Thursday, January 31, 2013

69th Annual New England Folk Festival returns to Mansfield

Four years ago when UMass Boston-licensed WUMB drank of the federal CPB kool-aid, it became Boston's then third NPR affiliate. It defacto became "Boston's NPR music station" because WGBH had plans to drop all folk and blues programming, adopting a AAA format designed by federal consultants. In the process it dropped the word "folk" from their lexicon in all forms, including scripts read on air, from the logo, from everywhere on its website, even from its newsletter (Folk Ripples became Ripples). WUMB had the decency of also re-branded its festival as the WUMB Music Festival. In doing so it joined the Great Hudson River Revival (Clearwater Festival) by not having a misleading music genre in its name. As folk music is a rare Newport and Falcon Ridge, those festivals would better serve the public by changing theirs as well.

Now the New Bedford Summerfest has re-branded itself, going the opposite direction, as the New Bedford Folk Festival. Organizations that include the word "folk" in their title would do well to comprehend its meaning from this definition by the National Endowment for the Arts: 
Traditional arts are those art forms that are learned as part of the cultural life of a group of people whose members share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or culturally united geographic region. Folk and traditional arts are shaped by the aesthetics and values of a shared culture and are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community through observation, conversation and practice.
For eight years I volunteered as a stage tech and manager, witnessing scores of musicians from a very broad spectrum of genre, including pop, blues and Celtic, with the majority being of the contemporary singer-songerwriter variety. I had always thought of the word "summerfest" quite unique, descriptive and appropriate. Changing its name to draw on the so-called "folk" circuit or to keep up with the Jones or whatever the reason is a marketing mistake.  Chalk it up as yet another usurpation of the word "folk" by mainstream pop culturel traditionalists know where the true folk festivals are.

Swirling Dancers in the Main Hall, Photo by Joe Peidle

But I digress. I wish to honor the NEW ENGLAND FOLK FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION, producer of the folk dance, crafts and music events in two states throughout the year.

The New England Folk FestivalThis yearly event attracts thousands from New England, the country, and the rest of the world to its wonderful mix of particpatory dance (folk, square and contra), folk music and song, international food, crafts, performances, family-oriented activities, and much, much more. Festival History

Thursday Contras
This popular contra dance is held most every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) at the Concord Scout House, 74 Walden St., Concord, Mass. It features a wonderful assortment of local and touring performers.
Schedule || About the Dance ]
The Ralph Page New England Dance Legacy WeekendThis event, held annually during Martin Luther King Birthday weekend in January at the University of New Hampshire at Durham, brings together dancers, musicians, and callers in a weekend of dance, music, and discussions. The weekend was established to honor NEFFA founder Ralph Page, who kept New England dancing alive during the lean years before the revival in the late 1960's. This is a pre-registration event. This is the site of the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance, to which Ralph donated his archives.
Family DancesParents and children can dance together during these events held some Sundays during the colder months at the Concord Scout House, Concord, Mass. This event is co-sponsored with the Folk Arts Center of New England.
The Grants CommitteeEach year, NEFFA awards over a thousand dollars in grants and loans to individuals and organizations that support NEFFA's goals.
The NEFFA Concert SeriesThis new series of folk concerts features performers of special interest to NEFFA members.

All events are all-volunteer, from the board of directors to the committee chairs and members to the musicians to the dance callers to the people lending a hand at events. 

NEFFA's crowning event is the folk festival. This year's, the sixty-ninth edition, will be presented in Mansfield, MA April 19-21, 2013.

Imagine an indoor festival (ritual dancing and informal picking outside as weather permits) so large it requires two school campuses, with contra dancing in three gymnasiums, performances in a 500 seat auditorium, music concerts and workshops in scores of classrooms, traditional crafts and dance wear for sale in three separate areas, a food court, a childrens' activity room (day care is not provided), informal picking and singing in the begins to get a sense of scale.

And it is 100% FOLK, with absolutely no contemporary / pop filler!

Congratulations, NEFFA, by understanding the meaning of the word folk you preserve its legacy.

The New England Folk Festival is a fabulous blend of dance, music, crafts, and food from many lands. The 2013 Festival, our 69th annual Festival, is to be held on April 19-21, 2013 in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

One of the things that makes the Festival special is that all performers donate their talents as volunteers.
NEFFA Performer Index  (2013 performers are bold)

This yearly event attracts thousands from New England, the country, and the rest of the world to its wonderful mix of particpatory dance (folk, square and contra), folk music and song, international food, crafts, performances, family-oriented activities, and much, much more. Festival History

More at 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Northeast Folk Music Festivals and Dance Camps

Like march tree sap, information about the northeast's dance and music camps and festivals is starting to flow. As it reaches me I update the NEFolk's Festival and Camp Database with basic elements (what, when, where, URL, etc.) and, being a resource, not a service, invite the festival/camp publicist to themselves post complete information to NEFolk's 650 members.

The database has been updated with basic information about:
Start Date End DateFestival / Camp Name
02/15/1302/17/13Joe Val Bluegrass Festival
03/01/1303/03/13March Mandolin Festival
04/12/1304/14/13Fiddle Camp North, Spring Edition
04/12/1304/14/13Mandolin Camp North / Fiddle Camp North
04/19/1304/21/13New England Folk Festival
05/17/1305/19/13Banjo Camp North, Spring Edition
05/17/1305/19/13Bluegrass on the Bogs
06/07/1306/09/13People's Music Summer Gathering
06/14/1308/23/13Maine Fiddle Camp
06/15/1306/16/13Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival
06/23/1306/29/13Northeast Heritage Music Camp (NHMC)
07/01/1307/13/13Acadia School of Traditional Music and Arts
07/12/1307/20/13Pinewoods Scottish Sessions
07/31/1308/04/13Appalacian String Band Music Festival (Clifftop)
08/02/1308/04/13Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
08/08/1308/12/13Rustic Root Primitive Music Camp
08/30/1309/01/13Rhythm and Roots Festival
....which represents only about 10% of the listings.

If you are involved with a festival/camp yourself, please submit 2013 information at or by email to
If you are a festival/camp fan and want it to attract other patrons, please inform its management of this free service.

About the database: The database, updated 2-3x/ month, lists close to 200 NE festivals and camps. Please send comments and corrections by email to All festivals/camps with dates contain current year information; "99" in the day field indicates either no information could be found or the producer has yet to submit to NEFolk current year information. Please encourage festival and camp producers/publicists to share information via email to; one of the moderators will update the database. The table was developed over several years by J. Boudreau and cannot be used for commercial or other purposes without permission.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Center for Irish Programs, Boston College Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop, and Lecture Series

Center for Irish Programs, Boston College Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop, and Lecture Series

Series Director: Séamus Connolly, Sullivan Artist-in-Residence

Spring 2013 Calendar:


Thursday, January 31 – Walsh Hall Function Room (Chestnut Hill Campus)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Irish Fiddle and Guitar: Concert by Brendan Bulger, with Bill Knox


Brendan Bulger has been a featured performer and instructor of traditional Irish fiddle music at festivals, concerts, and workshops throughout North America, Australia, and Europe. His recording credits include Music at the House, with Marty Fahey and Kathleen Gavin; the Huntington Theatre production of Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah; the soundtrack of the independent film The Bounty; and his 2001 self-titled CD, with accompaniment by Bill Knox and other special guests.


Tuesday, February 12 – Gasson Hall Irish Room (Chestnut Hill Campus)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Irish Music on Whistle, Accordion, Guitar, and Vocals: Concert Featuring Kathleen Conneely, Dan Gurney, and Eamon O’Leary


Conneely is a widely-respected musician and teacher who has often appeared at Boston College. She has recently released her first solo CD, The Coming of Spring. Gurney, who lived in Boston while attending Harvard University, has released a well-received solo album: Dan Gurney -- Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion. Dublin native O’Leary is a multi-instrumentalist who has been part of the thriving New York City Irish music scene for the past two decades.


Thursday, March 14 – Walsh Hall Function Room (Chestnut Hill Campus)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Irish Music on Fiddle and Accordion: Concert with Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly


Cranitch and Daly are among the foremost interpreters of the rich tradition of instrumental music from Sliabh Luachra, the unique cultural area on the borders of northwest Cork and east Kerry that is marked by a special repertoire of tunes as well as a distinctive style of playing. Both musicians were part of the faculty at Gaelic Roots when it was a summer festival, and have appeared on numerous recordings, including their 2010 release, The Living Stream.


Tuesday, April 2 – Walsh Hall Function Room (Chestnut Hill Campus)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Music of Newfoundland, Quebec, Ireland, and New England: Concert of Fiddle Tunes and Songs, by Becky Tracy and Keith Murphy


Becky Tracy  began playing fiddle for contra dancing in Maine, bending her early classical training to the demands of dance music. Later, she studied Irish fiddling styles with Brendan Mulvihill and Eugene O’Donnell, and French Canadian fiddling with Lisa Ornstein. A native of Newfoundland, Keith Murphy’s traditional song repertoire is based in Eastern Canada and Quebec as well as his current home, Vermont. He is an accomplished composer and arranger in the realm of traditional music and has also composed for theater and film.  


Wednesday, April 17 – Gasson Hall Irish Room (Chestnut Hill Campus)
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Traditional Irish Dance and Céilí: Music by Sullivan Artist-in-Residence Séamus Connolly, with Boston College students and friends.


Participatory dances will be taught, and no prior experience is necessary. The evening will include music and dance performances by Boston College students.


The above events are free and open to the public.  All events are subject to change. For more information, please e-mail or call 617-552-6396.

For directions see . Campus parking guidelines are available at

Inclement weather: visit or call or 1-888-BOS-COLL for updates on weather-related closings on campus.

Event descriptions are provided by the Office of News and Public Affairs and the Irish Music Center of Boston College.

The Burns Library Irish Music Center offers selected video clips of Gaelic Roots events on its YouTube channel:

More personnel changes at UMass Boston's WUMB

In Towards Independent College / Community Radio WUMB

member Carol Lashnits reports:
Carol Lashnits 
Why is Dave Palmater doing Acoustic Sunrise today and not Naomi Aronberg? Is this a case of another disappearing UMB staff member? I hope he's just filling in today!!Like · · Yesterday at 11:26am
View 1 more comment

Towards Independent College / Community Radio WUMB I was away and did not listen. Was it scripted or did Dave have free artistic license?
2 hours ago · Like

Carol Lashnits Naomi was laid off for financial reasons. I'd say scripted...not what Naomi and Dick before her were playing. I expressed my distress over that decision in an email just now to Patty Domeniconi. Not that it matters to them.
2 hours ago · Like
Towards Independent College / Community Radio WUMB I was away and did not listen. Was it scripted or did Dave have free artistic license?2 hours ago · Like 
Carol Lashnits Naomi was laid off for financial reasons. I'd say scripted...not what Naomi and Dick before her were playing. I expressed my distress over that decision in an email just now to Patty Domeniconi. Not that it matters to them.2 hours ago · Like 
At the time of this post Naomi as a staff member.
Towards Independent College / Community Radio WUMB At the time of this post Naomi as a staff member.View 1 more comment 

WUMB Radio - Announcers - Naomi Arenberg

I sincerely hope this was not the case, Naomi is a close friend, a very talented producer/host and victim of past NPR affiliate lay-offs (WGBH and WCAI).

Screen capture of taken at 3:56pm:

Naomi Arenberg
Naomi Arenberg 


Acoustic Sunrise 
Sunday 8:00 am

Radio and music have been my treasured companions throughout most of my life. There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing great music, and radio provides a way to do that on a regular basis.
I was lucky enough to attend a high school where one of the extra-curricular activities was “The Folk Group.” After a year of performing with this ensemble, I was hooked on acoustic music. Then, attending live performances by Odetta, Steve Goodman, and Joan Baez sealed my devotion to folk and traditional music.
From 2004 to 2009 I co-hosted “Folk On WGBH,” which was the sequel to Dick Pleasants’ “The Folk Heritage.” From 2000 to 2011 I was the local host of “All Things Considered” on WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station. From time to time I sing folk, blues, or jazz in concert.
I live in southeastern Massachusetts with my husband, son, and several cats. The beach and the garden are always close at hand.

Update February 1, 2013.

In the weekend program schedule, "Acoustic Sunrise" redirects to Dave Palmater's profile -

And Naomi has been remomved from the announcer list:
Marilyn Rea Beyer
Gail Gilmore
Brendan Hogan
George Knight
Jay Moberg
Albert O
Dave Palmater
Marcia Palmater
Perry Persoff
Sandy Sheehan
Dana Westover

Grey Fox announces early-early list of bands and artists

From Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival:
Grey Fox is super excited to announce an early-early list of bands and artists who will with us this summer. They are: Tim O'Brien with Bryan SuttonCasey Driessen and Mike BubGibson BrothersJerry Douglas,The DuhksCarolina Chocolate DropsDella Mae, and hosted by Dry Branch Fire Squad -- with many more tba. July 18-21 in Oak Hill, NY.

Looks impressive, but with all due respect to Casey and Mike, who are top notch players, the downside of Tim's new accompanists in place of Pete Wernick and  Nick Forster is Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers will not be gracing the dance tent stage this year.

I certainly hope the Duhks lineup will include Duncan Wickel, who filled in for them for ten gigs last year, ending at the sister Rhythm and Roots festival.

Video by Fred Robbins.

Grey Fox always delivers. This advance lineup is just the tip of the iceberg.

Del McCoury and Sam Bush Rescheduled New England Concert Dates Announced

Follow-up to
The notloB Music Blog reports and reflects on news that affects the traditional/revival/labor/social justice folk, old-time, and Celtic music communities in the greater Boston area. "In this era of pop-driven acoustic music, notloB is keeping the folk tradition alive." ~ Jack Hardy

Have just received a message from my source at Sugar Hill for make-up dates for Del and Sam's New England appearances that were postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.

2013-02-21        Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater 
2013-02-22        New York, NY - City Winery
2013-02-23        Derry, New Hampshire - Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton
2013-02-24        Norwalk, CT - Norwalk Concert Hall
2013-03-21        Aspen, CO - Wheeler Opera House - 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival
2013-03-22        Steamboat Springs, CO - Strings Music Pavilion 
2013-03-23        Grand Junction, CO - Avalon Theatre
2013-03-24        Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater

Jon Gersh sits in for Sandy Sheehan at WUMB

Edit 1/29/13: Jon's "blurring the lines" program will not be permanent, rather it is a "sitting in for him until he can come back to health." The article's title has been revised.

Received by mailing list from Jon Gersh:
WUMB 91.9fm Trad Folk Sun 9pm - Midnight... now old-time and Vintage Country and bluegrass!Traditional Folk on WUMB 91.9FM has a new format! Jon Gersh is now hosting this show on behalf of Sandy Sheehan. The show runs from 9PM Sundays til Midnite. I'm bringing a big new energy focused on blurring the lines between blues, bluegrass, old-time country, country and western, honky tonk, and western swing.  All vintage, all excellent!Check it out! If you can't hear it on the radio, try and listen on your computer!Another new feature:  The Worst Country Song... each Sunday around 10PM I'll play a really bizarre country song!  Email me your votes for your favorite "worst" country song! Please spread the word!  Thanks, Jon G....
At the time of this writing the WUMB program schedule lists the program as Traditional Folk, hosted by Sandy Sheehan.

Sandy Sheehan
Sandy Sheehan

Traditional Folk

Sunday 9pm-Midnight

Sandy Sheehan started doing the Traditional Folk show in the fall of 1986. One of his goals is to expose listeners to artists and music they wouldn't hear on other programs.
The music on the program usually falls into the following genres: old-time, bluegrass, Celtic, blues, Cajun, cowboy, and anything else that is interesting and traditional. The program usually consists of a set of three or four songs or tunes of one kind of music, and then changes to a different kind.
A lot of good traditional LPs are being reissued on CD. But Sandy still plays LPs and cassettes as well since some of the greats were never reissued. A lot of good traditional music is being done by contemporary artists as well. Sandy draws on all of these resources for his show.
A traditionally-oriented community calendar is also heard on Traditional Folk.
Folk music has interested Sandy since the early '60s. At that time he met some musicians who played traditional music including old-time, Celtic, and bluegrass. Other musicians later introduced him to blues and Cajun music.
Sandy learned to play a little banjo, but was always more of a listener. He spent the '60s getting together with friends to play old-time music and go to contra dances around Boston and New Hampshire. He also attended many area festivals and concerts.
In 1970 Sandy started Sandy's Music to buy, sell, and repair instruments and sell recordings. The store is still on Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge and is one of the area's folk institutions.
Sandy often packs up the store stock and sets up a temporary shop at a some of the summer festivals and concerts throughout the year. Sandy also organize old-time music events. Every Monday night there's a jam session at Sandy's Music, and several times a year Sandy invites musician friends to Johnny D's in Davis Square, Somerville, for an old-time music night.
The WUMB website's "announcers" area does not yet contain a profile for Jon, and the last WUMB Blog entry is dated May 30, 2012. For a communications entity they are not keeping their public informed.

I wish Jon good luck, and Sandy a full recovery.

Related Sandy Sheehan Laid Up, Sandy's Music Closing, 1/12/13.

p.s. My nominee for Jon's worst country song feature?
‎3 Second Rule
by Lisa Gail Allred

Thursday, January 24, 2013

4th Anniversary Folk-to-AAA Format Change at "Boston's NPR Music Station"

In a series of posts back in 2009, NEFolk was tracking a series of meetings presenting the future of UMass Boston's WUMB.  Its statement "The station may even end up dumping its identification as "folk radio."", made 1/27/09, in association with Clea Simon's 1/24/09 Boston Globe article, proved to be prophetic.

WUMB proceeded to drink the federal kool-aid whose terms and consultants mandated it change format from locally-produced shows featuring quasi-folk music to adopting several NPR syndicated progreams played weeknights and weekends and during the weekdays AAA "music mix". To lead the transformation, then general manager Pat Monteith hired John Laurenti as its music director The word "folk" was purged from its lexcon, the scripts the "on air personalities" read, its logo, it monthly newsletter, and its annual summer festival. Ten months later, sister NPR station WGBH also dumped "the peoples' music" (folk and blues). In the words of Jim Kweskin,

"I can only assume this has something to do with the almighty dollar. Isn't this supposed to be public radio and aren't we the public. Folk music has been a mainstay on WGBH for as long as I can remember. Acoustic artists are as popular as ever and in some ways even more popular then in days gone by. I don't get it. WGBH should be ashamed of itself. Well, as Ma Joad said, "We're the people and you can't stop us and you can't lick us. We just keep coming, 'cause we're the people."

-Jim Kweskin, November 11, 2009.

The rest is history, including WGBH's termination of jazz hosts and cutting back total jazz broadcast hours, as one can read elsewhere in this blog.

The station may even end up dumping its identification as "folk radio."

Change is in the air at WUMB

Money changes everything, at least for WUMB-FM (91.9). Thanks in part to a recent grant that allowed it to evaluate its mission, the public station may well drop wide-ranging music programs "Mountain Stage" and "Afropop Worldwide" by March 1. The station may even end up dumping its identification as "folk radio."
But in exchange, say those in charge, listeners will be getting a station that is more responsive to the community's needs.
The impetus for these changes is a station-renewal grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. One of five awarded in July to stations across the country, the grant of approximately $500,000 has allowed WUMB, which is based at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, to poll listeners and conduct focus groups about what the station should be as it finishes its first 25 years on air.
Four meetings in December with various community members and six last week with "affinity groups," or people already connected with the station or the city's arts and media, have provided some unexpected results. Around the beginning of March, before the station's next fund-raiser, station management expects to implement at least some changes in response. (Listeners can still participate in the online poll at Click on "Listener Survey.")
"There is a definite call to replace some of the syndicated programs with live shows," says Pat Monteith, general manager of the station, which also broadcasts at 91.7 FM in Newburyport and 1170 AM in Orleans. "Some shows," she learned, "people want more of."
Perhaps most startling, she said, was the reaction to the station's ID. "Several people [said], 'I hadn't listened before, because I really don't like "folk" music, but when I listen to your station I like it,' " Monteith explained. "Even our heaviest listeners find the word 'folk' very challenging."
That kind of insight is what the station-renewal grants are for, said Deborah Carr of the CPB. Since June 2006, the station-renewal project has aimed to identify public-radio outlets that were not reaching enough of their listening audience, and yet had strong support from their license holders. Ten stations were assessed in the project's first phase, and five were selected for this second phase, which began last summer, said Carr, the project manager.
Carr said that WUMB was chosen because of the feasibility of its plans and the commitment of the university. The other four stations receiving grants were KDHX of St. Louis, KRCL of Salt Lake City, WIPR of San Juan, and KVCR, of San Bernardino, Calif. The grants provide financial support for two years as the stations reassess their mission.
In addition to the listener-driven programming changes, the grant has also helped WUMB create positions for a director of business and administration and a full-time underwriting manager, which "will take pressure off of listeners" during fund drives, said Monteith.
Programming changes may come soon.
Until now, WUMB paid to be an affiliate of the distributor Public Radio International, and had the right to broadcast PRI shows, including "Mountain Stage" and "Afropop Worldwide." Over the past few years, several other PRI shows carried by WUMB, including "American Routes" and "World Cafe," have switched distributors.
According to Monteith, the fees for being a PRI affiliate have not reflected these changes. The cost to air the remaining two programs is "literally four times what it was per program," she said, which may lead the station to replace those shows with local programming.
It's not a change she takes lightly, as "Mountain Stage" is one of WUMB's top three shows, said Monteith. "We talked to the producers. We love those folks. They do a phenomenal job with the program, but their contract won't allow them to negotiate with us independently and PRI won't give us a price that's affordable," she said.

Julia Mears, PRI's vice president for brand management and marketing strategy, said the organization was working with the station "to come to a rate that works for everyone." But Monteith said she was not optimistic about the possibility of a compromise. 0

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Cecilia's Choices" Launched

Where do you go to find greater-Boston arts events? There are so many choices, all with their particular limitation or drawback. Until today.

Founders Jeff Boudreau and Pam Warren think "Cecilia's Choices", a new Facebook page, is the answer. Seeing the shortcomings of other souces, Boudreau and Warren, both well-connected to the greater Boston music scene, have created a simple, unified "go to" resource anyone to share what they (and future editors who will be added**) consider to be the best live music and arts events, featuring a day or two before the event. Together and with member input, concert, recital and other performance as well as workshops, classes, gallery opening/shows and radio special information will be presented. 

There is no longer a need to go to umpteen different sources. "Cecilia's Choices" will draw upon several active member-based groups* as well as many, many other sources.

Not ready to step up to that level? Simply contribute your event on the main page for consideration to be featured (and a message reminder via the page as the date draws closer), or just sit back and read the offerings. Whether as an editor, contributor or member, all are welcome aboard!

*Here are a few (a very few) of  "Cecilia's Choices" many sources. In no particular order:
Boston-Area Open Mics
Celtic Music in NE
NE Country Blues 
NE Hillbilly Music 
Northeast Old-Time, Bluegrass and Stringband Music 
NEFolk (Yahoo)
Northeast House Concert Network 
New England Electric Blues 
NE Singer-Songwriters 
Northeast Folk Dance 
Community and Independent College Radio

**Cecelia's Choices is edited by
Jeff Boudreau - Old-time, bluegrass, folk, country blues & classical music; independent college and community radio program specials.
Pam Warren - Old-time, bluegrass.
and seeks additional editors for jazz, rock, electric blues, Cajun/zydeco, singer-songwriter contemporary acoustic, opera, electronic, ambient, improvisational, and other music genre as well as visual arts, crafts and dance. Pitch us your interest and qualifications via page message.

p.s. Cecelia has a "snarky" side, too. If you can't stand "cheesy" music, you'll love "Camberville Cheese", which was inspired by a discussion on Christian McNeill's wall that began with "Mumford and Sonszzzzzzzzzzzz. Really? We can do better than this people." and is dedicated to the WMBR's annual "Cheese Patrol" program.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Boston Bluegrass Union Announces Recipients of 2013 Heritage Wards

Congratulations to Music Industry Award winner Betsy Siggins and Musician Award winner the Charles River Valley Boys.

From Gerry Katz

The Boston Bluegrass Union (BBU) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 BBU Heritage Awards. The awards are presented each year by the BBU to honor those who have made substantial contributions to furthering bluegrass music in New England. The awards are part of the 28th annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, taking place Presidents Day Weekend, February 15-17, 2012, at the Sheraton Framingham, Framingham,MA.
The awards will be presented during the Saturday afternoon portion of the festival.
This year's Music Industry winner is: Betsy Siggins, Executive Director of the New England Folk Music Archives and longtime fixture in the Cambridge music scene 
This year's Musician award winner are:The Charles River Valley Boys, Pioneering Cambridge-Based Bluegrass Band 
Full biographies of the award winners are posted on the our Heritage Award page <>. You can also view the list of previous BBU Heritage Award Winners. Feel free to spread the good news! 
The Joe Val Bluegrass Festival is the Northeast's premier wintertime roots music festival, presented by the Boston Bluegrass Union at the Sheraton Framingham, in Framingham, MA. The event features a roster of National and Regional artists across two stages, over fifty workshops, master classes, and education programs, vendors, and much more. Weekend and Single Day tickets are now on sale.  Visit for further details.
Gerry KatzBoston Bluegrass Union28th Joe Val Bluegrass

2013 Heritage Awards

The Boston Bluegrass Union (BBU) is pleased to announce the BBU Heritage Awards. The awards are presented each year by the BBU to honor those who have made substantial contributions to furthering bluegrass in New England. The awards will be presented during the 28th annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Presidents Day Weekend, February 15-17, 2013, at the Sheraton Framingham, Framingham, MA.
This year’s Music Industry winner is:
Betsy Siggins, Executive Director of the New England Folk Music Archives and longtime fixture in the Cambridge music scene.
This year’s Musician award winner are:
The Charles River Valley Boys, Pioneering Cambridge-Based Bluegrass Band

2013 Industry Award Winners

2013 Musican Award Winners

betsyPhoto © Neale Eckstein
Betsy Siggins
Executive Director of the New England Folk Music Archives and longtime fixture in the Cambridge music scene.
For more than half a century Betsy has been an integral part of the folk music scene, watching it rise from modest beginnings at the Golden Vanity, Café Yana, and Club 47 to a movement of international acclaim. In 1958, she arrived for her freshman year at Boston University. Her roommate was Joan Baez. As a waitress, gallery sitter and Sunday morning chef, Betsy found a community in the space of Club 47 and the musicians it collected.

Under the guidance of Betsy, Jim Rooney and others, the venue helped launch many careers and served as a home for regular visits from Doc Watson, Bill Monroe and others. In 1960, Betsy married Bob Siggins of the Charles River Valley Boys, another of our 2013 Heritage Award winners.

When Club 47 closed in 1968, Betsy went on to work with many nonprofits. In Washington DC, she assisted Ralph Rinzler with the Festival of American Folklife. In New York, she worked for over twenty years, founding programs and numerous public service organizations helping the disenfranchised.

In 1997 Betsy returned to Club 47's successor, Club Passim, and for 12 years served as executive director, creating nonprofit programs such as Culture for Kids, an after-school program for underserved Cambridge students, the Passim School of Music, and the Passim Archives. Now, as founder of the New England Folk Music Archives, she has turned her energies to establishing a permanent home for the legacy of the folk music community in New England.
crvbPhoto © John Byrne Cooke

The Charles River Valley Boys
Pioneering Cambridge-Based Bluegrass Band
One of the first urban bands to play bluegrass and old time music, they helped spark the folk revival in the early 1960’s at venues such as Club 47. While their original repertoire centered on songs by Uncle Dave Macon, Charlie Poole and Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, the group's 1966 album, Beatle Country, marked one of the earliest examples of the British rock band's songs being rearranged as country music.

The genesis of the Charles River Valley Boys began whenBob Siggins, a banjo player and student at Harvard University, and Ethan Signer, a Yale University graduate who came to Cambridge to study biophysics at M.I.T., metEric Sackheim, a transplanted New Yorker who was a fan of old-timey music and had a large repertoire of songs and a crateful of rare recordings. Harvard’s WHRB DJ Lynn Joiner provided the band’s name, as a pun on the Laurel River Valley Boys and the band was ready to make their debut at Harvard University's Lowell House. They continued to attract attention with frequent appearances on WHRB's shows Balladeers and Hillbilly at Harvard. Tapes from these shows were released on the band's self-produced debut album, Bringin' in the Georgia Mail. Over the next few years, the group became regular performers at Tulla's Coffee Grinder, a coffee house in Harvard Square as well as the Club 47.

In 1962, Paul Rothchild, a friend of the band who had worked as a record distributor in the Boston area, produced their second album on his own label, Mount Auburn Records. He then began working for Prestige Records, which reissued the album as Bluegrass and Old Timey Music (1962), and produced a further album on the label, Blue Grass Get Together, with Tex Logan, in 1964. By that time, the group comprised Siggins, Signer, John Cooke (guitar, vocals), and Fritz Richmond (washtub bass, vocals). Between 1963 and 1965, the group performed and toured on a full-time basis.

As the Charles River Valley Boys' full-time group status became more solidified, the membership changed. By 1966, the band consisted of Siggins, Joe ValJames Field, and Everett Alan Lilly. The son of immigrant Italian parents, Val, who worked as a typewriter repairman, was a master of bluegrass mandolin and had an unforgettable high tenor voice. After sitting in often with the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover at the Boston’s Hillbilly Ranch, he met and formed a band with Bill Keith and Jim Rooney. When Keith joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and Rooney went to Greece to study under a Fulbright scholarship, Val joined the Charles River Valley Boys. Guitarist and vocalist Field had been the lead singer of the New York City Ramblers, a group that featured mandolinist David Grisman. Upright bass player Lilly was the son of Everett Lilly of the Lilly Brothers.

After Elektra Records hired Paul Rothchild as an A&R producer, the Charles River Valley Boys sent him a demo tape of four songs, including bluegrass-style renditions of the Beatles tunes "I've Just Seen a Face" and "What Goes On." Impressed by what they heard, Rothchild and co-producer Peter K. Siegel conceived the idea of expanding the concept to a full-length collection of Beatles songs.

Augmented by California guitarist Eric Thompson, who had also played with the New York Ramblers, Nashville fiddler Buddy Spicher and West Virginia dobro playerCraig Wingfield, the band recorded Beatle Country in Nashville in 1966. More than just the first rendition of the Beatles as country music, Beatle Country presaged Newgrass, which it antedated by several years. In that regard, it was a groundbreaking recording, demonstrating that material from outside the genre could be rendered as bluegrass. The album became a much-sought-after collectors' item before being reissued on CD by Rounder in 1995.