Concerts from the Library of Congress, 2008-2009


2009 Concerts and Events

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. All concerts are in the Coolidge Auditorium, Thomas Jefferson Building. Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or  No tickets are required. 

Image: Brendan Carey BlockMay 28 , 2009 at 12:00 noon
BRENDAN CAREY BLOCK & FRIENDS—Cape Breton fiddle music from New Hampshire

Brendan Carey Block is a multi-faceted fiddler from New Hampshire, grounded in the musical traditions of New England and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He has been performing since the age of ten and has made many trips to Cape Breton to learn from master fiddlers and be immersed in the Scottish-based heritage of the island. Brendan has achieved wide recognition for his virtuosic fiddling and was named the U.S. National Junior Scottish Fiddle Champion for 2000 and 2001. Brendan has toured and recorded with many great artists including the renowned Glengarry Bhoys, the Boston-based band Annalivia, and his own duo project with guitarist Flynn Cohen.  In this concert, he will perform his traditional repertoire of jigs, reels, and airs. Brendan is also and avid dogsledder and raises Siberian huskies.

June 18 , 2009 at 12:00 noon
Image: Ollin Yoliztli CalmecacOLLIN YOLIZTLI CALMECAC—Aztec dance ensemble from Pennsylvania

Ollin Yoliztli Calmecac (which translates from the Aztec language as "School of the Blood Moving in the Heart") performs thoroughly researched recreations of ancient Aztec music and dance from Mexico.  The group was founded by Daniel Chico Lorenzo and Brujo de la Mancha in 2003. Daniel has extensive knowledge of ancient Mexican culture and languages; his first language was Nahuatl, an indigenous Mesoamerican language closely related to the one spoken by the ancient Aztecs. Brujo is a multidisciplinary artist, and became the dance and music teacher for OYC when Daniel returned to his hometown in December, 2006.  Brujo also makes the group’s musical instruments and choreographs their dances.  The members of OYC are immigrants from various parts of Mexico, residing in and around Philadelphia.   They see their troupe as a chance to teach both Mexicans and Americans about their shared indigenous history. Dressed in animal skins, feathers and ankle shakers made from seeds, the dancers pay respect to the four corners of the planet before beginning their dance, which is accompanied by the huehuetl (drum). They perform frequently at community events throughout the Philadelphia region, and are particularly known for celebrations of the Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, Summer Solstice, and other holidays celebrated by their Aztec forebears and their Mexican contemporaries.

July 16, 2009 at 12:00 noon
Image: No. Kentucky Brotherhood SingersNORTHERN KENTUCKY BROTHERHOOD SINGERS —quartet style a capella gospel music from Kentucky

The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers of Covington, Kentucky, is among the very few remaining quartet-style groups that still perform a cappella. The Singers, consisting of Eric Riley, Ric Jennings, Greg Page, Shaka Tyehimba, Stace Darden & Demetrius Davenport, specialize in the intricate and emotional four-part harmony "jubilee" style pioneered by such legendary groups as the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Golden Gate Quartet, and the Soul Stirrers. The Brotherhood Singers started singing at the 9th Street Baptist Church in Covington. The group has performed in churches and secular music venues, as well as on television, throughout the U.S., as well as in Canada and Spain, which they have toured 14 times.

Image: Sreevidhya ChandramouliAugust 20, 2009 at 12:00 noon
SREEVIDHYA CHANDRAMOULI & FRIENDS—traditional Indian Karaikudi vina music from Oregon

Sreevidhya Chandramouli plays the vina, a plucked Indian lute with a fret­board spanning three and a half octaves. She was trained in the Karaikudi vina tradition, the only school of south Indian vina players that goes back more than ten generations. Sreevidhya learned from her mother, Rajeswari Padmanabhan, who is a ninth-generation exponent, and a granddaughter of Karaikudi Subbarama Iyer, who is considered one of the founders of the Karaikudi style of vina playing. Sreevidhya later pursued vocal training with the late Sri. Vairamanagalam Lakshminarayanan and Smt. Suguna Varadachari in Chennai, India. Sreevidhya earned a Master’s degree in music at the University of Madras in 1988, and has lived in Portland, Oregon since the late 1980s. She has served as a visiting artist at the University of Washington and as an artist-in-residence at the University of Oregon, where she offers regular lecture demonstrations on Indian music and culture. Her performance and teaching career spans over 25 years, and includes appearances in Asia, Europe and North America. Along with her mother, she was featured in the book The Singer & the Song: Conversations with Women Musicians by C.S. Lakshmi (2000).

September 16, 2009 at 12:00 noon
Blanche SockabasinWAYNE NEWELL and BLANCH SOCKABASIN—traditional Passamaquoddy music from Maine

Blanch Sockabasin and Wayne Newell are both tradition bearers and members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. 

Blanch Sockabasin teaches Native music, drumming, singing and dancing at the Indian Township School in eastern Maine. She also makes Native baskets and leather crafts.  Her first love is teaching all that she can about Passamaquoddy culture and language. She was recently honored by the Maine State Legislature for her efforts in preserving the Passamaquoddy way of life. She is deeply committed to passing on the rich Passamaquoddy culture to the children of her Tribe. 

Wayne Newell was born at Sipayik (Pleasant Point) Reservation in eastern Maine. Wayne is a storyteller, and a singer of Passamaquoddy and other Native music.  He speaks the Passamaquoddy language fluently, and utilizes English as his second language.  Educated at the local schools, he eventually went on to earn his Masters degree in the field of education from Harvard University.  Wayne’s first love is the preservation of the Passamaquoddy language. In 1971, he directed the first bilingual and bicultural education program for the Passamaquoddy Tribe. This program included the introduction of a writing system for the Passamaquoddy language. He has authored and co-authored over forty reading books written in the Passamaquoddy/Maliseet language.

Photo provided by the Abbe Museum of Maine's Native American heritage, Bar Harbor, Maine

October 7, 2009 at 12:00 noon
Image: Paul Zarzyski and Wylie GustafsonCowboy poet PAUL ZARZYSKI and cowboy singer-composer WYLIE GUSTAFSON—from Montana

As poets, songwriters and horsemen, Wylie Gustafson and Paul Zarzyski have pursued their writing and riding passions for over 35 years.  Wylie Gustafson ’s performing career began in his teens.  His break came when his band, Wylie & The Wild West, appeared on Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance at The Palomino Club in North Hollywood, which helped them secure a record deal.  That done, he moved Dusty, Washington, where he established the Cross Three Quarter Horse Ranch.  Wylie remains a full-time cutting horse trainer and competitor, as well as a full-time musician.  He has recorded over fifteen albums, and has played thousands of venues around the world, including more than fifty appearances on The Grand Ole Opry.  He has also been a guest on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home CompanionPaul Zarzyski has spent fifteen seasons as a bareback bronco rider on the amateur, pro, and senior circuits.  This experience has infused his poetry with rodeo images and lingo.  He is the recipient of the 2005 Montana Governor’s Arts Award for Literature.  His books have won a Western Heritage award for poetry from The National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and a Spur Award from The Western Writers of America.  In addition to his eight collections of printed work, he has recorded four spoken-word CDs.  In 1987, he was invited to the third annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, where he’s performed every year since, and where he crossed trails with Wylie.  Shortly thereafter, their co-written songs began to appear on Wylie’s albums.  In the fall of 2008, they joined Nashville producer John Carter Cash in his Cash Cabin Studio to record the CD HANG-n-RATTLE!   According to Mark Bedor of American Cowboy magazine, they’re “like Lennon and McCartney in cowboy hats.”  

November 18, 2009 at 12:00 noon
Image: Barbara LynnBARBARA LYNN & FRIENDS—Texas Rhythm and Blues

Barbara Lynn is a rhythm and blues singer and left-handed guitarist from Texas.  In the 1950s, inspired by blues artists Guitar Slim and Jimmy Reed, and pop acts Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee, she created an all-female band, Bobbie Lynn and Her Idols. Her first single "You'll Lose a Good Thing" was a #1 R&B hit and a Top 10 pop hit in 1962, and was later a country hit for Freddy Fender. Soon Lynn was touring with such soul music greats as Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina Turner, and The Temptations.  She appeared at the Apollo Theatre and twice on American Bandstand, and her song, "Oh Baby (We've Got a Good Thing Goin')” was recorded by The Rolling Stones.  Rolling Stone's David Fricke has noted that Lynn continues to display “undiminished grace and poise, pouring a lifetime of blues and wisdom into her delivery.”

December 3, 2009 at 12:00 noon
Image: The BertsonsTHE BERNTSONS—Traditional Norwegian-American dance music from Virginia
Around 1900, a Norwegian immigrant named Bernt Berntson Bradskerud purchased a violin in a northern Wisconsin logging camp and gave it to his ten-year-old son, Bennie. Bennie began playing learning Scandinavian folk tunes from fiddlers in his rural Wisconsin immigrant community, especially his musical uncle and cousins. For the next thirty years, Bennie played all night long at house parties and community dances that featured Scandinavian waltzes, schottisches, and square dances.  These tunes became the backbone of the repertoire for the Berntsons.   In the 1930s, Bennie Berntson’s son Maurice and daughter Eleanore joined the family music circle. Eleanore’s pump organ, playing melodies as well as chording, blended with the violins to produce a strikingly warm, rich sound. Maurice further enhanced the mix by playing the violin melodies on the guitar.  In the 1960s, a second guitar was brought into the musical picture, when Eleanore’s son Karl began playing the family music. Today, the Berntsons are alive and well, and heading into their second century of music-making. The band will include Eleanore Berntson, Karl Berntson, Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelley, and Charlie Pilzer.

2008 Concerts and Events

September 17, 2008 at 12:00 noon
Bajich BrothersTHE BAJICH BROTHERS—Tamburitza Music from Kansas

The Bajich Brothers, Boris, Paul, Peter and Robert, are a Serbian-American tambura quartet from Kansas. They are active in the St. George Orthodox Church, located in the Kansas suburbs of Kansas City, and have played their music at all the major Serbian and Croatian festivals in the United States, including the Tambura Extravaganza in St. Louis and Omaha. They have produced three recordings, the first of which was released in 1985. They were raised in the Serbian community of Kansas City, which dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, when Serbian immigrants began seeking work in the five major meatpacking plants located in the area of the city known as the West Bottoms. One of the traditions these Serbians brought with them was that of playing tamburas. Tamburas are a family of fretted, steel-stringed acoustic instruments common to several countries in southeastern Europe, including Serbia. They have four to six steel strings, and are usually played with a plectrum. In this, they resemble familiar families of instruments such as western mandolas and Greek bouzoukis. The styles of music played by the tambura include, among others, traditional folk tunes and modern tunes written in the folk idiom. Tambura music (also known as tamburitza or tamburica, after common diminutives for tambura), has been played in ethnic communities in the United States since the 1890s. Since then, it has spread wherever there are Americans of Serbian or Croatian heritage, becoming one of the most popular and widespread ethnic music traditions in the United States.

October 2, 2008 at 12:00 noon
Image: Bar J WranglersBAR J WRANGLERS—Cowboy Music from Wyoming

The Bar J Wranglers from Wilson, Wyoming (outside Jackson Hole) carry on a family tradition of entertaining audiences throughout the Intermountain West with their mixture of cowboy music, humorous skits and celebration of ranch life. Every evening from May through September, they work seven days a week hosting the Bar J Chuckwagon Supper and Western Show, where they work the ticket booth, serve up dinner, then perform their warmly spirited repertoire to hundreds of guests over the season. For the rest of the year, they perform at music gatherings and ranch events, and in concert halls. Singing four-part harmonies, yodeling and playing instruments, their original songs and older pieces revere the ranching way of life and offer up insights into rural values. Following in their father, Babe Humphrey’s musical footsteps, sons Scott on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Bryan on vocals and upright bass, are joined by Tim Hodgson on vocals and fiddle, Donnie Cook on flat-top and steel guitars, dobro and banjo, and Jerry “Bullfrog” Baxter on vocals and rhythm guitar, to deliver some of the best harmonies, and some of the most outrageous comedy and remarkable musicianship in the American West.  

November 19, 2008 at 12:00 noon
Image: SuratiSURATI—Classical and Folk Indian Dance from New Jersey

Surati, inc. is a performing arts company and school for Indian music and dance, based in New Jersey.  Since 2001, Surati’s dance and music school has offered intensive training in Indian classical, traditional, folk, contemporary, and popular dance and music.  Surati’s group of professional dancers and musicians perform a multitude of Indian Classical and traditional folk styles on stage.  Rimli Roy, Surati’s principal dancer and choreographer, began to take her first formal lessons in Indian classical dancing at the tender age of four.  She came from a family of gifted musicians and artists, and was greatly influenced by her parents and brother at an early age. Her father Sumit Roy is a renowned music composer, vocalist and musician based in India. Her mother Arati, is a talented lyricist and visual artist. Her brother Rajesh Roy is also a well-known musician, vocalist, composer and music arranger/programmer.  Having a tremendous innate sense of rhythm and natural grace of movement, Rimli gradually began to master several genres of Indian classical dance, and started to give stage performances by the age of six.  Rimli and the Surati dance troupe perform a variety of traditional and self-composed Indian dances, including dances in the Manipuri, Bharatnatyam, and Odissi styles.  They have performed at cultural events all over the United States and India.