Alan Rowoth & Sally Johnson Present: The Big Orange Tarp Rm# 1425 at NERFA 2015

by AlanRowoth on November 10, 2015

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Friday night

  • 11:45-12:30a Fox Run invited covers with Annika Bennett, Stephanie Corby, Neale Eckstein, Kelly Ann Kerr, Matt Nakoa, Dan Navarro, Steve Postell, and Eric Schwartz
  • 12:30-1a Eric Schwartz, Katrin, Honor Finnegan
  • 1a-1:30a Ann Armstrong, Maria Brosgol, No Good Sister
  • 1:30-2a Kelly Ann Kerr, Eric Lee, Dan Navarro
  • 2-2:30a Dan Pelletier, Matt Nakoa, Annika Bennett
  • 2:30-2:45am Marc Berger
  • 2:45am Open Circle

Saturday afternoon

  • 1:15-2:15p Stephanie Corby, Vincent Cross, Maria Brosgol, Emily White
  • 2:15-3:15p Jeffrey Pepper Rogers, Ann Armstrong & Steve Hughes, Angela Easterling, Annika Bennett
  • 3:15-4:15p Cosy Sheridan, John Flynn, Eric Lee, Matt Nakoa
  • 4:15-5:15p Jim Photoglo, Rachael Kilgour, Dan Pelletier, Dan Navarro

Saturday night

  • 11:45-12:15a The YaYas, Katrin, Ann Armstrong & Steve Hughes
  • 12:15-12:45 Honor Finnegan, Angela Easterling, Tim Rice
  • 12:45-1:15 Jim Photoglo, Jim Trick, Kate McDonnell
  • 1:15-1:45 The Rix (Rik Palieri & Rick Nestler), Mike Agranoff, Kelly Ann Kerr
  • 1:45-2:30 Matt Nakoa, Dan Pelletier, Dan Navarro

Sally and I are thrilled to present another stellar showcase lineup for NERFA 2015.

As usual, we cherry picked the best artists we could from around the country. Some are long time favorites like Jim Photoglo, Dan Navarro, Ann Armstrong & Steve Hughes, Eric Schwartz, Honor Finnegan, John Flynn, Kate McDonnell, Dan Pelletier, Stephanie Corby, The Rix, The YaYas, Mike Agranoff, Tim Rice, Marc Berger, and my original internet crush Cosy Sheridan.


Others are the next wave of artists poised to take the folk world by storm. Rachael Kilgour, Matt Nakoa, Annika Bennett, Maria Brosgol, Katrin, Angela Easterling, Jim Trick, Vincent Cross, Emily White, Jeffery Pepper Rogers, Eric Lee, and Kelly Ann Kerr. All of whom are turning heads around the country, winning song contests and making new friends every week. These are artists you may not be as familiar with, but all of them are poised for big things and new releases. If you aren’t familiar with their music, you really need to be.


We are kicking off this year’s showcase with a very special segment put together by Neale Eckstein of Fox Run Studios. His home studio in Sudbury MA has blossomed from being a really nice home studio into becoming possibly the most exciting artist incubator in our community. Recent projects produced and coproduced by Neale at Fox Run include:

  • Brother Sun’s first CD (Brother Sun)
  • Click (Neale Eckstein)
  • Buskin and Batteau (Love Remembered, Love Forgot)
  • Bethel Steele (Shadows and Light)
  • Bethel Stelle (Broken Record)
  • Matt Nakoa (A Dozen Other Loves)
  • Mya Byrne (As I Am)
  • Davey O (No Passengers)
  • Rj Cowdery (Something Fine)
  • Ro Colegrove (Becoming Rowen)
  • Annika Bennett (Seventeen)
  • Matt Borrello (A Dollar and a Kiss)
  • .

Also a lot of the recording for Vance Gilbert’s “Bad Dog Buffet, a lot of the recording for Adam Michael Rothberg’s “Soul of a Man” were done at Fox Run. Neale is currently working on new CDs with Greg Greenway and Matt Nakoa. In addition, he has been writing songs of his own that have been cut by Tom Rush, Buskin & Batteau, and others. Most people know Neale from his photos and videos on the internet, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond all the “product”, there is something else very special happening at Fox Run. Neale has created a creative environment almost unrivaled elsewhere. On any given night, you never know who you’ll find sitting around making music. Writing new songs, playing around with covers, or just sitting around talking about music. I wish everyone could experience what it feels like over there. Years from now, I think we’ll look back on the “Fox Run Era” like we do Cordelia Street, Club 47, or the legendary “Big Pink” house that gave us The Band. I know Magic when I hear it. Sally and I wanted to share that magic with our NERFA friends.

Please join us in Rm 1425 for 3 great blocks of music.

To whet your appetite, a few videos will load. (This may take a little while)

8 Reasons Falcon Ridge reminds me of Woodstock

by AlanRowoth on July 24, 2015

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I was recently chatting with my pal Stuart Kabak, about the upcoming Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and somehow we drifted into reminiscing about Woodstock. (the original, not the wannabes) It was my first festival and I really didn’t know what to expect. A lot of people coming to Falcon Ridge for the first time, also don’t know what to expect on their first visit. The similarity brought back many fond memories.

1) It was just about this time of year. Woodstock began 46 years ago on August 15, 1969

2) Similar geography. The Woodstock Festival site is roughly 100 miles from the Falcon Ridge festival site, on a hillside.
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3) People are soooooooo nice! Seriously. This is a real community. Woodstock was forged out of some adversity. Severely under forecast supplies of food and even water made sharing imperative. People are better prepared at Falcon Ridge, but still quick to help with advice, a sandwich, or some hands to set up your tent.

Judy Collins (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)Judy Collins (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

4) The music is fantastic! This year Falcon Ridge has music legends like Judy Collins, Garnet Rogers, and Ann Armstrong are appearing along with many breakout new acts like Matt Nakoa, Haley Reardon, and Caitlin Canty. People forget that many of the “Stars” of Woodstock were nobodies back then. Santana was a local Bay Area band. The drummer, Michael Shrieve was only 16 years old at the time and they were paid $750 to appear. Melanie, Sha Na Na and Keef Hartley were all paid less than a thousand bucks. John Sebastion got a thousand and the Grateful Dead were paid $2500. These groups went on to become household names, but everybody starts somewhere. Appearing at music festivals like Woodstock and Falcon Ridge make a great introduction to a hillside of new fans all at once. Here is the full performers list for this year’s festival.

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5) The music goes all night. At Woodstock, this was mostly a result of poor planning and transportation logistics. It was a huge endeavor and nothing got done on time, The Who went on stage at 3am. (Probably not the best time slot, but they made the most of it.) By contrast, at Falcon Ridge, everything runs like clockwork. Under the watchful eye of Stage Manager Donna Grande, the Falcon Ridge main stage is always on time. But there is plenty of music after hours. The campground is alive with song circles and events, well into the wee hours. Camps like Pirate Camp (originally started by songwriting luminary Jack Hardy, and now ably coordinated by Stuart Kabak and Michael Kornfeld) has a covered performance, nice lighting, and an actual schedule chocked full of the some of the best performers around. Other music spaces like the Budgiedome and the Front Porch are the tip of the iceberg. The Lounge Stage on Thursday night outgrew the campground and is moving the dance tent this year. The campground is a smorgasbord of musical talent, presented in the most intimate situation. You are often a dozen feet away from the performers, Woodstock couldn’t offer that.
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6) People LOVE to dance! At Falcon Ridge there is actually a dance tent, full of dance music all weekend long.Dancers at Woodstock got muddy and fell down a lot. Either way, people LOVE to dance.
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7) You might get wet. It’s the northeast in the summer. Over the quarter century of the festival, we have had wet years and dry years. Most years, we get a little of each. I don’t think our rain has ever exceeded the mud factor at Woodstock. Unless you are the Wicked Witch of the West, a little water won’t kill you. Get over it…

8) You make memories that last a lifetime. This kind of events, full of friends, fun, and great music; are the source of my dearest memories.

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There is at least one glaring difference between Woodstock and Falcon Ridge. Woodstock was stillborn. Finished almost before it began. A beautiful, historic, Quixotic stab at 3 days of Peace and Music. But Falcon Ridge lives on, delighting families for over a quarter of a century. Food, water, logistics, public safety issues are all well in hand, making it safe family fun for kids and adults alike. There are now a whole generation of Falcon Ridge Babies. Many of whom have been to the festival every single year they have been alive. Two of them wrote the welcome message for this year’s program book. I spoke with another Ridge Baby recently. Allie Sibner. Organic gardener, yoga and dance instructor, social activist, a senior at George Mason University studying Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and a volunteer on the Falcon Ridge sign crew. She calls it her “Religious Holiday” and hasn’t missed one. Falcon Ridge is a part of her that glows year round, living the dream of a better, peaceful, more musical world. Is there a better legacy for you and your children?
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Here is the welcome message from this year’s festival flyer, written by Ridge Babies Delia Drake and Albie Murri:

Welcome to the Twenty-Seventh Annual Falcon Ridge Folk Festival

Welcome fellow festival goers! For those of you who have just taken your first steps inside the main gate, welcome in! For those of you who have been attending Falcon Ridge for quite some time like ourselves, welcome back! If you’ve been here before, what goes on should be of no news to you. If this is your first time coming, though, then let us fill you in on what happens here.

Falcon Ridge is a way to express yourself. Through music, dancing, art, or whichever other way you spend your time here, you’re expressing who you truly are. You’re not limited by what society’s standards of “normal” are, or any expectations you’re supposed to live up to. When you’re here, the rules are flipped upside down. You can be yourself, instead of acting for everyone else. You can unwind, listen to some great music, let loose in the dance tent, eat great food, meet amazing people, and look at all the amazing crafts that the vendors have to offer. It’s truly a different experience to our lives outside of here, but it’s a needed experience so that for the rest of the year, while longing for the festival to come around again, we can live our normal lives with all the great memories that we’ve made here. Adapting to and from it is hard, though. Going from a place where people won’t give you the time of day on the street, to a place where you’ll be singing, dancing, and bonding with fellow festival goers over what you both love, is quite a change.

This is the 18th Falcon Ridge that we have attended, even though we’re both 17. We achieved this by having great parents who brought us here when we were both infants, so that we logged our first festival before our first birthdays. Growing up, we always looked forward to the festival so that we could see each other, and we still do, 17 years later. The friendships made here are special, and even though you may see one another for one weekend of the year, they’re some of the strongest because of all the memories you have together.

While you’re here, talk to someone new. Listen to an artist or band you haven’t heard before. Try out a dance you’ve never done. Look at interesting vendors. Try the great food. Burst out of your shell, and make some memories that will last a lifetime. We know we will be, and we would love for you to join us and everyone else, as we make the most out of this special weekend that we possibly can.

Thank you,
Delia Drake and Albie Murri

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Rachael Kilgour- Artist Spotlight

by AlanRowoth on February 25, 2015

Folk Alliance is like old home week, but some of the most exciting moments come when we discover a great artist we were unaware of. This year’s Big Find for me was Duluth Songwriter Rachael Kilgour.

I love her songs. Love her voice. She is very charismatic and unconsciously makes great singing faces. I totally resonate with the progressive, activist message that underlies her songwriting which unequivocally advocates for human rights, income equality, and peace. A lot of current performers are squeamish about ruffling anyone’s political sensibility. This may be safe, but I don’t find it very interesting. Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were hyper aware of the power of music as an agent for social change. Rachael’s songs pull no punches, but she delivers them with an earnest clarity that makes her impossible to dislike.

Rachael plays violin as well as guitar and sometimes tours as part of Catie Curtis‘s backup band. Please give this wonderful performer a listen. I hope you enjoy her music as much as I do! #FA2015 #folk #AccessBlue556

Louise Mosrie, Jim Photoglo, Dana Cooper, Jeff Black, Ann Armstrong & Steve Hughes

by AlanRowoth on February 18, 2015

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Louise Mosrie, Jim Photoglo, Dana Cooper, Jeff Black, Ann Armstrong & Steve Hughes are the artists that round out this years FAI 2015 BOT showcase. I had intended to do individual blog posts on each of them, but a death in my family has consumed much of last week. I left these five until last because, If you are hip to what’s going on, none of these artists should be unfamiliar to you. All are totally professional established artists headlining shows around the nation and sometimes the world, widely played on folk radio, and often covered by other artists. If I ran my own series, I would book every one of them in a heartbeat. These performers are top notch, as good as you will see at FAI. Dana Cooper, Jeff Black and Jim Photoglo were also tapped for FAI Official Showcases, along with other BOT Showcasers Harpeth Rising, Annika, Russell DeCarle, Greg Trooper, and Allie Farris. If you are unfamiliar with any of them, shame on you. Now would be the time to get caught up. #FAI2015 #Folk

FAI2015 Harpeth Rising at the Big Orange Tarp

by AlanRowoth on February 18, 2015

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Kicking off our Big Orange Tarp showcase at FAI with a bang, We’ll start out with Harpeth Rising, Lisa Aschmann, and Annika. Harpeth Rising is based near Nashville. Three smoking players and singers, classically trained, tearing it up with their own unique style. Don’t be late. #FAI2015 #Folk

Here is their official Bio

Tom Prasada-Rao Big Orange Tarp FAI2015

by AlanRowoth on February 17, 2015

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I love music. A lot of music. But there is no music that I love more than the music of Tom Prasada-Rao. A fan and friend of his for a quarter of a century, I love him more each day. His personal groove, generosity, and spirit inhabit everything that he does I’m struggling for words to explain just how great he is. You just have to hear it. For me, this is the essence of what music is all about. #FAI2015 #Folk

Annika, Emily White, and RJ Cowdery at the Big Orange Tarp 2015

by AlanRowoth on February 17, 2015

annika ascap foundation_0Over the years, people have kidded me about my fetish for keeping my ear to the rail. I can’t help it. I just like to know that the train is coming before anyone else does. From artists like Dar Williams and Tom Prasada-Rao up to my current dark horses. I take great pleasure in getting out on the back porch and banging the frying pan so that everyone will know it’s time to come and taste new delights. Annika is one of those artists. I stumbled upon her thru Cary Cooper’s fantastic Real Women, Real Songs project. she isn’t old enough to vote, but she sure can write, play, and sing. Folk Alliance got the picture too, and awarded her an official showcase this year.

Two decades plus of teaching and hosting our Big Orange Tarp at the Planet Bluegrass Song School has also turned me on to dozens of emerging talents including Emily White and RJ Cowdery, who consistently knock me out with their well crafted songs. I predict you will be hearing a lot more from these talented ladies. (as well as recently-became-a-teenager phenom Bella Betts, who sadly will not be at Folk Alliance.) #FAI2015 #Folk

Connor Garvey, Caroline Spence at the BOT 2015

by AlanRowoth on February 17, 2015

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Two more rising stars in the Folk Constellation are Connor Garvey and Caroline Spence. Both are favorites under the actual Big Orange Tarp. Both have been racking up success after success at festivals and conferences across the nation. Both are excellent players and singers with super strong material. And both of them will be playing in the Big Orange Tarp showcase in the Access Film Blue Room 556 this week at Folk Alliance. If they aren’t already headlining in your town, they soon will be. #FAI2015 #Folk

Allie Farris BOT showcase 2015

by AlanRowoth on February 16, 2015

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Another blonde piano player from Nashville has also been making big waves of late. Allie Farris recently burst on the scene and has won songwriter recognition in the Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist Showcase, Telluride Troubadour contest, and at the Rocky Mountain Folks festival. See her now while you can still get good seats. #FAI2015 #Folk