Folk Gathering's host band is two women (Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon) playing twelve instruments, performing styles that range from old time to Celtic to Klezmer and beyond. Combining tradition with innovation, Simple Gifts creates some of the finest arrangements in folk music today: swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance, spoons show up in an Irish reel, and the concertina ventures far beyond styles considered traditional for that instrument. Based in the hills of central Pennsylvania, Simple Gifts switches with ease among two violins, concertina, mandolin, banjolin, recorders, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle, guitar, piano, and percussion.
Dede Wyland’s pure and compelling voice has enchanted audiences around the globe, and her driving rhythm guitar has powered the sound of many a bluegrass band including the popular Tony Trischka & Skyline and ’Grass, Food & Lodging. As a teacher, she uses her profound knowledge of the human voice and her inspiring and supportive manner to help amateurs and professionals alike realize their vocal potential. Bluegrass Unlimited, in a January 2001 feature article, said that Dede’s “gifts of vocal virtuosity, musical expression, and sheer positive force of personality have made her a valued presence in modern acoustic music.” She is often described as “a singer’s singer.”
Best known for her 8-year stint with Tony Trischka & Skyline, one of the leading progressive bluegrass bands of the 1980s. During her many years as a touring musician Dede graced the stage of America’s most prestigious bluegrass and acoustic music festivals, and has performed in Canada, Australia, France, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Sicily, Italy, Scandinavia and Japan. Radio listeners have heard Dede on the nationally broadcast shows A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage, and on Chicago’s The Flea Market.
Henry Koretzky is a mandolinist/ guitarist/singer from Harrisburg, PA, who has performed in a wide variety of styles and groups, from bluegrass with Cornerstone, Sweetwater Reunion, and High Strung, klezmer with The Old World Folk Band, old-time with the duo Rootbound, as well as swing, celtic, contemporary folk, and contradance music. He has taught at Folk College in previous years as part of The Keystone Rebels and as part of a duo with singer/songwriter/ guitarist Kevin Neidig, and has also been a staff regular at Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.
The Fiddling Thomsons are an award winning multi-instrumentalist father and son team residing in New Hampshire, with 12 years of duo performance experience on twin fiddles, banjos, guitar, accordion, irish flute, pennywhistle, and percussion instruments.
They have performed internationally at venues including the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival, and the Bath Folk Festival in England, and at New England venues including the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire; Massachusetts Maritime Academy; and Fenway Park. Ryan played keyboard for years with Boston based ceili bands - Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and Ceol Tradsiunta na hEireann.
Ryan has won the Northeastern USA trophy at the National Fiddle Contest, banjo awards from California to Massachusetts, and a Boston Music Awards nomination for his accordion playing. Brennish has variously placed third through first at several local fiddle contests and a first place band award at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia. Together the Thomsons won a Twin Fiddling Award at the Lowell National Park Banjo and Fiddle Contest. More info is available at http://captainfiddle.com/thomsonsband.html
Carl Rahkonen is a Music Librarian and Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as a member of the Library Faculty. Carl plays fiddle, mandolin or string bass with local musicians, with Finnish-American musicians, with the Irish band Aran, the Pennsylvania old-time band Keystone Rebels, Grist for the Mill and other musician friends. He was an ArtsPath artist from 2001-05 in fiddling for Western Pennsylvania.
His research interests include Finnish, Scandinavian, Baltic, Russian and Celtic folk music; folk instruments, especially the Finnish kantele; polka bands and fiddling, especially in Western Pennsylvania; and the history of ethnomusicology, especially its women pioneers.
Jerry Zolten is a Penn State educator as well as a musician, musicologist, producer, and author. He and Richard Sleigh have been performing blues, swing, and folk music together as the Jivebombers for more than 35 years. Among Zolten's producing credits, a soon-to-be-released CD/LP of a public radio program, Chimpin' the Blues, co-hosted with cartoonist R. Crumb, CDs by the Grammy-winning Fairfield Four, and Woody@100 at Penn State, a centennial celebration of Woody Guthrie's life and music. Zolten is currently working for Martin Guitars on the development of a roots music cyber site, and for Revenant Records, a compilation of blues, jazz, folk, and gospel recordings from the historically significant Paramount label.
Richard has been exploring the harmonica from the inside out for over 30 years. He has performed with Taj Mahal, Maria Muldaur, Bo Diddley, Susan Werner, and many others. His studio work includes award winning films, TV, radio, and theatre soundtracks, and other projects. As a soloist, he combines his fluid and highly developed rack playing with soulful vocals, guitar, and intricate solo harp flights. Richard’s music is American roots - ranging from rural and urban blues, fiddle tunes, swing, country, gospel, to early rock and roll. He has three solo releases - “Steppin Out”, The Joliet Sessions”, and his most recent collection titled “Celtic Instrumentals”. You can also follow Richard on his blog
As a pianist, Judy is at home in many styles of music including jazz, classical and contra. She plays English Country Dance music with the band Kestrel, and Irish music with Patrick Clifford. Some years ago her experience at Folk College prompted her to take up the piano accordion. Much easier to haul around than a Steinway, that instrument has opened the door to many rich musical possibilities and ensembles. As a bandleader, Judy often can be found conducting large groups of musicians who have never rehearsed together, including at the Mt. Airy Contra Dance and the Northeast Squeeze-In, in addition to the Folk College Contra Dance Band. Her teaching is focused on helping musicians find simple, and perhaps unexpected, ways to improve and enjoy their playing. She explores ideas about achieving mastery, both as a musician and a martial artist, in her blog, Kotsu Kotsu.
Mark Twain said, “When you want genuine music -- music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, go right through you like Brandreth's pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose, -- when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!”
Jay Best has invoked the “glory-beaming banjo” for decades and has explored a wide variety of “genuine music” including old-time, folk, and blues. Jay leads a fiddle-mentoring group at the Confluence Creative Arts Center and performed on and produced the community CD Confluence: Coming Together. He loves playing banjo, guitar, and fiddle with friends and family, but his magnum opus was a recording made with a steel guitar tuned like a banjo and performed with cicadas at twilight.
Beth and Stephen Folkemer are founding members of Cormorant's Fancy (Celtic Music) and Folk and Friends (Civil War era and American music). Stephen has directed choirs for over 30 years and retired from teaching music at the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg.
Larry has been actively involved with supporting Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering and Folk College as a member of the Huntingdon County Arts Council. He is a retired geology teacher from Juniata College and an avid supporter of folk music.
Brett's philosophy is that "anyone can make music, regardless of age, musical ability or knowledge!” He teaches hammered dulcimer, mountain dulcimer, bluegrass banjo, clawhammer banjo, beginner acoustic guitar and mandolin as well as several unique all instrument workshops. Brett has authored and marketed a series of instructional CDs that display his friendly method of teaching the hammered dulcimer and also teaches lessons via Skype and Facetime.
Don grew up in a musical family and has been playing over 60 years. He currently plays in four groups: the Celtic Hooligans, the Mountain Thyme Ramblers, Salvation's Road, and Fiddulacc.
In his spare time he repairs old instruments, and has a ridiculous collection at his house.
The Cultural Interpreter for Greenwood Furnace State Park, Paul is knowledgeable about the history of the people and places at Greenwood.
Based in Syracuse, NY, Bob is in demand as a contra and square dance caller who is known for his relaxed teaching style, patience, energy, and ability to make the dance fun!
See Heritage Musicians for more information on his story and on past award recipients.