International Accordion Festival, San Antonio TX

Report from the International Accordion Festival, San Antonio TX, 10/16-17.

This from next month's 3rd Coast Music Magazine:

"High spot was the sanctioned busking of Ben Schenck and Patrick Farrell of the Panorama Jazz Band with Mark Rubin. Low spot was Rubin sitting in with the Lower Chodsko Trio, but not wearing the group’s uniform, a bitter blow to Czech music purists and those of us who would pay good money to see Rubin in knee pants and stockings."

With Brian Marshall and his Tex-Slavic Playboys on Saturday.
Good shot of my Miawy Bass (small, 3 string bass) much beloved in the Texas Polish community.

Mark Halata, who lead his own band on Sunday. George Carver on guitar.


National Folk Festival 2005, Richmond VA

Big times with Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars:
(photos by Lloyd Wolf)

Onstage in my custom Traje
(by Mexico's most famous, and incidently Shomer Shabbat, Mariachi uniform tailors, El Charro.)

Mugging with my boss, Frank London, for our new promo photo.

Later that night, jamming with Merlin Shepherd at Buzz and Ned's Real BBQ.

Frank's wife Tine singing a Yiddish song.

My picture of the audience.

Me taking the above picture. Henry Sapoznik concurrs.

Bad Livers Uber-Fan Greg Perry came and documented several of the performances on video. He's made a DVD that I'll be he'd be willing to share with anyone who asked on it.

The All Stars have a brand new spanking CD entitled "Carnival Conspiracy: In the Marketplace All is Subterfuge." It's a truly amazing document that I played tuba, baritone horn and even guitar on one track. It's available on Germany's Pirhana label, but you could find it on line I'll reckon. 5 Stars. Proud to be on it.


Welcome to the Circle Lodge

Had to share this one:

Here are my accomdations at the Workmen's Circle Summer Camp, better known as Circle Lodge. Better you can't see the floor...No lie, this is where they put me up for 2 days when I went up to perform with the Youngers of Zion.

God bless 'em, but this is where old fashioned lefty Yiddish Culture find themselves today.

Photo by Cookie Segelstien and jet lag.


Meet Kirk Sutphin.

This is Kirk Sutphin. He plays the fiddle. Damn well in fact.

I first met him at the National Folk Festival in Bangor ME a few years back and. He and I played what I still recall as my most cherished session of fiddle music until the wee hours of the final night there. I had never met anyone who played with such simple straight forward drive and energy. I don't play much Old Time music since the Bad Livers folded, so it was quite a treat.

It was my great fortune to run into him yet again at the National, but this time in Richmond VA. This years line up was a fine a selection of top flight traditional music spanning from the great Savoy Family of Eunice Louisiana, all the way to the frenetic Bulgarian Wedding Band of Ivo Pappasov and Yuri Yunokov and just about every where in between, including Yupik Eskimo dancers and Cowboy Poets. I was there as a member of Frank London’s Klezmer All Stars in a very rare USappearancee and just to make it interesting the Festival asked us to back up singer/folklorist/single handed Yiddish revivalist Henry Sapoznik. What’s not to like?

The gigs were uniformly amazing, but far more satisfying were the late night sessions tucked into every conceivable corner of the Radisson Hotel all the artists were being housed at. These picking parties are legendary, and this year did not disappoint. In the course a single evening we played Jewish frelaichs with the locals, played salsa tuba with the plena band from Puerto Rico and backed up the amazing fiddler Spencer Thorton of the
White Top Mountain band in a particularly spirited and moving session that included hillbillies and Jews in a whole new and wonderful context. (Spencer is suffering mightily from emphysemama, and every stroke of his bow was matched with a desperate gasp for air. Even so, he stayed in for the fun as long as he could take it, playing with sureity and strength of spirit that belied his physical frailties. We hit it off in a big way, and I dearly look forward to seeing him in good health again real soon.) That all said, I did NOT get in any tunes with Kirk that night and I feared I might not at all.

After our final appearance at the festival, which will be a whole other story, we high tailed off to
Buzz and Ned’s Real BBQ on 1119 N. Boulevard for what the locals tend to call the best in town. Buzz is MOT (last name Grossman in fact) and said we were welcome to come play for our supper. The locals were in fact not lying and the beef ribs could have been the best I ever ate, with sides you don’t normally run into (pickled cucumber and onion salad made from scratch anyone?) We played then ate and then played again, a set just as inspired and wonderful as any I have played with Frank London. Simply put, he’s Great High Sultan of Chaos, able to create great beauty and art out of whatever and whoever he finds. Amazing time and fun stuff, but still no picking with Kirk.

Imagine my happiness to walk into the lobby of the hotel to see a circle of chairs set out with Kirk in the corner, fiddle and banjo close at hand. Next to him is guitar maker and picker Wayne Henderson and evidently they’d been playing quite a bit before we got there. Henry sits down tight next to Kirk, who hands him a fine old snake head Gibson banjo. Wayne’s hands have been hurting from a weekend of picking so he lets me play his guitar, which is a little like having Stradivari hand you one of his fiddles. I can honestly report that it was among the best guitars I have ever played. I slide in tight next to Henry, already sitting knee to knee with Kirk, when Kirk says "Why not one of them Poole numbers?" Why not indeed?

Did I mention Kirk was a damn fine fiddler? No really, he's much more than that. In his own humble way he just sits there and plays absolutely the simplest and most plainly beautiful fiddle I have yet encountered. And he makes it seem so easy, so easy that the subtle nuances of his playing could be lost on the casual observer. He has a new CD called "Grandpas' favorites" which as I'm sure you figured out by now I strongly recommend that you rush out and buy. It's a great cross section of his native repertoire, played and recorded well.

If I am very luck this year I find my name inscribed in the Book of Life, I will consider it as a sign from the Almighty that I will eventually get to play with Hank and Kirk again.


Live From the Kennedy Center

How cool is this?

Me and my Ridgetop Syncopators went up to Washington DC to perform at the Kennedy Center in conjunction with the first ever Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.

In case you missed it, you can watch it here, archived in Real Player.


From the Austin Traditional Jazz Society

"Visiting New Orleans Jazzmen and Tommy Griffith’s Band Brought a Rousing Brand of Hot Jazz to Donn’s in Sept."

Ben Schenck of the Panorama Jazz Band has found himself my house guest of late. We've been out making the scene, and playing with the local cats. Check it out.