People of a certain generation remember John McEuen with respect and even awe. He is an integral part of our musical Americana DNA. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Will the Circle be Unbroken. Multi- Grammy winner. And on and on. But enough of context. He has rel
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
You have heard us refer to the “community of the Rolling Hills audience.” This picture (photo courtesy of Gary Lester) might this picture will give you a little idea of what we are talking about.
OK, it’s just a bunch of goofy RHR men who Christine Lavin got onstage to strut their simpatico stuff. They are “sensitive New Age guys.” They will hold your purse while you try on clothes. At least that’s Christine’s story.
A couple of days after the show she sent me this message to share with all of you:
“Thanks so much for being there last night at Ken Hardley’s Rolling Hills Radio — what a fun, fun night — and thanks for asking for the liner notes of my latest album.
Remember to add “psychic powers” to your resume if you got the “Apple In Paris” answer, or “psycho powers” if you didn’t. And for you dudes, please add, “Back-up singer/back-up dancer/back-up finger-snapper” to your resume, too. When I come back later in the summer to play at Chautauqua, please come and be part of the show, now that you are experienced. And be sure to bring other dudes with you so they can experience show biz in a very unclose and personal way.”
2019 has a trajectory that will maintain its direction and qi for every show up through the end of the 19-20 season, which finishes with a bang at Chautauqua Amphitheater Sunday, August 4. The Farmer and Adele as well as Christine – that can’t be anything but astounding entertainment.
It occurs to me that there have been a lot of Woody Guthrie songs on the show this season (all played by me but let me go on.) There’s no doubt that what we do in this genre would be quite different if not for this man. He represents the best of America, not only his music, but all that he stood for. Since his death, there may have been no more important time in this great country to hear his message, to let his music move you, to have it influence you, than right now. Whatever your persuasion and beliefs, it’s hard to let his words and tunes go by without having your eyes and heart open, even if just a bit.
See you Monday! Getting Mollie O’Brien to Jamestown was kind of a coup. Then with Aaron Lipp and Rich Moore, expect some guitar fireworks from these two virtuosos. This is one that you definitely do not want to miss.
For the On-The-Road Tour with Rolling Hills this summer The Farmer and Adele appear with Christine Lavin on the Chautauqua Amphitheater stage! Put Sunday afternoon, August 4 on your calendar right now. Get up. Right now! Do it.
And of course, RHR makes its annual trip to the Great Blue Heron Music Festival. Saturday, July 6.
As always, tickets are available online at rollinghillsradio.org/tickets, calling/texting, for a return call, our Rolling Ticket Hotline at 716-294-0416, or at the door the night of the events.
This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Tri-County Arts Council.
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
I don’t quite know what to say after the Bryan Bowers Band brought down the house last month. It was a show of extraordinary musicianship, impeccable vocals, pathos, good humor, and the sheer force of Bryan’s presence. I talked to his agent yesterday and he told me Bryan had a great time and loves Jamestown, Rolling Hills, as well as his hosts, Mike and Pat Flaxman. Mike said the band plus their co-traveler, Rolland Clark, the fiddler from Geoff Goodhue’s “Beg, Steal, or Borrow” band, essentially played a living room concert for them after the show as well as again the next morning. Mike said, “Our house felt empty when they departed, but I could still hear the music for hours afterwards.” Hats off to all the dedicated volunteers who host the out-of-town musicians. They tell me meeting and getting to know the artists in their homes is something they enjoy tremendously.
OK, I do know what to say about last month’s show. If you loved that show, you’ll love the February 11 show. February 11 we will pick up where we left off. Christine Lavin’s reputation speaks for itself. But, I urge you to watch her on youtube. I do it a lot now; it has become part of my day lately. She is hilarious, but also very touching. I am a fan and cannot wait to meet her.
I met Jen Sygit last summer when we were both instructors at “Over the Bridge”, the songwriting workshop put together annually by John Latini, Jamie-Sue Seal, and Siusan O’Rourke (all RHR guests over the years.) Being on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is, alone, an experience that will make your summer complete. But adding in friends like Latini and meeting Jen made it a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. The first verse of the first song I heard Jen play won me over. This woman has the right stuff. She is hugely popular in the upper Midwest. I did some fancy talking and got her to come to Jamestown in the middle of winter. You can thank me later.
We have great people coming over the next three months, but I have to let you know that you owe it to yourself to see Mollie O’Brien February 25. Another Prairie Companion regular? Yep.
We recently added a feature which is available only to people who attend the live show. Instead of encores now, we have each artist do a “mini-concert” after the actual recorded show. These “concerts” have contained two to four songs per artist. We tried this a couple of times now and it instantly became an in-demand portion of the live show. Several people have told me it’s the highest point of the evening now. It occurs to me that may be because I have left the stage, but if that’s the case, feel free not to tell me.
See you at Shawbucks!
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
Say a fond farewell to 2018 with Rolling Hills Radio! Throughout the year we had legends: Tom Paxton, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. We have had some of the most beloved stars in the genre: Robin and Linda Williams, Hayes Carll. We had Irish: The Town Pants. We had old timey: Urban Pioneers. We had highly talented songwriters: Joe Crookston, Nick Vandenberg, RJ Cowdery, Cosy Sheridan, Martin Swinger, Jill Jack. We had instrumental virtuousos, Geoff Goodhue, Da Vines. We had old friends: Todd Burge, John Latini.
On Sunday, December 30, we wave goodbye to the year with a sensitive songwriter, our good friend, Maria Gillard, as well as one of the most high-energy group of crazy young artists you’ll ever meet, Folkfaces. Thee Man of Folkfaces is someone you’ll recognize. Tyler Westcott was on the show solo some years back. I saw him at the Great Blue Heron last summer and was floored (not an easy thing to do with this jaded ol’ musical traveller) by his group of enthusiastic old timey buddies. So, we figured it out, Tyler and I, and here we are – ready to blow the roof off Shawbucks. This band is an outstanding example of something we’ve been seeing more of the past few years – young musicians dedicating themselves to this genre. When RHR started in 2010, I remember looking under rocks for younger people to be on the show, with only intermittent success. Now, the fresh talent is streaming in, and I’m proud to have this young crew on our stage. You are really going to love them – I’m giving the Ol’ Otto’s guarantee on this one. As for Maria, there’s nothing like old friends. RHR has such a strong connection with the region of New York State east of our place of origin. Maria is a fixture in that area and it’s truly a warm feeling to have her back.
I met with Neil Justin, entertainment reporter of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, recently. Neil attended the show, and I’m happy to say he had very complementary things to say and, as a matter of fact, not only has several recommendations as to who might be on the show in the future, but plans to “spread the word about the show” and “use you as a source.” It was a pleasure to meet a man who covers the entertainment beat in the city of Garrison Keillor and Bob Dylan. He had great stories about Minnesota artists and, if you catch me at the right time, I might tell you some.
Don’t forget, RHR tickets are PERFECT holiday gifts. Imagine finding a few nights out on the town under the tree. Experiences, not stuff, make wonderful gifts. I forget where I heard that, but I wrote it down and sent to it everyone who buys for me. Because I have enough “stuff”, but I can never have too many experiences.
Don’t forget to include RHR in your New Year celebration plans. We will record the show Sunday, December 30 at Shawbucks – the regular time and place. It won’t be as hectic as December 31 and you’ll get home earlier. A win win. Folkfaces and Maria Gillard to start a wonderful 2019. Do it!
PS – coming up. Bryan Bowers Band. Mollie O’Brien. Don Dixon. Mustard’s Retreat. Rachael Kilgour. Christine Lavin. And lots more!
As always, tickets are available online at rollinghillsradio.org/tickets, calling/texting, for a return call, our Rolling Ticket Hotline at 716-294-0416, or at the door the night of the events
DEAR ROLLING HILLS READERS,
One of the many things that makes Rolling Hills Radio so gratifying to me is the artists we are able to introduce to our live audience in Jamestown. The show we had last week brought Jill Jack and Martin Swinger to town and it looks like we made two new buddies. Jill was so taken by the city, she wrote a song called “Jamestown Town” the day before the show and debuted it on RHR. Martin captured the room with his wildly funny and beautiful songs. Well, we are going to do it again on Monday, December 3. Cosy Sheridan is someone who personifies the extremely talented artist whose dedication to her craft has been unwavering for decades. You have my personal guarantee that she will own the room in short order. As for the DaVines, they are the kind of musicians we have been proud to present since the very outset of the show in 2010 – tremendously talented guys from our Rochester connection. Thanks to Rick Simpson, radio personality and manager, late of Gumbo Variations, WRUR for making sure this connection stays alive.
Another reason to attend the December 3rd show is the one-time only return of RHR’s longtime announcer, Jason Sample of WRFA.
Also, Neil Justin is coming to town! He is an entertainment reporter for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Neil and I made a time to hang out, talk about Rolling Hills, Garrison Keillor’s new enterprise, the state of entertainment, and life in general. Neil is coming to Jamestown to cover the Comedy Center and timed the trip so he could catch RHR on December 3.
Don’t forget, RHR tickets are PERFECT Christmas gifts. Experiences, not stuff, make wonderful gifts. I forget where I heard that, but I wrote it down and sent to it everyone who buys for me. Because I have enough “stuff”, but I can never have too many experiences.
Also don’t forget to include RHR in your New Year celebration plans. We will record the show Sunday, December 30 at Shawbucks – the regular time and place. It won’t be as hectic as December 31 and you’ll get home earlier. A win win. Folkfaces and Maria Gillard to start a wonderful 2019. Do it!
PS – coming up. The Bryan Bowers Band. Mollie O’Brien. Don Dixon. Mustard’s Retreat. And lots more!
As always, tickets are available online, rollinghillsradio.org/tickets by calling/texting for a return call, our Rolling Ticket Hotline at 716-294-0416, or at the door the night of the event.
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
I just wanted to send out a little reminder that Rolling Hills Radio has stepped up our schedule this season to include more shows in the winter. We start out in a week, Monday November 19, with Jill Jack from Detroit and Martin Swinger coming in from Maine.
I was happy to hear from Neil Justin this past week. He is an entertainment reporter for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and is coming to Jamestown to cover the Comedy Center. He timed his trip so that he could attend and cover the Rolling Hills December 3 show with Cosy Sheridan and the Da Vines. Neil and I made a time to hang out, talk about Rolling Hills, Garrison Keillor’s new enterprise, the state of entertainment, and life in general. Please get ahold of me with ideas about where to take Neil for lunch. THIS is what Jamestown planned for when the Comedy Center was first conceived – bringing attention, people, and art to our beloved city. The Arts can stimulate a local economy and revitalize a city. We can make this happen together!
Hey! Guess what else. We just set dates for our annual shows of the Rolling Hills Radio On-The-Road off season tour. We will be at Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater Sunday, August 4 and at the Great Blue Heron Saturday, July 6. Mark your calendars. It doesn’t matter how far you have to travel. These shows are always magnificent in incredible venues.
See ya soon!
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
Season nine of Rolling Hills Radio started out with arguably the most important living Americana artist of all and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot lived up to his name in every regard. He rambled a bit and we were happy to see people from Pittsburgh, Erie, and Cleveland making the trip to hear it first-hand. Now, with that momentum, we charge into Episode 80 with Jill Jack and Martin Swinger. Jill brings Detroit right to our doorstep. Nobody can deny that Detroit has been hugely influential in the American music scene. Certainly Motown, but so much more. Local low power station, WRFA, even featured Detroit music as the theme of its annual summer picnic a couple of years ago. In that city of musical greats, Jill Jack has garnered a suitcase full of Detroit-music awards, over 15 at last count. Folk, jazz, blues, songwriting – in this city with the giant footprint of Bob Seeger no matter where you go there, Jill excels. As the Detroit Free Press says, “Her voice can soar like opera and smoke like the blues … one of the strongest voices in Detroit, or in the country for that matter.“
As for Martin Swinger, when I saw he counts John Waters as one of his fans, I paid attention. And yeah, John Waters…I can see that. Martin is maybe THE most left-of-center character I have had the courage to book on this show. Singing about Betty Boop or other god-knows-what things, there’s nobody like Martin.
As for the rest of the season, I need to warn you, it is fast, furious, and packed with wonderful artists. It will go fast as we have shows much closer together than ever before. This is basically a nod to the preference of our live audiences. In the cold weather months, people have historically flocked to the show, largely because inside entertainment like RHR is what people want. No prob! We are making it happen. But just be ready, Episode 81 with Cosy Sheridan and the DaVines is just two weeks after Episode 80.
So – keep in touch and don’t forget to tell your friends to come to a show. Everyone has a good time; they will be forever in your debt!
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
It’s the middle of a beautiful summer in Western New York State, and that means Rolling Hills Radio is on the road. Our first stop was the Great Blue Heron Festival with The Town Pants. You’ll be hearing that on the radio real soon and shortly after that the TV show will be up. You can hear and see all that on www.rollinghillsradio.org. Next up, the Amphitheater in Chautauqua Institution. The date is Sunday, August 5. The show starts at 2:30pm and admission is free! Our guests for this auspicious show are Joe Crookston and Todd Burge. There is nothing more American than a Sunday afternoon in these peaceful surroundings on the shore of Lake Chautauqua.
I can tell you a little about the upcoming 2018-2019 Rolling Hills season now, but watch here and the Facebook page to get the full story shortly. The season begins with Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at Shawbucks in Jamestown, N.Y. Monday, October 22. Other big names this coming season are Mollie O’Brien (formerly a regular on Prairie Home Companion) and the Bryan Bowers Trio. Also, Cosy Sheridan, Folkfaces, Jill Jack, Martin Swinger, Don Dixon, Jen Sygit, Jacob’s Ferry Stragglers, Aaron Lipp, Martin Swinger, and more. There are a whole lot of compelling reasons to get your season ticket now. To do that or for individual tickets, log onto www.rollinghillsradio.org OR call (716) 294-0416 starting August 1st.
Dear Rolling Hills Readers,
Here we are, the end of the regular 2017-2018 season. It has been a whirlwind of great music and incredible people. I’m not only talking about the musicians, but the staff, our supporters, the community that rallied at several key points, and most of all, the audience that reliably patronizes the show. We met a lot of new RHR attenders this season, it seems like our audience keeps spreading out and growing. We are now a TV show as well as a nationally syndicated radio show.
Monday, May 21 is the day lots of people, not the least of whom is me, have been waiting for. Robin and Linda Williams are Americana royalty. I saw them when they were first starting out in the mid-70’s. There was something amazing and special about them then, right off the bat. They were captivating, hilarious, homey, and sang with flawless, distinctive harmonies. I could feel a southern breeze when they played. Time hasn’t changed a thing about their music. Their presence is just as incredible; the only difference is that now a lot more people have heard of them. They are the rare performers from whom you sense something that can only be describe as “magic.”
When I told Rolling Hills Administrative Director, Jim Goodling, that we had booked Robin and Linda, his knees buckled, his fingers quivered, his hair stood on end, his skin turned Forest Green, his car started, books began to fly around the room, and he began speaking in tongues. OK, that might have been my imagination, but seriously, he and his wife, Eileen, have driven hundreds of miles just to see Robin and Linda play one concert. All you have to do is come to Jamestown, NY for an evening with these fabulous musicians.
As for what’s coming up, the Rolling Hills fortune has never been greater. Don’t forget, RHR will record a show at the Great Blue Heron with guests The Town Pants on Saturday, July 7. Then it’s off to the Chautauqua Amphitheater with Joe Crookston and Todd Burge on Sunday, August 5 at 2:00pm. Don’t forget, free admission to the grounds and to the venue that day. Write it down and make it a plan! That will be a family day that no one will ever forget. Finally, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot is coming to Jamestown for RHR on Monday, October 22. You’ve been warned. And as long as I’m on the subject of next season, Detroit blues player, Jill Jack will be one of our guests in November. Check her out.
Get your season ticket to the 2018-2019 show May 21, as long as you’ll be there to see Robin and Linda anyway.
Ken’s review of The Life I’ve Picked – A Banjo Player’s Nitty Gritty Journey by our friend John McEuen