Traditions -- News Items
This is where TRADITIONS host Mary Cliff posts notes, updates, show previews, obituaries, announcements, etc, about/by/for/within/of-interest-to the greater Washington DC-area folk community. Notes are likely to appear on an unscheduled, even whimsical basis. Feel free to contact Mary with suggestions; she will take them into account, but gives no promises about what she'll actually post. Thank you
News from DC Bluegrass Union
Posted Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:00:23 -0500
For this inaugural year of the Mike Auldridge Instrumental Composition Contest, we were pleased to announce our winners on December 1st: 1st place went to Jim Millward of Washington, DC; 2nd place went to Keith Arneson of Bowie, MD; 3rd place went to Gina Clowes of Winchester, VA. Congratulations to all three, who competed with entrants from 19 different states/DC.
More at dcbu.org
RIP: Folk, roots people we lost in 2016, by date
Posted Sat, 24 Dec 2016 13:36:06 -0500
- listed by date of death -
Pete Huttlinger, 6/22/1961 – 1/15/16; John Denver’s guitarist
Glenn Jenks, 2/9/1947 – 1/21/16; ragtime pianist
Dan Hicks, 12/9/41 – 2/6/16; with His Hot Licks, old-time, swing, Gypsy
Steve Young, 7/12/42 – 3/17/16; wrote “7 Bridges Rd” among others
David Egan, 3/20/54 – 3/18/16; singer, songwriter, Lafayette LA [for Tab
Benoit, Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball]
James Durst, 11/6/45 – 4/1/16; singer, songwriter in Seeger tradition; founder
of Work of the Weavers performing quartet
Merle Haggard, 4/6/37 – 4/6/16; country singer, instrumentalist, songwriter of
Pete Zorn, 5/29/50 – 4/19/16; multi-instrumentalist of Richard Thompson
Band, Steeleye Span
Papa Wemba, 6/14/49 – 4/24/16; Congolese singer Jules Shungo Wembadio
Candye Kane, 11/13/61 – 5/6/16; blues singer
James King, 9/9/58 – 5/9/16; “Bluegrass Storyteller”
Guy Clark, 11/6/41 – 5/17/16; just one of the best-ever singer-songwriters
Ray Hesson, 12/14/41 – 5/24/16; DC-area banjo player, of Free State String
Band, Foggy Bottom
Ralph Stanley, 2/25/25 – 6/23/16; Dr. Ralph, bluegrass, old-time icon
Dave Swarbrick, 4/5/41 – 6/3/16; “most influential British fiddle player”
Joe Derrane, 3/16/30 – 7/22/16; classic Irish-American button accordion player
Penny Lang, 7/15/42 – 7/31/16; Canadian folk music icon
Michael J. Ronstadt, 8/26/53 – 8/7/16, led Ronstadt Generations; Linda’s
Padraig Duggan, 1/23/49 – 8/9/16; a founder of Irish band Clannad
Glenn Yarbrough, 1/12/30 – 8/11/16; an original with The Limeliters
Kacey Jones, 4/27/50 – 9/1/16; Americana singer/songwriter, humorist;
worked with Kinky Friedman
Fred Hellerman, 5/13/27 - 9/1/16; last of the Weavers
John D. Loudermilk, 3/31/34 – 9/21/16; singer, songwriter of “Tobacco
Road,” “Indian Reservation”
Angus R. Grant, 2/14/67 – 10/9/16; fiddler with Shooglenifty
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. – 11/14/47 – 9/24/16; led Buckwheat Zydeco
Jean Shepherd, 11/21/33 – 9/25/16; country music traditionalist
Oscar Brand, 2/7/20 – 9/30/16, singer, songwriter, hosted longest-running folk
Leonard Cohen, 9/21/34 – 11/7/16; classic Canadian singer, songwriter of
Leon Russell, 4/2/42 – 11/13/16; pop singer, pianist, songwriter strongly
influenced by roots music
Mose Allison, 11/11/27 – 11/15/16; blues, jazz keyboardist, singer, songwriter
Milt Okun, 12/23/23 – 11/15/16; singer, songwriter, producer, arranger for
John Denver, Peter Paul & Mary, Chad Mitchell Trio, Harry Belafonte,
Esma Redzepova, 8/8/43 – 12/11/16; Macedonian queen of Romani music
Nov. 8, 2016
Posted Tue, 08 Nov 2016 13:16:26 -0500
Southern Folklife Collecting to go online
Posted Wed, 18 May 2016 14:02:42 -0400
See story here:
R.I.P. Lonnie Mack - 7/18/41 - 4/21/16
Posted Thu, 21 Apr 2016 23:43:02 -0400
Blue influenced, one of the first rock guitar masters
Pyrates Royale disbanding!
Posted Tue, 02 Feb 2016 00:26:39 -0500
After nearly 30 years, the Pyrates Royale have ceased to exist as a band. There might be some reunions, and members performing in other configurations. Craig Williams made the announcement 1/29/16 on their Facebook page.
Ben Eldridige retires from Seldom Scene 1/15/16
Posted Sat, 16 Jan 2016 16:19:05 -0500
The headline says it all.
Banjo player Ben was the last original member of the Scene.
Rickie Simpkins on banjo and fiddle will join his brother Ronnie (bass), vocalist/guitarist Dudley Connell, Fred Travers (Dobro/vocals), and mandolinistvocalist Lou Reid.
Look for Ben to show up for the occasional reunion.
They are the best!!
Posted Mon, 19 Oct 2015 01:04:09 -0400
I hear Jennings died 10/17/15. He'd been living with metastatic kidney cancer. He was one of the gentlest, most talented guys I ever met -- an absolute sweetheart.
Look for his obit.
R.I.P. Patsy Stoneman, 5/27/25 - 7/23/15
Posted Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:43:09 -0400
Almost the last of the Stoneman family.
Pop (Ernest) is in the Country Music Hall of Fame. After he died in '68, Patsy led the family at a time when city folk were discovering bluegrass.
Patsy, Donna & Roni recorded a family album in 2012 for Patuxent Records.
R.I.P. Theodore Bikel, 5/2/24-7/21/15
Posted Tue, 21 Jul 2015 17:06:27 -0400
Actor, union official, civil rights and political activist, radio and television host, author and folk singer Theodore Bikel has died at age 91. A series of all-star shows around the country celebrated his 90th birthday last year. Radio, television, stage, screen, opera, concerts, LPs, CDs -- he did it all. He was a delight, and a one-of-a-kind treasure.
R.I.P. Joe Wilson 3/16/38 - 5/17/15
Posted Tue, 09 Jun 2015 01:53:04 -0400
Long-time head of National Council for the Traditional Arts.
I worked several festivals for him, as radio host, as stagehand, as sound mixer..
Larger than life.
Fitting tributes on the website ncta-usa.org
R.I.P. Ronnie Gilbert, 9/7/26 - 6/6/15
Posted Mon, 08 Jun 2015 02:03:53 -0400
R.I.P. Jean Ritchie 12/8/22 - 6/1/15
Posted Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:08:14 -0400
R.I.P. Art Thieme, 7/9/41 - 5/26/15
Posted Thu, 28 May 2015 20:49:27 -0400
R.I.P. Bill Birchfield, Roan Mountain Hilltoppers
Posted Sat, 16 May 2015 02:09:28 -0400
We lost Bill on 5/15/15. The left-handed multi-instrumentalist was often described as playing everything "upside down and backwards." He was a noted old-time fiddler. He was 69.
They'll party in his honor on 5/30 at Roan Mt. State Park.
For info, check the Hilltoppers Facebook pages.
R.I.P. Guy Carawan, 7/27/27-5/2/15
Posted Tue, 05 May 2015 17:15:00 -0400
Guy Carawan, who with his wife Candie taught for many years at the Highlander Center in Tennessee, has died from the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Guy is best known for updating the words of the old hymn "I Will Overcome" to "We Shall Overcome," which led to its being the song that led civil rights events, not just in the US, but around the world.
Students of folklore, Guy and Candie also recorded a number of old time songs over the years.
May 15, 2015 - R. I.P. B.B. King
Posted Sat, 02 May 2015 15:31:20 -0400
Blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep on Thursday night, 5/14/15 at home in Las Vegas.
What a treasure he has been.
I interviewed him about nine years ago, during his 80th birthday tour. What a gentleman. We talked about the influence of radio on his music. Radio was very important to his popularity; he performed on radio shows in Memphis very early in his career, calling himself the Beale Street Blues Boy which became B.B. and the rest is history.
From the Newport Folk Festival to Fillmore West, to working with Ruth Brown, Eric Clapton and just about every other blues and most non-blues musicians, B.B. kept it going for more than 70 years.
His website is www.bbking.com
THANK YOU, B.B.
R.I.P. Tut Taylor, 11/20/23 - 4/9/15
Posted Fri, 10 Apr 2015 01:20:19 -0400
Best known as bluegrass dobro player.
John Renbourn, R.I.P. - 8/8/44 - 3/25/15
Posted Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:54:45 -0400
Guitarist, songwriter John Renbourn has died at home apparently of natural causes.
A founder of British folk group Pentangle, he had continued to teach and to perform, solo, and often with Bert Jansch, and others. Police were called this morning, after Renbourn missed a shows with bluesman Wizz Jones last night (3/25). They had booked gigs into August.
winners of 1st Hazel Dickens Song Contest (from DCBU)
Posted Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:26:06 -0500
1st: “Say What You Mean” by Gary A. Ferguson of Alexandria, VA
2nd: “Midnight Flight” by Nancy Cardwell Erdos of Madison, TN
3rd: “Weeds Where the Flowers of Love Once Grew” by David Morris of Gaithersburg, MD & Chris Dockins of Burke, VA.
“Baltimore Immigrants” by Karen Collins of Takoma Park, MD
“Tenth Day of September” by David Morris of Gaithersburg, MD
“Barre Angel 1918” by Tracy O’Connell of Newburyport, MA
1st Place winner will perform his song at DC Bluegrass Festival 2/28
We lost another good one - Glenn Ohrlin
Posted Tue, 10 Feb 2015 02:39:19 -0500
Glenn Ohrlin, cowboy singer and very low-key guy. 10/26/26 - 2/9/15
He was a 1985 National Heritage Fellow who performed at January's Cowboy Gathering. Here's a link to his NEA biography.
Last Traditions show on BluegrassCountry Jan. 31, 2015
Posted Sat, 31 Jan 2015 00:16:01 -0500
Yes, it's true. Traditions has been cut from WAMU's BluegrassCountry. I've recorded the last show, featuring lots of old favorites and good friends.
Looking for new DC-area home for folk music program!
Please keep in touch. You can contact me via this website.
Many thanks for the support!
R.I.P. Jean Redpath
Posted Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:48:17 -0400
The Scottish collector, teacher and honey-voiced singer died 7/21/14 in hospice care in Arizona, the result of cancer.
I have fond memories of Jean performing for the The Folklore Society of Greater Washington, including her visits to the annual Getaway in the wilds of Virginia -- with her pals Helen Schneyer & Lisa Neustadt. She was a champion of traditional Scottish song, of Burns and Lady Nairne, even Haydn's Scottish Songs. She also wandered through contemporary songs and was a favorite of Garrison Keillor. Wish I had heard her more often.
2014 NEA National Heritage Fellow announced
Posted Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:58:37 -0400
Henry Arquette (Hogansburg, NY) Mohawk basketmaker
Manuel "Cowboy" Donley (Austin, TX) Tejano musician/singer
Kevin Doyle (Barrington, RI) Irish step dancer
Holmes Brothers (Rosedale, MD & Saluda, VA) blues/gospel/R&B band
Yvonne Walker Keshick (Petoskey, MI) Odawa quill worker
Carolyn Mazloomi* (West Chester, OH)—quilting community advocate &
recipient of Bess Lomax Hawes award
Vera Nakonechny (Philadelphia, PA) Ukrainian embroiderer/bead worker
Singing & Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware -- African-American
Rufus White (Walthill, NE)—Omaha traditional singer/drum group leader
Awards ceremony 9/17; concert at Lisner Aud., Wash., DC 9/19
Pete Seeger 5/3/19 – 1/27/14
Posted Tue, 28 Jan 2014 02:04:35 -0500
What can one say? He was the best.
As Josh White used to sing: "I'm going to live the life I sing about in my song."
Pete Seeger lived the life he sang about in his songs.
WELL MAY THE WORLD GO
(Pete Seeger, 1973)
CHO: Well may the world go,
The world go, the world go.
Well may the world go,
When I'm far away.
Well may the skiers turn,
The swimmers churn, the lovers burn
Peace, may the generals learn
When I'm far away.
Sweet may the fiddle sound
The banjo play the old hoe down
Dancers swing round and round
When I'm far away.
Fresh may the breezes blow
Clear may the streams flow
Blue above, green below
When I'm far away.
Thank you. Pete, for everything. Rest now, in peace, ever with Toshi.
Posted Tue, 27 Aug 2013 13:57:56 -0400
As of August 17. 2013, Traditions can be heard Saturday night 9 to midnight only on Bluegrass Country.
Hear it at 105.5 FM,
on your hybrid digital radio at 88.5 FM-HD2,
in Hagerstown and Frederick at 93.5 FM,
streaming online at BluegrassCountry.org,
or on the Bluegrass Country APP for your smart phone.
The change is from 50,000 watts to 93 watts, so it's harder to hear. We hope you'll come along with us.
Posted Thu, 11 Jul 2013 01:10:53 -0400
Dear Toshi Seeger has died, overnight 7/9/13.
Truly Pete's other half. Rest in peace after a life well lived.
Arlo's wife died this morning 10/14/12
Posted Mon, 15 Oct 2012 01:48:36 -0400
Arlo Guthrie did not appear at the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration at the Kennedy Center tonight because Jackie, his wife of 43 years, died this morning of cancer. May she rest in peace. Love to the family.
5/29/12: R.I.P., Doc Watson, age 89
Posted Wed, 30 May 2012 01:14:45 -0400
Music Representation - The Roots & The Branches
Established 1957 by Manuel Greenhill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a
National Heritage Fellowship, and eight Grammy Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement) died on Tuesday, May 29 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC following abdominal surgery last week. He was 89.
Doc Watson was born in Deep Gap, North Carolina on March 3, 1923, into a family already rich in musical tradition. His mother, Annie Watson, sang traditional secular and religious songs, and his father, General Watson, played the banjo, which was Doc's first instrument as well. At age thirteen he taught himself the chords to "When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland" on a borrowed guitar, and his delighted father bought him a $12 Stella. He later picked up some chords from a fellow student at the Raleigh (NC) School for the Blind, and began to incorporate material that he heard on records and the radio with the music of his heritage. Back home he played mostly with neighbors and family, among them fiddler Gaither Carlton, who became his father-in-law when Doc married Rosa Lee Carlton in 1947. They had two
children, Eddy Merle (named for two of Doc's idols, country stars Eddy Arnold and Merle Travis) and Nancy Ellen.
In 1953 Doc met Jack Williams, a local piano player, and began to play gigs for money. Doc stayed with Williams' rockabilly/swing band for seven years, a period and a style that he later revisited in the album Docabilly. But he also continued to play acoustic traditional music with his family and with his banjo playing neighbor, Clarence "Tom" Ashley. In 1960, spurred by the growing folk revival, folklorists Ralph Rinzler and Eugene Earle came south to record Ashley, and heard Doc Watson in the process. These sessions resulted in Doc's first recordings, Old-Time Music at Clarence Ashley's.
In 1961 the Friends of Old-Time Music invited Doc, Ashley, Clint Howard and Fred Price to perform at a now-legendary concert in New York City, and one year later Doc gave his first solo performance at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village. From then on, he was a full-time professional, playing a wide range of concerts, clubs, colleges and festivals, including the Newport Folk Festival and Carnegie Hall.
By 1964 he had recorded his eponymous first solo album, and was represented by Folklore Productions, a relationship that continued until his death.
In the late 1960s, Doc was joined on the road by his son Merle, who provided both musical and emotional companionship; with Merle playing guitar and banjo and serving as partner and driver, the father-son team expanded their audience nationwide. After working for a while with the band Frosty Morn, they continued to tour with bassist T. Michael Coleman, and brought their music to Europe, Japan and Africa. A series of remarkable recordings, including collaborations with Flatt & Scruggs, Chet Atkins and the Nitty
Gritty Dirt Band, helped make Watson the gold standard among traditional pickers.
Although he briefly stopped performing after Merle died in a 1985 tractor accident, Doc (accompanied by his grandson Richard Watson and guitarist Jack Lawrence) soon resumed a full-time recording and touring schedule. He later teamed with banjoist David Holt, and the two shared a Grammy in 2002 for Legacy. In 2003 Doc reunited with Earl Scruggs and mandolinist Ricky Skaggs to film The Three Pickers, telecast on PBS. During his long career he recorded over fifty albums, many of which are still in print today.
Doc was a legendary performer who blended his traditional Appalachian musical roots with bluegrass, country, gospel and blues to create a unique style and an expansive repertoire. He was a powerful singer and a tremendously influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar. In 2011 a life-size statue was unveiled in Boone, NC, on the same spot where decades earlier the young Doc Watson had played for tips to support his family. At his own request the inscription reads "Just One of the People."
Although not a prolific songwriter, Doc and his wife Rosa Lee co-wrote "Your Long Journey," which was featured on the Grammy-winning album "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. It begins:
"God's given us years of happiness here
Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pains of grief tug at my heart
Oh my darling
Oh my darling
My heart breaks as you take your long journey."
He is survived by his wife of nearly sixty-six years, Rosa Lee Carlton
Watson, and their daughter Nancy Ellen, as well as his grandchildren Richard Watson and Karen Watson Norris, several great-grandchildren, and his brother David Watson, not to mention thousands of guitarists worldwide who fell under his spell. As President Bill Clinton said, in awarding the National Medal of Arts, "There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who
didn't at some point in his or her youth try to spend a few minutes at least trying to learn to pick a guitar like Doc Watson."
Private funeral arrangements are pending.
Posted Wed, 03 Dec 2008 03:19:05 -0500
Odetta Gordon died December 2, 2008. She was 77. Classically trained, she turned to folk music in the 1950s and stayed, inspiring many behind her.
What a voice! What a lady!
She was one of a kind. I'll miss her.
Thank you, Odetta. Rest in peace.
Nick Reynolds RIP
Posted Sat, 04 Oct 2008 01:31:37 -0400
Nick Reynolds, founding member of the Kingston Trio, died 10/1/08 in San Diego. He was 75.
We've lost one of the originals.
Posted Mon, 21 Jul 2008 16:24:11 -0400
Artie Traum, music maker, teacher of many, record producer, composer, died Sunday, July 20, 2008 in Woodstock, NY. He was 65. www.artietraum.com
Posted Sat, 24 May 2008 14:31:14 -0400
Just heard that we lost Utah last night. He'd been sidelined with congestive heart failure. He lived the life he believed. He was brilliant and left us many lessons and wonderful music.
I'm gonna miss him a lot.
Red Shipley has gone home...
Posted Sun, 07 Oct 2007 16:31:15 -0400
Red Shipley, 25-year host of WAMU's Stained Glass Bluegrass, entered the hospital recently for cancer treatment. He died late Saturday night, 10/6. He was 70 years old. He'd graced this area's radio airwaves for more than 50 years, and had just retired 9/16.
Posted Tue, 30 Jan 2007 02:35:17 -0500
1/30/07 To the hundreds of e-mailers, callers and letter writers, to the senders and givers of flowers and balloons, to the signmaker and the candle-holders -- a huge THANK YOU! Words cannot describe the support extended to TRADITIONS from listeners as we ended our run at WETA. Folk music has been on WETA since the station began in 1970. Dick Cerri was the first host; I was asked to take on the show in March 1973. I intend to continue the "who's wheres" and expect to post playlists -- maybe even catch up on some old ones.
Thank you to WETA for the 34-year run, and thank you to WAMU for their hospitality and enthusiasm in welcoming this new kid to their block.