Pennsylvania Folk Gathering

September 13-15, 2024


2024 Faculty

Simple Gifts

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.

Tussey Mountain Moonshiners

Winners of the 2010 DelFest Bluegrass Band Competition, the Tussey Mountain Moonshiners hail from central PA, honoring the bluegrass traditions of the region. Their musical style ranges from traditional to Americana, with a dash of old time, and includes a captivating mix of unique, original songs. Their on-stage chemistry, amplified by the fun and strong connection they have with their audience, makes a Moonshiners show an experience not to be missed! 

Bluegrass Unlimited said this about their debut album, I’m Going Home: “… the Tussey Mountain Moonshiners exude rich talent, enthusiasm, energy, and a wide knowledge of string music… Every single cut proves enjoyable … With admirably equal skill, authenticity, and enthusiasm, the Tussey Mountain Moonshiners … move from bluegrass to old-time to folk/Americana.”

Stephen Buckalew: fiddle, mandolin, vocals
Gwen Stimely: banjo, vocals
Bill Stetz: bass, vocals
Steve Crawford: guitar, vocals
Jeremy Tosten: guitar, mandolin, vocals
Ken Shafranko: dobro, vocals
Moonshiner Emeritus: Marc “Lumber City Slim” Prave: bass, guitar, vocals

Jay Best

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.

Henry Koretzky

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 by himself, as part of The Keystone Rebels and as part of a duo with singer/songwriter/ guitarist Kevin Neidig. He has also been a staff regular at Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.

Gene & Gayla Mills

Gene and Gayla Mills embody the folk tradition, weaving together strands of bluegrass, country, and folk with original songs of love, contemplation, and protest–many based on real events and people from Virginia. Gene and Gayla are currently recording their fourth album while sharing music on front porches and at camps, jams, and festivals. They’ve been having a damned good time of it and would love to share that musical feeling with you.

Gene is an accomplished flatpicking guitarist, lead singer, teacher, and songwriter with dozens of award-winning songs receiving extensive radio airplay. Gayla reaches for the heights by playing a dog house bass and singing harmony with a partner a foot taller. Her articles and how-to book Making Music for Life have helped thousands take their next musical steps.

Gene and Gayla have learned from their musician friends and heroes, performed at listening rooms, weddings, breweries, and house concerts, and guided newcomers at jams, camps, and workshops. They’ve played at the Oak Grove Music Festival, Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (official showcase), Crozet Music Festival, Richmond Irish Festival, Nashville Songwriter’s Festival, and Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase.

Holly Foy

You may know Holly from Folk College emceeing the Folk College Sunday Student Band Concert. You may know her as the one who brings flamingoes to the Greenwood festival or as the contradance band leader from 2019. You might not know that she began attending Folk College in 2001, began assisting Linda Littleton with the hiring of musicians in 2005, and has been helping to organize both festivals ever since. When not wrangling musicians, she sometimes dabbles herself. Holly plays hammered dulcimer in the band Ancient Echoes and guitar and bouzouki in the Celtic band Callanish. Callanish’s latest CD is entitled The Hares Paw. Holly retired from her art teaching job in 2016 to have more time for her extracurricular activities!

Cathy Petrissans & Jeff Parker

Cathy Petrissans sings three-part harmony in the California-based Basque-American NOKA trio. Singing in the endangered Basque language, NOKA has released four albums, has toured internationally, and was interviewed on NPR. In Clarion PA, she adds melodica, harmonium, and bass to Celtic music performed by the four women who make up Keridwyn. Cathy’s musical highlights include singing at the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, and at the Smithsonian Folk Life festival. She has performed and recorded with Basque Grammy Award winning accordionist Kepa Junkera and recently enjoyed adding vocals to a recorded single with Simple Gifts.


In Clarion, PA Cathy adds vocal harmonies, melodica, harmonium, and bass to more traditional Celtic instruments played by the five women who make up AnamCara. In addition, Cathy plays the guitar and leads music ministry at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brookville, PA with husband Jeff Parker. Cathy’s musical highlights include singing at the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, and performing at the Smithsonian Folk Life festival in Washington D.C. 

Larry Mutti

Larry has been actively involved withthe 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.

Larry got his start on autoharp more than 50 years ago when asked by his mother to arrange singable keys and chords for her to use in accompanying her nursery school class. He acquired his own first autoharp in the mid-70’s and has played it since both to accompany songs and as a melodic instrument. He loves it as an instrument that demands minimal practice that lends itself to playing by ear.

Laura Alexander

Laura Alexander has been a Folk College and Greenwood Furnace camper since 2018, and instantly felt at home in this uniquely welcoming community. She started playing cello in school orchestra, and now enjoys playing for contra, English and French folk dances in the Philadelphia area and beyond. She frequently plays for farmers’ markets and dances with Bill Quern and Sarah Gowan as Box & String Trio. She is an active contra dance organizer and always looking for opportunities to spread the joy of participatory music and dance. When not playing music, she’s a chemist with the PA Bureau of Labs.

Howard Blumenthal

Howard Blumenthal’s participation in folk music began while in college. His buddy & college roommate, Mark Josephs taught him to play the guitar.  Once back home in Western New York, he formed a popular bluegrass band called Enchanted Mountain Green. As a local “disk jockey” on WESB Radio in Olean, his show, Old Time Flavor & Mountain Spice (folk music) was on the air for 10 years.

Howard has performed with many Western New York traditional music bands including Hey Diddle Diddle! (contradance band) and Wily Milo String Band (old time string band).  He organizes the Old Time Music @ the Crook Farm Country Fair & plays Old Time Country with the Crook Farm All Stars.  In addition, he helps run the Olean Contra Dance & plays Old Time with Allegheny Crossing from Warren, Pa.  Howard teamed up with Clark Parry & Cindy Durkee to organize and run HOTAfest (Heart of the Alleghenies) thru 2009.  His latest “Festival” endeavor is Crooktop. An old time music gathering in Bradford, PA.

Howard began performing folk, bluegrass and acoustic music in Western New York State in the early 1970’s. A week at Jay Ungar’s Fiddle & Dance Camp in Ashokan in 1983 convinced him that fiddling for Contra Dancers was his destiny.   Fifteen or sixteen Northern Weeks at Ashokan and hundreds of fiddle tunes later, he finally had accumulated the skills (& courage) needed to play for dances. He has a rhythmic style that dancers find irresistible and uplifting. He has been playing for local & regional dances for over 30 years. 

Bob Nicholson

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!