Well May the World Go: Remembering Pete

Pete Seeger at home in Beacon, NY with Jonah, 11 months and father Adam Green; October, 2013.
Pete Seeger at home in Beacon, NY with Jonah, 11 months and father Adam Green; October, 2013.
I had played the five-string banjo in just about every spare moment of my pre-medical education at U.C. Berkeley. Pete Seeger's records were my main teacher. Deciphering the techniques in his How to Play the Five-String Banjo would always lead me to his home address inside the back cover. After many years of waffling, I wrote to him in 1994. My letter described the friends I had made playing the banjo. I included the cassettes I had recorded of mostly knock-offs of his songs with a few of my own, and I described playing and singing with Read more [...]

Song Brothers Song

The Gibson Brothers at The Old Time Pickin' Parlor; Nashville, TN. Eric and Leigh Gibson have opened up their hearts wide with They Called It Music (Compass Records, 2013), an exquisite album of aching songs recorded at the end of 2012, less than a year after the death of their father. The charging intuitive ensemble rings with lump-in-your-throat truths and Gibson trademark harmonies. The recording and mixing of the album make me Read more [...]

My Children and Yours

JoeJoe and Mark Saroyan, Christmas 2012; New York City Father Asbury used to play his guitar on Fridays during Religious Studies when I was in fourth grade. He'd strum with his fingers until they bled, while he led us singing "John Henry," "The Battle of New Orleans," and "This Little Light of Mine." Church Bazaars in October always had Armenian folk music with driving Turkish and Arabic rhythms on oud, kanoun, doumbek, clarinet and guitar. Line dancing late into the night preceded the Sunday liturgy Read more [...]

Quebe Sisters at the Triad

The Quebe Sisters Band at the Triad NYC, August 30, 2012There was nothing half-pint, half-assed or half-fast coming out of Texas on the Upper West side last night. If you saw Fort Worth natives, the Quebe Sisters at the Triad NYC, you'd know what I'm talking about. They shine like the sun. Pound like the rain. And let the yellow rose rest easy in retirement. Sometimes awesome talent and beauty can be intimidating. Their performance was relief and inspiration. Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe Read more [...]

Bassist Mike Barber

JoeJoe with Leigh and MikeLast Friday when the Gibson Brothers performed at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Leigh Gibson mentioned a band member's birthday. Bassist Mike Barber was turning 42. The audience spontaneously broke into "Happy Birthday" for the most youthful and senior citizen of the group. I had a big grin on my face when I heard that story. Mike is not only "off the grid" as an expert angler in the North Country, he Read more [...]

Eric Gibson’s Instrumental, Vocal and Songwriting Genius

Eric Gibson tunes his new Henderson guitar.While I hesitate to dedicate a single blog to the exceptional talents of one brother, Eric and Leigh Gibson are artists of such creative depth and musical honesty that I am unable to give them both their due in a single go. As the title pronounces, this one is devoted to Eric. Banjo and Guitar: Eric's banjo touch is sometimes fleet and other times punchy, closer to Earl Scruggs on breakdowns but J.D. Crowe on fills. His chucks Read more [...]

Listening to Old Friends Get Together: I once was Lost but now am Found

Old Friends Get Together CoverI left for work Friday morning from our apartment on Morningside Drive and descended into Morningside Park. I take the A train or sometimes the C uptown to work from 125th Street to Columbia-Presbyterian at 168th in Washington Heights every morning. The 1 train brings me home. On this past Friday I listened to Old Friends Get Together (Mountain Home Music Company, 2010) as I have many times since purchasing it. With IBMA awards in 2011 for Recorded Event of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for the Read more [...]