Sandburg Songbag

The Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School team has been quiet for the last couple of months. Keith battled a walnut and the walnut bested him, taking a broken wrist as payment for being trodden upon.

Keith has proved to be the tougher nut and his healing is proceeding well so we will be back in action soon.

We are very much looking forward to returning to the Carl Sandburg Historic Site in Galesburg, IL on Sunday, November 12 at 4 pm. Galesburg is a lovely town and we are always happy to be among fellow poetry aficionados.

I have long admired Sandburg’s poems but the last time we visited, I learned so much about the man that I had never known before:

  • He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for Abraham Lincoln; The War Years, his biography of Abraham Lincoln (1940).
  • He was the first white man to be honored by the NAACP with their Silver Plaque Award as a “major prophet of civil rights in our time.”
  • He is regarded by some as the first American urban folk singer, accompanying himself on solo guitar at lectures and poetry recitals, and in recordings, long before either of the major folk revival movements.
  • His 1927 anthology The American Songbag has inspired countless musicians for decades, including but not limited to Dan Zanes and Sufjan Stevens.
  • He won a Grammy in 1957 for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.
  • Sandburg was the only American poet ever invited to address a joint session of Congress.

If you’re not near Galesburg, please spread the word to family and friends. This is a very special community event and we’re so honored to be invited back.

Congratulations to Dannye and Rob!

Introducing Dannye and Rob, my featured musicians for September and October!

There is a special place in my heart for family music-making so it’s an extra thrill to be featuring a mother and son for the first time in my featured musician series.

In addition to making music at home, in school ensembles and at church, Dannye and Rob as well as Rob’s two sisters regularly bring their musical gifts to enrich the guests and staff at The Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. I find it truly beautiful that they are so committed to using their talents to share joy and inspiration.

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You can follow some of Dannye’s other creative pursuits at her writing website DannyeChase.com.

Little Village Magazine Review

Many thanks to Little Village Magazine and to Kent Williams for his kind review of Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School.

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.

Reins is the guitarist at the session who slips jazzy passing chords into traditional Irish and Scottish tunes — verging on folk heresy — but always in ways that deepen and add texture. Reins approaches the depth of virtuosity and artistry of performers as revered as Bert Jansch and Nic Jones. There’s a nonchalance and ease to his playing that comes from countless hours sitting in a circle, playing with others just for the joy of it.

Click to read more…

Iowa State Fair 2017

There is always magic to be found at the Iowa State Fair!

Our first stop was Pioneer Hall for the Iowa State Fair Fiddlers Contest. The friendly face of David Bellegante, 9 Time State Grand Champion Fiddler and the annual host of the Iowa State Fair Fiddle Contest, is always a welcome sight. I’ve been bringing my fiddle students to this contest for years and I’m always impressed by how David takes time to connect with each fiddler and prepare them for their turn on the big stage. He is as kind as he is talented. I love his t-shirt here captioned: “I Might Look Like I’m Listening To You But In My Head, I’m Playing The Fiddle.” He is accompanied by Michelle Bell on piano who is also an outstanding fiddler and teacher with a long legacy of music making in Iowa.

Three of my students competed this year and they all played their hearts out and absolutely delighted the crowd. Eviva was my youngest student ever to compete and her composure onstage rivaled the most seasoned of performers. Eviva’s big sister Ania defended her third place title for the second year in a row. Nina took home the blue ribbon and is now the 2017 Iowa State Fair Youth Champion Fiddler!

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Here I am with the other fiddlers who placed this year. I accepted Nina’s trophy on her behalf because she was already over at the Cattle Barn competing in the Spelling Bee. There’s nothing I don’t love about that sentence that I just typed. Oh, Iowa.

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When I arrived at the Spelling Bee, Nina was already in place next to the other competitors so I had to silently mouth to her from across the room while holding up her trophy: “You won first prize!”. I thought her jaw was going to drop off her face. Truly one of the most fun moments of my teaching career.

Nina and Kat, the Junior Champion Fiddler, were featured on the KCCI 5 pm news playing tunes for the crowds gathered at the MidAmerican Energy Stage.

The rest of the day was a blur of fair food, farm animals, and carnival rides with the wonderful Denmead Torkelson family!

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I am so proud of my three fiddlers who all played so beautifully and brought so much joy to the Pioneer Hall audience on Friday. I am one lucky teacher.

Now Find Us On iTunes!

Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School by Keith Reins & Tara McGovern featuring Jon Cooper is now available on iTunes!

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We’d love it if you would consider leaving us a rating or review over at iTunes!

Thanks as always for supporting independent musicians.

Online Sales for FSYNSIGS

Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School is now available for purchase online via CDBaby.com

Click on the album cover below for a direct link for purchase: twopanel-page-001

The album should go live on iTunes in the next 1-2 weeks. I’ll post again when we reach that milestone.

If you would be so kind as to leave a review of the album on our CDBaby page, we would appreciate it so much. Writing a review does require the creation of a CDBaby account but it is free, quick and easy and it’s really fun and helpful to review independent musicians. Just click on the page and scroll down to the bottom to click on “log in to write a review”.

Thank you for supporting independent musicians and for investing in keeping traditional music relevant and thriving.

Video from the CD Release Concert

Thank you all so much for coming to our CD Release Concert! We really enjoyed playing for you and look forward to seeing you next time.

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photo by Patti Cooper

I’m thrilled and grateful to report that our friends Tom, Emily and Henry Landmann not only made a weekend trip from Wisconsin to attend our CD Release Concert but also took some much appreciated videos at the show.

There are 5 videos now posted here.

Thanks again, Landmanns! We are so lucky to have your support and love.