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.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but a lot has been going on. I’ve been working on a new film project: Hoosier Fiddlers: A Documentary Celebrating Indiana’s Fiddle Traditions. The film is currently in production and I am spending lots of time interviewing and recording fiddlers from around the state. It has been a lot of fun meeting new musicians and learning more about the ones I already knew.
Three of the featured musicians, Dena El Saffar, Julane Lund, and Lee Mysliwiec, play very different styles of folk music and I think some people will be surprised at the diversity of styles of fiddling here in Indiana.
Dena El Saffar is a founding member of the band Salaam “which has delighted audiences for years with its expansive repertoire of Middle Eastern and North African music…Iraqi-American band leader Dena El Saffar’s compositions take advantage her own eclectic musical upbringing to create a sound rooted in maqam (the modal system used throughout the Middle East), with tasteful forays into Latin, African, Balkan, Rock, Blues, and Classical styles”.(www.salaamband.com)
I met Lee Mysliwiec, also of Bloomington, Indiana, at a weekly old-time in 2001. I love his fiddle playing and his attitude about life as well. He is a patient and excellent teacher and is really well known at Clifftop (Appalachian String Band Festival) for his free fiddle and banjo lessons and you will often find him busking on the streets of Bloomington.
Julane Lund plays traditional Norwegian music on the Hardanger fiddle and Norwegian-American tunes on the regular fiddle. I met Julane at the Indiana State Fair Fiddle Contest, sponsored by Traditional Arts Indiana, in 2006. We ended up in a tie for first place and had to do a play off where Julane won. It was very dramatic! I also learned that she lived only 5 miles from my house- I couldn’t believe my luck! She’s a wonderful musician and has travelled all over the world with her music, including Bashkortostan.
If you love folk music, the question is not “Should I go to Budapest?” but rather “Have I checked the airfares today?”. I was introduced to Hungarian folk music through folklorist friend David Stanley while visiting him in Budapest. On any night of the week there is an amazing number of concerts and events going on in the city. Dave knew the best things to see and do and, even better, spoke way more Hungarian than me. I saw a concert of the beloved band Muszikas and went to a táncház (literally “dance house”) which is a traditional dance event that features live music and folk dances. I loved it!
I went back to Budapest in 2013 and wanted to find more music on my own. Never mind that I spoke 3 Hungarian words at the time (its not really a language you can fake your way through). Why didn’t I do research beforehand? Most of the sites I found were in Hungarian and made no sense when I Google translated them. But I don’t think that’s a reason to stay home and went anyway.
I stayed at the Homemade Hostel, which is nothing short of fabulous, and the staff pointed me in the right direction. I walked to Potkulcs, one of Budapest’s many romkocma, or “ruin pubs”, that features folk music. Here’s what I found:
I sat with a beer for all of 5 minutes before a group invited me to sit with their table and soon after we all joined in the dance. Some of these dances are much easier to learn than others so you have to be your own best judge. A person I spoke with suggested I go to a dance the next night at Gondozó Kert with music by Jam de Strune and I saw some familiar faces from the night before. I’m sure it could have continued after that with more recommendations as it seems you can be out for music 7 nights a week if you so choose.