I’ll be back this Sunday with music new and old, and guests to describe this year’s NJ Folk Festival on the Eagleton Institute Lawn at Rutgers in New Brunswick on April 26th.

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Guest hosts on April 6 and 13

Hosting the show this month will be:

April 6 – Frank Todd

April 13 – Pete Labriola

April 20 – me

April 27 – me

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New Jersey State Song (Again)

With the question of whether New Jersey needs a state song back in the news (see today’s Star-Ledger Perspective Section, page 1, I am reprinting below my thoughts on the subject which have not changed in the 12 years since this appeared in the New Jersey Section of The New York Times:

Harmony for an Official State Song:

A Proposal for Rotation, Marketing and Term Limits

by John Weingart

The New York Times, New Jersey Section, Op Ed page

November 24, 2002

NEW JERSEY likes to talk about a state song but doesn’t seem to really want to choose one (“Oh, Say, Can We Get an Official State Song,” Nov. 17).

The deliberations over the last 40 years, dominated by Red Mascara’s crusade on behalf of his song “I’m From New Jersey,” represent a New Jersey problem that can be solved. Let’s create a process to select a state song but limit the designation to a specified term. Every five years, the New Jersey Council on the Arts could sponsor a competition and make a selection. The winner would receive publicity, honor and a stipend of, say, $10,000. The council could also choose a dozen additional entries and include them with the winner on a CD that could be sold around the state and distributed more widely through the internet.

There are already many good songs about the state, but the competition and resulting recording would encourage more writing while also helping to bring the better songs and musicians to the attention of wider audiences. The CD, of course, would also help promote New Jersey and perhaps even earn enough money to provide a small return to both the state and the songwriters.

Having the responsibility to choose enough songs for the CD would also enable the Arts Council to honor songs that, for example, portray one part of the state but may not seem an appropriate representation of the state as a whole. Candidates might include some great older songs like “The Long Branch Branch of the Red Bank Bank,” “I Found a Peach in OrangeNew Jersey in Apple Blossom Time” or “Paddling on the Rahway.”

It’s fun to talk about a state song, but who wants to risk being stuck for all time with a clunker? Moreover, what music fans can say their favorite song about any topic is never going to change? Maybe it would have been fitting for “Born to Run” to have been New Jersey’s anthem in the early 1980′s (when a bill to that end was introduced in the Legislature), but 20 years later it’s hard to remember why.

This year, my nominee would be “The Garden State Stomp,” a song whose only words are the names of 80 New Jersey towns, from Allamuchy and Piscataway to EggHarbor and Double Trouble. The words are amusing and arguably educational to hear, and a term as the New Jersey State Song would be a nice tribute to the song’s writer, Dave Van Ronk, the folk and blues musician, who died in February. The song might be appropriate for a five-year term but would be an unacceptable choice for the hundreds of towns not mentioned if we continue to try to agree on only one song to represent the entire state forever.

The trouble with our periodic bursts of interest in this subject now is that they fall under a cloud of failure. Selecting a term-limited state song would enable New Jersey to turn our past hesitancy into virtue. Twice a decade we could have a statewide, spirited, light-hearted discussion about the song candidates knowing that a winner would be chosen and that, no matter how disagreeable or even embarrassing some might consider the selection, the next one might be more to our liking.

This proposal should be considered by the Legislature early in the new year as members prepare to complete a record of accomplishment from which they can run for re-election in November. While a number of bills on the subject have already been introduced as they have been every year for decades, a new bill should be prepared that establishes that every five years the Arts Council will select a new New Jersey State Song.

I suggest that the bill stipulate that the first state song, for a term of three years, be “I’m From New Jersey” to reward Red Mascara at least for his persistence and his name if not for the song itself. The three-year designation would give Mr. Mascara at age 80 the recognition he has long sought while also giving the Arts Council ample time to design a good process for the subsequent competitions. The law should state that while a new song will be selected every five years, the previous winners gain emeritus status and are forever after considered “one of New Jersey’s official state songs.” The songwriters, including Mr. Mascara, will thus be protected and able to enjoy whatever limited career boost and immortality their creation engenders.

By taking action now, legislators will be able to claim credit for solving a minute but seemingly intractable problem. As an added benefit, those who believe that term limits for officeholders diminish the competence and capabilities of legislative bodies will be able to claim that they nevertheless do support such limits when they make sense.

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Reilly & Maloney Concert on April 5th

I hope you can come to the concert Ginny Reilly & David Maloney will be giving at the Prallsville Mill on Saturday April 5th. For tickets, go to the Prallsville Mill Concert section of this website.

Reilly & Maloney have a vibrancy and warmth that envelopes folks hearing them for the first time as well as longtime fans. They have sung together for more than 40 years and their fine voices and magnificent harmonies remain stunning as does their choice of material. They mix a few well-known songs with great ones they have written along with others from mostly little-known songwriters. Their popularity has always been centered on their native west coast and this may be their final east coast tour. Like their previous shows at the Mill, this one should be magical and memorable.

Reilly & Maloney video

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New Gorka and Trishka Tonight

Tonight’s Music You Can’t Hear On The Radio will be centered around new albums from John GorkaTony Trischka, and Lowell Levinger From The Youngbloods; and include songs about the Olympics, Chryslers and other less-timely topics. WPRB 103.3 and WPRB.com. I hope you can tune in.

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40th Anniversary Show & Pete Seeger

I realize I did my first show on WPRB almost exactly 40 years ago. It was early on a Monday morning in February 1974 that I turned on the station at 6:00 and started the turntable where I had cued up Pete Seeger singing, “Oh, Had I A Golden Thread.” And that’s how I’ll begin this Sunday in a show that will be a three-hour tribute to Pete. (Not that I knew him, but Seeger or Mr. Seeger sounds too formal.) The only challenge will be narrowing the amazing depth and variety of recorded music he left behind to just three hours. The only difference from 1974 is that there may have been more people listening then – even at 6:00 am – than there will be this Sunday during the Super Bowl but I’m pretty sure those of us who are listening will find it enjoyable and interesting, if also somewhat bittersweet.

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Inside Folk Music on Sunday

I am looking forward to filling in for the recent guest hosts on my show this Sunday. I’m planning to spend time exploring the music of Inside Llewyn Davis including playing some music from the actual folk duo called Jim & Jean. The LP I have, called “Changes” on Verve Folkways, has album notes by Phil Ochs which conclude:

“The Beatles have set a level of pure musical sound that is a tantalizing carrot to many an American group. Jim & Jean are one of the few groups who can meet the challenge of that level. All decent Americans will buy and love this record. The rest of you will have to fend for yourselves.” Phil Ochs

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Beppe Gambetta Trio – 1st time in US

FOLK RADIO: I am delaying my return to the radio to Sunday, January 26th. In the interim, I hope you will enjoy the show created by Frank Todd on January 19th.
Andy Blue on January 12th.

WINTER FOLK CONCERTS: Meanwhile, with the next shows in the Folk Music Concert Series at the Prallsville Mill coming soon, this is the perfect moment to order your tickets:

THE BEPPE GAMBETTA TRIO:

Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm and

Sunday, February 16 at 3:00 pm

The first U.S. tour by this trio with Beppe’s long-time European collaborators Marco Fadda, percussion, and Riccardo Barbera, upright bass.

REILLY & MALONEY:

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Ginny Reilly and David Maloney’s beautiful voices and harmonies and wonderful mix of songs have been delighting audiences since 1970. Though their music is better than ever, they rarely travel too far away from the West Coast and are thinking this return to the Mill may be their final East Coast swing.

WHERE
The Prallsville Mill, Rte. 29, Stockton, NJ
(5 miles north from New Hope and Lambertville)

TICKETS
Order at: veryseldom.com/prallsville.php

QUESTIONS
Contact: Concerts@VerySeldom.com

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Folk Radio & Winter Folk Concerts

FOLK RADIO: I plan to return to the radio on Sunday, January 19th. In the interim, I hope you will enjoy the shows created by
Frank Todd on January 5th and
Andy Blue on January 12th.

WINTER FOLK CONCERTS:

Meanwhile, with the next shows in the Folk Music Concert Series at the Prallsville Mill coming soon, this is the perfect moment to order your tickets:

THE BEPPE GAMBETTA TRIO:

Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm and
Sunday, February 16 at 3:00 pm

The first U.S. tour by this trio with Beppe’s long-time European collaborators Marco Fadda, percussion, and Riccardo Barbera, upright bass.

REILLY & MALONEY:

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Ginny Reilly and David Maloney’s beautiful voices and harmonies and wonderful mix of songs have been delighting audiences since 1970. Though their music is better than ever, they rarely travel too far away from the West Coast and are thinking this return to the Mill may be their final East Coast swing.

WHERE
The Prallsville Mill, Rte. 29, Stockton, NJ
(5 miles north from New Hope and Lambertville)

TICKETS
Order at: veryseldom.com/prallsville.php

QUESTIONS
Contact: Concerts@VerySeldom.com

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Frank Todd this Sunday

Frank Todd will be the host for this final show of 2013.

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