Spook Handy performed alongside Pete Seeger at festivals and concerts more than 50 times from 2003 – 2013. He learned firsthand many of Pete’s songs and the stories behind them. Now, Spook is on a three year “Remembering Pete Seeger” World Tour bringing these songs and stories and Pete’s message to all 50 U.S states, all 11 Canadian provinces, and many other countries (as well as all 21 New Jersey counties). He can be heard at theaters, arts centers, libraries, universities, churches and anywhere else people gather to celebrate Pete’s life and legacy. His new CD “Pete, Woody and Me – Volume I” is due out by Spring 2016. Spook was named Best Folk Artist by Upstage Magazine, Gannett New Jersey, The Courier News, The Home News and About.com. He has written for theater and film and his original songs have charted as high as #6 on the International Folk Radio Charts. Spook is regarded as one of New Jersey’s torch carriers for folk music and singer/songwriter traditions.
Frank Watson (Piping Traditions)
Frank Watson, a Highland bagpiper, has competed successfully as both a solo performer and with bands. Frank has piped at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden in New York City. His piping is currently featured in a television documentary being shown on the Smithsonian Channel, entitled “The Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut,” which was nominated for a 2007 Irish Film and Television Academy award in the Best Single Documentary category and a Celtic Media Festival 2007 award for the Best Factual Documentary. “The Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut” is now on sale as an iTunes download. Frank piped for the Mahoney Brothers Band on their CD Rock and Roll Rodeo for the song “Half the Man.” He holds a PhD from Drew University and is a student of the late Robert Gilchrist. Frank and his son, Ian, will open the festival this year, as they have for several years, with a march through the festival grounds. newjersey.bagpiper.com
Sing Out! magazine columnist Roger Deitz is a notable figure on the folk scene. For more than 40 years, Deitz contributed a wealth of columns, feature stories, and reviews to Frets, Acoustic Guitar, Fast Folk, Billboard, and Sing Out! among others.
Roger’s humor column “RagTag” has graced the last page of Sing Out! magazine since 1995, collected into the book 15 Years of RagTag illustrated by Ed Courrier. Deitz is the primary author of the section on “New Jersey and Popular Music” for the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. He is the author of The Folk Music Chronicles, a book of essays, articles, and short stories. Roger serves on the Sing Out! advisory board and is a founding member of Folk Alliance International. He was program director of New Jersey’s Closing Circle Coffeehouse, June Days Folk Festival, and the Folk Project’s special concert series.
A regular guest on Happy and Artie Traum’s Bring it on Home public radio program, Deitz has hosted and performed at musical venues of all sizes, including many main stage appearances at The Philadelphia Folk Festival. Roger is a recipient of the 2012 New Jersey Folk Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been tagged “A National Treasure” by such diverse admirers as radio host and blogger Ron Olesko and former Frets editor Jim Hatlo.
Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley are the husband-wife duo who have been performing traditional Irish music together in the Delaware Valley (South Jersey/Philadelphia region) as McDermott’s Handy since 1979. These talented multi-instrumentalists put on a super concert and combine their strong vocals and equally strong backing accompaniment with a commanding stage presence that comes from hundreds of performances in front of all kinds of audiences. With a huge repertoire they’ve built over 40 years of playing traditional music, they sing in Irish and English. Kathy mainly plays harp and fiddle and occasionally adds 5-string banjo and bodhran. Dennis plays guitar, flute and tinwhistle and can be counted on to add in mandolin or bouzouki when the arrangement requires. In 2014, Dennis and Kathy were inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Mid-Atlantic Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann during the weekend of the Fleadh Cheoil. The Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame inducted them into their Hall of Fame in November 2015.
R.J. Storm & Old School
The R. J. Storm and Old School bluegrass band, based in Beacon, NY, has performed their brand of energetic, artistic, and engaging bluegrass music at many venues from the Hudson Valley to the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI., and the many bluegrass festivals and events around the region. Bringing together tasteful instrumental musicianship, rich harmonies, and an energetic stage presence, the R. J. Storm and Old School bluegrass band has appeared with artists such as Tony Trischka, Pete Seeger, Tom Chapin, Bill Kieth, Uncle Floyd, Dom Flemmons, John McCutcheon, Tom Paxton, Smokey Greene, Roger Sprung, Buddy Miriam, and many, many others.
Pete McDonough, of Pennington, NJ, has been studying performing and writing about country, piedmont, delta and other forms of acoustic blues for more than 40 years. He has appeared with and opened for Woody Mann, Roy Book Binder, Honeyboy Edwards, Odetta, John Hartford, and a host of other artists at Café Lena, Godfrey Daniels, and the legendary On Patriots Stage series as well as other Northeastern venues. In terms of recent projects, Mr. McDonough contributed to the production of Harlem Street Singer, an award winning documentary film about the life and music of Reverend Gary Davis. He also prepared biographies of two-dozen masters of acoustic blues for music reader The Complete Acoustic Blues Method by Woody Mann. His first appearance at the New Jersey Folk Festival was in 2015.
Masters of the Celtic Harp: Grainne Hambly & William Jackson
Masters of the Celtic Harp, quite simply, Gráinne Hambly and
William Jackson are two of the foremost harpers of Ireland and Scotland. Since touring extensively throughout the United States for the past nine years, Gráinne Hambly has not only garnered an ever-growing following of devoted harp enthusiasts but has managed to cross over and capture the Irish music fan with the taste for the fast, driving reels and jigs of traditional music. She has broken the genteel parlor image and elevated the stature of the harp right up there with the fiddles and pipes in the realm of dynamic dance music. Add to that the unsurpassed expressive quality the harp has in her hands in the rendition of age-old airs and laments and you have the masterful performance of an experienced and renowned player. William Jackson was a founding member and creative tour de force of Ossian in 1976, which became one of Scotland’s best-loved traditional bands. The band, whose music influenced a generation of musicians, extensively toured the U.S. and Europe. Besides harp, he also plays tinwhistle and bouzouki. He has composed music in Scotland for the BBC and Scottish television and recently directed and performed the music for “The Battle of the Clans” for the History Channel.
Jim Albertson, known for both his storytelling and his singing, has been contributing to the New Jersey Folk Festival since its very first year in 1975. He served as emcee for the first 14 years of the festival and has received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to folk music and New Jersey culture. Jim was elected the first president of the New Jersey Folklore Society in 1980 for his expertise in South Jersey traditions. In 1985, he released an album, Down Jersey, on the Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways label. Jim was born in Atlantic City and grew up in the surrounding area.
Deja’ Vu is Ernie Muhlback, Kevin Smith and Jim Jeffries on guitar and vocals, Mike Soga on bass and David Ross on Drums. The five of them have performed together in various bands over the last 30+ years. They have appeared in such venues as the Stanhope House, Mexicali Blues & the Tropicana in Atlantic City to name a few, and performed in festivals such as the Stonehenge and the Bourbon Street Blues Festival. Currently, they are with the R&B, soul, funk, and disco dance band – BONEFIDE. However, when an opportunity presents itself to let their “freak flags fly,” they are all too willing to revisit their 60’s classic rock roots. This being the 50th Anniversary of the Legendary Summer of Love in San Francisco, Deja’ Vu will be giving an extra nod to Folk/Rock pioneers the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, along with performing a selection of songs by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. While their set may conjure memories for some, it is not meant to be solely nostalgic, as the themes and emotions expressed through the music are equally as relevant today.
The Next Generation of Traditional Irish Music
Since 1998, three Philadelphia-area based Irish music teachers, Chris Brennan-Hagy, Dennis Gormley and Kathy DeAngelo, have led young Delaware Valley musicians in the celebration and practice of Irish folk music. Meeting once a month during the school year, the group gathers at the Irish Center of Philadelphia to learn new tunes and enjoy an Irish seisiún. At today’s Folk Festival, Next Generation presents a cross-section performance of fiddlers, harpers, and flute and tin whistle players to showcase the traditional reels, jigs and hornpipes of Ireland. Highlighting their talents at various venues, Next Generation has performed at the annual Irish-American Children’s Festival at the Garden State Discovery Museum, the Comhaltas Ceoltoíri Éirheann convention, the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil and even represented United Stated in the All-Ireland.
Lenni Lenape Pow Wow
(led by Pastor John Norwood)
The Pastor J.R. Norwood, PhD, has served in pastoral ministry for over thirty years and presently presides as the Senior Pastor for the Ujima Village Christian Church in Ewing. For the last decade, he has acted as tribal leader for the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation as well as holding the senior-most role of Principal Justice for the Tribal Supreme Court. He is also a delegate to the National Congress of American Indians. Passionate about the preservation and perpetuation of his tribal nation’s cultural heritage and rights, Dr. Norwood also works as the Government Liaison for the Confederation of Sovereign Nanticoke-Lenape Tribes and the General Secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes.
In addition, Dr. Norwood holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Howard University, a Master of Divinity Degree with a concentration in Church and Society from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Missiology from North-West University. Beyond leadership roles, he is a gifted cultural educator and craftsman.
The Magnolia Street String Band
The Magnolia Street String Band started in 2013 as an informal project among some friends, meeting and pickin in Highland Park, NJ. Originally there was a cellist. And no banjo. In the summer of 2013, they stumbled into a booking for a local festival gig opening for Tony Trischka. To get ready for the performance, the band invited Paul Prestopino (illustrious backing player for Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton and many others) to join their ranks. A couple months later, they added veteran NYC musician and master of all things stringed, Bobby Baxmeyer. The new members along with the original core of Matthew Backes, Sheila Shukla, and Jonathan Austin, played their first gig in March 2014. In the year since they have played about thirty shows to ever larger and more appreciative audiences. They have played festival stages, state fairs, hootenannies, honky tonks, and more refined events as well. Their music is grounded in traditional bluegrass with some folk, country, and old-time elements mixed in. The band’s sound often features three- (and sometimes four-) part harmonies and hot instrumentals. Overall, their take on bluegrass feels old but relevant, traditional but personal, well-crafted but ultimately soulful and direct.
Aytekin Şenyaylar was born in Adana, Turkey and came from a big family of musicians. He went to school in Adana and focused on music at the same time. The first instrument that Senyaylar learned from his father was the Kanun (comparable to the xylophone); he was also interested in the Ud (comparable to the lute), and learned to play the piano. Senyaylar later moved to İstanbul and worked with well-known singers and musicians. In 1999 he moved to New Jersey where he continued his musical career. Senyaylar’s goal is to get Turkish folk music known all over the world.
Brady Wagner is the Klass Klowne. He is a circus arts performer from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, whose act is a spectacularly stupefying show that is sure to dazzle and delight. A show based on balancing, juggling, and fire, his goal is to spread happiness and joy to the world one city at a time! He travels the country doing shows and having fun! Check him out on the Gateway Stage!