Monday, April 11, 2011

Gil Robbins

Gil Robbins, a singer, guitarist and songwriter with the folk group the Highwaymen and a fixture on the folk-music scene, died on Tuesday at his home in Esteban Cantú, Mexico. He was 80. ...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Suze Rotolo, a Face, With Bob Dylan, of ’60s Music, Is Dead at 67


Suze Rotolo, who became widely known for her romance with Bob Dylan in the early 1960s, strongly influenced his early songwriting and, in one of the decade's signature images, walked with him arm-in-arm for the cover photo of his breakthrough album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 67. lThe cause was lung cancer, her husband, Enzo Bartoccioli, said.

Ms. Rotolo (she pronounced her name SU-zee ROTE-olo) met Mr. Dylan in Manhattan in July 1961 at a Riverside Church folk concert, where he was a performer. She was 17; he was 20.

"Right from the start I couldn't take my eyes off her," Mr. Dylan wrote in his memoir, "Chronicles: Volume 1," published in 2004. "She was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid's arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard."

In "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties" (2008), Ms. Rotolo described Mr. Dylan as "oddly old-time looking, charming in a scraggly way."

They began seeing each other almost immediately and soon moved in together in a walk-up apartment on West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village.

The relationship was intense but beset with difficulties. He was a self-invented troubadour from Minnesota on the brink of stardom. She was the Queens-bred daughter of Italian Communists with her own ideas about life, art and politics that made it increasingly difficult for her to fulfill the role of helpmate, or, as she put it in her memoir, a "boyfriend's 'chick,' a string on his guitar."

Her social views, especially her commitment to the civil rights movement and her work for the Congress for Racial Equality, were an important influence on Mr. Dylan's writing, evident in songs like "The Death of Emmett Till," "Masters of War" and "Blowin' in the Wind." Her interest in theater and art exposed him to ideas and artists beyond the world of music.

"She'll tell you how many nights I stayed up and wrote songs and showed them to her and asked her: 'Is this right'?" Mr. Dylan told the music critic and Dylan biographer Robert Shelton. "Because her father and her mother were associated with unions and she was into this equality-freedom thing long before I was."

When, to his distress, she went to Italy for several months in 1962, her absence inspired the plaintive love songs "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Boots of Spanish Leather," "One Too Many Mornings" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time."

Mr. Dylan later alluded to their breakup and criticized her mother and sister, who disapproved of him, in the bitter "Ballad in Plain D."

Ms. Rotolo spent most of her adult life pursuing a career as an artist and avoiding questions about her three-year affair with Mr. Dylan. (He was, she wrote, "an elephant in the room of my life.") She relented after Mr. Dylan published his autobiography. She appeared as an interview subject in "No Direction Home," the 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary about Mr. Dylan, before writing "A Freewheelin' Time."

Susan Elizabeth Rotolo was born on Nov. 20, 1943, in Brooklyn and grew up in Sunnyside and Jackson Heights, Queens. Her mother, from Piacenza, Italy, was an editor and columnist for the American version of L'Unità, published by the Italian Communist Party. Her father, from Sicily, was an artist and union organizer who died when she was 14.

Artistically inclined, she began haunting Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village as the folk revival gathered steam, while taking part in demonstrations against American nuclear policy and racial injustice. She adopted the unusual spelling of her nickname, Susie, after seeing the Picasso collage "Glass and Bottle of Suze."

The famous photograph of her and Mr. Dylan, taken by Don Hunstein on a slushy Jones Street in February 1963, seemed less than momentous to her at the time, and she later played down her instant elevation to a strange kind of celebrity status as the girl in the picture.

"It was freezing out," she told The New York Times in 2008. "He wore a very thin jacket, because image was all. Our apartment was always cold, so I had a sweater on, plus I borrowed one of his big, bulky sweaters. On top of that I put on a coat. So I felt like an Italian sausage. Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat."

The album, Mr. Dylan's second, included anthems like "Blowin' in the Wind," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."

After Ms. Rotolo returned from Italy — a trip engineered by her mother in a move to separate her from Mr. Dylan — the relationship became more difficult. Mr. Dylan was becoming increasingly famous and spending more time performing on the road, and he entered into a very public affair with Joan Baez, with whom he had begun performing.

Ms. Rotolo moved out of their West Fourth Street apartment in August 1963 and, after discovering she was pregnant, had an illegal abortion.

By mid-1964 she and Mr. Dylan had drifted apart. "I knew I was an artist, but I loved poetry, I loved theater, I loved too many things," Ms. Rotolo told The Times. "Whereas he knew what he wanted and he went for it."

In "Chronicles," Mr. Dylan wrote: "The alliance between Suze and me didn't turn out exactly to be a holiday in the woods. Eventually fate flagged it down and it came to a full stop. It had to end. She took one turn in the road and I took another."

In 1967 she married Mr. Bartoccioli, a film editor she had met while studying in Perugia. The couple lived in Italy before moving to the United States in the 1970s. In addition to her husband, she is survived by their son, Luca, of Brooklyn, and her sister, Carla, of Sardinia.

Ms. Rotolo worked as a jewelry maker, illustrator and painter before turning to book art, fabricating booklike objects that incorporate found objects.

She remained politically active. In 2004, using the pseudonym Alla DaPie, she joined the street-theater group Billionaires for Bush and protested at the Republican convention in Manhattan.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tom Winslow 10/23/10

Tom Winslow was one of the original Clearwater crew members and Sloop Singers. He died on October 23 at the age of 69 in Albany, NY, due to complications from a stroke.

Tom is known for writing and performing "Hey Looka Yonder (It's the Clearwater)," a fundraising anthem for the construction of the sloop that appeared on the album "Tom Winslow" in 1969 on Biograph Records. The song is significant as it represents the first environmental song by an African-American song-writer, and predates Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" by two full years.

After moving to upstate New York from his native North Carolina in the early 1960s, Tom met Pete Seeger at a concert in Albany. Before the sloop was ever launched, music was the foundation of the organization. Pete Seeger and his supporters raised the first few dollars for the sloop's construction by performing songs about the river and passing around a banjo to collect donations. "Hey Looka Yonder (Its the Clearwater)" was Peter Seeger's and Tom Winslow's major collaboration. Click here to listen to Winslow performing the song.

Tom performed many times with Pete Seeger. He recently performed onstage with his daughter Thomasina Winslow at the 2010 Clearwater Festival and Great Hudson River Revival, and continued to perform in Upstate New York until shortly before his death. He is the father of Gary Winslow, also a notable performing artist.

During the 1960s, Tom traveled the country playing at festivals and clubs and serving as artist in residence at colleges and universities where he conducted workshops in folk and acoustic blues. During that time he quickly changed his musical focus to "human activism," including civil rights and environmental causes.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Irwin Silber RIP

From: Les Herring

Irwin Silber, the co-founder of Sing Out! magazine with Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax, died Wednesday in Oakland, CA.  He was 84. 

Sunday, December 06, 2009

--Bess Lomax Hawes, 1921-2009

From: John Pietaro <>
Date: Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 10:52 AM
Subject: OBITUARY--Bess Lomax Hawes, 1921-2009
To: "" <>

Sisters and Brothers,

Sadly, below is my obituary for Bess Lomax Hawes, a pioneering woman radical folksinger, folklorist and member of the Alamanc Singers. Though I did not ever get to meet Bess, we did speak on the phone at length some years ago when I interviewed her about Sis Cunningham, after the loss of that sister. Bess was a warm, gracious woman who downplayed her own part on the cultural front, but whose vast contribution requires greater acknowledgement on every level.


Bess Lomax Hawes, 1921-2009
Obituary by John Pietaro

Portland, Oregan: Bess Lomax Hawes, a member of the esteemed Lomax family of folklorists and part of the seminal urban folk music group 'the Almanac Singers' died on November 27. She was 88 years old.

Ms. Lomax Hawes, born in Texas, began her journey into folk song through her father John Lomax's important work of collecting rural musics throughout the US. The Lomaxes relocated to Washington DC during Bess' teen years and her father, and soon after her brother Alan, began to work for the Library of Congress, chronicling the music of the nation and offering the young Ms. Lomax a visceral education into the power of culture.

She'd begun playing the guitar at 15 as a means to get through the long hours as she and her parents traveled Europe. Adapting to a wide array of music in various languages, Bess was able to develop both her repertoire of "peoples' songs" and her guitar technique simultaneously. Within two years, she'd become an in-demand guitar teacher and to meet the needs of the many students seeking tutelage, Lomax created a curriculum for seminar-style lessons to teach large groups. This type of music education would serve her well in later years, particularly after she'd moved to the west coast.

But by 1940, Ms Lomax became further entrenched in folk song when she was recruited by her father and brother to help catalog material for a book entitled Our Singing Country. At this time, Woody Guthrie was brought to DC to record for the Library of Congress and Pete Seeger was now on staff for the season, cementing their relationship. Bess' brother Alan Lomax was now seen as the major link among this new breed of radical folksingers which grew to include Guthrie, Leadbelly, Aunt Mollie Jackson and others. He and Leftist actor Will Geer organized a New York event to benefit migrant workers, "A Grapes of Wrath Evening" which featured the growing stable of this first generation of folk revivalists; Bess Lomax a stood among those performers.

Soon after, Seeger, Lee Hays and playwright Millard Lampell formed the nexus of the Almanac Singers, the first urban folk ensemble. The group performed traditional music presented with new, revolutionary lyrics, and incorporated into their sets older songs of dissent and their own topical compositions, too. Based in a communal living space in Greenwich Village, the Almanac Singers performed throughout 1940 and '41 for Communist Party functions, May Day parades and radical cabarets. To the Almanacs' surprise, the group was courted by the William Morris Agency, Decca Records and even the Rainbow Room as they toured the sites of countless CIO organizing campaigns.

By 1941, the group had expanded to include Bess Lomax, who'd graduated from Bryn Mawr College and moved into the group's townhouse, often supplying the only regular income to their communal fund. But Bess was also seen as an important musical force, offering strong guitar playing, harmony vocals and an innate understanding of the folk process. Another new member, the illustrator Butch Hawes, would become Bess' husband soon after; their union would produce three children over the years. Photos in this period depict a youthful but intense coalition of performers brandishing guitars and banjos as weapons of this cultural front, with Lomax Hawes looking younger, perhaps more vital, than the rest. Bess, with the Almanacs, recorded several historically powerful albums for the independent Keynote label including 1941's 'Talking Union' , which produced the legendary versions of "Union Maid" and "Which Side Are You On?", and the post-Pearl Harbor 'Dear Mr. President' which featured the stirring anti-fascist theme "Round and Round Hitler's Grave". She was also present for the sessions which produced the 'Citizen CIO' wartime collection, select Guthrie recordings and an important set of Spanish Civil War songs, among others.

Regardless of their strong anti-fascist output, the Almanac Singers were cited in the fury of reactionary suspicion and were branded as "Moscow agents" due to their earlier anti-war music of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. All offers for national radio broadcasts and record contracts were now off the table. Blacklisted, their engagements became scarce and the group fell apart. Worse, Bess lost her government job and in the post-war years would experience harassment by the FBI and various Rightist organizations. By 1950, Bess and songwriter Jackie Steiner would compose "The MTA Song" for a Boston mayoral candidate running on the Progressive Party line and this reflected Lomax Hawes' continued radical leanings. Ironically, it became a major hit for the Kingston Trio in '59; this group served as the portal for many of the next generation to discover the kind of folk singing the Almanacs had brought to wider attention, though the latter ensemble rarely if ever featured the protest core which was a staple of the Almanac Singers.

Later, Bess would move to the west coast where she'd teach American folklore in colleges before serving, for many years, as director of the National Endowment for the Arts' Folk Arts Program. In 1993, a year after here retirement, Lomax Hawes was granted the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton for her work on behalf of American culture. In her latter years, Lomax Hawes continued speaking about folklore, ethnomusicology and the power of folk music as a force for social change. She is survived by her three children and six grandchildren.

-John Pietaro is a cultural worker and labor organizer from New York –

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers

Folk singer Mary Travers dies at 72

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Sep 17, 2009 04:30 AM

DANBURY, Conn.–Mary Travers, one-third of the hugely popular 1960s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, has died.

Travers, 72, had battled leukemia for several years.

Travers joined forces with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey in the early 1960s.

The trio mingled their music with liberal politics, onstage and off. Their version of "If I Had a Hammer" became an anthem for racial equality.

They were vehement in their opposition to the Vietnam War, managing to stay true to their liberal beliefs while creating music that resonated in the U.S. mainstream.

The group collected five Grammy Awards for their three-part harmony on enduring songs like "Leaving on a Jet Plane," "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" and "Blowin' in the Wind."

At one point in 1963, three of their albums were in the top six Billboard best-selling LPs as they became the biggest stars of the folk revival movement. It was heady stuff for a trio that had formed in the early 1960s in Greenwich Village, running through simple tunes like "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

They disbanded in 1971, launching solo careers – Travers released five albums – that never achieved the heights of their collaborations.

In 2005, Travers had undergone a successful bone marrow transplant to treat her leukemia and was able to return to performing.

But by mid-2009, Yarrow said, her condition had worsened and he thought she could no longer perform.

Associated Press


Sam Hinton

Sam Hinton dies at 92; folk songwriter and singer



was one of the founders of the folk-song movement that began in the

1930s. A onetime San Diego area resident, he also wrote two books on

the sea and seashore animals.


Sam was also a SO! board member for about 6 years in the late 1980s

and one of the truest friends that folk music ever had. A true font

of musical knowledge and an absolutely BRILLIANT performer (as anyone

who ever say him knows). Along with being a terrific songster, he was

one of the best harmonica players ever ... and was known for being

able to make music with just about anything you could blow into or

over: from a garden hose to a blade of grass. (He was also the

calligrapher for all the song titles in the early editions of Rise Up

Singing ... and a fantastic resource for background and history for

dozens of songs we shared in the magazine over the years.) I'm sorry

I didn't send a posting to the list earlier, but I *did* add a nice

YouTube interview I found to the Sing Out! home page.


RIP, Sam ... I'm proud and grateful to have known you!


Mark D. Moss / Sing Out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From George Mann-

From George Mann-
Hello all you beautiful people:

I've known for some time that I would have to type this message, and I will try to be brief.

Our friend Julius Margolin:

a child of the Depression;

an organizer and member of the CIO;

who served in the Merchant Marine and as a member/organizer of the
National Maritime Union during World War II;

survivor of the blacklist that pulled him off the boats in 1949;

a proud member of IATSE Local 52 and delegate to the NYC Central Labor Council;

a lifetime honorary member of both AFM Local 802 and the New York City Labor Chorus, and countless other organizations;

lover of all working people and the struggles they engage in;

and since 1998 a singer/songwriter and performer for all good causes,

died this morning in New York City at the age of 93. An obituary will be forthcoming.

I spent last night with Julius and left him at his apartment at
this morning. He was comfortable and in no apparent pain. He had been very happy that we had moved him back home under hospice care last week. As I left this morning, I said I'd see him later, took his hand, and he squeezed it. Ten minutes after I left, he was gone. I got the call when I got off the subway....

We have set up a guest book on the opening page of our website, where you may leave messages, stories of Julius, and other remembrances. Look on the left side of the opening page and click on the "sign guest book" button after clicking on this link:

If you would like to listen to and view some great video of Julius, our friend Doug Calvin has posted multiple interviews and video at this site:

We will hold a memorial service and concert on Friday, October 16 in New York City. More info will come later. The one-hour memorial service will be at
5 PM (at either Local 802, 322 W. 48th Street, or Local 1199's Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium at 310 W. 43rd Street).

The concert will be from
8:00 to 10:30 PM at the MLK Auditorium, 310 W. 43rd Street
, and will feature some of Julius's closest friends.

I will send details to public listservs and to your email once it is finalized but if you want to be added to an email list for these events, please email me at and I will send you the info.

Julius asked to be cremated and his ashes will be spread on the sea as per his request. I ask that donations be sent to the Scholarship Fund in memory of Julius. This fund was created to help bring young unionists to labor cultural events, most notably the Great Labor Arts Exchange and the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival, both of which were very dear to him. In fact, I met Julius, and so many other great labor artists and activists, at the Great Labor Arts Exchange in 1996.

Checks/money orders may be made out to "Local 52 Julius Margolin Scholarship Fund" and mailed to:

George Mann,
PO Box 697, New York, NY 10033

Thank you for all your support. Julius did not want for love or appreciation in his final battle. And once we got him back home to his apartment, with books and videos and CDs lining every wall and his friends there with him in the living room, I know he was able to accept that this was the end with the same dignity and quiet humility he displayed all his life.

I will leave you with a note that Julius sent out in late June, after the cancer he had been fighting returned. It is a fitting way to end this message.

If I may ask for something else in his memory, it is that you keep fighting (his words), that you not give up in your determination to make your life and the world a better place, that you show kindness and compassion to people, especially strangers, and minimize your bickering with and negativity about others involved in the struggle. These were the qualities, in a nutshell, that Julius displayed to me from the day I met him, qualities that I will now strive to make part of my character as I go forward.

And in the future, whenever things get you down, take a minute to remember this little old man who had such a big heart and spirit, and hope for the working class of the world. Remember that laugh, that determination, and you will find strength to carry on, as I am finding now.

In Solidarity,

George Mann


To all or our friends and supporters of our music:

I have not been well and don't get around much any more. And I wish I had been feeling well enough to be more active at this year's Arts Exchange, where so much important work and beautiful labor songs and art were shared. But I still support our struggle for a better society. For peace and the security of working and progressive people the world round.

With and without me the struggle goes on. There must be one world in peace, security and with a good life for all families of the world.

No more wars, poverty or hatreds must exist. We have an important job to do.

Thanks for listening to George Mann's and my music and for your support.

Thank you all for everything,

Julius Margolin


Labor and protest music in the finest tradition


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Mike Seeger Loses Battle with Cancer

Mike Seeger Loses Battle with Cancer
Date: Saturday, August 08 2009 @ 04:40:00 EDT
Topic: Silent Strings

Mike SeegerMike Seeger lost his battle with cancer last night, August 7. Back on Thursday, July 30, Mary Katherine Adlin at Folklore Productions informed us that Mike Seeger, one of the founding members of the New Lost City Ramblers, and the half-brother of folk singer Pete Seeger, had been battling leukemia for several years; just recently he was diagnosed with a new and very aggressive form of cancer, called multiple myeloma. In the same forthright way that he has lived his life, he made the decision to discontinue treatment and enter hospice care. Last night, August 7, his battle ended. Mike died in hospice care at his home in Virginia, surrounded by the loving care of his wife, his sons and his sister. He was at peace and not in pain.

Just a few days ago, we wrote about The New Lost City Ramblers DVD video. This is sad news to follow that happy release announcement. Mike Seeger and The New Lost City Ramblers captured the essence of old music from early 78 records and spend decades performing the traditional music in the traditional way thus preserving it for many generations.

During the '60s folk movement, Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers were one of the most influential bands going. Scores of new bands picked up on what they were doing and pushed the music into the public's eye. Seeger was both a musician and a historian devoted to preserving the music he loved.

Seeger was a folk musician who was also accomplished on multiple instruments. He performed playing the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, dobro, and other instruments. Seeger's love for the old time music resulted in a half dozen Grammy® nominations, four NEA grants and numerous other awards.

Just as he set his own path musically, he chose his own path for his final journey as well. May God be with him.

Mike is survived by his wife Alexia. Condolences may be sent to:

Folklore Productions
1671 Appian Way
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jerry Holland

Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland passed away on July 16 at age 54 after a two-year fight with cancer.  He was not a contradance fiddler at all, but his tunes found their way into the Portland collections and Waltz books, and into Irish sessions as well.

From the notes for the CD "Cape Breton, Fiddle and Piano Music, The Beaton Family of Mabou", about fiddler Kinnon Beaton, who is from Jerry Holland's generation:

"The music was in decline when Kinnon began.  He and his good friend, the late John Morris Rankin, were probably the only two people of their generation in (the village of) Mabou to pick up the instrument.  Elsewhere, Jerry Holland, still living in Brockton, Massachusetts, eventually to move to Cape Breton, was learning the music, as was Brenda Stubbert, in Point Aconi, on the island's north side.  Without them, as the older generation of musicians stopped playing, the music might have vanished."

Kinnon writes: ".. They were all old (who were) playing the fiddle.  You just didn't see young fiddlers.  And shortly after, my folks came home from a concert in Glendale, talking about the young guy that would stepdance and play the fiddle at the same time.  That was Jerry Holland.  He was twelve, I think, or thirteen."

Monday, July 20, 2009


On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 6:26 PM, Les Herring <> wrote:

I've just heard on the radio that Gordon Weller, the Gordon of Peter and Gordon, has died of a heart attack in Connecticut--Not that it would have been better in a different state.  Another reminder of our age--boo hoo.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jackie Washington

Death of Jackie Washington

Posted by: "Michael Williams"

Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:10 am (PDT)



To everyone,


We regret to announce that our dear beloved friend and unstoppable musical spirit, Jackie Washington has passed away at the age of 89. Jack was taken to hospital 2 weeks ago with a breathing problem and after suffering a heart attack and a series of related

episodes, he died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, at 1:22pm today.


Thankfully, Jackie was able to attend a tribute to his life's work held at McMaster University on June 3, 2009. Jackie's archives will be housed in perpetuity in the McMaster University Library Archives, for all to see and enjoy. Jackie was also

blessed to live to see his great grandson, Miles. Here is a picture of Jackie with Miles taken on June 3 at McMaster:

You can see lots of pictures of Jack from this event here:

Thanks to Ron Scheffler for the great photos.


Other announcements will follow.


On behalf of all of us, thanks for your support over the years.


The Jackie Washington Committee

Terry Bramhall, David Kidney, Mose Scarlett, Cathy Powell, Margaret Stowe, Jennie Struiksma, Ken Whiteley.



the last weeks and days of his life, we, on the Jackie Washington Committee, were supported by an additional loving Circle of Friends: Ken Whiteley, Irene Manning, Patti Warden, Reg Denis, Tom and Marilyn Scott, James Strecker, Michelle Josef, Graham Rockingham, Albert De Vos and Glenna Green.

Many others have given their support from afar.


Cards-notes to:

Jackie Washington

21 Alanson St

Hamilton ON L8N 1W6

Feel free to send email to any of us OR or


For more info on the Jackie Washington Archives:

tel: 905-525-9140 ext.22764

e-mail <>


Jackie Washington Archives


c/o David Kidney

Mills Library, L118

McMaster University

1280 Main Street West

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4L6


all the best,



Michael Williams

Mobile: 07908 749699

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Koko Taylor

1. Koko Taylor - Singing About the Union Hall
Posted by: "Bennet Zurofsky"   bzurofsky
Fri Jun 5, 2009 8:12 am (PDT)

I was saddened to learn yesterday evening of the death of Koko Taylor. As
the obituary in the NY Times well stated, "While there had been other blues
queens, Ms. Taylor was the undisputed queen of the Chicago variety."

I have always thought of her signature song "Wang Dang Doodle" as one of the
great union songs. Willie Dixon's lyric makes it plain where all the action
is: "We gonna pitch a ball/Down at the Union Hall."

I saw Taylor perform about a year ago - and she was still going strong. Her
daughter had to come out to convince her to end her set lest she collapse
from exhaustion (or was that just show-womanship - adapting the old James
Brown collapsing-from-exhaustion bit for an 80-year old?). She certainly
gave it her all.

Youtube has a video of her singing Wang Dang Doodle (w. Little Walter on
harmonica) in 1967. The quality of the visual is poor - but the quality of
the musical performance can't be beat! I can't think of a better way to
remember her.

Here's the link:

- Bennet

P.S. Please note my new street address below

Attorney at Law
17 Academy Street - Suite 1010
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Phone: 973-642-0885
Fax: 973-642-0946

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dan O'Connell of Knocknagree

Date:    Mon, 25 May 2009 15:23:37 +0100
From:    Paul de Grae <pauldegrae@EIRCOM.NET>
Subject: Dan O'Connell RIP

The legendary Dan O'Connell of Knocknagree, dancer, publican (in whose
premises Denis Murphy and Johnny O'Leary used to play), teacher and tireless
promoter of all aspects of Sliabh Luachra culture, has died, after a long
illness.  They don't make them like Dan any more.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dick "Nitelinger" Golembiewski

Sad News in Milwaukee
Posted by: "Jym Mooney & Carol Lee Hopkins"   jymandcarol
Thu Apr 2, 2009 6:35 am (PDT)
Our good friend Dick "Nitelinger" Golembiewski died of a heart attack while
shoveling snow at his parents' house on Sunday. This is a real loss for all
of us who have enjoyed Dick's friendship over the years. He was a friend to
every Milwaukee area folk and acoustic musician, and his Folk City radio
show on WMSE in the 80s and early 90s plus his long tenure as a volunteer at
The Coffee House showed his dedication to local music. Dick routinely
played recordings by local folk musicians on his show, and frequently
invited us into the studio for live on-air performances. We are all stunned
by the unexpectedness of this loss. Dick was only 51, and had no history of
heart trouble.

This weekend we will all be singing our songs in his memory.

Jym Mooney

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rich Morse

Rich Morse, founder and owner of The Button Box, died Monday, March 2, 2009, following the recurrence and rapid progression of melanoma, which he first developed in 1995. The end was quiet and peaceful, for which we are all grateful.

Rich was born in Hawaii as Gordon Richard Morse, III. He came to the mainland to study at the Rhode Island School of Design and made New England his home thereafter. In his years as a practicing architect, his designs were a marvel, consistently displaying an exceptional sense of spatial relations and creative problem-solving. He was a longtime advocate for energy efficiency, incorporating conservation-minded principles into his plans for clients and practicing them in his private life. Rich riding his aging bike the mile between his house and The Button Box was a familiar sight; regardless of the weather, he was rarely willing to make such an inefficient trip using fossil fuel.

Rich started The Button Box in 1980, while living in a cabin in rural Wardsboro, Vermont. It was a sideline in the beginning, but his passion for free-reed instruments overtook his interest in architecture, and he eventually became a full-time "employee" of The Button Box. His capability as an innovative designer and his unlimited capacity for optimism were largely responsible for the development of R. Morse & Co. concertinas, and his abiding interest in all to do with concertinas made him something of a celebrity in the admittedly small niche of free-reed aficianados. In that role, he was unstintingly generous with his time, knowledge, and positive spirit.

Rich was in inveterate player of games, with an especial fondness for Go and Scrabble. He was a dedicated father, a talented photographer, an enthusiastic Morris dancer and contra dancer, and loved to play music and compose tunes.

He is survived by two sons, Geordie, of Sunderland, Massachusetts, and Kiva, of Phoenix, Arizona. His parents still live in Hawaii, and he has other close relatives in Hawaii and throughout the mainland.

Our last printed catalogue gave Rich's job description as "Guiding Light," and so he was, not only to us, but to others whose lives intersected with his. We at The Button Box will carry on, as will his friends and family, but we will miss him very much. Our thanks to all who have been in touch with us to express their sadness and share their memories of an exceptional human being.

A celebration of Rich's life is being planned for later in the spring.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dan O'Connor

Date:    Tue, 27 Jan 2009 14:37:45 -0000
From:    Paul de Grae <pauldegrae@EIRCOM.NET>
Subject: Dan O'Connor R.I.P.

I'm very sorry to have to say, Dan O'Connor (Dan Jeremiah) of Scartaglen,
County Kerry, Sliabh Luachra fiddler, story-teller, and all-round gentleman,
has died.

Friday, January 23, 2009

David "Fathead" Newman

The man known as "Fathead," jazz sax player David Newman, has died at the age of 75 of pancreatic cancer after a long, storied career.

Newman made a name for himself as a tenor sax soloist, but also played with legendary acts like the Ray Charles band, Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sam Taylor, Famed Bluesman, Dies.

Sam Taylor, Famed Bluesman, Dies.

Sam "The Bluzman" Taylor, the singer-songwriter and guitarist whose music has been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley and Son Seals
to DMX and EPMD, died Monday at his home in Islandia of complications associated with heart disease. He was 74.

Taylor was one of the first inductees into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1995.
He built a stellar reputation in blues and R&B over nearly five decades of work, as a solo performer and as a guitarist with Otis
Redding, The Isley Brothers, and Sam and Dave.

"He was one of the last of the great bluesmen," said his friend Richard L'Hommedieu, co-founder of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
"He's created decades of wonderful music. It's a great loss."

Taylor was part of Joey Dee & The Starlighters when they had their "Peppermint Twist" hit in 1962, and when he left the group he
recommended that a young guitarist named Jimmy James, later known as Jimi Hendrix, be his replacement. He worked with B.T. Express when
they had their string of No. 1 R&B hits "Do It (Til You're Satisfied)" and "Express" in 1974 and 1975.

But Taylor was best known for his own blues work - more than 12 albums, including "I Came from Dirt" and 2004's "Voice of the Blues"
-- and his regular appearances at Long Island blues clubs.

Vic Calabro was looking forward to Taylor's singing at his 53rd birthday party at Bobbique's in Patchogue on Wednesday night. Though
Taylor had been ill for several months, he had been doing well enough in recent weeks that he planned to perform on Wednesday, said Calabro,
who now plans to turn his party into a memorial.

"He was a great man," Calabro said. "He lived a great life, and he just loved making people happy with his music."

For Taylor, one of the career moments that made him happiest was his induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. "So many Long
Island musicians have said they were from New York instead of Long Island because they thought it helped them," Taylor said that night.
"I've been saying I've been from Long Island since 1955. I'm so proud to be here. It's giving me goose bumps just thinking about it."

Taylor is survived by three daughters, Sandra Taylor, Daionae Sparks and Donna Brown, and a son, Kevin Taylor; 13 grandchildren and eight
great-grandchildren. Funeral services were pending.

In famous company Long Island-based bluesman Sam Taylor worked with: Otis Redding, The Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave

And his songs were recorded by: Elvis Presley, Son Seals, DMX and others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thomas R. Siblo - Landsman

Thomas R. Siblo - Landsman

Born in Brooklyn on Feb. 25, 1950
Died on Dec. 12, 2008 and resided in Saugerties, NY.

Thomas R. Siblo-Landsman of The Mill, Saugerties died Friday, December 12, 2008 at Kingston Hospital.

He was born in Brooklyn on February 25, 1950, a son of the late William Vito and Mary Walsh Siblo. Formerly of Long Island and Mamaroneck, Mr. Siblo - Landsman moved to this area in 1969.

A graduate of Ulster County Community College, he received a Bachelor's in History from SUNY New Paltz.

As a paralegal, Mr. Siblo-Landsman was a multi-faceted advocate for many in our community. He was trained by Mid-Hudson Legal Services, Poughkeepsie, New York and the Greater Upstate Law Project,
Rochester, New York to perform Lexis/Nexus legal research and writing. He previously worked as a System Advocate for the Resource Center for Accessible Living, Kingston, and Family of Woodstock, Kingston office.

Mr. Siblo-Landsman opened an independent paralegal business in Palenville performing consulting services
and representation before the Social Security Administration. He acted as an advisor to other legal professionals in their automation of their offices.

Mr. Siblo-Landsman advocated for landlord-tenant rights, Social Security disability, and special eduacation. He was a NYS Systems Advocate.
He also sang folk music, loved Woody Gutherie and Irish songs. He entertained farm workers, students and senior citizens.

 He is survived by his three children Philip, Rubi and Max, all of Saugerties, a sister Maureen Siblo and his former wife Avigayil Landsman of Saugerties; one niece and one nephew.

Funeral services will be conducted on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, 1682 Glasco Turnpike, Woodstock. Rabbi Jonathan Kligler will officiate. Interment will be in Montrepose Cemetery.

Davy Graham R.I.P.

Guitarist Davy Graham has passed away. Davy was a very influential
guitarist during the 1960's English folk scene. His tune Anji was a
standard for the scores of finger picking guitarist of that time. We
used to hear Davy, Bert Jansch, Mike Cooper, John Renbourn, Sam
Mitchell, Duffy Power etc. down at Cousins in London back then.
Condolences to Davy's family and friends.

Folk Britannica

Ann Briggs

Thomas Johnson

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

US folk icon Odetta dies aged 77

US folk singer Odetta, a civil rights campaigner and a major influence on Bob Dylan, has died at the age of 77. Born Odetta Holmes in Birmingham, Alabama, the classically-trained singer gave life to slave songs and folk tunes through her powerful voice.
Becoming a folk star in the 1950s, Odetta influenced Bob Dylan as well as Harry Belafonte and Joan Baez. Despite being recently confined to a wheelchair, Odetta performed some 60 concerts in the last two years. She died of heart disease on Tuesday at the Lennox Hill Hospital in New York. She had been admitted to the hospital some three weeks before suffering from kidney failure, said her manager Doug Yeager.
She made her name performing songs sung by ordinary people - housewives and working men, as well as prison songs and slave plantation "spirituals". "What distinguished her from the start was the meticulous care with which she tried to re-create the feeling of her folk songs," Time magazine wrote in 1960. "To understand the emotions of a convict in a convict ditty, she once tried breaking up rocks with a sledge hammer." Recording several albums, Odetta was best-known in the US for taking part in the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, where she sang O Freedom.
In a 1978 interview, Bob Dylan said: "The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta." He added he found "just something vital and personal" when he first heard her, and that her music convinced him to sell his electric guitar and play an acoustic one instead. First nominated for a Grammy in 1963, Odetta received two more nominations in the latter part of her career - one in 1999 and third in 2005.
In 1999, she was awarded a National Medal of the Arts. President Bill Clinton said her career showed "us all that songs have the power to change the heart and change the world".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Miriam Makeba,

ROME - Miriam Makeba, the South African folk singer and anti-apartheid activist fondly known as "Mama Africa," died early Monday in southern Italy after performing at a concert against organized crime, hospital officials said. She was 76.The emergency room of the Pineta Grande Clinic, a private facility in Castel Volturno, near Naples, confirmed Italian news reports that the singer had died after being brought there.The ANSA news agency reported that Makeba apparently suffered a heart attack just at the end of the concert, where she had sung for about 30 minutes to show solidarity for Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who received death threats after writing a book about the Camorra, the Naples-area crime syndicate.The news of Makeba's death caused shock and grief in South Africa. Arts and Culture Ministry spokesman Sandile Memela described her as an international icon."It's a monumental loss not only to South African society in general but for humanity," he said.Tributes poured in on morning radio talk shows for the woman who wooed the world with her sultry voice and soft eyes and who was exiled from her homeland for more than 30 years.Makeba first came to international prominence when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary "Come Back, Africa" in 1959. In 1960, when she tried to fly home for her mother's funeral, she discovered her passport had been revoked.In 1963, she appeared before the U.N. Special Committee on Apartheid to call for an international boycott on South Africa. The South African government responded by banning her records, including hits like "Pata Pata," "The Click Song" ("Qongqothwane" in Xhosa), and "Malaika."In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for "An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba." The album dealt with the political plight of black South Africans under apartheid.She only returned to her homeland with the crumbling of apartheid in the early 1990s."It was like a revival," she said. "My music having been banned for so long, that people still felt the same way about me was too much for me. I just went home and I cried."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yma Sumac, 'Peruvian songbird' with multi-octave range, dies at 86

Yma Sumac, the Peruvian-born singer whose spectacular multi-octave vocal range and exotic persona made her an international sensation in the 1950s, has died. She was 86.

Sumac, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in February, died Saturday in an assisted-living facility in Silver Lake, said Damon Devine, her personal assistant and close friend.
Bursting onto the U.S. music scene after signing with Capitol Records in 1950, the raven-haired Sumac was known as the "Nightingale of the Andes," the "Peruvian Songbird" and a "singing marvel" with a 4 1/2 -octave (she said five-octave) voice.

"She is five singers in one," boasted her then-husband Moises Vivanco, a composer-arranger, in a 1951 interview with the Associated Press. "Never in 2,000 years has there been another voice like hers."

After Sumac performed at the Shrine Auditorium with a company of dancers, drummers and musicians in 1955, a Los Angeles Times writer observed:
"She warbles like a bird in the uppermost regions, hoots like an owl in the lowest registers, produces bell-like coloratura passages one minute, and exotic, dusky contralto tones the next."

Sumac's first album for Capitol, "Voice of the Xtabay," soared to the top of the record charts. A handful of other albums followed during the 1950s.

With her exotic beauty, elaborate costumes and singing voice that could imitate the cries of birds and wild animals, the woman who claimed to be a descendant of an ancient Incan emperor offered Eisenhower-era audiences something unique.

During her 1950s heyday, Sumac sang at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall. She reportedly made $25,000 a week in Las Vegas.

She was featured in the 1951 Broadway musical "Flahooley" and appeared in the films "Secret of the Incas" in 1954 and "Omar Khayyam" in 1957.

Although details of her birth date and early life vary widely, Devine said Sumac was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo in Cajamarca, Peru, on Sept. 13, 1922.

Sumac said she began singing when she was about 9.

After joining Vivanco's large group of native singers, dancers and musicians, she made her radio debut in 1942; she and Vivanco were married the same year.

In Argentina in 1943, Sumac and Vivanco's group recorded a series of Peruvian folk songs. By then, she was known professionally as Imma Sumack. (Capitol Records later changed the spelling.)

In 1946, she and her husband moved to New York City, where they performed as the Inca Taky Trio, with Vivanco on guitar, Sumac singing soprano and her cousin Cholita Rivero singing contralto and dancing.

After making her name as a solo artist, Sumac toured around the world for several years in the '60s, but her popularity in the U.S. had waned by then.

In 1971, she recorded a psychedelic rock album, "Miracles," that was not widely released, and semi-retired to Peru later in the decade -- at least that's what she always said.

"That's the legend that she stuck with all through these decades," Devine, who runs the Sumac website, told The Times in June. "She didn't want people to know she was here and not working. The story was good for her. She's a very eccentric woman. . . . Her whole career and life is based on her mystery, and so the facts and fiction is a fine line with her."

Sumac, however, did return to performing in 1984 at the Vine Street Bar & Grill and the Cinegrill in Hollywood. In the early 1990s, she toured in Europe and continued to perform until 1997.

"The younger generation loves the music, loves Yma," Sumac told the Tampa Tribune in 1996. "The new generation told me many times: 'Miss Yma, we love you. Your music is something. It's out of this world.' "

Sumac, who was divorced from and remarried to Vivanco in the late '50s and divorced from him again in 1965, is survived by their son, Charles, who lives in Europe, and three sisters, who live in Peru.

Services will be private.

McLellan is a Times staff writer.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Peter Hamilton: Wattle recordings
Posted by: "mark gregory"
Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:13 pm (PDT)
Pioneer record and film producer PETER HAMILTON died peacefully at
home on October 23rd.

Founder of the Wattle Record label and Wattle Films, Peter started the
company in 1954 in Sydney, with his friend and associate Edgar Waters.
The label released the first commercially available bush songs
including landmark recordings by The Bushwhackers Band, and
their hit 'The Drover's Dream'. Two of the label's most important
releases were field recordings of bush singers and musicians like Sally Sloan
of Lithgow NSW and Simon McDonald of Creswick Victoria

Peter was an extraordinary inventor in film and sound
recording (see the Hindsight program link below)

I don't have a complete list of Wattle recordings but here is a start
(I think they say a lot about the breadth of musical interest among
the early folk revival enthusiasts)

The Green Bushes /Beth Schurr 1956
The Green Bushes /Beth Schurr 1956
Drovers' Dream /The Bushwhackers 1956
Black Velvet Band /The Bushwhackers 1956
Botany Bay /The Bushwhackers 1956
The Bullockies Ball /The Bushwhackers 1956
The Old Bullock Dray /The Bushwhackers 1956
Travelling Down The Castlereigh /The Bushwhackers 1956
Nine Miles from Gundagai /The Bushwhackers 1957
Australian Bush Songs / The Bushwhackers 1957
American Songs of Protest /John Greenway 1957
Workin' on a Building /John Greenway 1957
Irish Songs of Resistance /Patrick Galvin
The Art of the Digeridu
Music of New Guinea
Australian Traditional Singers and Musicians /1957
Singing Sailors /Ewan MacCol and A L Lloyd 1957
Banks of the Condamine /A L Lloyd 1957
Convicts and Currency Lads /Ewan MacColl & A L Lloyd 1958
Across the western Plains /A L Lloyd 1958
The Old Bark Hut /The Rambleers 1958
The Shearers Dream /The Rambleers 1958
The Waltzing Matilda /The Rambleers 1958
Songs from Queensland / Morton Bay Bushwackers and the Bandicoots
Billy Goat Overland /Stan Arthur and Bill Scott 1958
Traditional Singers & Musicians of Victoria Archive series no 1 /1962
The Land Where the Crow Flies Backwards /Dougie Young 1963

In 2004 there was an ABC Radio program about Wattle

see Hindsight at

Peter Hamilton fought hard to get Australian folk songs taken
seriously by the ABC as this quote from the program illustrates

"The chairman of the ABC at that time was Sir Charles Boyer and I
arranged a session with him and put to him that I thought it was an
appropriate thing for Australian ABC to do what the BBC were doing in
England and the Library of Congress were doing in America, that is
that they had dedicated full time staff recording the folk music in
England respectively and in America respectively and that was part of
their charter to do that and they had a team of people and outdoor
full facilities to go and visit old singers and collect material and
subsequently have that aired. He was very interested in that and
supportive of that as a concept but he had a music manager and he
would need to consult him so he called him in to this meeting and he
just said well in his view there was no Australian folk song and they
were just popular songs that came from overseas and he then left the
room and the chairman said well he would have to respect the views of
his senior music authority and that was the end of that."




Monday, October 06, 2008

Kingston Trio's Nick Reynolds, 75, dies in SD

October 2nd, 2008 @ 7:19pm
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Nick Reynolds, a founding member of the Kingston Trio who jump-started the revival folk scene of the late 1950s and paved the way for artists such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, has died. He was 75.

Reynolds had been hospitalized with acute respiratory disease and other illnesses, and died Wednesday in San Diego after his family took him off life support, said son Joshua Reynolds.

"Dad was so happy he turned people onto music in a way that people could really approach it, in a simple and honest way," Josh Reynolds told The Associated Press. "He was a very gracious and loving performer. He was a devoted family man."

The Kingston Trio's version of the 19th century folk song "Tom Dooley" landed the group a No. 1 spot on the charts in 1958, and launched the band's career.

Born on July 27, 1933, in San Diego, Nicholas Reynolds demonstrated an early love of music and did sing-alongs with his two sisters and their Navy captain-father, who taught him to play guitar.
He graduated from Coronado High School in 1951 and attended the University of Arizona and San Diego State University before attending Menlo College, a business school near Palo Alto. He graduated from Menlo in 1956.

It was during the mid-1950s that Nicholas Reynolds met Bob Shane, who introduced him to Stanford student Dave Guard. Guard and Shane knew each other from playing music in Guard's native Hawaii. The three formed the Kingston Trio.

In 1958, "Tom Dooley" earned Reynolds, Guard and Shane a trophy for best country and western performance at the first Grammys. The group, defined by tight harmonies and a clean-cut style, went on to win a Grammy the next year for best folk performance for its album "The Kingston Trio At Large."

Later member John Stewart joined the group in 1961, replacing Guard. Stewart died in January, also in San Diego.

After leaving the Kingston Trio in 1967, Reynolds moved to Oregon, where he stayed until the 1980s and took a break from music to raise his family, his son said.

Reynolds moved back to California in the mid-1980s and rejoined Stewart for one album. In 1991, Reynolds rejoined Shane in a reconstituted version of the Trio. He remained with the group until retiring in 2003, his son said.

Reynolds is survived by his wife Leslie, sons Joshua and John Pike Reynolds, daughters Annie Reynolds Moore and Jennifer Reynolds, and his two sisters.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vic Schwarz

Vic Schwarz, a folk singer, artist, environmentalist and luthier, died on September 3, after a 14 year battle with cancer. Vic was a long-time friend of Pete Seeger's and is credited with giving
Pete the book about Hudson River sloops that led to the two of them collaborating on the creation of the Sloop "Clearwater". Vic can be seen in the documentary "Pete Seeger:The Power of Song" discussing the early days of the "Clearwater". Vic continued to be dedicated to the
sloop over the years and was also actively involved in saving Little Stony Point Park on the Hudson.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Greg Duffy

Remembering Greg Duffy
Published: Sep 4, 2008
Greg Duffy was quite well known. Not the kind of "well known" that merits a page 1 headline in the New York Times, necessarily, or that prompts heads of state to issue statements of condolence.
But within the worldwide community of Irish traditional music and culture, it was clear that Greg Duffy's sudden death on the night of August 28 was truly of great moment. Indeed, notice of his passing had made it onto the Irish Traditional Music Listserv by 3:37 a.m. on Friday.
Local musician Bill McKenty, who has known Greg and his wife Charlotte for 15 years, posted the announcement. It read, in part:
"… husband, father, friend, photographer and great fan of traditional music and its people, Greg lived within the music, befriending many and opening his heart and home to the music …"
Within the traditional community, Greg Duffy was quite well known indeed, and loved. And now, mourned.
Greg was known for his loving photos of Irish traditional musicians. (A good example is currently posted on the Thistle and Shamrock Web site. It's a remembrance of singer-guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill.) View it here.
He was also renowned for his great hospitality. Many, many road-weary musicians were fortunate to stay in his Jenkintown home.
We asked a few of those who knew him best to share their thoughts and memories. (Of course, you can also offer your comments in the little form that follows.)
Bill McKenty, longtime friend and musician
Greg was always trying to drag me to concerts as i tend not to go to many.
About a year-and-a-half ago, he enticed me to go on my birthday with him and his wife Charlotte to a Flook concert in Wilmington. Michael McGoldrick, one of my favorites, was filling in for Sarah Allen of the band as she'd just had her baby.  I agreed to accompany the Duffys as McGoldrick almost never comes to the US of A.
The Duffys were very well known at venues such as the Cherry Tree, Green Willow and Sellersville. They always had front row seats reserved for them as Greg's wife Charlotte was pretty much confined to a wheelchair.
So we get to the show. I go outside to catch a smoke, and who should bum a butt off me but Michael McGoldrick. We hit it off quite quickly, trading tunes in the "diddly di," lilting kinda way flute players do.
Later, as I was sitting in the front row with the Duffys, McGoldrick would sit next to me in an open chair on sets in which he wasn't playing with the band, and egg the band on from the audience. McGoldrick and Flook were quite the characters.
So at half time, McGoldrick and Greg compared notes and friends and chatted away. Nice concert. At the end they did an encore and went to start the first tune but couldn't remember how it went. Greg looked over to me and said, "You know that," so I hummed a few bars. McGoldrick hears me and goes, "Ah, that's it." He comes over to me, hands me his whistle and shoves me up on stage, much to the horror of the rest of the band, as they didn't know me from Adam.  

After a few awkward moments they ascertained that i did know the tune and great fun ensued. Of course, Greg took much delight in this and started to shoot away …which is where the attached came from.
He had a great eye, a great ear and a great love of the music and the people and characters who lived it.
Andy Irvine, Irish singer-songwriter

I was extremely sad to hear of the unexpected passing of Greg Duffy. He was a man I held in high esteem and respect for many years.
I first met him in Philadelphia, at The Cherry Tree, sometime around 1985/86 and we became friends immediately. As any traveling performer might say, I never had enough time to spend with him and his wife, Charlotte.
I stayed in his house in Jenkintown on a few occasions. He made a pretty good breakfast! Conversations with Greg were always witty and well informed from his side. He took a great interest in all things Irish.
In retrospect I was very happy to have made a detour in June of this year to visit the family on the occasion of Charlotte's birthday. Greg was in great form and walked me to my car when I was leaving. We had a farewell hug and I never thought it would be the last I would see of him.
A good man has passed.
Lois Kuter, longtime friend and Breton music authority
I met Greg as a fellow fan of Celtic music—and that means not just Scottish and Irish, but also Welsh, Breton, Manx, Cornish, Galician, and Asturian (when you had the luck to hear them).
I can't recall where or when I met Greg but he and Charlotte listened to the Breton music radio program I did for WXPN from the mid '80s to the mid '90s. They had impeccable taste in music—picking out the most innovative and interesting. I renewed a friendship with them at a scattering of concerts over the years.
I've met very few people who have such knowledge and true appreciation for the rich traditions and innovative variations of music from the Celtic world.
I am sure all the musicians who beat Greg to Heaven are thrilled to have him there to share the joy and beauty of their music. I am sure Johnny Cunningham has a big hug for him.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jonji Provenzano

From Baird Hersey

Loving Friends,
Jonji passed peacefully this morning around 5:00 am at his home. His wife Suzanne was with him.

Jonji was born on March 27th, 1944 in Norwalk, Connecticut to Ignatius and Roberta Provenzano. He moved to Woodstock in 1969, where he worked as a master carpenter and Yoga teacher.

Jonji influenced thousands of yoga practitioners with his grounded, intelligent approach to yoga and to living. In 1991 he opened the Yoga Studio, one of the Hudson Valley's first yoga schools. In 1999 he founded the River Cloud School of Yoga. His classes were known for their thought provoking, sometimes humorous, Dharma talks.  He was also an ordained minister.

Diagnosed with 4th stage stomach cancer in May of 2007, he chose to turn his dying process into a learning experience for his students and friends. He shared his experiences through classes, one on one sessions, and his journal on CarringBridge

With courage, introspection and humor, he endured two courses of chemotherapy and one of radiation, all the while encouraging everyone to examine their own mortality. He put the medical staff at the hospital at ease with his playful smile and rollicking laugh.

In the 15 months since his diagnosis, Jonji recorded a CD of Tibetan Buddhist meditations, "Rest in Quiet Mind", and a video of instructions on opening a home Buddhist shrine. Both are available as free downloads on MySpace . He also finished writing a book on Yoga, Buddhism and Dying.

A musician most of his life, he learned to play guitar from his father. As a teenager, he formed "The Three Js". After moving to Woodstock he played with Mark Black and the St. Johns Parish Folk Group. From 2000 until 2005 he sang with Prana, a meditational music choir.

Jonji founded "Spoke Folks of  Woodstock", a pioneering bicycle club in the mid 70s, In the last several years he has been an avid model railroad enthusiast and an active member of the "West Shore Model Railroad Club".

A loving husband, father, and brother, family was always of greatest importance to him. He is survived by his wife Suzanne, sister Lynda Anderson of Marietta Ohio, and his children Blanche Provenzano of West Hurley, Johnny Woodlief of Davies Florida, Moses Provenzano of Woodstock, Kasey Stelter of Zena, Jack Stelter of Zena.
Calling hours will be at Jonji and Suzanne's home on Saturday, September 6th from noon until 8 PM. In lieu of flowers please make donations in Jonji's name to Family of Woodstock ( )

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed, country music's howling virtuoso and a star of stage, studio and screen, has died. Born Jerry Reed Hubbard, Mr. Reed suffered from emphysema and was in hospice care. He was 71, and he leaves an unparalleled legacy of laughter and song.

By the time Mr. Reed came to popular attention as Burt Reynolds' truck-driving sidekick "The Snowman" in the Hollywood trilogy Smokey and the Bandit, he was already a musical deity to the guitar players who admired the syncopated flurries he unleashed with a casual gleam. He was also a hit recording artist by that time, having topped the charts with "When You're Hot, You're Hot" and "Lord, Mr. Ford,' and having written songs for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee and others. Then there was his work as session guitarist for Presley, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare and many others.

Mr. Reed enjoyed his comedic Hollywood roles (which included a part in the 1998 Adam Sandler film, The Waterboy), and he often smiled when movie fans would ask for an autograph without realizing that he was a singer and guitarist of significance. Music was most important to him, though. Asked by interviewer Frank Goodman which facet of music he preferred - songwriter, solo guitarist, session man or entertainer - Mr. Reed said, "Hey, that's like trying to pick out your favorite leg."

"There's nothing on earth as powerful as music, period," he told Goodman. "I mean, it's pretty hard to fight and hate and be angry when you're making music, isn't it?"

As Mr. Reed's health declined in recent years, he focused on spiritual studies and on bringing attention to veterans' issues.

"For 50 years, all I'd done was take, take, take," he told The Tennessean's Tim Ghianni in 2007. "I decided from now on it is going to be giving. And I'm way behind. We're all way behind. We live this life like what's down here is what it's all about. We're temporary, son, like a wisp of smoke."

Mr. Reed was born in Atlanta, Ga., on March 20, 1937. He was the son of cotton mill workers Robert Spencer Hubbard and Cynthia Hubbard, who divorced in their son's first year. From fall of 1937 until 1944, the boy lived in orphanages and foster homes. He rejoined his mother when she married mill worker Hubert Howard in 1944.

Already transfixed by music, he listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio each Friday night, jumping around on a woodpile in lieu of a stage, and playing a hairbrush as if it was a rhythm guitar. Noticing his enthusiasm, Cynthia Howard bought a used guitar from a neighbor for $7, presented it to her son and taught him two chords. He began striking the strings with a thumb-pick, a practice he continued throughout his career. When a guitar teacher told him to discontinue that method, an already headstrong Mr. Reed dropped the teacher rather than the pick.

Hearing finger-style guitarist Merle Travis play "I Am A Pilgrim" caused young Mr. Reed to aspire to something beyond simplicity.

"I thought when I heard it, 'Boy, there it is! That man is walking with the big dog. He knows where the bodies are buried, and I want some of that,'" Mr. Reed told Bob Anderson in a 1979 interview.

Another hero was banjo great Earl Scruggs, and Mr. Reed ultimately arrived at a guitar style that fused Scruggs' rapid torrents of notes with the rhythms heard in Ray Charles' "What'd I Say." That is the style that made Mr. Reed an inspiration to generations of guitarists, and though he would not fully realize his signature sound until the 1960s, he spent his high school years honing his musical and performing chops and displaying a talent and magnetism that set him apart from others at school.

In 1954, he played a self-penned song called "Aunt Meg's Wooden Leg" for Atlanta publisher and radio host Bill Lowery, who began managing and booking the young man. A 30-day tour opening shows for Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours ensued, and the experience was enough to convince Mr. Reed that high school was of little use to him.

"I knew what I was going to spend my life doing," he later said. "Nothing else made any sense. Nothing else made any difference."

In 1954, a 17-year-old Mr. Reed played a show in Atlanta in honor of country star Faron Young, who had been discharged from the Army. Ken Nelson ran Capitol Records, and Nelson attended the Atlanta show. Lowery, who had hired Mr. Reed as a disc jockey at Atlanta's WGST, told Nelson that Capitol could do worse than to sign the cotton mill boy from Georgia.

Reluctant to sign such a young act to Capitol, Nelson acquiesced. He told Mr. Reed to wait until his 18th birthday before recording, and in October of 1955 the men entered a Nashville studio and made a record. First single "If The Good Lord's Willing And The Creeks Don't Rise" did not make any great commercial waves, and neither did follow-up single "I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter." And neither did any others of Mr. Reed's Capitol recordings, as he flailed about for a form that rang true. He moved through country, pop and rockabilly, to little avail.

"My records were selling like hot cakes: About fifty cents a stack," he often joked in later years.

In 1958, Mr. Reed ended his association with Capitol. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1959, the same year he married Priscilla "Prissy" Mitchell. Army brass thought Mr. Reed's talents better suited for a stage than a battlefield, and the would-be warrior became a member of the army's Circle A Wranglers band. Meanwhile, Lowery kept pitching Mr. Reed's songs to others. In 1960, Brenda Lee had a Top 10 pop hit with Mr. Reed's "That's All You Gotta Do." That song was the "flip" side of Lee's wildly popular single "I'm Sorry." That success was a change for the better, as was a 1961 military discharge and the development of a unique guitar-playing method that would later be called "Claw style."

"If (Merle) Travis' thumb and index finger picking style was first generation, and Chet Atkins' use of thumb, index and middle finger was second, Reed's use of his entire right hand to pick (the famous "claw" style) was the wild, untamed and dauntingly complex third generation," wrote historian and journalist Rich Kienzle.

Mr. Reed switched from a steel-stringed acoustic guitar to a nylon-stringed Baldwin model, with an electronic "pickup" that allowed the guitar to be heard above a full band. He signed a Columbia Records contract in 1961, but that deal yielded no hits. His songwriting and session playing proved more lucrative, as he performed on hits for Bobby Bare and he penned Porter Wagoner's 1962 No. 1 hit, "Misery Loves Company." And Mr. Reed attracted a high-powered fan in Chet Atkins, the guitar star who ran Nashville's branch of RCA.

"Chet and I had got friendly, and he told me, 'You ain't never going to have a hit recording what's not you. Just go in there and be what you are.' Chet thinks I'm funky," Mr. Reed told Morton Moss of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

Atkins expressed interest in Mr. Reed signing to RCA, and Mr. Reed broke the news to a Columbia Records executive that he would like to go to RCA. "It really broke his heart," Mr. Reed recalled, later. "Took him about 30 seconds to let me go."

Atkins was determined to record Mr. Reed as an atypical artist rather than molding him into a pre-established model. In his guitar work and in the songs he wrote, Mr. Reed revealed a humor and a wit that set him apart from other performers and endeared him to audiences.

The key was capturing that in a way that didn't dull spontaneity or intelligence, and Atkins figured quite correctly that he knew how to do this. Rather than asking Mr. Reed to write or record for a particular audience demographic, as he'd done on Capitol and Columbia, Atkins insisted that Mr. Reed be Mr. Reed.

"I owe almost every bit of success that has come to me to Chet Atkins," Mr. Reed told the Associated Press in 1999. "He's a nonconformist, and he suggested that I just play my guitar and sing my songs and he'd release singles."

The first best result of Mr. Atkins' prodding was instrumental showcase "The Claw," so named because of the way Mr. Reed's hand looked when playing in his intricate style.

Then, Mr. Reed came up with "Guitar Man," which showcased his guitar work, his voice and his storytelling ability. "Guitar Man" was followed by "Tupelo Mississippi Flash," which became Mr. Reed's first Top 20 hit, in 1967. "Tupelo Mississippi Flash" was a funky laugher that poked fun at an industry executive who didn't understand the power and reach of Elvis Presley.

In fact, Presley recorded two songs from Mr. Reed's pen, "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man." Presley was unhappy with others' attempts to recreate Mr. Reed's guitar sound, and Mr. Reed received a telephone call from producer Felton Jarvis, asking how he did what he did. Mr. Reed told Jarvis that the only way to get the Jerry Reed sound was to have Jerry Reed on the session, asserting that most studio players are "straight pickers," while, "I play with my fingers and tune that guitar up all weird kind of ways."

Jarvis, and Presley, took note, and Mr. Reed performed on the Presley sessions. It all made sense: The only way to sound like Jerry Reed was to be Jerry Reed.

Mr. Reed wrote "Alabama Wild Man," a Top 50 country hit in 1968 that gave the native Georgian a fun but geographically incorrect nickname. But his breakthrough moment came in late 1970, when the funny, funky and swampy "Amos Moses" landed in the Top 10 of the pop charts and in the Top 20 of the country charts. An instrumental with Atkins won a Grammy in 1971, and the following year Mr. Reed won a best country male performance Grammy for his first No. 1 country smash, appropriately titled "When You're Hot, You're Hot." Two years later, he hit No. 1 again with the modern times lament, "Lord, Mr. Ford."

During this time, Mr. Reed was also appearing regularly on friend Glen Campbell's Goodtime Hour, and television types took notice of his charisma. In 1974, he played a joke-cracking role in W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings. His best-loved film role came in 1977, when he starred as Cledus Snow, a.k.a. "The Snowman," in the Reynolds' flick Smokey and the Bandit. Mr. Reed co-wrote the movie's theme song, "East Bound and Down," which spent two weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Country singles chart.

The Hollywood success and country hits provided smiles for Mr. Reed's casual fans, but musicians also took notice of the staggering virtuosity behind the records. Brent Mason, now the top session man in Nashville, calls Mr. Reed "my favorite guitar player of all time." And scores of others sought to decipher the secrets behind Mr. Reed's rocket-fueled licks. As Guitar Town struggled to catch up, Mr. Reed notched another No. 1 hit with "She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft)" and a No. 2. effort with "The Bird," in which Mr. Reed displayed his spot-on impressions of Willie Nelson and George Jones.

And, in terms of chart runs and guitar innovation, that was it. Mr. Reed had no Top 20 hits after 1983, and his triumphs following that were limited to live performance and movie roles. But the sound he got out of his guitar in the years between 1967 and 1983 is an influence that is more than temporary, more than a wisp of smoke.

"Like Django (Reinhardt), Chet and a few others, Jerry Reed created a unique style of guitar playing, one which will be carried on by admirers for generations to come," said esteemed musician David Hungate. Scholar John Knowles told Thomas Goldsmith, "His playing has the complexity of classical music but the rhythmic sense that comes from country, rock and gospel."

There were plenty who never knew of Mr. Reed as anything more than "The Snowman," or as the coach in The Waterboy. He was funny, and an entertainer, and in terms of movie-making that was enough. Yet Mr. Reed was also one of the most compellingly original guitarists of all time. He fully understood that most of the general public didn't know that, and he fully understood that many session guitarists not only understood it but attempted to replicate his feel and technique. And he was fine with all of that.

"Every dream I ever dreamed came true in my life," he told interviewer Calvin Gilbert in 2005. "I got to write hit songs. And I got to be on phonograph records. I'm a cotton mill boy, and I got to go to Hollywood. Can you imagine that? Why, yeah, my goodness gracious. Go figure."

Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime and never let go till we're gone.