Berkeley Old Time Music Convention

12th annual old time music jamboree

Friday, September 19, 2014, 8:00 pm
(doors open at 7:00 pm)

featuring the Earl White Band, The Cliffhangers, and The Onlies

$16 advance / $18 door

Purchase tickets online
September 19 8:00 pm

The Berkeley Old Time Music Convention (BOTMC) is back for the 12th year, celebrating old time music from September 16-21, at locations all over town. This five-day festival offers concerts, square dancing, a string band contest, workshops, and activities especially for kids and families, all in intimate settings where the line between audience and performer is as thin as a guitar pick. Participants travel from across America for the chance to hang out, dance, and pick and sing alongside some of the top musicians and dancers in the old time fiddle and banjo world. Starting at 5:00 p.m., David Bragger will host a free jam session in the Freight lobby and, if weather permits, other BOTMC performers will host a jam in front of the building. The master of ceremonies for tonight’s show will be Paul Brown.

Earl White is one of few Black Americans reviving the music that was once an important part of rural black communities and life on plantations in the American southeast. Earl is known for his extensive repertoire of unusual tunes, and his driving, energetic, heartfelt style. He started playing the fiddle in 1974 as a founding member of the Green Grass Cloggers. This was a group of young college students from North Carolina who brought clogging into the modern age by combining older flatfooting styles with the more modern “precision” clogging routines. A syncopated dance step that Earl White invented during that time came to be known as “the Earl” and is still taught at clogging workshops. During his time in North Carolina, Earl spent long periods collecting fiddle tunes in the mountains, mostly from white fiddlers who at times credited black sources for some tunes and stylistic elements..

The Cliffhangers formed in 2001 as a “campground band” at Clifftop and since then have won four ribbons in the festival’s Traditional Band Contest. Mark Simos, an assistant professor of songwriting at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and first place Clifftop fiddle winner in 2003, has written songs recorded by such luminaries as Allison Krauss, Del McCoury, and Laurie Lewis. Banjo player Brendan Doyle has been a mainstay of the Bay Area’s old time scene for decades, and has made many pilgrimages to the South, visiting and recording important old time musicians including the Hammons family, Melvin Wine, Luther Davis, and Tommy Jarrell. Jody Platt, who lives in Ithaca, New York, took up the tenor guitar in the 1980s as a college student while working at Elderly Instruments in Michigan. Guitarist Rusty Neithammer made many visits in the 1970s and ’80s to Surrey County, North Carolina, with his wife Nancy, becoming friends with Tommy Jarrell, Luther Davis, and other older-generation musicians. Rusty and Nancy live in Media, Pennsylvania. Karen Falkowski, from Huntsville, Alabama, has been playing bass for over 25 years. Mark Simos will lead a workshop on tunesmithing at the Freight on Sunday.

The Onlies are juniors at Seattle’s Garfield High School who have been playing music together since they were two years old. Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Sami Braman sing and play fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano, writing original material, putting a new spin on tunes that need spinning, and keeping it trad when a tune is fine on its own. At the BOTMC they’ll focus on old time music, but each of the Onlies – so-called because none of them has siblings – has a particular passion: old time for Riley, Irish for Leo, and Scottish and Cape Breton for Sami.

Visit the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention's website

BOTMC Workshops


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