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Ohio River Valey Folk Festival

Musicians Ziesemer, Luckett to bring
local talent to festival stage

Weekend headliners include
Red Molly, James McMurtry

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(May 2008) – Contemporary folk musicians Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett of Indianapolis love Madison, Ind., so much they decided to move there, and later they wrote a few songs about the town.

Greg Ziesemer and Kriss lucket

Photo provided

Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett will
bring their Americana-style folk
originals to the annual folk festival.

The talented singing-songwriting duo will perform those songs and more original works during the third annual Ohio River Valley Folk Festival, May 16-17 in Madison along the riverfront between West and Poplar streets. The festival, with title sponsor of Cruisin’ Auto, celebrates the beauty of Americana, combining traditional folk music, folk art and storytelling for fun and education.
Hot new group Red Molly will headline the musical entertainment on Friday night. The group will take center stage at 10 p.m. James McMurtry, who can be politically rousing, headlines Saturday’s entertainment. He will take center stage at 10 p.m.
Red Molly was voted the 2006 New Artist of the Year by WUMB FM Boston. Since its beginning three years ago, the group has been wowing audiences with its stunning three-part harmonies and warm, engaging stage presence. In a particularly satisfying turn, Red Molly was selected to perform in the 2006 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists Showcase. Even more exciting, Red Molly earned the highest number of audience votes, and therefore appeared at Falcon Ridge 2007.
Texas native McMurtry has long been known as an astute, clear-eyed observer and concise, no-holds barred chronicler of the human condition. A growing socio-politically edge fairly exploded just prior to the 2004 elections when his scathing, palace-rattling “We Can’t Make It Here,” was made available online as a free download. The seven-plus-minute diatribe against social injustice and the government’s hypocrisy and deceptions resounded wildly across the Internet and the airwaves. It ignited a grassroots firestorm that has brought a legion of new fans to the singer-songwriter’s work.
Ziesemer and Luckett, both musical and romantic partners, are excited and thrilled to be invited to perform at the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival. “This is certainly the biggest gig we have ever done,” said Ziesemer, 49. “We are honored and excited to be a part of this.”

2008 Ohio River Valley Folk Festival Logo

Folk Festival Music Schedule

Folk Festival Music Schedule
Friday, May 16

• 6 p.m.: Swinging Steaks
• 8 p.m.: John Gorka
• 10 p.m. Red Molly
Saturday, May 17
• 2 p.m.: Otis Gibbs
• 4 p.m.: Greg Ziesemer & Kriss Luckett
• 6 p.m.: Chris Smither
• 8 p.m.: Tom Paxton
• 10 p.m.: James McMurtry
Storytelling Schedule
Friday, May 16

• 6 p.m.: Bob Sanders
• 7 p.m.: Buck Creacy
• 8 p.m.: Bob Sanders
Saturday, May 17
• 2 p.m.: Pam Holcomb
• 3 p.m.: Tom Cunningham
• 4 p.m.: Pam Holcomb
• 5 p.m.: Buck Creacy
• 6 p.m.: Tom Cunningham
Also at the festival:
Folk Art Village, food, beer, wine.

• Admission wristbands: $20. Available at the gate or at the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 601 W. First St., Madison. Or online at: www.ohiorivervalleyfolkfestival.com. Camping available at the festival site for $20 per night.
• Information: (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956.

Ziesemer, a popular figure on the Indiana music scene for years, began his musical career by singing in church at age 7. He grew up in a musical household and began playing guitar in high school. “There was always music in my house,” he said.
In seventh grade, Ziesemer met Mark Cicenas, who later introduced him to the Madison music scene. Cicenas taught him how to play guitar chords and together they wrote some songs. They parted ways after high school, and Cicenas moved to Madison.
Fifteen years later, Ziesemer, who owns an antique furniture restoration and conservation company, was working at the Lanier Mansion Historic Site and called Cicenas. “It was at that point that I became connected to Madison and simply fell in love with the town.”
Unfortunately, Cicenas died unexpectedly in December 2002.
Luckett, an interior designer by profession, also grew up around music. She sang in choirs in high school and then joined the college rock-folk scene while studying at Ball State University.
After she finished college, she had several bands, including Diamonds and Rust, an acoustic guitar duo that focused on college rock with a folk edge. After 10 years, the partners went their separate ways, and it was at that point that she met and teamed up with Ziesemer.
Luckett said her inspiration for the songs she writes comes from day to day living. “They come from something that happened in a moment or from a dream during the night,” she said. She has learned to keep a notebook handy for those sudden inspirations.
Ziesemer and Luckett perform about four times a year at Madison’s Thomas Family Winery. Last year, they played the “Music in the Park Series” concert during the September Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art weekend.
The couple has attended previous Ohio River Valley Folk Festivals to simply watch and say they can’t wait to actually perform during this year’s event. “We are big fans of some of the other performers,” said Luckett. “We are just thrilled we were invited to perform.”
John Walburn, festival chairperson, said each year festival organizers try to make the event better than the previous years. Organizers said turnout for the festival grew last year and feedback on the event was extremely positive. “We certainly don’t set on our laurels,” he said. “We continue to enhance the event to make it even more attractive to participants.”
There are several new features that have been added to the folk festival this year. There are VIP tents that can be rented by families, corporations or any group. The tents rent for $500 and come with eight chairs, a table and eight wristbands for the festival. Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the tents have proven to be a popular item and almost all of them have already sold. “There are still a few available, so anyone who wants a VIP tent should certainly contact us soon,” she said.
A recent challenge for the festival organizers has been the city’s recent ground work at the site where the VIP tents are scheduled to go up. Using heavy equipment, city workers broke up the concrete pad where Maddox Tobacco Warehouse once stood and buried the pieces under dirt. They then sowed grass seed and put down straw. The grass has not yet had time to grow, so tourism officials may have to relocate the tents so people won’t be walking on the newly sown area.
Also new is primitive camping within the festival grounds. Walburn said camping was something festival goers kept asking about during the last two annual events. This year, the Madison’s Board of Works approved 27 camping spots within the parameters of the festival. People can set up their tents and really feel like a part of the event,” said Walburn. The campsites cost $20, but do not include the cost of an entry wristband.
Perhaps the most exciting new feature of the festival will be a musician workshop scheduled for 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Anyone with a wristband will be allowed in the musicians’ tent for a singer-songwriter workshop. “It will be a very informal setting in which visitors will get the chance for upfront and personal interactions with the musicians,” said Walburn. “This is not a guitar lesson or anything like that; instead, people will get the chance to ask questions and discover why musicians do what they do.”
John Gorka, who takes center stage at the folk festival at 8 p.m. Friday, will be among the musicians participating in the workshop.
“Gorka is an excellent songwriter, very popular and has been around on the national scene for decades,” said Walburn. “It will be a treat for aspiring musicians to talk with him.” National Public Radio voted Gorka among the top 20 best folk performers.

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