Interview: Jeff Place, Producer At Smithsonian Folkways

Songsters Cover II

June 24, 2014 marks the offical release of the latest album from Smithsonian Folkways called Classic African American Songsters.  It is a celebration of the vast variety of repetoire that these “songsters,” or traveling African American musicians of the early part of the 20th century, performed.  Their songs were not only of the folk genre–they also covered tunes in the style of ragtime, country, Tin Pan Alley, pre-blues, blues hybrids, and old-timey stringband.  They were entertainers, and played to audiences in concert

Inside the Music and the Making of The Gloaming

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I have been a devoted fan of Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, the phenomenal fiddle/guitar duo who have pushed the boundaries of traditional Irish music to create a uniquely beautiful sound that is stunningly hypnotic and other-worldly.  I first discovered them in 1998 at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland where they put on a performance that held captive every open

Enjoying the Stephen Foster Old-Time Music Weekend

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Florida is a state rich in the fostering and preservation of American folk culture, and I was fortunate to attend one of the numerous annual events hosted by the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, Florida.  Among the events during the year are a Quilt Show in October, a Dulcimer Retreat in November, a Festival of Lights in December, National Stephen Foster Day in January, and the 62nd Annual Florida Folk Festival on Memorial Day weekend.  The center, located on the banks of the Suwanee River,

CD and Live Show Review: We Banjo 3

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I have a special nook in my heart for Celtic folk music, born of my childhood adventures visiting the UK while living in West Germany, and then my actual residence in the UK from 1995-2000.  The annual festival Celtic Connections in Glasgow, loaded with fiercely talented musicians and bands, sealed the deal for me as an avid fan of the genre, and so when I hear of a good band touring in my neck of the woods, I like to take

Experiencing a Celtic Music Jam

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The last Sunday of the month there is a Celtic Music Jam Session at the Black Market Bar and Grill at 5 Points in Birmingham, AL.  Its a great way to expose yourself free-of-charge to popular Irish tunes played on flute, penny whistle, and fiddle, accompanied by instruments like guitar, a Celtic drum called a bodhran, or in my case, a Celtic mandolin.  But there is room to be more than an audience member.  If you have played Irish music on one of the listed instruments or have a desire to

John Henry: Hero of American Folklore

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One of the most colorful characters in American folklore is the legendary John Henry.  Whether he was a true historical figure or a fictitious hero carved into the minds of common Americans by oral tradition, his story has given inspiration to generations.  Geoff Edgers said in his Analysis of John Henry Music, “John Henry, as ultimate working-class hero, has been embraced by disparate groups:  black prisoners,

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