All entries filed under DF Life

I was able to celebrate the life of Barbara Pearson this morning at a wonderful event at Packard Chapel up at Lehigh this morning. Barbara passed on a few months ago but her family and friends put together this more formal gathering. Barbara was a dancer, arts advocate, mom, grandmom and more, filled with life. She was involved with the beginnings of Touchstone Theater and was privileged to work with her on Bearly Lovable, a Teddy Bear celebration with music, dance and storytelling that we put together back in the day.

Barbara Pearson and Dave Fry – Bearly Lovable.

The event brought together many common friends and mixed in renaissance dance, classical quartet music, some sing-alongs and that mighty church organ. The final Bach piece brought me closer to religion than I’ve been in years. I had to close my eyes in order to concentrate on the music.

The luncheon afterwards was on the top of South Mountain, overlooking Bethlehem and I had to pause in order to take it all in. Again, there were many of my good friends, especially from my Touchstone days, including Lorraine, Bill, Bridgett and others. Good for the soul to step away from my Southside existence to celebrate the arts.

Godfrey’s Open Mike tonight.

My friend Paul Sgalia gathered the old gang for reunion in a nice, small park outside of Quakertown, PA on Saturday. It was a cloudy day with a faint mist of rain coming down, so, thanks to a small pop-up tent we were able to play some music and share some stories, as well as catch up with each other.

Paul Epstein and John Longwell made it up from West Virginia, Paul Sgalia came down from Vermont, Rusty Neithammer from Media, locals Bob Flower, Chris Simmons and LA Williams made it from Bethlehem and Tom Gillam from 10 minutes away. Roy Smith, Joe Mirenna, Will Hart and a few others couldn’t make it.

Our infamous opening set for Ted Nugent in East Greenville, PA in the mid 70’s.

The pickin’ session was really fine, with lots of old tunes from the repertoire, old time fiddle tunes, strange acapella ditties, and lots of stories from gigs past and almost forgotten. Actually, most of the songs sounded better with age. I know we all soaked it all in and deeply celebrated our enduring friendships.


I chunked out rhythm guitar while the fiddles, mandolins, banjo, harmonica made sweet music in a small corner of quiet Pennsylvania state park. I hope we can do it again. There is noise about doing a show at Godfrey’s sometime but I am content with a simple friendly gathering like today.

The Ted Nugent opener has a particularly peculiar place in rock and roll history. It turned up in a Rock and Roll book The Decibel Diaries: A Journey through Rock in 50 Concerts.

Here’s the link

I was asked to be part of my high school’s 50th reunion, Bethlehem Central in Delmar, NY. My friend Deane Fish contacted me, knowing that I’m still playing music, to put together two sets of dance music for the Saturday evening event at the Marriott along with members of his old band The Strangers and other players from those days. I agreed and also suggested that I could do a solo folk set as well. Good on all counts.

Deane suggested that I do the solo set during the dinner and that was fine with me. He then contacted the players to suggest songs that we could do and I submitted several ones I could front. He put together two sets of songs, balancing out two drummers, two bass players and another front man to go along with Jack Richmond on lead.

I got up to town on Friday afternoon to practice at the Legion Hall, reunite with Deane, Jack, Ed, Paul and Paul, Peter and Franklin and go over the material. It was pretty ragged and I was a little concerned with pulling this off. A good session though and we agreed to return on Saturday morning for another session.

I headed over to the hotel to check in and have a little down time before heading back to the Legion Hall for the Friday night mixer. It was great as we all tried to compare the name tags with our senior pictures on them and the face in front of us. There was lots of “Oh, I know you!” The reunion committee did a great job on Friday as well as the rest of the weekend.

I headed back to the Legion at 9 am for our second rehearsal, eliminated some of the dead wood in the set list, and I brought out Wake Up, Little Susie and Bye Bye Love medley (with a key change), Nadine, Country Roads, You Ain’t Going Nowhere and Pay Bo Diddley as a spare. Jack was having a tough time on lead, with a borrowed guitar that was hard to tune, so I lent him a tuner. That turned out to be a very good thing and Jack was able to nail his leads. The sets were all in order so that the two bass players and drummers could coordinate swapping songs. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and talk music shop with them. It made for a more comfortable time for me.

Oh, lonesome me.

We broke down the equipment and headed to the hotel to set up for the evening. I brought out my good speakers, we did a sound check and then took some time off before the dinner.

There was a cocktail hour and as we settled in for dinner, I was able to have half a salad and a couple bites of my salmon before it was time for me to do my solo set. Knowing full well that folks would be talking with each other, I launched into Don’t Call Me Early, nailed it and got some nice applause. As I went through my set, I was able to chat a little, notice some folks were listening from their seats. I brought up my alphabetical class mates Deane Fish and Linda House Maxwell (Fish Fry House) to do Giants, and that was fun.

Nelly came up to do our short set together; it was a little ragged on Reason to Believe but we pulled it off just as I got the five minute sign from Ken, the director of the evening. I had hoped to finish with Lessons from Pete but settled with Here Comes the Sun. I returned to the band table to see my dinner cleared from the table, but a chocolate cake in its place.

There was a remembrance for the classmates who have passed on as well as some short remeniences from several folks. Nice.

The band re-set the stage and and started out with a bunch of great oldies dance tunes. My songs were slated for the middle of the set, and I was cool with that. But Deane jettisoned the set list after the first song so PJ and Paul bounced on and off stage, but, amazingly the band gelled nicely, the dance floor was filled with the alumni shaking that thang and the party was on.

I eventually got up for Nadine and You Ain’t Going Nowhere and I felt particularly strong with my vocals and leading the band for the tunes. Here’s where my presence was felt and it felt good. I was also glad that I haven’t been drinking alcohol and I enjoyed having a clear head.

The second set took off with good dance tunes, relatively crisp arrangements and a lively crowd having a great time. I got up for the Everly Brothers Medley which went well and helped bring the evening to a close with Country Roads – everyone singing together at the end. A good way to finish.

I was mildly disappointed that I didn’t have more time with band, but I had my solo spot and some quality time on stage with the band. Most of all, I really enjoyed sharing the company of my fellow musicians as well as catching up with many of my old friends. I was hoping to sell more of my CDs but gave away a bunch to my bandmates. I know they’ll appreciate my music.

The Class of ’68 was a particularly wonderful set of creative and friendly folks, many of whom I was genuinely delighted to see again. As I headed home early on Sunday, my head was filled with good thoughts about the whole weekend.

Sunday afternoon gig in Macungie….

This nice email popped up this morning in my mailbox. Pretty cool.

Dear Mr. Fry,

My name is Jacob Boyer. You may not remember me by name, but I’m sure you remember my Mom, Wendy Bonsall, as the teacher who always tries to book you for assembly performances at Hopewell Elementary School (previously Lower Milford) or the woman who always tells you the story of how she had the Baby Shark song performed at her wedding (her father-in-law clad in a shark costume her husband would later wear for assembly performances and her then 8th grade son – yours truly – performing poorly).

I just wanted to take the time to write to you today because, as you’re aware, PBS 39 recently approached you to do a piece on your listening room, Godfrey Daniels, on their weekly program “Let’s Go!”. You might not be aware, however, that that same kid who performed the Baby Shark song at his Mom’s wedding, and enjoyed your music for years before that during long trips in the car would be the same kid who would grow up to edit that video for the show.

I’ve grown out of a lot of things I used to enjoy immensely when I was younger, but I would still smile whenever I’d hear my Mom playing one of your CDs for my younger sister (going on 7 in two weeks). As far as I know, my Mom still makes an effort to take her to any concert she can (I tag along when possible, but now that I’m grown and moved out, that’s a little infrequent). Point being, when I was asked to work on the Godfrey Daniels piece, I had no clue what the listening room was, that you had any involvement in it, or that it even existed, but when I sifted through the footage to put together the video and I found your interview, I smiled and thought, “Oh, this will be a cool story to tell my Mom; her favorite singer is going to be on her son’s show,” When I heard you play your song about Pete Seeger, I was blown away. I don’t consider myself a fan of folk music (my girlfriend lives by Johnny Cash and modern acts like the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, so I listen to a fair dosage here and there), but I found your music to be incredibly moving and beautiful, and I was amazed to have found a renewed interest in your work.

Either way, I hope you enjoy the video I put together for your listening room. I very much enjoyed making it.All of this is to say, thank you for broadening my horizons a tad. I hope to bring my girlfriend (soon to be fiance) to one of your shows at the listening room sometime in the future so she can experience a little part of myself I either didn’t know existed or remembered again from when I was younger. And who knows? Maybe our children will grow up with memories of Baby Shark, Bear Hunts, and Cats Coming Back.


Jacob Boyer

I still struggle with aligning my perception of my place in the local music scene with that of other musicians. I was sideswiped by a comment on messenger/facebook tonight that has kept me up tonight and has me writing this before dawn.

“Fuck you’re go write another song about a panting dog or some shit you narcissistic asshole.”

Though it seems to be a drunk ‘tweet’, it strikes home. It came about when I was trying to sell some PA speakers. The gentleman was interested in them and hadn’t got back to me when he said he would, so I nudged him about it and this came out.

It references my version of “I Wanna Be a Dog” and my less-than-serious material. But, when it comes to my performances, I am deadly serious about what and how I do them. I have years of practice trying to bridge the abyss between myself and my audience and I use as many hooks, gimmicks, cheap theatrics as I can to establish a connection. Yes, I often do silly songs. Amazingly, what works for kids also works for adults.

I am not a great guitar player, nor songwriter or singer but I do know I am good at relating with my audience. And I trust my creative skills, my ability to improvise, and regularly take fairly confident leaps of faith as a performing artist. I think some find that arrogant. Far from it; I know where I am on folk music scale.

I’ve had the privilege to meet and watch the best in the business at Godfrey’s, and I have witnessed truly great performers who happen to be great people. I am merely a local scuffling musician trying to stay busy, promote my work on social media in order to let people know I’m still working and looking for more gigs. I also try to do that promotion with a nod and a wink about my small footprint in the scene.

I have come to accept my place, cognizant of my shortcomings but also aware of the hard work and commitment I’ve put in shaping and molding the greater music scene. Most recognize that, but a few don’t. I still scratch my head.

I headed down to the Philly Folk Festival for the Sunday workshops and concerts. There was a minor chance of rain early, and, for the most part, outside of a fine mist, it never really poured. I had gotten a press pass from DIY and hoped to do some interviews with folks I ran into. (As it turned out, I had equipment failure, but more on that later.) I parked in the day-time lot and took the shuttle bus to the site, got my badge and headed into the grounds.

Not much was happening early so I checked in with my friends under the main stage in archives. These folks record all the main stage shows so there’s lots of sound and computer stuff going on. Dedicated people who’ve done this for years. I’ve had a good relation with a lot of the staff who recognize me from my emceeing, my Godfrey’s credentials and general acquaintance over the years. I’m lucky that I have access to everywhere: hospitality, backstage, side stage, etc., so I tend to wander around, bump into performers and friends.

I headed to the Lobby Stage to catch Trout Fishing in America for their family show. I haven’t seen them in years and they are as good as it gets as performers. Keith and I swapped getting old stories – knees, hips, etc. and this seems to be the way of the times. I then went to hear Alash, Tuvan throat singers. Truly amazing sound vocal sounds with a beat boxer gut from Baltimore adding percussion. Ancient, yet totally cutting edge music. I went to the Craft Stage to see John Gorka’s songwriting workshop as he mentioned Godfrey’s several times.

Then back to the Lobby Stage to catch Missy Raines and the New Hip. Missy’s played bass for three different bluegrass acts at GD’s over the years, but I’ve followed her new career as front woman for a jazz-influenced acoustic band – The New Hip – which I play often on my radio show. They were great.

I saw that Martin Guitar was doing an open mike so I went to the Culture Tent and signed up for a one song slot. I hung around to listen to the folks who played until it was my time. I launched into Lessons from Pete with a slightly out of tune Martin. Sure enough, I blanked on the second chorus, and though no one noticed, I did. I was disappointed but got some nice compliments from a lot of folks. And it was good that I played at least one song at the festival.

John Gorka was on early on the main stage so I headed over to catch his set and take some pictures. It was cool to see him on such a big and famous stage. I was surprised when our friend Russ Rentler came out to back John up on mandolin. It was a gas for him. John did a nice and long set, charming everyone with his humble patter and brilliant songs, including a bunch of new ones.

I headed backstage to get some shots from stage left and stage right, get into the perspective that I’ve become privy to all these years.

One very cool moment came as I was on stage right near the video monitor. Mary Gauthier, a veteran songwriter and performer, sat in front of me, took in John’s set and even took some snaps of him on stage. John, though a close friend, has the respect of many, many major performers on the folk scene, and they stop what they’re doing to catch his set.

I did some interviews with Missy Raines about her remarkable position as a woman bass player leading a band. These Godfrey’s connections are wonderful because the immediate reportee and mutual respect is there. I went under the main stage to interview Lied Sorbe from Tempest and Ezra Idlet from Trout Fishing. Great conversations and reminiscences of their visits to Godfrey’s. It is deeply disappointing that the recorder didn’t catch these chats.

I hung around for most of the rest of the evening’s concert but finally admitted that I had had enough. I headed up to the main gate, boarded the shuttle bus and drove home.

The Festival has been a ritual for many years, and even though I’m not a performer every year, I enjoy bumping into my fellow performers and friends of Godfrey’s on the grounds, catch some new bands and songwriters and be a part of the larger folk scene. But, I’d rather be playing there.


I lost a soul mate today, my pomeranian dog Sam, known as Sam The Dog. He entered my life while I was living in Connecticut with my wife Kim and our children Jaimie and Rosalie. Such a small dog but with perceptive eyes, a spunky spirit and a listening ear. We soon became blood relatives.

Some fond memories: After a bath, he became quite animated (perhaps exposed as a skinny rat hound) and proceeded to go off on a running jag throughout the house. He often flipped this switch and became an energizer bunny, spinning wheelies on the wooden floors in our house in CT and in my apartment later on in Bethlehem. It was an explosion of joy that really connected the two of us. He also loved to chew on a beat-up old toy, a happy dog.

He loved to take car rides. Whenever I said, “Let’s go for a ride” he knew exactly what I meant and ran for the door. Rosalie would also mention, “Let’s go see Daddy”, he would immediately react. I would ask for a kiss and he would give me a lick on the chin. (He particularly liked when I came home from the gym. Good licks there!)

Occasionally he would travel on some of my gigs and would often do a surprise visit to the stage. Good karma there!

Upon my divorce in 2010, I had to face the separation from my wife, the splintering of our family and the rift between my dog Sam and myself. There are so many pains in these life changes and I was surprised how much losing Sam’s affection would affect me. This bond was quite powerful.

Yes, I had ‘visiting rights’ with Sam once Kim resettled in Bethlehem, but I found I didn’t have the ability to tend to Sam with my traveling schedule and my solitary lifestyle. Needless to say, I was also was quite uncomfortable with Kim and her relationship with a former friend and eventual husband.

I was upset that Gene referred to Sam as “that dog”, a feeble attempt at humor but also exposed his lack of empathy for Sam The Dog. It pissed me off and remains one of a multitude of flash points about our uneasy relationship.

Kim informed me of Sam’s current situation, saying that she was not sure that he would make it for much longer. I asked if I could arrange a visit with him. Last week, I dropped over to pick him up and take him for a ride like we used to do. Gene asked me in and I flatly refused. Kim brought him out, a mere bag of bones and I took him down to the Lehigh River Canal to where I do my meditations.

I held him in my arms, talked to him about our life together, our good times: we looked into each other’s eyes and told him it was okay to let go. I said my piece (peace). When we got back to Kim’s place, we three had a chance to sit on the porch and talk. As we talked, Sam perked right up, resumed his stance on my lap, and appeared quite happy to be alive. Kim and I had a chance to talk about her parents (still part of my family) and Sam’s personality. It was good. I said goodbye.

Yes, a dog is part of the family in so many ways. And when the family is split up, the repercussions flow outward like the waves from a pebble in the water. I have missed my companionship with Sam like the loss of a brother and it remains part of my inability to recover from my divorce. But life is not fair and I should learn from this and move on.

My last moments with Sam were deep. He recognized me, acknowledged our love for each other and lifted both of our spirits in our last time together. Isn’t that what a dog is supposed to do? May heaven allow dogs.


Day One. With some downtime on my hands, I’ll share some of the essential albums that wore out. Stealing Fire by Bruce Cockburn.

Always a fan of Bruce Cockburn’s spirituality, this one came from his activist days in Central America. If I had a Rocket Launcher stunned me with its first-person account of the political realities of our age, but the overall production and songwriting on the album was breathtaking.

Day Two: Fotheringay. With deep connections with Fairport Convention, this album was the best of English folk rock for me. Sandy Dennis’s originals and superb vocals, Trevor Lucas’s rich voice (husband of Sandy) and Jerry Donahue’s bendy electric guitar were unlike many other English trad-rock bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport. Short shelf life for this band.

Day Three: Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

As a young aspiring folkie, my friends and I ate up this three album set that featured the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (a band of CO long hairs) and some of the legendary country music icons. The conversations between them (and surprising mutual respect, in both directions) was part of the lure of the live sessions. Mother Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, Roy Acuff and more. We were introduced to Vassar Clements, Norman Blake, and Randy Scruggs finished up the album with a breath-taking version of Both Sides Now on acoustic guitar.

It was a great nod to Old School Country, which, at the time was being ignored by Slick Nashville Country, and it took a cruffy country rock band to pull it off. And we got to be the proverbial “fly on the wall” for the sessions.

I have always been drawn to the power of folk music to span the generations and bring us all together. Simple but true.

Day Four: Fathers and Sons. In the same spirit as yesterday’s Will The Circle post, this album featured the old and the new players, this time from the Chicago blues scene: iconic Muddy Waters (and Otis Spann) and the young turks from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Paul, Mike Bloomfield, Duck Dunn). Two albums – one studio and then an incredible live concert set. I was blown away by Muddy’s incredible performance (vocals, guitar and command) and the reaction of the audience. Again, the palpable mutual respect between generations made this a critical part of my musical heritage.

Day Five from Dave Fry: Tom Rush’s The Circle Game. It was an experimental album for Tom who was, at the time, a leading folk/blues revivalist with great acoustic guitar, vocal and performance chops. He wanted to explore contemporary songwriting, including his own work. He featured three emerging writers – Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Brown, relative unknowns at the time. The Urge for Going, Something in the Way She Moves, The Circle Game as well as his own No Regrets moved him into an elite group of new folk artists. There were a few pop fizzles on the album (including the album cover), but it was a dramatic move on his part and got my attention.

Day Six: Merle Haggard’s Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World. Gathering six of Bob Wills’ remaining Texas Playboys and his Strangers, Merle helped re-establish Western Swing as the respectable country cousin of Big Band Swing, leading to bands like Asleep at the Wheel and, further on down the food chain, Steppin’ Out!.

Day Seven: Dan Hicks Where’s the Money? Dan’s music and attitude was a perfect match for me. Quirky songs, tight acoustic arrangements (big band boiled down to its essence) and a laconic sense of humor and style. It was a dream come true to have him play at Godfrey’s many times and his songs still haunt my repertoire.

Day Eight: Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Finally, Dylan had a rhythm section that captured the chaos of the times with electric instruments and Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Al Kooper on organ, Harvey Brooks on bass and more. Dylan on piano.

Like a Rolling Stone is a masterpiece as the band builds the tune brick by brick, letting the song reach it’s devastating climax. Tremendous restraint. But the final tune, Desolation Row was done as the sole acoustic cut of the album butdelivered with the same intensity. 11 minutes!

Great tunes and a loose band: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (compare to Pancho and Lefty), It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (one I still love to play), Queen Jane Approximately, Highway 61 Revisited, From a Buick 6 – all iconic tunes.

This album crept up on me and still resonates deeply. I like the fact that Highway 61 connects his hometown of Duluth and the blues-rich New Orleans area. He recorded this before and after his revolutionary set at Newport in ’64.

Day Nine: Mr. Bojangles by Jerry Jeff Walker. Just out of high school, my friend Dennis Mike introduced me to Caffe Lena, acoustic music and this album. At the time, I was wrapped up in Stones, Beatles, etc. like most of my friends, but this album opened up my ears in several ways.

Jerry Jeff’s songs were always well-crafted (time for me to brush off Bojangles again…), delivered with a fine baritone voice and simple acoustic trimmings. But something stuck out in the arrangements – lo and behold, I heard acoustic guitar leads (whodathunk?!). And they were done by this skinny kid from NYC, David Bromberg. The veil was lifted.

I quickly added Little Bird and Maybe Mexico (the opening cut) to my repertoire, followed by many of his Luckenbach Texas country rockers later on with Steppin’ Out!

In my Band Aid Concert in 2013, David (and John Gorka) graciously headlined this benefit concert for me. I remain deeply touched by the response from my community and especially form David and John. I opened the show and asked David to back me up on Maybe Mexico. Full Circle.

Tenth and final day: Where Have All the Flowers Gone – The Songs of Pete Seeger. I’ve concentrated this series focusing on the music that shaped my musical tastes pre-Godfrey’s and I’m particularly glad to see my friends salute the folks who have played the club.

I’m finishing up this curious task with a fairly new collection of Pete Seeger’s vast treasury of his original songs performed by contemporary folks who have picked up his mantel, so to speak., including our own Anne Hills and John Gorka as well as Guy Clark, Kim and Reggie Harris, Tony Trischka and many other who are Godfrey’s regulars.

Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Bruce Cockburn, Springsteen, Holly Near, Richie Haven plus other surprising guests tip their hat to this seminal American folk singer and songwriter. And Pete himself finishes the collection. The breadth and depth of the material is genuinely astounding.

I hope to digest this whole process sometime on my blog. Phew…

This is a pretty epic Sunday afternoon every year for the “music industry” in the Lehigh Valley, and it’s no surprise it’s held at the center of our musical industrial complex at Steel Stacks. It’s grown to be a big production these days and the LVMA organization continues to improve the whole shebang. It’s a rare opportunity to meet up with a lot of my friends and live music supporters, hear some curious live music, see new and old performers get recognized, and to generally schmooze the day away. Crowds in general, still bother me, especially if I’m performing though. (I’ll have to blog on that some time.)

I’ve been honored many times over the years and appreciated the pat on the back from my fellow musicians. But, I admit to becoming a little jaded, mainly because I’m used to seeing extremely talented folks at Godfrey’s and at the Philly Folk Fest. I know my place in the greater folk music community and I’m proud of what I’ve done for it, but I’m no David Bromberg, Tom Chapin or Stan Rogers. That’s okay. A lot of the players here may not have the perspective I have.

I received a Lifetime Achievement Award in ’16 and wanted to perform on that day. The selection committee said they were full and awardees usually play the year after. Well, I got the brush off last year so decided to throw my hat in the ring for this year. Initially I was turned down but then got call a couple of months ago. I contacted Kris Kehr and Ed McKendry, one of my working trios, and they agreed to sign up for this two song set. Finally.

Wanting to play stuff from my new CD, I picked out Giants and Lessons from Pete, the former being a good audience interaction piece (few LVMA acts engage the folks) and the latter being an original tune with a good arrangement, meaningful lyrics and some crafty playing by Ed on the acoustic. We met up early and worked on tightening up our set to close to the 8 minute limit. (We came close to it and played the set well, in spite of an on-the-spot sound check) I have some mighty friends in Kris and Ed.

Mission accomplished. The audience in front of us appreciated our efforts though many of my fellow musicians were yakking it up at the bars on either side of the room. So it goes and it is expected.

The awards were dealt out over the afternoon and, early on, I was not expecting Godfrey’s to win, but Godfrey’s won, not only the Best Open Mike, but the rather startling Best Performance Venue. In past years the big boys have won – Musikfest Cafe and other bars, so it is particularly gratifying to have this small but mighty stage acknowledged in the larger music community. I wasn’t able to get to the stage in time to accept it, but it’s for the best that I didn’t slow down the show.

I  did make it up on stage to accept my Children’s Performer Award. I’ve gotten this regularly and enjoy picking it up live, with a thanks and a blown kiss to the audience. (They played my version of John Gorka’s Tell Me the Truth as I came up. That’s cool.) Both Robbi  Kumalo and Kira Willey are equally deserving performers, but it is a popularity contest. There is a respect I get from the older players, not so much from the rock newbees. The real players know what it takes to play for kids, it’s a rare talent and those who do, know.

I picked up my third Community Radio “Personality” award. The personality phrase is an outdated term from AM/FM radio days, so its kinda funny to wear that moniker. But I had prepared a small speech if I had the chance to speechify. I didn’t get to do it but I wanted to acknowledge all the community broadcasters on the four local community stations for providing a curated soundtrack to our lives. I was going to say, “Call them up, say thanks and get off the phone cause they’re busy.” I don’t think I deserved it the first time but now I’ve upped my game on WDIY. I worked for this year’s award.

There were many of the acts who played with ‘tracks’, a simulating a full band. I was not alone in thinking that this was below expectations. Do it live, or don’t do it at all. Cheap, but not unexpected at this level.

I also picked up the Best Folk Solo/Band Award. Again, measured against our own Anne Hills and other folks on the circuit, I appreciate the nod, but it’s a shallow pool here in the Lehigh Valley. I am good at what I do, perhaps as good as anyone around here and therefore deserving the award, but…….  Perhaps it’s time to retire this one, like James Supra did this year. (I knew him when he was Jimmy._

Mike Duck and I worked hard on this web site over the last year and I had hoped that it would win Best Music Website. It didn’t but not for quality reasons. I just don’t have the traffic among the voters for folks to recognize the difference. I was pulling for the award so that Mike could enjoy some recognition and future business from it, but it was cool to see it up on the screen.

I enjoy the awards, the congratulations from friends and fellow musicians, but what I really want to emphasize is the fact that I’m still performing at a high level, improving as a musician, recording artist and radio broadcaster. That’s what makes these days special.

It’s all a good thing, in the big picture.



Tuesday night I did my Live From Godfrey Daniels program on WDIY, a slot I share with Dina Hall. I’ve been working on tightening up the format, doing shorter sets, including more ‘single’ cuts from artists while featuring a particular group’s studio album, The format really seemed to work on Tuesday. Good movement, a mix of short cuts with slightly longer sets and CD cuts with high production values.

I happened to play a short set from the Cache Valley Drifters, a wonderful acoustic band from California, and their set from July 1981, 36 years ago. It consisted of an original gospel tune, Journey To My Savior’s Side and an extended jam on The Dead’s Cumberland Blues. Great vocal harmonies and superb guitar and mandolin leads. Good stuff.

It was a particularly good show and felt satisfied with the newer format. Good comments on FB, including some from California.


When I got back home, there was an email waiting in my box from Tom Lee, the bass player from the Cache Valley Drifters.

“Hey, Dave…
I just want to say thanks for playing the tunes tonight (Tuesday the 16th) from the Cache Valley Drifters show at Godfrey Daniels way back in ’81. I’m the bass player, Tom Lee. Boy, did that bring back sweet memories of halcyon days. It also happens that I’m the author of the first song you selected, Journey To My Savior’s Side. We seldom performed it, and never recorded it. It was SUCH a blast to hear it. Our David West – still a beloved friend and band mate to this day – used to sing the holy hell out of it, and it was a real treat to be reminded of its coolness.
You do a terrific show, man. I loved the whole broadcast tonight. Keep up the good work, and count me among your new-found fans.
With great respect, Tom Lee

I was able to reply to Tom, send him the audio files from that night, and, over 36 years and 3000 miles, reconnect with a magical musical moment at Godfrey’s long ago. Cool squared.

As this show evolves, I’m finding more fellow performers and folk music lovers outside the Lehigh Valley who are taking notice of the show, thanks to social media (FB). There is an appreciation of this new archival and creative step in my own development. Whoda thunk?

I truly enjoy my work in radio programming, live performance, Godfrey’s archives, creative writing and more. Still growing.



I don’t have as many gigs these days but I’m finding that I’m spending time working on Godfrey Daniels sound archives for use on the DIY Live from Godfrey’s show. Thanks to sound guys from the past, Kris Kehr and Todd Denton, I’m recovering some of the great, forgotten shows from the past. In the past week or so, I’ve worked on Greg Brown, Claudia Schmidt, Gamble Rogers, Chris Proctor, Relativity, Johnny Cunningham, Patrick Ball, Chuck Pyle, Jim Post, Bill Miller, and more.

I enjoy the nuts and bolts of processing the sound files with Sound Forge: chopping and slicing, bleeping the f’s and s’s, eliminating the tuning, tightening up the patter, and simply working on the sine waves to create professional and enjoyable segments for radio airplay and for the GD archives in general. The process puts me in house after all these years. Time travel, for sure.

The club has also gained the ability to record each new evening and, through this process, broadcast on Tuesday the set from the immediate weekend before. Amazing.

I’m also able to pull out “singles” from the sets – one song wonders that work particularly well for the Tuesday shows. It’s an effort to keep the overall show crisp, varied and interesting. The LFGD show initially did a full hour of one particular show, and Dina and I have made an effort to cut the live sets down to 20 minutes. I’m taking that even further.

Some of the shows were in a packed house, and some were in front of a small crowd, and that shows up on the tapes. But the artistic quality of the shows is quite amazing. These folks consistently brought their their A-game to this club and that is what I take away from these sessions. Great performers.

I’m glad I have an outlet for this material with the radio show. Godfrey’s has had a hard time getting the local arts scene to understand what goes on in this room, and this is a great way to capture the magic that happens here. The club had started to broadcast live shows on Concert Window on the web, all a part of inviting folks into this club to experience that magic.

This process is part of what I do as an artist. It is less visible one, because I love to perform live.  But I get great satisfaction in presenting the great folk performers I respect and their music with the people whether on the radio or here at Godfrey’s these many years. That’s why I celebrate the legacy of Godfrey Daniels and folks like Ramona, Mike Space, Dina Hall and all the volunteers who keep this place vibrant and alive.

A musical friend of mine, Rudi Sefrin, passed away in the last few weeks, and his friends threw a remembrance for him today at Godfrey’s. Rudi played on this very stage on Godfrey’s first night with his power trio of Ruff and Reddy, a great local band that played the bars when I was with the Shimersville Sheiks. Rudi, along with Reid Trevaskis and Jim Brekus, was a prolific pop-song writer who settled in the Lehigh Valley from his native Germany. (…something about not wanting to serve in the German army….)

Ruff and Reddy introduced me to the elegance of power pop, with their catchy changes, Reid’s nifty acoustic leads, Jim’s solid bass, their original songs and great obscure covers (Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley) as well as their point-on vocal harmonies. At the time, I was in my folk/bluegrass purity stage, but, seeing and hearing them live, the band turned my ears around. It was natural to invite the band to play on Godfrey’s first night, along with The Sheiks, Mary Faith Rhoads, the first day of spring in 1976.

Ruff and Reddy, Godfrey’s First Night. 3.76

Eventually Reid left the band and helped me start up Steppin’ Out!, and Jim became the bass player after Reid left Steppin’ Out! (It’s complicated.) Rudi was pissed, and remained pissed at me forever. He would leave phone messages at Godfrey’s around GD Birthday shows, congratulating me for my successes with not-so-thinly veiled spite and bile. He blamed me for stealing Reid. It was upsetting.

Rudi had a very tough life, as he had to deal with MS and an alcoholic nature. But he continued to write songs, record them in his house with his best friend Jim, Sid Grossman and others in his circle. He sure could write a song.

I sat in the room today listening to Rudi and his music on the tapes playing on Jim’s home stereo brought in for the occasion, with Rudi’s ashes in a box on the stage. His friends and I traded tales of Rudi, talked about his damn cussedness and his prodigious output of music. But I cherish the moments when I able to take in his music alone with him, in this precious space, in this time. Rudi was a friend of mine. Zoot!


David Bromberg returned to Godfrey Daniels for a solo show on Sunday night, a gig he wanted to do on his way back from Albany on Saturday night. I remain amazed and gratified with his connection to the club, dating back to his first visit in 1985. He hadn’t been here since 1990, but had personally helped me out for my Band Aid benefit concert with John Gorka in 2013 at the IceHouse.

David rarely does solo shows, so they are very special in that he calls upon his folkie roots, playing blues and songs from some early songwriters as well as some of his own. Very special evenings. He pulled out, in particular, Delia and Mister Bo Jangles, songs that harken back to my very early days as a beginning folk musician.

In my early days at Lehigh in the late 60’s, I would travel back to the Albany area for the summer. I would hook up with my friend Dennis Mike, a fellow acoustic guitarist who would introduce me to Cafe Lena and Jerry Jeff Walker. Dennis played Jerry Jeff’s first album and I was amazed to hear leads on acoustic guitar (Beatles’ electric guitars, yes, but…), Sure enough, there was a skinny dude on the back cover with an acoustic guitar, David Bromberg. Imagine our surprise when we found out he was playing at our very local coffeehouse (The Bethlehem Coffeehouse) in Delmar, NY.

We were up front with twenty people or so. He was accompanied by a strange bass player with a leather aviator’s helmet on, feature by Dave as “The Flying Torpedoes”. He proceeded to blow us away with his flatpicking, fingerpicking and stage presence. We had never seen anyone like this before. Damn. He played Delia and I was thunderstruck with the simplicity and restraint in his rendition.

I tried valiantly to figure Delia out, bought a book with the tablature (another new device) and gradually found out that this  Rev. Gary Davis version wasn’t remotely the same as what I heard from Bromberg. This was not going to be easy to become a folksinger. But I persisted, learned it by ear, and I still pull it out on special occasions. David did a great version with some superb storytelling and it seems I still have some woodshedding to do.

As he was packing up, I thanked him for returning to room and pointed out his photo from 1986. He said, “A lot of my friends are on these walls.” Some deep connections here in this very special room. I think that’s why he came back, and why he helped me out when I was pretty low four years ago. He is a very special human being, as well as a world-class musician and folkie.

David led off the evening with this, “You know that you are in the last of the best, in this room.  There were  times when rooms similar to this were all over the United States. And there are still some of those old coffeehouses, some of them older than Godfrey Daniels, that are still in business, but they’re not the same. They’ve all expanded, got more modern spaces; they can bring more people in. They’re just not the same. They don’t have the history that is here, and that history counts.” Bang.


I relish the chance to land back among my CT friends for some real time with Ron and Suzie and some picking time with some really good friends. Tonight I got in early and caught up with Ron and Suzie at their humble country home – marvelous hospitality off the road for me.

A couple of friends showed up, Bill and Frank, both good pickers and country singers and more. Ron is as good as it gets. Together we share tunes, beer, cheese, dogs, stories and songs around the kitchen table. So very fine…..

I get to bring out my newer tunes, noodle on mandolin on their tunes, and swap some good stuff that only true friends can share. These are precious times among friends. Priceless. It’s why I go back to CT, in spite of some dark memories. These folks gave me an anchor during my ten years up there.

I have very few opportunities these days to poke my performing head above and into the larger folk circuit, and this was one of them. Spring Gulch is in its 31st year and I’ve been invited now three times. I am the sacrificial opening act on the Sunday, ostensibly as the family folk act. The last two times involved rain so I was looking forward to good weather today. I was also anticipating playing the set before my friend John Gorka. Simply being on this national bill was quite gratifying, and similar to opening for Tom Paxton at Musikfest Cafe and my many memorable gigs at the Philly Folk Fest.

Unfortunately there is no longer a crowd of kids to play for an aging folk audience, and I am hired to do my family show. The Sunday crowd is slow to make it down to the stage area, eating breakfast, breaking down camp sites, all for a “kids” show. I really do appreciate the folkies who do show up, and they are as good an audience as there can be, sans children. They join in singing, doing hand motions, etc., but my ‘show’ really is in about my interaction with the kids. I am somewhat handcuffed in these situations and I try to engage the adults while doing my kids material. I’m glad that I am comfortable enough with my asides and observations that it turns out to be an engaging overall show. But, it is hard, hard work.  I did get many compliments afterwards, so there was some gratification. And several folks who have heard me over the years reflected back on some of my gigs way back when. Good to reconnect with my other excursions in the past.

I actually owe this gig to Sophie, the daughter and granddaughter of the two presenters of the festival Andy and Michael Braunfeld. They both said that she insisted I return. She said, “Not just Trout Fishing or John Flynn, but Dave Fry.” Whatever it takes, I suppose. Sophie knows.

I did my good family set: Bear Hunt, Peanut Butter, Names to the Animals, Giants and more, all the time trying to encourage more kids to come down, grab an instrument in front of the stage and get involved, while balancing on this thin adult/kids edge in performance values.

What makes these occasions so special is the opportunity to for me to perform in front of my peers on the Folk Circuit. I feel I have the performance chops to play on main stages like this, and I certainly have played in front of large audiences, especially in my assembly work. I belong here.

Driving back, I regretted not doing Lessons from Pete at some point in the set, risk stepping aside from the kids material just so I could present my folk opus to this very particular audience. But I felt constrained by the task at hand assigned by the promoters. I would love to return with my trio for a real Dave Fry set, play to the hard-core folkies and deliver my good adult material. But, I am glad that I can set up avenues to the Philly Folk Fest, meet the good folks who know what I do, and, with my new CD, get back to that festival.

I particularly cherished my time back stage with my friend John Gorka. We were able to share some quality time as friends/brothers, talk about how lucky we are to be able to do this for a living (especially compared with those old blues guys…..). I was able to share some of my botherations about where I am on the folk food chain, but was able to provide for my young family over the last 25 years. And I found myself saying, “But, you know, nobody else on the circuit put together a folk club like Godfreys.” John chimed in, “and made it last.” We shared our family’s recent histories, heath issues, how our bodies are turning into our dad’s, talked about some recent passings of fellow performers, and shared great Godfreys stories and more. This was a precious time; I rarely have conversations like this but with only a handful of close friends. I felt flush with my kinship with my good friend. …and there was good hospitality food on hand.

John has become a consummate performer and I complimented his ‘show’. His patter in between songs is as finely scripted as his songs. His timing, his stories, his delivery all amplify his stage persona. His vulnerability and warmth is unlike others on stage – he realizes this and crafts his stage personality to that end. He know what he is doing, just like I know what I’m doing with kids. We are the only folks who feature scrapple in our songs, and I was mildly disappointed that John didn’t have time to work it in his show. Understood that he had a 45 minute set, which is short for him. Such interesting connections.

John and I were talking by the CD tent (I, of course, sold nada….) but we were waylaid by a talkative fan (one of many for John, and it’s nice to see him handle it with grace). As I found my out of the conversation (the one about his friend’s choice of visiting with a dieing mother or going to a JG concert…that brought some raucous laughter from myself and John), I headed back to the stage area. As I was passing out of earshot, the guy said, “Who’s that guy?” John said, “He’s my hero.”

That’s all I needed.

A productive first day of my 67th year on the planet. I got up at 6 and did my laundry in the nearby laundromat. The weather was sunny with rain in the future, so it was good to rise with the sun. I headed out for a guitar flea-market down route 100, spent the time looking at sound gear with gear heads in rural PA. My People! I picked up some cool CDs for radio play, a small farmers’ market two channel amp, a nice wooden case for CD sales, good finger picks and a lot of chat. The vendors really, really want to chat, and that’s okay.

I checked in with my daughter Rosalie in Italy, my sister Janet in Ann Arbor and got a voice message from my son Jaimie. Lots of folks checked in on FaceBook, but I steered away from the madness. I can process all of that later.

I did sound at Godfreys for a esteemed fellow LV performer, T Roth. We both share long careers in the LV, though wildly divergent artistically, but share a similar stage craft – working the audience. T has played the club many, many time with Zen for Primates, and it has always been a delight to see him work this room. Frankly, he is as much a performance master as the great folkies who have played here. And what makes T special is that he is home grown Lehigh Valley, and our rather hip/urban audience loves to see him here.

The birthday thing had some nice quirks. At the flea market, a trumpet player completely blew Happy Birthday. I commented that it was the perfect rendition for this particular one. My son-in-law Cory shares this date with me, Sigmund Freud, Willie Mays and the bartender next door at the Fun House. A dude even came up after the T Roth concert, saying he was born the exact same date in 1950. Lots of convergence here.

Let’s see. I got my laundry done early, farted around with acoustic gear-heads, took a nap, prepared tomorrow’s radio show and did sound for a good friend to a packed house in my living room tonight. That’s good enough for May 6th, 2017.