Folk Gathering's host band is two women (Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon) playing twelve instruments, performing styles that range from old time to Celtic to Klezmer and beyond. Combining tradition with innovation, Simple Gifts creates some of the finest arrangements in folk music today: swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance, spoons show up in an Irish reel, and the concertina ventures far beyond styles considered traditional for that instrument. Based in the hills of central Pennsylvania, Simple Gifts switches with ease among two violins, concertina, mandolin, banjolin, recorders, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle, guitar, piano, and percussion.
The Rustical Quality String Band, from State College, PA, has been playing Appalachian string band music since 1978, making it one of the longest, continuously running old-time groups around. In the past 35+ years, the band has performed for a wide variety of events, including weddings, rehearsal dinners, anniversary parties, outdoor festivals, college campus concerts, and folk and square dances.
In addition to the fiddle tunes and old-time songs familiar to the string band repertoire, the Rustical Quality String Band also performs novelty songs from the 20s and 30s, as well as some of the classic country music material of Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and others. The band enjoys taking old songs and making them their own.
The Rustical Quality String Band brings to its performances a wacky sense of humor and a mellowed view of life acquired through more than 40 years of friendship and playing music together. Band members are looking ahead to another 40 years of finding obscure, old songs, bringing them into their repertoire, and performing them for captive and non-captive audiences alike.
Jerry Zolten is a musician, educator, author, and producer. He and Richard Sleigh have performed regionally as the Jive Bombers for more than forty years. He is the producer of albums by the Grammy-winning Fairfield Four and collaborated with legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb on Chimpin’ the Blues, an album of historic blues recordings. Jerry appears in a Martin Guitar Company film, The Ballad of the Dreadnought, and co-produced and appears in the film How They Got Over: Gospel Quartets and the Road to Rock 'n' Roll, currently streaming on HBO Max and Amazon Prime. His book Great God A’Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds, 2nd edition, has just been published by Oxford University Press.
Gene and Gayla Mills embody the folk tradition, weaving together strands of bluegrass, country, and folk with original songs of love, contemplation, and protest--many based on real events and people from Virginia. Gene and Gayla are currently recording their fourth album while sharing music on front porches and at camps, jams, and festivals. They’ve been having a damned good time of it and would love to share that musical feeling with you.
Gene is an accomplished flatpicking guitarist, lead singer, teacher, and songwriter with dozens of award-winning songs receiving extensive radio airplay. Gayla reaches for the heights by playing a dog house bass and singing harmony with a partner a foot taller. Her articles and how-to book Making Music for Life have helped thousands take their next musical steps.
Gene and Gayla have learned from their musician friends and heroes, performed at listening rooms, weddings, breweries, and house concerts, and guided newcomers at jams, camps, and workshops. They’ve played at the Oak Grove Music Festival, Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (official showcase), Crozet Music Festival, Richmond Irish Festival, Nashville Songwriter’s Festival, and Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase.
Kelly Armor is a freelance musician, storyteller, teaching artist and the Folklorist in Residence at Erie Arts & Culture. For almost 20 years she has been working with traditional artists in the region, particularly with Erie's resettled refugee communities, helping them sustain their cultures in their new home. She studied flute performance and composition at Yale University and lived in Kenya and Tanzania for 2-1/2 years where she lived with families and documented and studied Swahili language, culture and various musical traditions. Most recently she has collaborated with two companies based in Erie, Dafmark DanceTheater and SoMar Danceworks, creating original music for their programs.
The Fiddling Thomsons are an award-winning multi-instrumentalist father and son team residing in New Hampshire, with 13 years of duo performance experience on twin fiddles, banjos, guitar, accordion, Irish flute, pennywhistle, and percussion instruments.
They have performed internationally at venues including the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival, and the Bath Folk Festival in England, and at New England venues including the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire; Massachusetts Maritime Academy; and Fenway Park. Ryan played keyboard for years with Boston-based ceili bands - Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and Ceol Tradsiunta na hEireann.
Ryan has won awards for fiddle and banjo, Brennish placed first with his band at the prestigious Clifftop Festival and together the Thomsons won a Twin Fiddling Award at the Lowell National Park Banjo and Fiddle Contest. More info is available at http://captainfiddle.com/thomsonsband.html
Henry Koretzky is a mandolinist/guitarist/singer from Harrisburg, PA, who has performed in a wide variety of styles and groups, from bluegrass with Cornerstone, Sweetwater Reunion, and High Strung, klezmer with The Old World Folk Band, old-time with the duo Rootbound, as well as swing, celtic, contemporary folk, and contradance music. He has taught at Folk College in previous years solo, as part of The Keystone Rebels and as part of a duo with singer/songwriter/ guitarist Kevin Neidig. He has also been a staff regular at Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.
Richard has been exploring the harmonica from the inside out for over 30 years. He has performed with Taj Mahal, Maria Muldaur, Bo Diddley, Susan Werner, and many others. His studio work includes award winning films, TV, radio, and theatre soundtracks, and other projects. As a soloist, he combines his fluid and highly developed rack playing with soulful vocals, guitar, and intricate solo harp flights. Richard’s music is American roots - ranging from rural and urban blues, fiddle tunes, swing, country, gospel, to early rock and roll. He has three solo releases - “Steppin Out”, The Joliet Sessions”, and his most recent collection titled “Celtic Instrumentals”.
You may know Holly from Folk College emceeing the Folk College Sunday Student Band Concert. You may know her as the one who brings flamingoes to the Greenwood festival or as the contra dance band leader from 2019. You might not know that she began attending Folk College in 2001, began assisting Linda Littleton with the hiring of musicians in 2005 and has been helping to organize both festivals ever since. When not wrangling musicians, she sometimes dabbles herself. Holly plays hammered dulcimer in the band Ancient Echoes and guitar and bouzouki in the celtic band, Callanish. Callanish's latest CD is entitled The Hares Paw. Holly retired from her art teaching job in 2016 to have more time for her extracurricular activities!
Larry has been actively involved with Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering and Folk College as a member of the Huntingdon County Arts Council. He is a retired geology teacher from Juniata College and an avid supporter of folk music.
Larry got his start on autoharp more than 50 years ago when asked by his mother to arrange singable keys and chords for her to use in accompanying her nursery school class. He acquired his own first autoharp in the mid-70’s
and has played it since both to accompany songs and as a melodic instrument. He loves it as an instrument that demands minimal practice that lends itself to playing by ear.
Laura Alexander has been a Folk College and Greenwood Furnace camper since 2018, and instantly felt at home in this uniquely welcoming community. She started playing cello in school orchestra, and now enjoys playing for contra, English and French folk dances in the Philadelphia area and beyond. She frequently plays for farmers' markets and dances with Bill Quern and Sarah Gowan as Box and String Trio. She is an active contra dance organizer and always looking for opportunities to spread the joy of participatory music and dance. When not playing music, she's a chemist with the PA Bureau of Labs.
Based in Syracuse, NY, Bob is in demand as a contra and square dance caller who is known for his relaxed teaching style, patience, energy, and ability to make the dance fun!
See Heritage Musicians for more information on his story and on past award recipients.
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