments. See
story, page 48.
Delaware Water Gap String Band
The Delaware Water Gap String Band formed in 1972 when
members Hank Sapoznik, Myriam Valle, and Alan Podber met in college.
The three decided to form a band, with Alan and Myriam sharing duties
on guitar and mandolin and Hank playing banjo and guitar. Prior to
their first performance, they met fiddler Bill Garbus and after experimenting
with several names, the four became formally known as The Delaware
Water Gap String Band. Shortly thereafter, they won second place in
the old time band category at the first New York City Old Time and
Bluegrass String Band Contest.
In 1974, Bill Garbus left the group to be replaced by Caroline Dutton,
who had recently arrived in New York from Indiana. The group sound
was then augmented by the addition of multi-instrumentalist and singer
Bob Carlin, who primarily played bass with the band. Adelphi Records
expressed an interest in offering the band a contract, but before
the album could be completed, Myriam Valle left the band to perform
in the pop group Desmond Child and Rouge. The band continued as a
quartet for awhile, until Caroline Dutton left the band to join the
Washington, D.C., company of the show Diamond Studs.
Alan, Hank, and Bob played with a succession of temporary fiddlers
until they met David Brody, with whom the group gained its widest
popularity, recorded the Adelphi album and another on Kicking Mule
Records. The band toured Europe in the summer of 1979, and played
at numerous folk festivals until they decided to formally disband
later that year. Upon the band’s break-up, Henry and David joined
klezmer groups. Over the years, Bob has become a respected scholar
and performer of traditional American music, particularly in the area
of Appalachian banjo styles. Alan has continued studying and playing
traditional music in the New York area and is proud to be coordinating
this reunion. Appearing as a special guest with the band will be Greg
Vongas who usually plays with Orrin Star and the Sultans of String.
Greg will be providing back-up bass for this special festival reunion.
Their reunion performance at this year’s festival marks the 20th anniversary
of the band’s break-up.
David Field, a former engineer, has been creating finely-crafted
musical instruments since 1964. After his retirement in 1995, David’s
primary focus has been crafting Appalachian dulcimers, three styles
of five-string Appalachian banjos, Celtic bardic harps, and Irish
lap harps. He works in native and tropical hardwoods, crafting many
different variations and styles of dulcimers, banjos, and harps.
Not only a creator of musical instruments, Field also plays the four-string
Appalachian dulcimer in the band Tapestry. He has exhibited his work
and performed at many folk art and music festivals including the Philadelphia
Folk Festival, the Middlesex County Fair, Middletown (NJ) Folk Festival,
and the Wheaton Village "Down Jersey" Folklore Center.
Sensational Nightingales & Rev. Marion Hannah
The Sensational Nightingales of North Carolina, nationally
and internationally known recording artists, have long been considered
the best of the "golden age" singers in the four-part harmony
tradition. Their songs are short, direct, and to the point, along
with their musical style, which carries their message most clearly,
minimizing distortion and emphasizing the word. The group presently
consists of Joseph "Jo Jo" Wallace, Horace Thompson, and Larry
Moore. The Sensational Nightingales have toured the United States,
the Caribbean Islands, and seven countries in Africa as representatives
of the United States.
Reverend Marion Hannah became a professional gospel singer in the
post-World War II era, braving the difficulties of life on the road
to become a professional singer. See story, page 30.
St. George of Piscataway Youth Dancers
The St. George of Piscataway Greek Orthodox Church Youth
Dancers, consisting of more than 20 teenage members, have twice won
first place at the state annual competition "Sights and Sounds"
in Westfield. The group performs dances from several regions of Greece,
reliving their history through the performance of ancient dances which
have been passed down for thousands of years. Each dancer wears a
traditional handmade costume corresponding to a particular dance that
is indigenous to a specific area of Greece. Encouraging and inspiring
each other, this dance troupe conveys its rich cultural heritage and
ethnic pride through movement and music.
Joe Hickerson has been performing since 1953, when he
began playing concerts, festivals, coffeehouses, folk clubs, universities,
and radio programs throughout the United States. Raised in a family
in which folk song books and recordings were a part of everyday life,
Hickerson’s active interest in folk music began in earnest at Oberlin
College where, in 1956, he founded and was first president of the
Oberlin Folk Song Club. He studied folklore and ethnomusicology at
Indiana University, where he served as folklore archivist and first
president of the Indiana University Folk Song Club. In 1963 he was
appointed Reference Librarian and in 1974, Head of the Archive of
Folk Song (later renamed the Archive of Folk Culture) at the Library
of Congress. He retired from that position in 1998 after 35 years
of service and now presents concerts and lectures about folk music
and folk culture.
Currently the Pipe Major of the Dae Breeks Pipe Band,
Joe Stearne received his formal education at the University of Edinboro,
in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and the Balmoral College of Highland Piping.
Stearne has won various awards for his outstanding performances of
the ancient highland bagpipe. Stearne’s presentation of the history
and tradition of wearing the kilt and playing the ancient bagpipes
has been proven entertaining as well as educational.
Although he is a world famous musician, songwriter,
and recording artist, Piedmont blues guitarist John Jackson will only
say of himself that he is "just a workin’ man." From the rich
and famous to the poor and invisible, he is known for being a simple
man whose artistic genius is only surpassed by the depth and richness
of his kind heart. John Jackson has carried his warmth, his music,
and his love for his country from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
to over 60 nations, performing for dignitaries and Heads of State
around the globe.
The seventh son born to black tenant farmers Suttie and Hattie Jackson,
John has been a farmer, butler, chauffer, philosopher, humanitarian,
Civil War historian, grave digger, and musician. People, the world
over, travel to talk with him, as much as they travel to listen to
his music. Jackson’s first record was released in 1965, and since
then Jackson has been gaining recognition as one of the masters of
the blues. He has released five subsequent albums and has toured Asia,
Africa, South America, and Europe. In 1986 Jackson received the National
Heritage Fellowship given to folk artists by the National Endowment
for the Arts.
The 1997 recipient of the NJFF Lifetime Achievement
Award, Shirley Keller is a folksinger/storyteller who accompanies
herself on the 6 and 12-string guitars, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp,
and 5-string banjo. She has a repertoire that includes gospel, spiritual,
ethnic, traditional, contemporary and original songs. From 1980 to
1992, Keller produced and hosted the Folk People, a one-hour radio
show about folk music, dance and storytelling. She now produces, directs,
videotapes and edits her television programs for TKR Cable in Bergen
County and Rockland County, New York. She has delighted people with
her ability to involve audiences by leading them in the almost forgotten
art of group singing.
Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, members of the Celtic
duo McDermott’s Handy, have been performing Irish music together since
1978. A living memorial to Ed McDermott, Kathy’s mentor, McDermott’s
Handy combines strong vocals, Celtic harp, fiddle, guitar, flute,
whistle, bouzouki, banjo, mandolin, bodhran, bass and keyboards to
create their unique sound.
Kathy DeAngelo started out her folk music career at the Mine Street
Coffeehouse in New Brunswick in 1973. In 1971 she played the guitar,
and by 1977 she also played mandolin, dulcimer, and banjo. The first
music director for the New Jersey Folk Festival in 1977, DeAngelo
has become a respected multi-instrumentalist and singer. She now plays
the harp, fiddle and five-string banjo and sings in both Irish and
Dennis Gormley has been a fixture on the Philadelphia folk music scene
for more than 20 years. He has recorded in almost every folk genre.
He plays flute and tin whistle with McDermott’s Handy, and has played
bass, guitar and keyboards in other bands, including bluegrass with
the Lewis Brothers, jazz and swing with the Jack McGann Swing Band,
and country music with Saul Brody.
Bob McNally has been crafting musical intruments since
1973 and recording since 1981. While he holds a degree in plastics
engineering, he is self-taught in music and instrument making. In
1981 McNally developed and subsequently patented the Backpacker Guitar
and began a career of inventing musical instruments which continues
to the present. In 1983 McNally started Handcrafted Recordings, using
his own instruments to record Handmade Christmas Music and Flowers
of Edinburgh. Actively pursuing a career of recording and instrument
making, Bob McNally presently resides in Northern New Jersey with
his wife and two children.
Bill Mooney has been telling stories since 1964, when
he premiered his highly successful one-man show, "Half Horse,
Half Alligator," in Vienna, Austria. The show played throughout
Europe, then opened to rave reviews in New York. Mooney is a veteran
of the Folk Festival, and has also told stories at the National Storytelling
Festival, Alabama Tale-Tellin’ Festival, Stone Soup Festival, and
on board the MS Maasdam and SS Rotterdam. In 1995 Mooney was nominated
for a Grammy for his cassette, "Why the Cat Chases the Dog,"
co-produced with David Holt. A second Grammy nomination came in 1998,
again for a duo effort with Holt, "Spiders in the Hairdos: Modern
Rik Palieri grew up listening to stories and songs around
his mother’s kitchen table and fell in love with music at a young
age. When he was 15, he taught himself the five-string banjo from
Pete Seeger’s book. In no time, he was having hootenannies in his
basement and performing in coffeehouses, at festivals and on radio
shows. After a long search, Palieri found a set of Polish pipes, which
soon landed him at the 1980 Rzeszow world festival in Poland, where
he won "Outstanding Solo Performer." In 1984 he received a
fellowship from the Kosciuzko Foundation for the study of the Polish
bagpipe. Palieri returned to the United States to make his first album
entitled "Last of the Gypsies," an eclectic collection of
American, Polish and original songs. In 1993 he released his first
CD called "The Music in Me."
Having been introduced to music lessons at the age of
10 by his parents, Roger Deitz began practicing the accordion just
as soon as he was strong enough to lift it. The rest is folk music
history, some of which is recounted in his highly acclaimed book,
"The Folk Music Chronicles," a collection of humorous articles,
essays, and short stories about performing acoustic music. Along with
his knack for humor, Deitz is also well known for his original songs
and fine instrumental work. His compositions on guitar and banjo have
a traditional flavor and the East Coast Rocker named Deitz’s debut
album, "No Cure for Love," one of the Top Ten Best Folk and
Country Albums of 1989.
Saul Broudy, a performer, traveler, and folklorist,
presents music from the roots of American culture. His career spans
almost 20 years in virtually every major music venue in the U.S.,
Canada, and many European countries. Accompanying himself on acoustic
guitar and harmonica, he performs country, blues, bluegrass, and other
traditional forms of grassroots American music. Broudy, who holds
a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania, finds inspiration
through the music he has heard and researched in his travels.
Silk City, whose members include Barry Mitterhoff, Danny
Weiss, and Larry Cohen, is a string band whose repertoire includes
hard-driving bluegrass, wide-ranging ethnic music, original vocals
and instrumentals as well as audience favorites such as the "Wizard
of Oz Medley" and "Volare."
Danny Weiss has been recognized throughout the world for his dually
impressive singing and guitar playing. He has appeared with Tex Logan,
Vassar Clements, and David Bromberg. Bassist Larry Cohen has produced
innovative acoustic albums for Barry Mitterhoff, Jay Ansel, and Akira
Mandolinist Mitterhoff has mastered styles as diverse as bluegrass,
opera, klezmer, Dixieland, old-time, classical, Brazilian, Italian,
and 19th-century American duo-style. Along with Weiss and Cohen, he
toured and recorded for many years with Tony Trischka as members of
Skyline. He has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, played and recorded
with folk singer Tom Chapin, and has also performed at the White House,
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Rainbow Room.
`Faerie’ Elaine Silver has been inspiring
sing-alongs for more than 20 years. Touring North America and Europe,
she sings a cappella or accompanies herself on guitar and banjo. She
was featured on New Jersey Network’s State of the Arts and is the
recipient of a Garden State Music Award for Outstanding Folk Performers.
Silver has performed with many of the world’s brightest folk stars
including Arlo Guthrie, Suzanne Vega, and Tom Chapin. She recently
teamed up with best selling author Alan Cohen as musical accompanist
for his workshops and special events.
Teresa & Stretch Pyott
Teresa Pyott sings traditional songs of America and
of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Her specialty is music of the sea:
chanteys and fo’c’sle’ ballads, songs of fishermen and sailors. As
a member of the chantey group Outward Bound, Teresa has performed
on the deck of the tall ship Gazela Primero at Philadelphia’s Penn’s
Landing. She has appeared as a part of the women’s trio, the Liverpool
Judies. Her credits include the Sea Heritage Festival in Newport,
Philadelphia Folk Festival, and South Street Seaport Museum.
Stretch Pyott has been involved with old time square dancing for over
50 years. He has called dances at numerous festivals. A master storyteller
and a member of the Patchwork Storytelling Guild, Stretch has related
his "tall tales" at festivals and folk clubs, as well as for
classes at the University of Pennsylvania and New York’s Juilliard
School of Music.
New Folk Winners:
John Joseph Nolis recently produced, arranged and premiered
his debut album John Joseph Nolis/ YOU.
the New Jersey area for over 20 years.
and aspiring fiction writer, is known for his wry humor and unlikely
he worked as a session keyboardist.
either guitar or piano.
Ted Toskos, a long-time friend of the New Jersey Folk Festival, is
a volunteer at the Mine Street Coffee House, as well as their former
booking and publicity coordinator.
Becky Glyn, a festival committee alumnae, is currently attending Cook
College at Rutgers, The State University.
Don Kissil, a storyteller and author, was the editor of "Pickin’,"
a (now defunct) bluegrass and oldtime music magazine for five years.
Photography Exhibition: `Celebrating Life:
Images of Down Jersey Folk Artists’
"Celebrating Life: Images of Down Jersey Folk Artists" is
a traveling photographic exhibit that consists of an 8-foot by 10-foot
freestanding mural with graphic images on both sides. The photos depict
artists and groups identified through field research by the Down Jersey
Folklife Center, which is located in Millville. The Down Jersey Folklife
Center has been documenting expressive traditions observed by ethnic,
regional, and occupational groups since 1994. The traveling folklife
exhibit serves as an educational tool for audiences to learn about
the various traditions people living in the Down Jersey area practice
and maintain. The exhibit will be available for viewing in the Loree
Building on Douglass Campus throughout the day during the 25th Anniversary
Silver Jubilee New Jersey Folk Festival.
Award recipients to be honored at the 25th Annual New Jersey Folk
Festival will be Joseph Hickerson, Anna Aschkenes, and James Cahill.
The three recipients are being honored for their dedication and outstanding
accomplishments in the support and preservation of American and ethnic
Joseph Hickerson of Tacoma Park, Maryland is being awarded with the
Festival’s Annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Before he retired, Mr.
Hickerson was head of the Archive of Folk Culture and head of acquisitions
for the American Folklife Center. A former archivist in the Library
of Congress’ American Folksong collection, he was also involved in
the Society for Ethnomusicology, Sing Out! and Foxfire publications.
Mr. Hickerson is being honored for his many contributions to the preservation
and dissemination of American folk music.
Anna Aschkenes, Executive Director of the Middlesex County Cultural
and Heritage Commission, is being awarded the position of Grand Marshal.
Ms. Aschkenes oversees the Middlesex County Neighborhood Arts Consortium,
a coalition of more than 85 local arts groups. Under her guidance,
the Commission developed the Folklife Program for New Jersey to broaden
the appreciation and availability of folk arts, folklore and folklife
within Middlesex County. She is being honored because of her agency’s
leadership role in support of not only the New Jersey Folk Festival,
but of the folk arts in general.
James Cahill, Mayor of New Brunswick and partner in the law firm of
Cahill & Branciforte, is being awarded the position of Honorary Chair.
Mr. Cahill is a member of the Urban Mayors Association, the New Jersey
Bar Association, and is a trustee of the New Brunswick Cultural Center.
Mr. Cahill is being honored because of our pride in the City of New
Brunswick as home to the New Jersey Folk Festival and because of the
festival committee’s appreciation of his administration’s efforts
to help the festival with many positive gestures of support.
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