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Folk Festival entertainment

Folk Festival stage
has impressive lineup of talent

McGuinn of 'The Byrds' is a rabid promoter
of traditional folk music

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

(May 2006) – The Ohio Valley Folk Festival that runs May 19-20 in Madison, Ind., will feature an impressive lineup of folk musicians from a variety of traditions. There will also be a rich blend of folk artists and storytellers. Included in the musical lineup are favorite local folk musicians as well as nationally prominent ones. Headlining the event will be Roger McGuinn, founder of the influential 1960s rock group The Byrds and a popular solo folk musician. McGuinn will take center stage at 9 p.m. Friday night.

Roger McGuinn

Photo provided

Roger McGuinn, a veteran performer who
was orignally with The Byrds, will take
the stage Friday night. He has recently
appeared on PBS-TV specials
and has a new CD.

McGuinn started out in the music business studying folk music and was active on the folk scene in his native Chicago. After finishing school, he toured and performed folk music with the Limeliters, Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin.
After hearing the Beatles perform in the early 1960s, McGuinn experimented by combining folk music with a rock beat.
When he formed The Byrds in 1964 along with Gene Clark, David Crosby, Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman, they became one of the most important rock groups in history because of their new musical blend.
McGuinn disbanded The Byrds in 1973 to pursue a solo career, and in 1981 he decided to return to his folk roots. In 1995, worried about the loss of traditional folk music, he began to record many traditional folk songs.
In an April telephone interview, McGuinn said that back in The Byrds, he introduced people to a combination of folk and rock, but now he is interested in people getting to know more traditional music. He said his love of traditional folk music and his conscientiousness about preserving it were the reasons he decided to put together a four-CD set, “Folk Den.” He called his compilation of traditional songs, a “labor of love.”
He said he plans on doing more traditional music at the upcoming folk festival in Madison. He will perform many of the songs that he has recorded on “Folk Den.”
This will be his first time in this area, but he said he looks forward to it. Unfortunately, McGuinn will only be here for his performance because he has another show the next day.

Tom Roznowski

Photo provided

Bloomington, Ind.’s
own Tom Roznowski
is a regular performer
in Madison but will
share the stage with
some folk musician heavyweights Friday
evening. He has a lyrical
grasp of Americana.

Todd Snider joins McGuinn on the impressive schedule of performers Snider is a wry and honest, yet funny performer. Snider will take the stage at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Snider was born in Portland, Ore., but after high school moved to California and learned to play the harmonica. His brother, living in Austin, Texas, thought he might be able to get a job in a band, so he sent him a plane ticket. It was at that point that Snider decided he would dedicate his life to music.
Snider, who first garnered attention with his “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues,” will strike a chord with the younger members of the audience, yet he will still appeal to those older listeners who grew up with the folk revival of the 1960s.
Ironically, Tommy Makem, a traditional folk singer whose style is completely opposite of Snider, will perform after him at 9 p.m. Saturday. Armed with his banjo, tinwhistle, poetry, stagecraft and his magnificent baritone voice, Makem is sure to impress listeners at the festival.
Makem is known around the world as the “Godfather” of Irish music and has been mesmerizing fans for more than four decades. He has expanded and reshaped the boundaries of Irish culture and infused a pride in that culture in the Irish.
Locally-known The River Newts, with Madison resident Roy Gentry, will open the festival at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The group was formed in 2004 with the purpose of re-establishing the tradition of river musicians. The Newts, a contemporary group, use the themes of history and ecology for their original works.
Megan King is another musician with local roots. She will open Saturday's entertainment at noon. King, a singer-songwriter who also plays an acoustic guitar, has a unique style and sound, drifting in and out from a bluesy sound, a Celtic feel, and with a Folk poet’s lyrics.

Todd Snider

Photo provided

Todd Snider of Portland, Ore.,
is among the headliner acts booked
for the music stage. He performs
late Saturday afternoon, May 20.

John Franz of Nashville, Ind., will also be a familiar face to the crowd at the festival. Many people will recognize him as the folk musician who plays outside the Artist Colony in Nashville. He will perform on stage at 1 p.m.
While there will be many more musicians for the crowds to enjoy, there will also be storytellers, such as Tom Cunningham with his Fiddle Tales, and Stephanie Holman, Patty Callison and Ginny Richey. Performances on the Tall Tales stage will begin at 6 p.m. Friday.
Folk artists showing off many of their unique talents will be seen throughout the parking lot between Poplar and Central streets. Among them will be Bill Berg, of Nashville, Ind., who creates handmade, high-quality mountain dulcimers and hammer dulcimers.
Berg, who owns Mountain Made Music, has been designing and creating these dulcimers for more than 30 years. He started working as a violin maker’s assistant back in the 1970s but decided to create his own unique designs in dulcimers shortly afterward.

Tommy Makem

Photo provided

Tommy Makem is a
traditional folk singer
who performs music
and poetry armed with
a banjo, tinwhistle
and a magnificient
baritone voice.

Berg explained that the mountain dulcimer is a traditional American instrument created in the Appalachian Mountains when the earliest settlers arrived in that region. The mountain dulcimer is strummed much like a guitar.
On the other hand, the hammer dulcimer is an ancient instrument from Persia dating back to nearly 500 B.C. The hammer dulcimer, which is part of the psaltery family, has close to 100 strings, and players use little mallets to strike the strings. It is the hammer dulcimer that eventually evolved into the piano.
Berg will be giving demonstrations at the festival on how the dulcimers are made and will have several to sell as well. Anyone interested in his dulcimers can visit: www.mountainmademusic.com.

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