Abbie Gardner and John Sonntag are probably chuckling over how they get the occasional wrong notes to sound planned.

Dan and Phyllis Budne are not only support staff for the Folk Music Society of Huntington (L.I.), they’re also the backbone crew for Acoustic Live’s NERFA guerrilla showcase room setup and our Falcon Ridge Festival booth.

David Roth and Sloan Wainwright, looking — and sounding — better every year

Alison Scola and Ina May Wool are thinking of publishing a book titled How To Keep Looking Good While Making Tens of Dollars Per Year in Folk Music.

If Martin Stone, left, were to offer Kirsten Maxwell a steady recurring gig at the Our Times Coffeehouse, would anyone have a problem with that? We didn’t think so!

Drop that fork! It’s not the right time to eat when the intrepid journalist points his camera at you. Jody Prysock, Barbara Manners and John Platt graciously oblige.

Jake Bush and Courtney Rodland might have shared their considerable organizing experiences (or not!) while sipping some recreational beverages.

L-R: Christine Sweeney enjoys some down time with Peskies Jake Bush and Ethan Baird, with mentoring lawyer Jessica Manganello. Legal advice? How to stay out of the pokey? We all need to know how to deal with tax auditors, don’t we? A bit out of focus in the background is photographer Jake Jacobsen, who hates to be left out of anything.

Robert Phaneuf of the Belle Hollows, left, paused in his “How To Be a Singer/Songwriter” lesson for a moment from folk guru Gordon Nash, at right.

As the Levins, Ira and Julia, sidled up next to their favorite DJ at the afternoon cocktail party, I couldn’t resist taking a photograph.

Performer, teacher and writer, Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, was our neighbor in the NERFA exhibit hall.

Bruce Balmer and Greg Klyma take a pause between bites.

Robin Greenstein and a very young banjo player drew a crowd of onlookers in the lobby.

Formal Showcases

The musical trio, End of America (not the current political situation) showed everyone just how good the upcoming crop of folk singer/songwriters can get.

Kirsten Maxwell seduced an entire audience … as usual.

Not satisfied with dazzling her audience with her virtuosity, Mari Black extends her repertoire/job description to that of musical contortionist.

Sloan Wainwright, left, invited Sharon Goldman and Amy Soucy onstage as backup singers. “The Sloanettes”? We’d better check with Sloan on that.

ASL interpreter Jody Prysock never fails to provide a visual treat for NERFA formal showcase attendees.

David Roth invited a host of performers onstage to join him for the last song in his set — something he wrote for a 2016 song workshop.

He didn’t actually say the title, but the refrain went: “If this is my last day on earth” — followed by phrases such as “I’ll say I sang; I’ll say I laughed; I’ll say I cried; I’ll raise my voice,” and so on.

The call and response from both the onstage backup chorus and the audience was a rousing success. It doesn’t really matter what the title is.

We like all the formal showcase hosts, but Acoustic Live makes no bones about its favorite: the always eloquent WFUV-FM DJ, John Platt.

Sophie Buskin combined feathery vocals and wry humor that reminded us of Suzanne Vega. Her song, “Sweet Creature,” took the listener back to when life’s journey followed the heart to ecstasy or madness … or both. Video here

Dave Curley, with his pure Celtic voice, was one of the special finds of the conference for this author.

The Malvinas, back in action after a hiatus, are L-R: Beth Cahill, Lisa Markley, and Gina Forsyth. After treating the audience to a stirring version of Jack Hardy’s “I Ought to Know,” they left the stage still playing the last notes of the song.

Video here

Semiformal Showcases

Abbie Gardner balances her time in Red Molly with her solo career. With her megawatt smile and striking features, the shutter on my camera stays busy when she plays. There are so many fun pictures to choose from, I can’t help but think (pardon the expression): “This woman is camera candy.” Oh … and the music is always terrific.

Acoustic Live Guerrilla Showcases

Eleanor Kleiner and Elie Brangbour — Whispering Tree — brought their intensity to our late night showcase.

Miles & Mafale (Catherine and Jay) write poignant songs that always manage to clutch the heart.

This must be the serious part of Mark Berube’s performance, “You Have the Right to be Stupid,” [Trumpies!] when he wasn’t singing “Jesus Kitty” or “Geek Hot.”

We made sure that Kirsten Maxwell included the Acoustic Live showcase room as one of her many NERFA appearances.

Lisa Markley of the Malvinas and her husband, musician Bruce Balmer, played a thrilling set of jazz/pop standards. Lisa and Bruce, with considerable expertise in this genre, displayed their versatility.

The Everly Set is Rockapella founder Sean Altman (L) and Jack Skuller (R). Their harmonies are seamless and they give the audience a mind-bending trip back to the ’50s.

Wisdom of the Elders
Workshop Sessions

Moderators Sonny Ochs, far left, and WPKN DJ Bruce Swan, far right, plied three elders with pertinent questions about their experiences. The full room was rapt as (L-R) Josh White Jr., Dianne Tankle and Rod MacDonald recounted their growth as members of the folk community.

Aaron Nathans and Michael G. Ronstadt 

Hang On for the Ride

Former journalist Aaron Nathans has stories to tell  —  and a lot a ways to tell them. His compadre, Michael G. Ronstadt , a member of the musically gifted Ronstadt clan (his aunt Linda is proof), besides adding audacious cello riffs, adds a few stories of his own. This album showcases a blend of strengths: Aaron’s love of history and storytelling and Michael’s prodigious musical chops. Both baritones — I’m guessing — Aaron’s reedy timbre harmonizes well with Michael’s softer tone. The leadoff track, “Northwind,” is by Michael’s father who recently passed away, and to whom the album is dedicated. The elder Ronstadt’s lyrics describe the onset of a winter storm with chilling clarity. Michael and Aaron trade stanzas to great effect. In the title track, we’re told to “hang on for the ride,” even when life’s paths don’t lead where we expect, even when they produce anxiety and grief. Mornings when my train is late / when I stumble out that gate / Don’t go asking why / Hang on for the ride. Michael’s cello adds the right note of gravitas to Aaron’s steady guitar strum. “The Strength to Not Fight Back” shows Aaron’s love of historical figures as he recounts the struggles of Jackie Robinson. My favorite, “Undone,” reflects the parting of the doubting parent, with the unproven child who races pell-mell out into the world. Good luck to you, sorry I can’t see it through, and I know that soon we / have to say I’ll see you on another day, I watch the houses fade away / tree tops, branches growing more askew / meld into a single hue / seems I left it all for you / Undone … undone / I tried to teach you everything I knew / now I know there’s nothing more that I can do / fool me, let’s see what you can do / Undone … undone. The harmony on this song is extremely tight and a real treat. Layers of swift cello riffs accentuate the sense of the child racing away. The quality of this recording bodes well for this talented duo.

Bev Grant | It’s Personal

This record might be as close to a memoir as we’re going to get from Bev Grant. However, we can’t count anything out from someone so prolific. It’s something of a surprise that the leadoff track, “Hang On Girl,” is a lament for a lost love, but sometimes it’s good to get some things off your chest before embarking on a journey (OK, so the album is called “It’s Personal,” not “My Life”). For this reviewer, the journey seems to start with track two, “Small Town Girl.” I was charmed out of my socks listening to this track, with its ’40s-style jazz/pop sound and the sax in the background. She sings: My boyfriend called me his old lady, we listened to Sister Sadie / I went to work while he played his saxophone / I brought home and cooked the bacon / Cleaned the mess he was making / ’Til I finally left to make one of my own. The journey continues with “Poor Poor Daddy,” as Bev shares some unsavory memories: Poor poor Daddy, never satisfied / Wanted to be a big shot so he cheated and he lied / Poor poor Daddy, tried to grab a bigger slice / What he got cost him a lot when he finally paid the price. Fathers don’t always give us what we want, but most of the time we can’t let go of the love we feel. “Throw Me the Ball” is a delightful blues rocker that makes the unassailable case for women’s right to do things usually reserved for men. “Mother’s Wrath” brings the hammer down on the album title’s meaning. It’s a fiery denouncement of the destruction humanity wreaks upon Mother Earth: Naked of forests, mountains uncapped / Waters polluted, animals trapped / Trembling in sorrow, in need of a bath / You have unleashed your mother’s wrath. Bev takes it personally and you can take it to the bank. The quaver in Bev’s voice puts me in mind of Buffy Sainte-Marie, like Bev, a fierce activist/singer. Bev puts that voice to great effect in her cover of Jean Rohe’s alternative “National Anthem: Arise! Arise!” The recorded chorus overlays that voice to create a choir. A choir of Bev Grants — I can live with that.

The Malvinas | God Bless the Grass

Few groups are as welcome to this listener, coming back after a hiatus, as The Malvinas, three lead singers whose voices blend with precision, while injecting Roche-like sharps and flats to keep the listener thoroughly intrigued. Beth Cahill, Lisa Markley and Gina Forsyth radiate talent like heat off a summer blacktop road. They use their talent in an intelligent blend of contemporary and traditional styles — 50  percent originals here —  never more so than their version of the late Jack Hardy’s “I Ought to Know.” The song, a pointed jab at willful cultural stupidity,  is especially welcome in today’s vapid atmosphere. I ought to know more than 1492 / I ought to know what the Buffalo Bills do / I ought to know more than the quarterback’s wounded knee / what happened at Sand Creek / This I ought to know / but I don’t. To hear this group sing, with their respective backing instruments of fiddle, banjo and mandolin, is to fall in love. I am besotted.

Markley and Balmer | Standards and Covers

Lisa Markley and her husband Bruce Balmer, a kick-ass guitarist, have put together a collection of numbers from the American songbook that will delight anyone who has roots in ’40s and ’50s standards and jazz (as I do). Lisa’s singing takes acrobatic turns when she employs jazz riffs. Bruce’s arch-top guitar has a richness that he puts to good use, employing layers of improvisation, but still tethered to the basic melody. Both have massive chops. Next stop, Cafe Carlyle!

The Belle Hollows | Miller’s Creek

The Belle Hollows is a trio — Rachel Johnson on vocals, Jeremy Johnson on vocals and acoustic guitar and Robert Phaneuf on mandolin and vocals. They’re based in Nashville, so it’s no surprise to hear the nimble mandolin work from Robert and no surprise to hear the tight harmonies from siblings Rachel and Jeremy. The leadoff track, “Tightrope Wires,” is an apt prelude to the joys in the rest of the album. The mandolin dances briskly over Jeremy’s lead vocal and the ensemble’s harmony backup. “Rebel on the Run” is a tight, fluid Celtic song, with tin whistle and bodhran studio backup from Josh Culley. Essentially a story of a moonshiner, it’s a delight of danger and escape: Ran to escape the bullet parade … but they never found that southern mountain son / cause he was born to be a rebel on the run. Their luscious harmonies are on full display on the title track. A lover finally decides to leave a beloved town to be with his life’s partner: When we leave this town … It doesn’t matter where we go … Because Miller’s Creek won’t keep me from moving on. Their cover of our old friend Canadian Jory Nash’s song, “Careful How You Break My Heart,” provides a gorgeous setting to this beautiful ballad: The thrill is gone and the fortune true / But I need to know the part that comes after you… This trio was picked as one of his 2016  “darlings of NERFA” by Bruce Swan (Swan Report, December 2016). He wrote: “The songs show an honest vulnerability of emotion and a sincere invitation to look into their collective hearts … and yours, too.” I couldn’t put it any better than that.

Dave Curley, Mick Broderick | A Brand New Day

Dave Curley, originally from Ireland, is the vocalist of this project, one of many. Mick Broderick provides backup on bouzouki, bass bodhran, cittern and mandolin. Dave is a former member of the Celtic band RUNA. His tenor is as close to perfection as one can get in the folk realm. Some of these Celtic-based melodies are so exquisitely beautiful, they provoke the big apple in the throat and stinging eyes. I am thinking in particular of “The Night Visiting Song,” “The Pleasure Will Be Mine” and  “Could You Be The One.” Although this album was released in 2014, the song “This Train’s Not Bound For Glory” carries enormous resonance. We’re living in a land of crooked men with crooked smiles / crooked pennies line their pockets / in crooked beds they spend the night / crooked laws they like to hide behind as they go from town to town / is there anyhow or any way to bring them crashing’ down? Up the Irish! This is a great CD!

Mama’s Broke | Count The Wicked

The liner notes say that Lisa Marie (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) and Amy Lou (guitar, banjo, vocals) are the Canadian duo Mama’s Broke. No last names. Might be they’re just too cool for that. In a country where folk giants roam, these two make one hell of a noise and have already broken down some doors. Count the Wicked is an all-original collection of songs that sound as if they’re at least 200 years old. They’re all energetic and edgy. In “True False True Lover,” the fiddle rages and the banjo hops madly along as the women sing: I stand by watch you fuck who you despise / Watch hate clouding lust beyond your eyes / They rest sweetly upon me they wander when she cries / You don’t see me that way. There’s great harmony, trad instrumentals (yes, they are original) and hard-lived songs that make you wonder: “They’re so young! How did they do that?” Who cares? Get on board. It’s one hell of a ride and it’s going to stay that way.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers | Stop, Drop, and Roll

Musician, author and teacher Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers’ most recent album, Stop, Drop, and Roll, reflects his considerable skills as a melodic wordsmith. In a quiet, thoughtful voice, he ponders life’s quandaries. The title track finds the protagonist in a do-or-die moment when the house is on fire. Out of options, the only way to safety is “stop, drop and roll.” Sometimes you just gotta bust a move. “Sycamore Tree” runs the gamut from childhood to adulthood wherein the adult sees how valuable his early days were: I’m a husband now and a father too / We drive for miles to catch a view  / Of the shady place where I grew / Loving that sycamore tree. Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers is worth following, whatever the mode of expression he’s engaged in.

The Black Feathers | Soaked to the Bone

Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler are The Black Feathers, a British couple with big voices who sing powerhouse harmonies. During certain passages they remind me of The Everly Brothers — their voices blend so closely. They wrote everything on Soaked to the Bone except Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love,” out of which they absolutely kick the living daylights. Their backing band includes violin, viola, pedal steel, lap steel, dobro, mandolin and percussion. It’s more than enough to provide a setting for the jewel of their voices. It’s tough to pick a favorite here, but for this listener, it’s a tossup between the leadoff track, “Take Me Back,” and “All for You.” Both songs take full advantage of the power of their voices. This one’s a keeper.

Crowes Pasture | Edge of America

Crowes Pasture is the acoustic duo of Monique Byrne and Andy Rogovin. Edge Of America is their fourth studio recording. This album features five original compositions and five covers, three by Bob Dylan, one by Donovan and one by Leonard Cohen. The addition of electric guitar and bass plus fiddle, mandolin and percussion give the album a sparkling folk/rock ambiance. Monique sings with a sharp, bluegrassy tone which suits this material quite well. Andy’s voice is softer and it provides a nice harmony counterpoint. Out of the three Dylan covers, “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and “Shelter From The Storm,” I like “Shelter From the Storm” the best. The soft treatment given all three works best for “Shelter.” The cover I like best is Donovan’s “Catch the Wind.” The delicacy of Monique’s lead vocal combined with Andy’s harmony seems perfect. The title track is perhaps the best of the originals. Sung from the point of a foreign cab driver, the protagonist laments that while he was given respect in his native land, he will never truly belong in his new country: You will never see all I left behind / I will always be on the edge of America. The use of finger-style acoustic guitar, fiddle and dobro create a dichotomy between the Americana expression and the foreigner’s plight. Some may feel that “The Champ,” a homage to Mohammed Ali, could take the honor for best original. Float like a butterfly / sting like a bee / ain’t nobody gonna lay a glove on me. All in all, this is a great listen.

Folkapotamus | Middle of Nowhere

Folkapotamus is the duo of Penni Hart on vocals and guitar and Tony Trites on vocals and bass. Penni’s voice is a silky-smooth instrument and the song arrangements take full advantage of this. She takes the lead on every song with Tony filling in on harmony in strategic spots. Penni also wrote nearly every song except for a wonderful rendition of “Jesse” by Janis Ian and the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger.” The fiddle of Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki is invaluable, filling out the atmosphere on much of the album. A favorite for this listener would have to be “Red Line Train.” A busker gets off a train, hoping someone will listen to his songs. The song has a bittersweet quality as a woman at the station, whose husband has left her, proselytizes religion and makes requests: Please play that one again she said, though it cuts me to the core / That song was my only friend when he was walking out the door. Will they come to their senses and find each other? Only Penni knows. This one should find some heavy airplay on Folk Alley.

Paula Boggs Band | Carnival of Miracles

This extraordinary band from Seattle is something of a throwback. Its messages of resistance and hope would have been popular in the ’60s. Paula Boggs has a rich, husky alto. She plays banjo and fronts a band with as many chops as needed to augment her luscious vocals. She calls the band’s style “soul grass.” It’s a mixture of folk, gospel, jazz, soul and blues. The leadoff track, right out of the gate, “Grateful,” features said banjo and some tasty pedal steel. The title track illustrates Paula’s spirituality and sense of activism: God made his decision /so we spin another day/ Whoever you believe in / whoever makes you pray / Give thanks we still have time to make amends and get it right / It’s enough to make you wonder why so many hate and fight … One two three so it goes … life can be a carnival of miracles reposed / We can mark our time or begin to take a stand / and together make the most of this great land. Find this and buy it or stream it. You’ll be glad you did.

Chickabiddy | Songs From Exile

Chickabiddy is Emily Schuman on vocals and guitar and Aaron Cromie on vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica. Exile is a selection of songs from their collaboration with a dance theater for a 2016 performance called Exile 2588, a Greek legend set in the future. Emily is a deft singer and a joy to listen to. Aaron’s voice harmonizes perfectly with Emily’s and the melodies are enchanting.

He-Bird, She-Bird | Self-titled

He-Bird, She-Bird is comprised of Todd Evans on lead vocal and guitar, with Terri Hall and Christine Kellar on harmony vocals. They get backup instrumentals on bass, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. The harmony blend here is exquisite and the songs are a terrific collection of acoustic country/folk dealing with love and life’s struggles.

Loretta Hagen | Lucky Stars

Once again, Loretta Hagen lends her warm, silky -smooth voice to a batch of country-tinged songs. This album is undoubtedly an emotional release following her mother’s passing. Each song — every one an original — is a tender expression of moving on after a huge loss. Without striking a maudlin note, she manages to convey hope and uplift, rising from sorrow.

Austin MacRae | Keeper

Austin MacRae’s nimble fingerpicking is a nice underpinning to his clear, sharp tenor. He’s an award-winning songwriter whose contemporary songs are firmly rooted in a traditional foundation. “Hornets’ Nest” uses the titular object to describe a societal condition wherein hatred takes its toll. The protagonist keeps his desire to destroy its source a secret. His late father’s words remain: Now, we don’t go stirring up the hornets’ nest / now, we don’t go kicking up a scene / now, we don’t go showing all our ugliness / ’cause we’ll get ’em after dark with gasoline. Austin displays a skill for metaphor and a keen sense of melodic and lyric structure.

Dana Merritt | Get Yourself Together

Some new age musicians can be ethereal to the point of boredom. Not so transgender acoustic guitarist-singer Dana Merritt. The melodies here are exalted but engaging. “St. Louise is Listening” features a winsome vocal and “Immersion” displays a riveting conjunction of rhythmic fret-popping and harmonics. “Cloud Harvester” captures the listener with a mesmerizing melody. Dana Merritt has already gotten it together.

No Good Sister | You Can Love Me

The vocal harmony trio of Meaghan Kyle, Maren  Sharrow and Jess McDowell present their debut country-tinged CD. This award-winning trio displays precise harmonies despite dissimilar voices. A sticker attached to the outer cover — directed at DJs — draws attention to the tracks “Little Bit Crazy,” “Fireworks” and “Reckless.” These seem a bit skewed toward the country palate. My favorite,  “Broken Hearted,” a bit more rock ’n’ roll, features a crunchy killer electric slide guitar to go with their seamless harmonies. These Pennsylvania-based ladies do bring it, though, in-studio and in live performances.

The Whispering Tree | The Escape

Eleanor Kleiner and Elie Brangbour approached me at Falcon Ridge and convinced me to include them in a showcase slot at the festival. Eleanor’s soaring alto was ample reward. Afterward, they sent me their third recording, The Escape, resulting in inclusion in the Acoustic Live guerrilla showcase room at NERFA. This album provides more than enough proof that they are a musical force to be taken seriously. Their thematic songs have been featured on television shows “One Tree Hill” and “The Client List.” Their klezmer-inspired version of “Over the Rainbow” suggests that sometimes, for the Jewish community, a life free from strife is always out of reach. “No Love” is a rocker and emphatically declares that there’s no salvation without self-actualization: No love drugs gonna fill this hole / No foolish heart gonna save my soul … One might conclude that their inspirations come more from emotional turmoil than from social issues, but I know they can tackle anything.

2017 NERFA CD Reviews

I had plenty of cynicism to carry me as I loaded up our NERFA paraphernalia, then drove to Stamford, Conn., for this year’s NERFA conference. “Sure,” I thought, “we resist, but what’s to stop this idiocracy we’re saddled with? The fascist mindset seems unaffected.”

My fellow attendees had other ideas. Just as they did last year, when they took my foreboding post-election mood and lifted it sky high, once again they filled me with hope. There are too many good people, performers, presenters, organizers and savvy media personnel to leave doubt unaddressed.

Diane Tankle’s history, told in The Wisdom of the Elders workshop, left me believing in the courage and wisdom of organizers like her.

Vance Gilbert’s keynote address was a rhyming rap that held apathetic members of the folk community accountable. His message: Change requires work and imagination, so get off your butts and get busy. The address (a portion shown below) was a laser beam of observation directed at all of us. It held up a mirror, illuminating our strengths and weaknesses, as he said:

Don’t you laugh, folk community, if you were expecting Arlo or Woody / count yourself damn lucky I ain’t wearing gold rings and a hoodie / community like that coffeehouse / where I joked about being black / that actually booed me and surely won’t be having me back

And these were old liberals too blind to look see / that I was the only chip chirping in their 1960 Kumbaya cookie / I guess they figured if you exist long enough  / as part of the problem, you simply outlast it / like I should be over and done with and gone past it / just because you have?

No wonder he’s in office / It couldn’t be clearer / Never mind your damn brownies / You better get a damn mirror …

So tell me house concert hosts and folk club  managers / how’s the new season looking? / Have you stretched folk parameters with the new acts that you’re booking?…

I hope they don’t get mad and their feelings don’t get hurt / but stop hiring me and Ellis Paul and Susan Werner / We’re older than dirt! …

So be brave folk programmers / front that singer/songwriter with the Celtic fiddler / or a local rapper or a native American storyteller / They may not be your audience’s absolute cup of tea / but look at the teaching you brought to people …

Well said, good friend. Sing on, as I hope we all shall.

The Photographers
Whole lotta jammin’ goin’ on

L-R: Bob Gramann, Jessica Manganello and Matthew Ramer (moderator) do their best to help musicians avoid nasty shocks around tax time.

Rod MacDonald, one of the most socially conscious and savvy singer/songwriters in folk music, enlisted the vocal support of Kirsten Maxwell. Smart move, Rod!

Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt brought their angular, innovative style to our Friday evening soiree.

One of the many reasons our room was almost always full was the inclusion of an Abbie Gardner set.

Cosy Sheridan’s wry perception of the human (or animal) condition is always welcome.

Should she ever decide to run for office, Rorie Kelly is our choice for the first female president of the United States. Her ability to create and sing songs that capture our attention and call for positive change is unparalleled.

John Sonntag sang heartfelt songs from his upcoming CD.

Mama’s Broke (Lisa Marie, left, and Amy Lou, right) brought their torrid Canadian chops to NERFA and we managed to corral them for a set.

There are many words to describe Sloan Wainwright with her big voice and stirring songs. The one we like best is “magnificent.”

Karyn Oliver’s prodigious vocals tell us she should be famous. The music industry is obviously wearing blinders and earplugs.

Meghan Cary never fails to bring the passion.

Saturday Night Guerrilla Showcases

We were overjoyed to find that Beth Cahill, Lisa Markley and Gina Forsyth, The Malvinas, had rejoined and were in attendance at NERFA

Austin MacRae was one of the performer discoveries we made at NERFA. Expect to see a cover article in Acoustic Live soon.

L-R: Chris Robley, Brad Hunt and Rorie Kelly field questions. Biff Kennedy, right moderates.

Steve Addabbo, left and Ben Wisch explain their success in the studio.

Combining teaching with performing is a survival strategy for many musicians.

L-R: Cheryl Prashker, Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (moderator), Sloan Wainwright and Martin Swinger tell how it’s done.

We finally caught up with The Belle Hollows this year after contributing writer Bruce Swan pointed them out as a favorite in our December 2016 NERFA wrap-up issue. A feature article on them is a safe bet.

Helping others get the word out about their venues is L-R: Mary Lou Troy (moderator), Louise Baker, Kathy Sands Boehmer and Courtney Rodland.