All entries filed under Godfrey Daniels

It was a pleasant surprise when an opening set for John Gorka plopped into my lap when Russ Rentler (Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band member w/ John at Moravian) declared himself a walking petri dish and had to cancel his set. This is a rare opportunity to share this stage with my friend (and his audience!)

John’s been in town for a couple days so I’ve had a chance to catch up with him. He is one of maybe four men I consider my brother. I’ve heard that I’m part of his show with his rap about PA scrapple, mentioned in the same sentence together. Thanks, John.

I prepared a short 4 song set, meaning to be brief on a Sunday night show. Kevin Soffera texted me before the show, asking to find some standing room to hear John. We decided to do the set as a duo. It turned out great!

Kevin set up his cajon gear and a bag of shakers, tambourines, etc. We came out to a completely full audience with lots of friends in the crowd.

We started out with We Are Welcomed, the final cut on the Troubadour CD, and one that is just a duo. It was the first time since we played it in his studio. It fit like a glove and a great simple tune to introduce us. It’s cool that the song has really solidified since we recorded it as a new song.

I chatted about scrapple, Catholic Schools Week with RockRoots, and some of my connections with John. We share the same sense of ironic humor (no surprise there) and it shapes our live shows beyond the music.

We dialed up Stan Rogers’ Giant, again a nice fit with John’ show. He has a very nice intro to Stan’s visits to Godfrey’s and he finishes his set with How Legends are Made. We pretty much smoked it, and Kevin’s percussion was tasty and my guitar roaring.

We did Lessons from Pete next and it turned out wonderfully as a duo and the build at the end worked nicely with just the guitar and his percussion. It was well received and gave us the opportunity to plug Saturday’s concert.

I decided to bring out Song for the Life, a Rodney Crowell tune that I’ve pulled out of my way-back set lists, and one I’ve been working on in my kitchen this week. I’ve put together a tight little arrangement is straight ahead. I play on using it for an opening encore song for the concert. (Boy, that’s arrogant, assuming an encore…). The guitar was slightly out of tune but I hope I’m the only one who notices.  It was a spot on finisher for my set.


I introduced John and exited stage right. Done for the evening and now a chance to see my good friend in his element. He has become a consummate performer, with humorous and warm stage presence to match his rich voice and incredible songs.

I am blessed to be in his large circle of friends.

I was looking forward to returning to the friendly confines of Godfrey Daniels for First Night, the annual multigenerational folk show. This year, I had to reconfigure the concept with Dina Hall’s absence. But, I’m glad I trusted my instincts by booking myself with emerging songwriter Rachel Marie with her wonderfully quirky (and self-effacing dad) Bill Schachter. It turned out to be one of the nicest New Year’s evenings I’ve shared in recent memory.

I did a kids’ show to start off with at 7 pm. There was one kid, a highly charged boy named Charlie. I, thankfully, knew what I was dealing with, so, with only a handful of folks in the house at the time, I was able to attend to him while talking about my recent explorations in TA techniques. Scarves, etc. But I was able to get Charlie involved in a reasonable way, engage the adults and talk about what I do. After four sets the day before, I negotiated this gig with one kid in a good manner, and then took 15 minutes to get ready for two sets of adult material.

The hard work was done for now.

Bill, Rachel and I did two sets in a round robin, two songs and pass it on. The format was great. I started out with Green, Green Rocky Road to get folks singing and away we went. Rachel and I did Soar, a tune I played on her earlier.y CD, and it was refreshingly bright. From there on, the onstage banter and chat among us was quite entertaining and full of wit. That was no surprise, upon reflection. The interactions were quite breathtaking and full of love. It was, for me (and once again), an amazing personal and spiritual experience to sit in between two such amazing friends, a father and daughter and my fellow artists in front of an appreciative audience. It can only happen here, on this stage.

Each of us took some chances tonight, and that’s what I really got out of the show. And a fine show it was!

Rachel is an amazing songwriter and vocalist, dealing with life-style and career challenges while my friend Bill is dealing with serious health issues. Both of them addressed some heavy stuff tonight with humor and directness that is signature for both of them. And they pulled it off with integrity, class and musical craft. That gains my utmost respect for them both. 

I had a great time being the glue. I got to play Green, Green, Rocky Road, Santa Assassin, Lessons from Pete, a Bruce Cockburn instrumental Foxglove and others, and finished with, appropriately, Don’t Call Me Early in the Morning. We got a big round of applause at the end and left the stage satisfied with a very nice evening of music at the end of the 2018.

I couldn’t think of a better way to exit this year, stageright at Godfrey Daniels.


I have the opportunity to perform in front of a Godfrey’s listening audience every once in a while. Tonight, my friends Jenn McCracken and Mike Dugan (Cheek2Cheek) invited me to do a small set for a homeless benefit at the end of the first set. I started with Santa Assassin, a nifty little blues that gets folks attention. A good opener. I followed with Lessons from Pete to maintain some songwriting cred. I invited Mike up to play on Zat You, Santa Claus cold – no problem. He nailed it, I added vocal trombone, inviting the audience to join in (which they did in spades!). It was a riot. I finished with Pete’s False From True, a two-chord blues wonder, which gave Mike lots of space to shine. This was a keeper, since he plays on this tune on Troubadour. All in all, it was a particularly satisfying mini-set for the home crowd.

I actually sold some CDs, including a couple of Peanut Butters, thanks to the lasting power of The Cat Came Back. The lady who bought them will give them to her now twenty-something kids as stocking stuffers. The legacy lives on.

This was the fifth annual gathering of Steppin’ Out! on the Friday after Thanksgiving and the first gig after our set at Liederplatz last August. I think we finally have a solid concept of being more than a reunion affair, an actual performing ensemble. It’s been an interesting process this fall in preparation for this gig. We’re a pretty good band.

We are somewhat handicapped with Reid being a full-time performing musician in New England. We have to set up gigs like this months in advance to accommodate his schedule. I’ve been the band secretary and creative director so it’s been up to me to guide the project. We put together three rehearsals prior to Friday with four, five or six members and did a lot of homework via emails, dropboxes and other useful social devices, and, we are smarter as musicians as well. (I hope). Each session was particularly professional and productive. These dialogues create communication and trust and go a long way to our comfort on stage. Lots of funny chatter as happens with good friends.

I pulled up our two-hour set from Musikfest and started from there. I put out feelers for new material from the folks and everybody came up with new stuff. That’s a sign that we are all creatively invested in the band. Peggy, Kris, Hub and I offered some challenging songs, I pulled up Troubadour tunes, Jeff put together a rock and roll medley and counted on Reid’s amazing skills as a spontaneous and gifted improvisor. The antennae is always up with him.

I put together two strong sets and brought them to the four hour rehearsal on Friday afternoon (with Reid) and it was, again, remarkable how we were able to roll through the material, work on some details, pass out the leads. We really got things ready for the show later on that evening. It’s great working with a real performing unit. We took a three-hour break to come back for a sound check and run a few songs.

I had hoped to take a break before the show but I found myself having to help out setting up the room, making coffee and working the counter due to our usual shortage of volunteers at my shows. Pisses me off, but I have to jump in when there’s a need at the club.

We hit the stage a little after 8 pm and started out with Choo Choo Cha Boogie, a tight opener and Reid immediately followed with Buzzy’s You Got What It Takes, nailing his vocal gymnastics at the end. With that opening statement, we settled into our comfortable banter with the audience and rolled out the set of old favorites and the new tunes. Peggy came up and made her presence a real part of the band, now quite energized as a singer and performer. We were really listening to each other, adapting to various wrinkles in our execution and I know that the audience is engaged by the process.

Set One:

  • Choo Choo Cha Boogie  – Hub (tight opener)
  • Got What It Takes – Reid (straight R&B with killer vocals)
  • O’Reilly Drinking at the Bar – Dave (irreverent swing)
  • Bloodshot Eyes  – Jeff (country swing fave)
  • Mr. Bojangles – Dave ( a new ballad that I almost got right)
  • False from True  – Dave (extended blues, Peggy’s voice and leads)
  • Chuck E’s in Love – Peggy (this is a new one that connects)
  • Love Me Like a Man – Peggy (Bonnie Raitt classic that Peggy owns)
  • Rosie is a Friend of Mine – Dave (new one that the band is working on)
  • Til the Money Runs Out  – Kris (Kris steps up with a Tom Waits tune -welcome to the band!)
  • Walkin’ Stick –  Dave (quick version that brought a “not tonight, ladies” comment
  • Delilah – Reid (this one always has a visceral response from the crowd.)
  • Tightrope – Hub (we did great for the first time in front of people)
  • Yulesville – Dave (a trip into jazzville with red shades for all)
  • Lessons from Pete – Dave (it was nice version with good colors from everyone)

I was particularly gratified that, thanks to Concert Window on the web, my daughter Rosalie could catch the first set from her home in Italy. She said said, “Spectacular show tonight! So glad I could tune in. You guys looked like you had a blast ?“. That’s very cool.

The second set settled in quickly with our country swing set, a Beatles set, some old favorites (as got out the mandolin and Jeff fronted the band from guitar and piano, Hub played great drums.) and finished up with our rock and roll medley. We came off stage to a standing ovation but I was winded. We hadn’t planned an encore so I was grasping at what to do. Kris mentioned we didn’t do Don’t Call Me Early, and, bang, that was the perfect way to end the evening. It was serendipity, falling out of a mistake I had made in forgetting it in the second set.  But it was a well-rehearsed new song and referenced getting up in tomorrow morning after this gig; it also got people singing and we almost nailed the ending (no one else noticed…). It turned out to be spot on for the final coda on the show.

Set Two:

  • She Made Me Lose My Blues – Dave (tight, sprightly bluegrass opener)
  • Going Back to Tennessee – Peggy (a new one from Peg that Hub owned)
  • Seeds and Stems Again –  Dave (a righteously pitiful country tune that was fun)
  • You Can’t Do That – Reid (another new one that Chris wanted and it was good break from the country)
  • Lady Madonna – Hub (Hub owns this one, too, and the band responded)
  • Zombie Jamboree – Dave (silly nonsense that folk appreciate, tight though)
  • 24 Robbers – Reid (Fat’s Waller tune that breaks the mold, and, again, tight)
  • I’m an Old Cowhand – Jeff (Jeff fronts the band on guitar with a band favorite)
  • Song For You- Hub (Hub did it wonderfully, with mix of piano and organ on the keys. It was great to hear him take charge)
  • Santa Assassin – Dave (again, with the attitude. It is short and sweet)
  • Mandolin Tunes – Dave (the tunes came off well in spite of Terry in the audience)
  • Texas Swing  – Hub (Hub’s festive Texas Swing tune that re-introduces the band)
  • All Shook Up / 20 Flight Rock/ Jailhouse Rock – Jeff  (people got up and danced!)

Encore: Don’t Call Me Early – Dave (an unexpected rouser of an encore)

Reflections on the evening to follow.



I set up this gig with my friend Kris Kehr on bass at Godfrey’s, looking for some sort of presence this summer, especially with a new CD coming out. I, of course, had no product in hand (…next week for sure, Rocky) but perhaps spurred some interest for tonight’s show.  I notoriously have a poor turnout for my sets at Godfrey’s but was glad to see folks come in off the streets before we went on at 8 pm, each a warm surprise.

Kris and I have a long time respect for each other and having his support on stage as a musician and friend means alot to me. Even with just two players, we are able to deliver a remarkably full sound to go along with my esoteric repertoire. He has a chance to improvise and play “lead” on bass, and still sink back into his support position, so he has a chance to express his creativity while supporting my music. Win/win. And the audience digs it.

The first set was well over an hour, which surprised me and seemed to fly by. I played some new and some old tunes, while having the chance to chat about the songs, my kids’ music, my travels and recent gigs over the last few days. The banter among the audience, Kris and myself is worth the price of admission.

By the way, tonight’s door charge was part of Ramona’s summer pricing: $10. I joked that they (the audience) were sitting in the $10 seats.

In spite of blowing the initial song’s (Ireland) intro, I was able to pick up the pieces and deliver some strong music. This Martin still focuses my guitar play, Kris is there to give me space to explore my guitar work, and there is a friendly and appreciative audience for me to react with. This is why Godfrey’s exists on this planet. Welcome to my living room.

We did well, got a prolonged ‘ovation’ at the end and finished with a very raucous Giants to send the mob back onto 4th Street satisfied, if not foaming at the mouth.

My friend Mike Duck has put in tremendous effort to put together a concert for No Place for Hate, a national (and locally, Bethlehem School District) program to promote understanding, diversity and anti bullying in schools. I’ve done several of these with Mike and Pentley Holmes here at Godfrey’s and this was a bigger effort on Mike’s part. In spite of posters, flyers, social media and more, we played to a house of about 20 people. Such is life in the Lehigh Valley.

It was a particularly good show with some quite talented folks from our musical community: Dina Hall, Mike, Pentley Holmes, John Huie (Beth. School District percussion teacher), Alyssa Allen (Soul Folks) and myself. Put together by Mike, he was able to steer the music towards the positive (some great Sam Cooke, Motown, CSNY and more) and included some original music by Mike, Pentley, Dina and John. Some magic moments and nice humor.

I supplied We Are Welcomed, Bright Sunshiny Day and Step By Step.  They all were on point with the thrust of the evening and I was glad I could add some substance to the proceedings. I especially love the chance to sit in on mandolin. It’s a rare and beautiful thing that stretches my creativity.

It was great to share the stage with Mary Faith again, celebrating 45 years of performing together. She has the gift of gab, so my task was to find places to play the music. It was a good night all around. No problem.

at Winnipeg.

Mary was already a traveled folk performer when I met her in the mid-70’s: she was already traveling to France and Canada, writing songs, playing lap dulcimer.  She was a legend in the local Bethlehem scene. Mary and the Sheiks hooked up before the Godfrey’s era, backing each other up, sharing the stage at festivals near by. She then invited me to go with her and  her mom up to the Winnipeg Folk Festival for an experience that gave me a world-view of the folk music scene – in many ways.

Tonight we shared a few hammered dulcimer tunes, some of her original songs while I came up with Stan Rogers’ Giant and Lessons from Pete that she joined in on concertina as well. I accompanied some of her songs on mandolin. Mary still has got it, and I was challenged throughout the evening.

There was a small crowd, as usual, but many had come out to see Mary, since she rarely plays out. In fact, I had asked her to do one of these DNOs several years ago and she declined, saying she wasn’t up to playing on stage. She’s turned it around.

We had great chat about traditional music, the dulcimer, Winnipeg and her various world travels, Stan Rogers, Steve Goodman and Richard Farina.

It was a good night with my old friend Mary Faith.

Ramona informed me that I should serve as the honorary emcee and opening act for the annual Godfrey’s Members Concert. Tony Trischka and Bruce Molsky were the main act, and Tony has always been one of my favorite artists to play here.

It was a full house of folks who really support the club, and it was mighty fine to walk out on that stage in front of this audience. I tasked myself to do two songs and led off with How Legends are Made, an appropriate tune connecting John Gorka, Stan Rogers and the legacy of the club. I followed with Stan’s Giant, and wrassled with the open tuning (close, but no cigar) and folks appreciated the set. I introduced Tony and Bruce and headed off stage. Job done. A small gig but in front of people that matter.

Tony and Bruce did a great show and it was gratifying to see a full house of Godfrey’s regulars listening to two fine folk musicians in this space. I never get tired of this experience.

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.



This was the second stab at this program, the first being last November at the IceHouse, a rather challenged event with sound problems and a small turnout. That one was worth it, though, since it a good beta test on the set list, slideshow and concept.

This one at Godfrey’s had the benefit of good publicity (a mention in the Morning Call on Thursday), a nice Jack Murray poster and Godfrey’s clientele. I invited John Christie, Chris Simmons and Hub Willson to come back for this one and my good friend Kris Kehr was available to join in on bass. Harley Newman also reprised his lunatic set, as well.

I set up the screen in the far corner of the club, borrowed the projector, connected the sound to Godfrey’s system and I was prepared to launch the evening. Having done this last year made all the difference and I was at ease.

As folks piled in, many acquaintances and old friends from the past came in and I shared my thanks that they came by. I’m always surprised that people show up for my gigs and I take time to acknowledge them all.

I decided to have the core of the band up for the whole evening. Last time I had in mind to gradually bring folks up, but I went the idea to just play the songs. John and Kris did their homework and I have trust in their abilities to play on the fly.

A few slides in, I started the music with The House of the Rising Sun, the first hard song I learned, a folk song that also was part of the British Invasion of the mid 60’s. A good opener with a good story. Chris Simmons came up for the Graveyard Skiffle Band/Early Sheiks set and we did Sheik of Araby, Sales Tax, The Dogs Meeting and The Barnyard Dance. The band did it fine, and Chris and I had some of that old chemistry going.

The Steppin’ Out! section feature tales of the tangos and we did Walking Stick. The Touchstone set featured The Cat Came Back with John’s nasty leads and great audience singing. For The Last Ditch Medicine Show set I turned it over to Harley and he did some short tricks with his inimitable corny humor. It was cool to watch the audience riveted to this unexpected part of the show. I have some cool friends.

The Out on a Limb set featured a very nice version of Mamma Wants to Barrelhouse from Bruce Cockburn, and it was a good way to finish out the first set on a strong musical note.

I started the second set with Bearly Loveable and The Bear Hunt. It was particularly funny to have the whole adult audience doing all the sounds, especially the turkey farm. It was a hoot. I followed with the RockRoots section, using the videos from the PBS-TV show with Jay Proctor knocking out the Motown Medley and then my rather amusing home boy RockRoots RapPavlov’s Dawgs featured Peter Rowan’s Blue Mule that came off nicely..

The next section was my time as a tweener at the Philly Folk Fest on the main stage. Sixty Minute Man with Wendi and Lauren from 2001 and I Wanna Be a Dog from 2005 during the full moon Saturday night show. Very few of my friends had ever witnessed this major part of my performance career so this was particularly sweet.

We got back to live music for the Murphy’s Trousers Celtic set with Don’t Call Me Early in the Morning, again with great audience singing. We followed with Giants (kids’ drawings of giants on the screen) and, again, it was a marvelous audience connections with their monster sounds.

I saluted my mandolins on the next slide and played my Jig Medley morphing into the Mickey Mouse theme. The Godfrey’s slide was a tip o’ the hat to Cindy Dinsmore. We followed with a strong version of How Legends are Made.

We rolled into the newer material from the Troubadour CD with Stan Rogers’ Giant, Bill Hall’s Rosie is a Friend of Mine and an my own Lessons from Pete as the closer. I thanked the band on music, Steve on sound board and Ramona on cash register and we walked off the stage.

There was a standing ovation. I’m not quite sure how to respond to this and I feel somewhat uncomfortable but I dragged the lads back for an encore. We killed Pay Bo Diddley with leads from both John and Kris. It was good to end with a rocker.

Lots of thanks from the wide variety of folks, and it is through their reactions I can gage the success of the show. I would like to reprise the show again sometime. It works really well.

A very curious thing happened after the show. Ramona asked me to come up a talk to the two young men who were at the show. I told them it was cool that they were the youngest folks in the hall tonight, and they proceeded to tell me that they are big Stan Rogers fans. When they heard Giant and Legends, they were going nuts, saying, “Who is this guy on stage?” This level of connection over the years between us was simply mind boggling.

I was exhausted by the end of the evening with too many moments to digest. I was extremely pleased with the 50 Year Retrospective: the concept and its execution, the support of my friends on stage and the incredible warmth of a full house at Godfrey’s

I’m glad I have an ‘in’ with the folks booking Godfrey’s so that I could open for my friend Craig Thatcher on Saturday night. Craig is the ace guitarist in our town and has developed a well-deserved following with his many shows including Clapton, Hendrix, Cream, Allman Brothers, etc. retrospectives as well as his own Martin showcases. He particularly loves playing this stage though, since it’s intimate and close. I get great joy in having superlative artists appreciating the club. No surprise there.

Nyke and Craig both added their talent to my new CD Troubadour so this was an opportunity to showcase some of those tunes for his audience. It worked out well.

Craig brought out two full houses tonight, a rarity these days at the club, so it was a pleasure to do my sets here in my living room for a packed audience. Since it was a busy night with a turn-over crowd, I was encouraged to make my set short, and Craig was gracious enough to allow three songs. I picked out Don’t Call Me Early as a solo, invited Nyke up to play fiddle on Giant, and bring Craig up for Lessons from Pete and then hand off the show to them both. Perfect.

It felt great to hit the stage running with Don’t Call Me, get the audience singing and nail the song and the ending. Bang! Nyke came up for Giant and added his electric violin and spooky effects to the Stan Rogers’ tune. Nice improv on his part and I sang and played it strong. Again, a strong tune that would be new and novel to Craig’s audience. Lessons turned out great, with Craig’s leads, Nyke’s backup and my control and the message of the song. I think it made a fine impression on these new ears. I introduced Craig and Nyke to their audience and got off stage. Mission accomplished.

Normally I would have done different songs for the second set, but there was a complete turnover for the 9 pm show, so I decided to ride with the same set, especially with Craig and Nyke comfortable with the material. (Craig pretty much did the same thing for both sets – that’s show biz, ya know)

I had the pleasure of having some of Craig’s fans come up afterwards, complimenting my set as well as thanking me for creating this wonderful space. It was a good night all around in this magical room.


My friend Jack Murray asked me (assigned me) to open up his annual evening of Hank songs and I obliged with a short set of tunes. I started with Santa Assassin, knowing it helps break the plane between me and the audience.

I had worked up two Hank classics I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love with You and I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, two really beautiful sad tunes with great phrasing and lyrics. I particularly enjoyed working in some country slurs and voice breaks. Got my country on. I had worked these up a couple of hours beforehand, changed the keys and they worked out well.

“A picture from the past came slowly stealing, as I brushed your arm and stood so close to you  Then suddenly I got that old time feeling, I can’t help it if I’m still in love with you.”

This one resonated with my interaction with Kim last week when we celebrated our son’s promotion in Atlantic City. It all came back the and it still hurts. Still in love.


“Hear the lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
The midnight train is whining low.
I’m so lonesome I could cry.”

Great imagery on that one and, again, it resonates with my present state of mind after the holidays. Hank could really mine the depths of despair and make you love it.

I found that these sharing these tunes with this audience lent itself to some nice sing-alongs. Good. Sharing helps.

I finished up with a Paul Siebel song Pinto Pony, a feature length movie in three verses. I knew this one cold and it was good to finish strong. I talked about Paul’s only visit to this stage one month after opening up the club in 1976. He was the first major act to perform here and he brought in a crackjack band. A great night and one of many to follow.

I introduced Jack Murray and The Blue Tarp Wranglers and they did a great job of recalling Hank, Ricky Nelson and Townes Van Zandt. Great instrumentals on steel, fiddle and guitar along with bass and drums. The audience picked up on the good vibes. A mighty fine production from my friends.


The second set of Godfrey’s First Night started out with Brittany Ann, Dina Hall and myself doing a round robin of songs. It was a very comfortable crowd of people, wonderfully respectful and quiet. Remarkable .

As we did small, two song sets, each of us  was able to create small vignettes, play a couple of tunes that connected with this diverse audience and create a pretty nice, full evening of musical entertainment. Brittany Ann’s vulnerable and yet strong vocals and original songs held their own, Dina’s ever stronger presentation and songs and a chance for me to play my good stuff made for a good two hours of music.

I had the chance to maneuver through Santa Assassin, Barrelhouse, Don’t Call Me Early, Giants, We are Welcomed and Lessons from Pete and end up with I Can See Clearly Now for the last song. It seemed wonderfully complete and satisfying for the three of us and the audience, too. A great way to finish out 2017.


Always a special evening in my own living room, come to think of it. Godfrey’s has taken up the mantle of First Night with its own version of Three Generations of Godfrey’s each New Year’s Eve. Tonight was a recreation of the first one eight years ago with Dina Hall, Brittany Ann and myself and it was pretty good.

I usually start off with a kids show at 7 pm and there are only a few folks in the house. That’s okay. Tonight I had three families and I can work with that. One overactive boy, one family with a three year old girl and a family with three brothers of diverse ages. I can do this.

I was able to engage all three targets. I got two brothers (including the truculent older brother and proactive sib) to do Giants, the grandchild with hyperactive shoes to focus and play and the very young girl in front of me to eventually get up on stage with grandmom Patty to sing Twinkle, Twinkle. All in the span of 45 minutes.

It was good to put together a strong set to engage these three diverse families. It worked in this small space.

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.


We’ve performed for this annual gathering on the Friday after Thanksgiving for about 4 or 5 years now, and I relish this opportunity to play with these friends, for the music and the camaraderie. The band played quite a bit back 35 years ago, back when the local music scene could support bar gigs during the week, weddings on the weekends and we developed a strong reputation as a country band that could rock and roll and swing while entertaining the folks with our humor on stage. 

Well, we still do that. The Texas Swing material still kicks, Reid’s guitar is still nasty and he can still belt out the vocals. Chris Jones still plays steel regularly with a local country band, but Jeff (drums) and Hub (piano) only play occasionally. They alway rise to the occasion. Kris Kehr has done a great job taking over the bass duties when Denny kind of rusted out on the instrument, and Kris really does his homework on a lot of material we take for granted. I still play a lot so I’m primed and ready to go. 

It has fallen to me to produce the show, writing setlists, gathering folks for rehearsals, etc. and take the responsibility for divvying up the material among all of us. The older material is solid and folks come out to hear the tunes, but it’s up to me to provide some new stuff on the menu and keep things fresh for us and the audience. The combination makes for a really good show.


Peggy Salvatore has joined us for a few songs at the beginning of the second set and tonight we worked up Rickie Lee Jones’ Chuck E’s in Love and Bonnie Raitt’s Give It Up or Let Me Go. I’ve been wanting to do Chuck E’s for a long time, and I’ve been working on my version of it. This was the perfect opportunity for me to really get it down. I almost nailed it, blew the last chord but caught it off my shoe strings. Give It Up rocked nicely. Peggy is singing more and it shows. She had fun.

We have some solid tunes to start out with and help us establish our cred from the get go, which is no small thing when we only do this once a year. Choo Choo, Zombie Jamboree and I’m Walking do just fine and we roll from there. Walking Stick (sans tango), Reid’s Dehlia was particularly manic with his Buzzy vocal conniptions, Hub’s solo Song for You, Jeff’s Old Cow Hand, and another raucous Red Neck Mother were highlights.

I’ve added False From True, Rosie is a Friend of Mine, Louise and Lessons from Pete to the roster this year and we did each one well, playing with our antennae up, looking for cues from me and listening hard. The audience appreciates the effort. Lessons came out very nicely. My friend Bill Hall did a multitrack tape and it should have some fine cuts on it.

The stage raps and comments were, as always, fresh, spontaneous and surprisingly funny. Part of the magic of the band has always been our repartee with the audience, finding places for asides without getting in each other’s way. Lots of chuckles tonight. 

Though we were not as tight as we were back then (and we were extremely well rehearsed), we cover for each other and trust that we will pull the songs off well. We did, for the most part, and the audience was none the wiser for the small fluffs. Most of the comments after the show were, “That was fun.” That’s pretty good in my book.

I am still amazed how tight we are as friends and we naturally fall into our grooves and roles on stage. We remain brothers and it shows on and off stage.

Roland Kushner had put together myself, Mary Faith Rhoads and Rick Weaver for a celebration of the late, great Stan Rogers’ music. We had pieced together this last summer with some success and Roland was a stern taskmaster this year, with multiple, multiple rehearsals. I missed a bunch due to heavy performing schedules, but Mary, Rick and Roland did a lot of work on the tunes and the vocals. It paid off tonight.  Folks were much more relaxed and confident and it was a pleasure to be on stage with them all.

There was a surprising number of people who came out, several who had seen Stan at the club back the the late 70’s and early 80’s. We rolled through the set list, with each taking the lead. The conversation was real and the music was strong. Dulcimer, concertina, guitar, octave mandolin, mandolin, mandocello, rain stick and rub board. A nice sonic menu.

I tremendously enjoyed  the role of backup mandolinist, adding to the percussive and chordal strength of Stan’s songs. They really rock, if you play them strong, and that’s what I can add to this ensemble.

I added several very strong songs with Giant, How Legends are Made and a newer one Oh No, Not I. I really had a good time watching my friends perform for a wonderful Godfrey’s audience and doing such a fine job. It was sweet.

I got a FB message at 5 pm that afternoon that the Philly Folk Song Society wants us to play for a PFFS monthly meeting. That’s mighty fine, and Rick, Mary and Roland were quite pleased.

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.

It has been a good, creative day on the planet, and I looked forward to a more informal acoustic jam at Godfreys tonight. It has always been a low-key event, with a few familiar faces as well as some new folks. Tonight was no different. I started out with a couple of tunes, some new folks filtered in, one guy listening, and away we went. A nice mix of styles, finger picked, raw groove stuff, New Orleans, Chicago, etc. Dobro, several guitars, harp and friendly conversation. One couple on guitar and dobro traveled from over an hour away, and had a great time, saying that there are no acoustic jams around. Probably true.

And though it was a three gig day, the energy of playing music made the day flow by……