West Philly Square Dance

The West Philly Square Dance happens monthly on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.  Live old-time music, all dances are called, and everyone is welcome.  My friends Mark Kilianski and Amy Alvey of Hoot and Holler were the band this past Friday along with dance caller Donna Hunt, so I decided to do a short interview with them about square dancing and their musical travels.

I’ll be playing the October 20th dance with my pals as the False Hearted Chickens (John Salmon, Chris Dalnodar, Michael Foster and Jeff McLeod).  See you there!

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Bahto Delo Delo: Roma Music from Clejani, Romania

I came across a Taraf de Haidouks CD in 1999 at a record shop, really liked the photo on the cover, and wore the disc out from repeated listening.  I was really excited that Marin “Tagoi” Sandu’s band, Bahto Delo Delo was to perform at Martyrs’ in Chicago. on July 11.  Sandu is the son of Nicolae Neacsu, one of the founding members of Taraf de Haidouks, and you can clearly hear the influence in his music.

The band’s Facebook page describes themselves as:

an authentic Roma (gypsy) group from the village of Clejani in southern Romania, a village famous for its virtuoso Roma musicians. Bahto Delo Delo shares the fast and delicate, and slow and soulful melodies of rich Roma music tradition with audiences around the world. “Bahto Delo Delo” means “May God give you good luck” in Roma (gypsy) dialect and said when drinking together.  (https://www.facebook.com/bahtodelodelo Follow them on Facebook!)

Also performing that night was Chicago cimbalom virtuoso Nicolae Feraru.  The Chicago Tribune wrote a fantastic article about him being awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.  I won’t go on about the music.  Just listen:

Jason Hathaway Plays Folk’N’Blues

 

Indianapolis based Jason Hathaway describes his music as Folk’n’Blues and I think that description is just about right.  His acoustic and electric performances are full of energy, fun, and a bit of music history about the songs as well.  I’m happy to say Jason and I go way back as college buddies in Terre Haute, IN and I have loved seeing his music evolve since then.  I stopped in the Upland Tasting Room to see him playing with his long-time mentor, Rev. Charlie Edmonds.

Growing up in Paris, Illinois Jason mostly listened to rock until his father gave him a Howlin’ Wolf tape in middle school- a gift he describes as a turning point for him musically.  I think his dad deserves a good parenting award for that present:

Jason taught himself to play on his Epiphone guitar starting in 8th grade and then took lessons in Terre Haute with Brett Cantrell (of Indy based band Phyllis).  He learned a lot of rock, including, of course, Stairway To Heaven, but he remembers distinctly asking Brett to teach him some Howlin’ Wolf.  He’s never looked back and his powerful voice belts out some of the best blues I’ve heard.  You should absolutely check out his music whenever possible.   Click here for Jason’s Website, his electric band The Bastard Hounds, and like his Facebook profile.

 

Joe Dawson, Master Fiddler from Bloomington, Indiana

I’ve been meaning for a long time to write a post about my favorite fiddle player.  Joe Dawson was a master fiddler, carpenter, farmer, and a man of numerous other talents.  Joe’s repertoire of old-time fiddle tunes is totally unique, 100% Indiana and he taught them to a lucky circle of people who visited him at his weekly living room jam in Bloomington, Indiana.  I was one of these lucky folks and had the pleasure of jamming with Joe for over a decade.  Many of his tunes would be considered “crooked” (not in equal amount of measures or beats for each phrase) and could be very tricky to catch.   Here is a set of Joe’s tunes of played by Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet:

Joe passed away May 11, 2012 and he and his music are missed greatly.  Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet, Joe’s adopted family who spent countless hours playing music with Joe and recording his tunes and memories, wrote this lovely tribute:

Joe Dawson, master carpenter and fiddler, and long-time resident of Prospect Hill, passed away at Hospice House in Bloomington on May 11, 2012 at the age of 84. In his last days he was surrounded by his dearest friends.  He was predeceased by his beloved wife Lela (Pate) Dawson, his sister Mildred Wells and his parents Cletus Dawson and Myrtle Dawson Walker.  Joe was born in Bedford, Indiana on April 22, 1928. When Joe was ten his father died in an accident, and his mother moved to Bloomington to find employment. Joe’s sister lived with his mother while Joe went to live with his mother’s parents, Jasper and Ida Chambers, on their 140 acre farm on the Monroe/Brown Country line.Though money was extremely scarce, Joe and his grandparents were able to provide for almost all their needs by growing their own food, raising livestock, bartering eggs for supplies and by hewing and selling railroad ties. Years later, most of the farm was submerged by the formation of Lake Monroe. Due to the responsibilities of helping his disabled grandfather on the farm, Joe did not have to serve in World War II, but he was drafted to fight in the Korean War and saw heavy combat. Early in life Joe picked up carpentry skills from his father, and after the war he worked for a time at Showers Brothers Furniture. He soon moved on to work for Superior Lumber, Pritchett Brothers Construction and CFC Incorporated. As a master carpenter he was indispensable in the building of hundreds of important structures in Bloomington and beyond, including Beck Chapel, Fountain Square Mall, and the Graham Plaza Hotel. On the side, for a time, he raised hogs on his farm near Adel in Owen County.  As a masterful fiddler, Joe kept alive a beautiful and important repertoire of traditional music from Monroe and Brown Counties, music that has many of its deeper roots in Kentucky and the larger Appalachian mountain region. He learned this music from the fiddle playing of his grandfather, Jasper Chambers, as well as from other relatives and neighbors, while living on the family farm. He passed that music along to many younger musicians who continue to play it today. The Thursday night music sharing sessions that he convened in his living room for many years were a joy for those who were lucky enough to gather there to learn the tunes and all the stories and lore that went with them. Recordings of Joe’s fiddling and anecdotes will soon be deposited in the IU Archives of Traditional Music in Bloomington.

The recordings of Joe have been submitted to the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music in Bloomington, Indiana and will be available online through there website in the near future.  What a treasure!  I love playing and teaching Joe’s tunes to other people and I recorded two of them on my new CD, Kitchen Fiddle.  I hope many people listen to, learn and treasure Joe’s music for years to come.