On this page, you'll find news about current and upcoming events and projects, as well as some noteworthy items from the recent past.
May 25 - 28
My friend Marsha Harris invited me to participate in The Crooked Road Dulcimer Festival this year at Ferrum College in Ferrum, VA. This will be my first time there. It looks like a great time, with a great lineup of instructors. For more info:
June 25 - 30
I'll be back at Kentucky Music Week this year. It's always a great time, with over 150 classes to choose from, and an impressive roster of faculty. For more info:
A lot has happened since I last posted here. Many of you are aware that my mother, Jean Ritchie, died on June 1st, 2015 at the age of 92. She had suffered a stroke in early December of 2009, and had retired to Berea, Kentucky.
She died peacefully at home. She took a somewhat sudden turn for the worse, which made it impossible for me to reach her before she died, but her final day was filled with sweet music from her loving nieces Judy, Joy, Susie and Patty, and the companionship of her only surviving sibling, her brother Wilmer Ritchie.
Her memorial service at Union Church in Berea was well attended by friends and family from the community and afar. My brother Peter and I sang and played, along with dear family friends Al White, Alice McLain White, Ruth McLain Smith. Lois Hornbostel and Ehukai Tevis. There were readings and remembrances from friends and family members, which was all tied together by our friend Kent Gilbert, the Pastor of Union Church.
Many of the gigs I had lined up for the remainder of 2015 became memorial concerts. Mom made an amazing contribution to folk and traditional music, and was well remembered at many events. A tribute was held during Kentucky Music Week that featured Madeline McNeil, Dave Para, Kathy Barton, Don Pedi, and The Kentucky Standard Band (Nancy Barker, Debbie Grizzell and Alice Burton).
An afternoon memorial program was held at the Kentucky Music Weekend in July at the Iroquois Amphitheather in Louisville which featured Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, Dan Shatz, Molly McCormick and The Kentucky Standard Band. I emceed the program. It was an honor to be included in the KMW Festival in its final year. After 40 years, Nancy Barker, the festival’s founder and life’s breath decided to let the festival go out on a high note. Mom was one of the performers at the original festival, and one of many legendary performers to grace Nancy’s stage over the years, including Arlo Guthrie, Bill Staines, John Jacob Niles and Tom Paxton. Local and regional performers were also a mainstay, making the festival a true Kentucky event. It was one of the gigs mom always looked forward to each Summer, and I was delighted to be a part of it for a few years of it’s glorious run.
I was pleased to be invited to Berea Christmas Country Dance School to lead Shape Note Singing and share some of the songs and stories of The Ritchie Family. Since several of my cousins were on hand to join in the singing, and catch my mistakes, it was a particularly good class!
In February of 2016 I travelled to Ireland at the invitation of Irish singer, folklorist and recording artist Mary McPartlan to give the Second Annual Jean Ritchie Lecture at NUI Galway under the auspices of the James Hardiman Library and Arts in Action. I was also on hand for the launch of the Jean Ritchie Scholarship, which is available to a student of Berea College in Kentucky to study at NUI Galway. It was an honor to perform with Mary at the University, The U.S. Embassy and The Clé Club at Liberty Hall in Dublin as well as in Miltown Malbay in County Claire as a part of the annual Concertina Cruinniú
Meeting the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins with Mary McPartlan, Mrs. Higgins and Ambassador Kevin O'Malley at the U.S. Embassey in Dublin.
I attended the National Conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators in Long Beach, California in March of 2016 where I had the opportunity to participate in a session with Susan Brumfield and Jil Trinka introducing Susan’s collaboration with mom, Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose, which is a delightful selection of children’s songs and games from mom’s childhood. Staying on in California, I played several concerts with dear friends Susie Glaze and Steve Rankin along with fiddler Mark Indictor.
As a result of our session at O.A.K.E., Jil Trinka arranged for a concert at Coastal Carolina University in the Myrtle Beach area where she is a professor. It was a pleasure to perform with her and Susan again. One of the highlights of the program was when some of Jil’s music students acted out one of the playparty games from the book.
In November, the Folk Music Society of New York held a memorial concert for mom at St. Johns Church, Christopher St. in Greenwich Village. The evening was organized by Dan Schatz and included my brother Peter and me, Susie Glaze, Lorraine and Bennett Hammond, Jaqueline MacDonald, Lisa Null, Caroline and David Paton, Tom Paxton, Sally Rogers and Howie Bursen, Dan Schatz, Ken Schatz, Happy Traum, and Heather Wood. It was a very special evening with old friends on stage and in the audience. Jeannie Brand DeRienzo brought greetings from Oscar Brand who was too ill to attend. It was a truly beautiful event. We couldn't have asked for a better tribute for mom.