Category Archives: community

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.

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.

Ready, Set, Summer!

Borrowing from my charming, talented and articulate pal Jeffrey C. Capps because it all applies to me too (and why reinvent the wheel?):

Dear Friends,

It’ll be a busy musical weekend for me, and I hope to see many of you!
On Friday, I am honored to join Tara in opening for John Rapson’s must-see Hot Tamale Louie benefit for IC Compassion at The Mill. We’ll be performing a couple of tunes during the 8 o’clock hour and the show will follow at 9. This is a really incredible show and a great cause! More info here.

 

On Saturday, I’ll be performing twice as part of the Longfellow Front Porch Music Festival. Family Folk Machine will kick off the afternoon with a 2 p.m. set at 604 Grant Street, and Jeffrey C. Capps and His Almost All-Girl Band will immediately follow on the very same porch. Grab your lawn chair, and come on out! More info here.

And if you’re one to plan ahead, please mark your calendar for Saturday, July 1 when Tara and I will make our annual appearance at the Iowa City Farmers Market. We’ll play from 9 until 11 a.m. on the temporary stage right outside of City Hall!

Thanks so much!

Sound as ever,

JCC

I also have two other related events this weekend: at 4 pm on Saturday, I am honored to accompany on guitar some of my fiddle students as part of the Longfellow Front Porch Music Festival. At 9 pm on Saturday, the Hot Tamale Louie ensemble will be playing at the Motley Cow. This is a ticketed event and it will sell out so look sharp.

Happy summer!!

Hot Tamale Louie

I don’t know how I got lucky enough to be a part of this project but I am surely grateful.

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“Over and over, we forget what being American means. The radical premise of our nation is that one people can be made from many, yet in each new generation we find reasons to limit who those “many” can be—to wall off access to America, literally or figuratively. That impulse usually finds its roots in claims about who we used to be, but nativist nostalgia is a fantasy. We have always been a pluralist nation, with a past far richer and stranger than we choose to recall.”

Schulz, Kathryn. “Citizen Khan” The New Yorker. June 6 & 13, 2016.

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Left to right: Paul Kalina, Dan Padley, Tara McGovern, Justin LeDuc, Ryan Smith, Steve Locher, Daniel Gaglione, John Rapson and Dave Moore.