MAC BENFORD

(April 18, 1940)

MAC BENFORD has been a leading figure in the preservation and performance of traditional Appalachian stringband music for more than forty years. He began playing clawhammer banjo in 1960, while a student at Williams College. His interest in the authentic mountain styles of playing the 5-string led him to the greatest living masters of the time - players like Wade Ward, Kyle Creed, Tom Ashley, and Roscoe Holcomb who would provide life-long inspiration and models in the formation of his own style.

Moving to California’s Bay Area in 1967, Mac began his professional performing career with the much-beloved Dr. Humbead’s New Tranquility Stringband and Medicine Show.This group specialized in the re-creation of the old-time music captured on 78 rpm records from the 1920s, most especially that of Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers. The band played festvals (rock and folk), clubs, coffeehouses up and down the West Coast, before it disbanded in 1970.

In that year, Mac began playing with Walt Koken and Bob Potts as the Fat City Stringband. Honing their skills on the street corners of San Francisco and old-time fiddler’s conventions in Virginia and North Carolina, the three finally settled in New York State’s Finger Lakes area, and there became the nucleus of the now-legendary Highwoods Stringband. Their innovative sound, combining authentic renditions of the tunes and songs from bygone days with the driving power of the competition-oriented string music of the '70s, knocked the old-time world on its ear and provided a brand new model for the stringband revival.It was written that “more than any other band of their time, they were responsible for drawing a legion of new,young fans into old-time music by the force of their musicianship and the fact that they were having such a good time at it.”

TOULOUSE ENGELHARDT

(April 14, 1951)

TOULOUSE ENGELHARDT, (born April 14, 1951, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an acoustic guitarist, recording artist, and was the last member of the Takoma Seven. The Takoma Seven was a group of finger style guitarists who recorded for Takoma Records from 1959-1976. Both John Fahey and Leo Kottke were his label mates. It was this group of finger style guitarists that brought about a subsequent resurgence in the acoustic guitar movement that is still evidenced today. During his career, Engelhardt has been noted for his work by Guitar Player Magazine in their Reader's Poll nomination for Best Acoustic Finger Style Guitarist. He was the Silver Medal Winner of the Winter Equinox Award at the Virgin Island Film Festival. He was also awarded Best Jazz Artist at the Orange County Music Awards and is listed in the 100 Most Distinguished Guitarists of 2011.

RAVI SHANKAR

(April 7, 1920 – 11 December 2012)

RAVI SHANKAR, born Rabindra Shankar Chowdhury (Bengali), his name often preceded by the title Pandit ('Master'), was an Indian musician and a composer of Hindustani classical music. He was one of the best-known exponents of the sitar in the second half of the 20th century and influenced many other musicians throughout the world.

Shankar was born to a Bengali family in India, and spent his youth touring India and Europe with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under court musician Allauddin Khan. After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was music director of All India Radio, New Delhi, from 1949 to 1956.

In 1956 he began to tour Europe and the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Beatles guitarist George Harrison. His influence on the latter helped popularize the use of Indian instruments in pop music throughout the 1960s. Shankar engaged Western music by writing compositions for sitar and orchestra, and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1986 to 1992, he served as a nominated member of Rajya Sabha, the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. He continued to perform up until the end of his life. In 1999, Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. [Wikipedia]

DAVE SWARBRICK

(born April 5, 1941)

DAVE SWARBRICK (born 5 April 1941) is an English folk musician and singer-songwriter. He has been described by Ashley Hutchings as 'the most influential [British] fiddle player bar none' and his style has been copied or developed by almost every British, and many world folk violin players who have followed him.[1] He was one of the most highly regarded musicians produced by the second British folk revival, contributing to some of the most important groups and projects of the 1960s, and he became a much sought-after session musician, which has led him throughout his career to work with many of the major figures in folk and folk rock music.

His work for the group Fairport Convention from 1969 has been credited with leading them to produce their seminal album Liege and Lief (1969) which initiated the electric folk movement. This, and his subsequent career, helped create greater interest in British traditional music and was highly influential within mainstream rock. After 1970 he emerged as Fairport Convention's leading figure and guided the band through a series of important albums until its disbandment in 1979. Since then he has played in a series of smaller, acoustic units and engaged in solo projects which have maintained a massive output of recordings, a significant profile and have made a major contribution to the interpretation of traditional British music.

MUDDY WATERS

(April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983)

McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983), known by his stage name MUDDY WATERS, was an American blues musician who is often cited as the "father of modern Chicago blues". Muddy Waters grew up on Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi, and by age seventeen was playing the guitar at parties, emulating local blues artists Son House and Robert Johnson.[4] He was recorded in Mississippi by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1941.[5][6] In 1943, he moved to Chicago with the hope of becoming a full-time professional musician, eventually recording, in 1946, first for Columbia Records and then for Aristocrat Records, a newly formed label run by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess.

In the early 1950s, Muddy and his band, Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Elgin Evans on drums and Otis Spann on piano, recorded a series of blues classics, some with bassist/songwriter Willie Dixon, including "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "I'm Ready". In 1958, Muddy headed to England, helping to lay the foundations of the subsequent blues boom there, and in 1960 performed at theNewport Jazz Festival, recorded and released as his first live album, At Newport 1960.

Muddy's influence is tremendous, not just on blues and rhythm and blues but on rock and roll, hard rock, folk, jazz, and country; his use of amplification is often cited as the link between Delta blues and rock and roll.

BILL ROBINSON

Amazing Step Dancing

Inspired by an interview with Brian Seibert, dance critic for the New York Times and author of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing. "Magisterial, revelatory, and-most suitably-entertaining, What the Eye Hears offers an authoritative account of the great American art of tap dancing. Brian Seibert, a dance critic for The New York Times, begins by exploring tap's origins as a hybrid of the jig and clog dancing from the British Isles and dances brought from Africa by slaves. He tracks tap's transfer to the stage through blackface minstrelsy and charts its growth as a cousin to jazz in the vaudeville circuits and nightclubs of the early twentieth century. Seibert chronicles tap's spread to ubiquity on Broadway and in Hollywood, analyzes its decline after World War II and celebrates its rediscovery and reinvention by new generations of American and international performers. In the process, we discover how the history of tap dancing is central to any meaningful account of American popular culture. This is a story with a huge cast of characters, from Master Juba (it was probably a performance of his in a Five Points cellar that Charles Dickens described in American Notes for General Circulation) through Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Gene Kelly and Paul Draper to Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Seibert traces the stylistic development of tap through individual practitioners, vividly depicting dancers both well remembered and now obscure. And he illuminates the cultural exchange between blacks and whites over centuries, the interplay of imitation and theft, as well as the moving story of African-Americans in show business, wielding enormous influence as they grapple with the pain and pride of a complicated legacy.What the Eye Hears teaches us to see and hear the entire history of tap in its every step."

The book is available on Amazon

MEL LYMAN

(March 24, 1938 – March 1978)

Melvin James Lyman (March 24, 1938 – March 1978) was an American musician, writer, and founder of the Fort Hill Community, which has been variously described as a family, commune, or cult. Lyman grew up in California and Oregon. As a young man, he spent a number of years traveling the country and learning harmonica and banjo from such musicians as Brother Percy Randolph and Obray Ramsey.

During a period in the early 1960s, Lyman lived in New York City, where he associated with other artists, filmmakers, musicians and writers. An example of which was his friendship with underground filmmaker Jonas Mekas, which led to the studios of Andy Warhol and Bruce Conner. He learned the art of filmmaking from Conner and made some films with him.

In 1963 Lyman joined Jim Kweskin’s Boston-based jug band as a banjo and harmonica player. Lyman, once called "the Grand Old Man of the 'blues' harmonica in his mid-twenties", is remembered in folk music circles for playing a 20 minute improvisation on the traditional hymn "Rock of Ages" at the end of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival to the riled crowd streaming out after Bob Dylan’s famous appearance with an electric band. Some felt that Lyman, primarily an acoustic musician, was delivering a wordless counterargument to Dylan’s new-found rock direction. Irwin Silber, editor of Sing Out Magazine, wrote that Lyman’s "mournful and lonesome harmonica" provided "the most optimistic note of the evening."

p class="fwtitle">CHANGÜÍ

Traditional Cuban music

CHANGÜÍ is a style of Cuban music which originated in the early 19th century in the eastern region ofGuantánamo Province, specifically Baracoa. It arose in the sugar cane refineries and in the rural communities populated by slaves. Changüí combines the structure and elements of Spain's canción and the Spanish guitarwith African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu origin. Changüí is considered a predecessor of son montuno (the ancestor of modern salsa), which has enjoyed tremendous popularity in Cuba throughout the 20th century.

Many people confuse changüi with other styles, but academically you are playing changüí is once the ensemble consists of these 4 musical instruments: marímbula, bongo, tres, güiro (or guayo) and a singer(s). So it isn't really the patterns syncopation, but rather the ensemble style.

Changüí is related to the other regional genres of nengón and kiribá. It actually is a descendant of nengón. The changüi ensemble consists of: marímbula, bongos, tres ("Cubanized" guitar), güiro (or guayo) and one or more singers. Changüi does not use the Cuban key pattern (or guide pattern) known as clave. The tres typically plays offbeat guajeos (ostinatos), while the guayo plays on the beat.

BASCOM LAMAR LUNSFORD

(March 21, 1882 - September 4, 1973)

BASCOM LAMAR LUNSFORD (March 21, 1882 - September 4, 1973) was a lawyer, folklorist, and performer of traditional (folk and country) music from western North Carolina. He was often known by the nickname "Minstrel of the Appalachians."

Bascom Lamar Lunsford was born at Mars Hill, Madison County, North Carolina in 1882, into the world of traditional Appalachian folk music. At an early age, his father, a teacher, gave him a fiddle, and his mother sang religious songs and traditional ballads. Lunsford also learned banjo and began to perform at weddings and square dances.

After qualifying as a teacher at Rutherford College, Lunsford taught at schools in Madison County. In 1913, Lunsford qualified in law at Trinity College, later to become Duke University. He began to travel and collect material at the start of the 20th century, often meeting singers on isolated farms. Lunsford has been quoted as saying he spent "nights in more homes from Harpers Ferry to Iron Mountain than God."

Lunsford gave lectures and performances while dressed in a starched white shirt and black bow tie. This formal dress was part of his campaign against the stereotyping of “hillbillies.”

In 1922 Frank C. Brown, a song collector, recorded 32 items on wax cylinders from Bascom. In 1928, Lunsford recorded "Jesse James" and "I Wish I Was a Mole In the Ground" for the Brunswick record label. Harry Smith included "Mole" on his Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952. Smith's anthology also includes Lunsford's performance of the gospel song "Dry Bones", recorded in 1928.

Lunsford played in a style from Western North Carolina, which had a rhythmic up-stroke brushing the strings. It sounds similar to clawhammer banjo playing, which emphasises the downstroke. He also played a "mandoline", an instrument with mandolin body and a five-string banjo neck. He occasionally played fiddle for dance tunes such as "Rye Straw". He censored himself, avoiding obscene songs or omitting verses. His repertoire included Child Ballads, negro spirituals and parlor songs. A CD collection of Lunsford's recordings, from the Brunswick recordings of the 1920s to the recordings for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress in 1949, Ballads, Banjo Tunes and Sacred Songs of Western North Carolina, was released by Smithsonian Folkways Records in 1996.

HAPPY ST. PADDY'S DAY WEEK

TOMMY PEOPLES

DE DANNAN (originally Dé Danann) is an Irish folk music group. They were formed by Frankie Gavin (fiddle), Alec Finn (guitar, bouzouki), Johnny "Ringo" McDonagh (bodhrán) and Charlie Piggott (banjo) as a result of sessions in Hughes's Pub in An Spidéal, County Galway, subsequently inviting Dolores Keane (vocals) to join the band. The late fiddler Mickey Finn is also acknowledged to have been a founder member.

They named themselves Dé Danann after the legendary Irish tribe Tuatha Dé Danann. In 1985, they changed the spelling of the group from "Dé Danann" to "De Dannan" for reasons that have never been made clear. However, since 2010, Finn & McDonagh have recorded and performed with a line-up named "De Danann", and, since 2012, Gavin has recorded and performed with another line-up named "De Dannan".