Archived News

 

   WELCOME TO         COVID WORLD 

June, 2020     Like all of you, we have been adjusting to this strange new world in which we find ourselves.  Playing music is and always has been for us a communal activity, and to be thrust into a world in which gatherings are potentially deadly puts the kibosh on something that for us is as basic a need as water or food:  sharing our music in person with all of you.

We have done our best to stay in touch and share our music.  We gave seven facebook live performances over the past few months; A.J. did another on his own, and Liza did a series of performances and readings in celebration of the release of her biography "Katherine Jackson French:  Kentucky's Forgotten Ballad Collector."  In addition, we did a really fun live performance for a venue that is a regular client.  It has been fun, and we are grateful that we have have been able to share with you in this way.  But we look forward to the time when we can be in a room in community with you all again, singing, playing, hugging, and doing all of those human things that we so took for granted.

We are at last putting the finishing touches on "My Lord What a Morning," an album of lovely and healing settings of folk hymns.  We expect the release date to be in October, so keep an eye out!

That's it for now folks.  Please wear your masks, wash your hands, and help us get us to a time when we can all raise the rafters together in song once again.

Peace & Syncopation,

Liza & A.J

May, 2020

 

t's here, it's here, it's here!  Liza's biography, Katherine Jackson French, Kentucky's Forgotten Ballad Collector, is available through University Press of Kentucky.  Use discount code FB30 for a 30% discount! 

 

Six year's in the making, this true story of one of Kentucky's proudest yet unknown daughters makes a great read - and French's ballad collection is published here for the first time.   Order at https://www.kentuckypress.com/9780813178523/katherine-jackson-french/

April 2020

Well, we entered March in early spring with birds chirping and flowers blooming and somewhere along the way woke up in an Edward Munch painting, along with the rest of you.

Coronavirus has been slow to come to Kentucky, but it is here now, in part thanks to people who insist on ignoring the Governor's orders to stay home and not gather.  It is still low compared to a lot of other places, but we take no chances.  We are hunkering down, playing lots of music together, reading, watching movies, the same things y'all are doing.

Our hearts go out to our friends in New York and Florida.  You are in our hearts.  Stay the heck home.

We have been doing a few facebook live shows; our next is April 13 at 7:00 p.m.  We'll be doing some of our music from Upstate New York in honor of all our friends there.  We aren't asking for money at this point, as there are others more in need.

Berea has cancelled school, but Liza is still teaching from home via internet.  She's also gotten a great container garden going.

We are working on mastering one album, and preparing to record another, a reboot of our debut album, "Playmates."  Some of the old favorites will be on it, plus some newer originals and songs we have learned since being at Berea.

Liza's album of ballads collected by Katherine Jackson French, entitled "There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling," is in hand, though official release will coincice with the book and ballads this spring.

The Kentucky launch of the book, CD, and a separate commemorative edition of the ballads will be September 4 (we hope) at Berea College, so clear your calendars!  Northerners, keep an eye out for events in your neck of the woods!

Y'all be good, stay home, bake lots of cookies and take your vitamins!  Love y'all!

Peace & Syncopation,

Liza & A.J.

 

 

February 2020

February is Dance Month here at the Liza & A.J. homestead.

We are proud to announce that A.J. has been named an accompanist in the dance program at the University of Kentucky. This, in addition to his ongoing work as the accompanist for both the Berea Country Dancers and the dance program at Berea College, draws upon his long dance background and musical versatility.  He is playing everything from ballet to contra to to English to tango this term; enough to make your head spin!  Congratulations, A.J.!

 

In addition, Liza & A.J. will be playing some upcoming dances in Lexington and Berea.  The Lexington contra dance on February 1 is for the Lexington Traditional Dancers at the Arts Place where we will be joined by the exquisite fiddler Tom Cunningham and caller Joe Wilkie; the February 8 dance is an English dance at the Spotlight Theater in Berea, where we will be joined by the wonderful bass player Richard Brown.

We have a busy summer booked already with concerts at venues in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Hampshire including a week at Star Island ad our longstanding favorite, Common Ground on the Hill.  We are looking to book some house concerts that will coincide with those dates - please contact us if you are interested.

We are working on mastering one album, and preparing to record another, a reboot of our debut album, "Playmates."  Some of the old favorites will be on it, plus some newer originals and songs we have learned since being at Berea.

Liza's album of ballads collected by Katherine Jackson French, entitled "There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling," is in hand, though official release will coincice with the book and ballads this spring.

The Kentucky launch of the book, CD, and a separate commemorative edition of the ballads will be September 4 at Berea College, so clear your calendars!  Northerners, keep an eye out for events in your neck of the woods!

Y'all be good, and cuddle up, it's cold out there!

 

 

January 2020

Welcome to the new decade!

We are settled back into Berea after our Christmas tour up North.  We are looking forward to a busy year here at the college and well beyond...see our "Shows" page for a full list!  We'll be at some upcoming dances in Lexington and Berea, and we have a busy summer booked already with concerts at venues in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Hampshire including a week at Star Island.  We are looking to book some house concerts that will coincide with those dates - please contact us if you are interested.

We are working on mastering one album, and preparing to record another, a reboot of our debut album, "Playmates."  Some of the old favorites will be on it, plus some newer originals and songs we have learned since being at Berea.

Liza's album of ballads collected by Katherine Jackson French, entitled "There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling," is in hand, though official release will coincice with the book and ballads this spring.

December, 2019

 

Happy Winter, Merry Christmas, Good Solstice, Happy Hannukkah, Happy Kwaanza, and Happy New Year!

 

We have wound down an incredibly busy fall.  We have several Christmas concerts in New York and Pennsylvania, and then things slow down, blessedly, for a bit.

 

Liza’s book on Katherine Jackson French will be in the University Press of Kentucky catalog in February, and orders can be placed then.  Books will be in hand in May.  The CD of French’s ballads is pressed and ready to sell.  The collection of ballads is to be published this spring in a commemorative edition by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center.  Liza is booking readings/concerts in support of publication for summer and fall of 2020.

 

We are looking forward to some fine events in the summer, including Star Island Retreat, Common Ground, and a series of events at Willow Valley.  So sorry to those of you that we could not manage to schedule!  Hopefully there will be openings in the coming year.

January 2019:  It has been a busy holiday season!  We had performances at the college, and in Pennsylvania.  We were able to spend ten days with Liza's mom and dad, a true blessing, and to spend Christmas there.

 

Some big news:  Liza has been awarded a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to fund a recording of the ballads of Katherine Jackson French!  This recording will be completed by  next fall, and will coincide with the release of French's published ballads, and of the biography "There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling," through University Press of Kentucky. 

 

It was a busy fall here in Berea!  A.J. played for six (6!) dance classes per week and will do so for the coming term; Liza continued her work leading the college Folk-Roots Ensemble and teaching music education, Appalachian Music, and horn and piano.

Some other exciting news:  Liza is the new Director of the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music.  She is excited about bringing in students to help produce and promote this wonderful 40-plus year Berea tradition.  

 

Liza also had her work selected for a juried presentation of spoken word and music by the Women of Appalachia Project. The selected work is an original song entitled "That Esau Bed." The song tells the story of women in West Virginia mining communities. A jury selected 39 works from over 150 entries.  The song was inspired by information uncovered on this subject by the wonderful West Virginia folklorists Mike and Carrie Kline.  Liza was included in an evening of spoken word and musical performance in a program entitled "Women Speak" on September 21  at Northern Kentucky University in Fort Thomas, KY, and will be performing twice more on simlar events 

 

On the other end of the duo, A.J.'s setting of Rudyard Kipling’s “Eulogy” will be featured by the college’s Concert Choir on April 14, 2019.   This will be the last concert of the legendary choral director Stephen Bolster; it's one you should be sure to catch.  It will be one for the ages.

A.J. also toured in the fall with the Country Dancers to Louisville and Ohio and met and worked with many wonderful people, including someone who uses dance to help heal vets with PTSD and other illnesses, similar to the Common Ground on the Hill Veteran's Initiative.  He will be touring with the Country Dancers again in March.

 

Various concerts and events have details have been added to the schedule; please see "Shows."  Others have yet to be finalized; we’ll put them on our calendar when it’s settled.

 

Please check out our music page.  If you know someone who might need a bit of perspective and reflection on that which makes us good, rather than great, as Americans, you might like our album “Alternative Medicine.”  "A Home in the Catskills" delivers traditional music, Catskill style.  And "Melodicism" is just plain fun from top to bottom!  And if you want to do some super early Christmas shopping, there's "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In."  Check it out under “Music.” 

 

Have a wonderful start to your winter season!

March 2018

Late February and early March have been pretty crazy.  First, we played on the Berea College Festival of African-American Spirituals, always an uplifting event; then A.J. left on tour with the internationally-known Berea Country Dancers, got back, and we turned around and trucked up to Pennsylvania to visit Liza's folks for a precious few days. A.J. will play with the Country Dancers on Wednesday's Convocation; he and Liza will feature A.J.'s beautiful hulusi piece, "Hu Tau Requests the Honor of Your Company at His Place for Lunch Tomorrow," which he wrote in China while on tour with the CD's.  Liza is about to leave on tour with the nationally-known Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble; then there's a retreat, and then Seder with dear friends.  And in between, there's classes, and we have moved!  We love our new house, and are just settling in. 

 

Not much breathing room this month, needless to say.

Next month, the Folk Roots Ensemble gives its spring fling concert on April 7, the same night Country Dancers is performing, On the 14th, Liza & A.J. will play for the Danish American Dance at the Berea Folk Center, starting time 9 P.M.  On May 5, , we will be playing a concert at First Christian for our good friends Lisa and Mark and at some point take off North to play for the New York Folk Music Society's Memorial Day Weekend.

Tico-Tico - Liza & A.J.
00:00 / 00:00

November, 2019

It's been a tough fall.  We lost Liza's Mom in the beginning of October.  She was a great lady, a great mom, with a spirit befitting a queen. She was a fine poet, and the one certainty in our lives was that she loved all of us.  It isn't possible to fill that kind of void, so I'll just say, we love you Mom.  Miss you always.

It's been a busy fall here at Berea.  A.J. is working hard daily with the various groups of the dance program.  Liza produced her first Celebration of Traditional Music, with the help of the wonderful students of the Folk-Roots Ensemble and the Appalachian Center.  Illegal Contraband was the band, with caller Ron Buchanan . A fine time was had by all.  Check out the Celebration of Traditional Facebook page for more details.  Besides that, Liza has been finishing the absolutely last grammatical picky edits for the book on Katherine Jackson French, which will be coming out in May.  She also is finishing up the refording of Jackson's ballads, working on a promotion letter, and basically is continually in motion.

We have some things coming up in December, including some Christmas gigs.  Check out our calendar!  

Hope you have a great rest of the fall.

July 2019

We had a wonderful week in Willow Valley in June.  We are looking forward to our annual week at Common Ground on the Hill in July.  This unique gathering of artists, musicians, and dancers are ­­­­our summer family, and we can’t imagine the season without them.  CGOTH is made even more special this year by its inclusion of four interns from our own Berea College; we are so proud of all they have brought to the organization!

 

Liza has been busy with her work as Director of the Celebration of Traditional Music, but managed to get over to Old Songs to hear some great music and hang with some old friends.  She's aso been working on marketing ideas for her upcoming book on Dr. Katherine Jackson French.

A.J. is hard at work putting the NY house to rights and handling bookings for Liza & A.J.  We are both swimming and hiking, and A.J. has been a wonder on the bicycle on these Catskill Mountains.

Enjoy those hot, sultry days of July!  And get out and hear some live music!  Summer is a great time to sit beneath the stars and soak in some beautiful sounds.  Go forth and enjoy some beauty!

MARCH 2019

 

March is Berea Month for both Liza and A.J.  They both just finished tours with the college groups with which they work:  Liza with the Folk-Roots Ensemble to Baltimore and Westminster, MD (where they opened for Tom Paxton and Guy Davis) and A.J. with the Country Dancers (St. Louis).  A.J. has the Country Dancers Convo on March14, and Liza has the Folk-Roots Ensemble spring concert at the end of the month.

 

EXCITING NEWS:  Liza was interviewed as a folk music expert for Studio 360 at the beginning of the month.  The show is on the song “In the Pines,” and will air at the beginning of April.  

 

Liza will also be appearing at the Women of Appalachia Project ten-year gala on March 23 at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  The selected work is an original song entitled "That Esau Bed." The song tells the story of women in West Virginia mining communities. A jury selected 39 works from over 150 entries.  The song was inspired by information uncovered on this subject by the wonderful West Virginia folklorists Mike and Carrie Kline.  

 

On the other end of the duo, A.J.'s setting of Rudyard Kipling’s “Eulogy” will be featured by the college’s Concert Choir on April 14, 2019.   This will be the last concert of the legendary choral director Stephen Bolster; it's one you should be sure to catch.  It will be one for the ages.

 

​​

Various concerts and events have details have been added to the schedule; please see "Shows."  Others have yet to be finalized; we’ll put them on our calendar when it’s settled.

 

Please check out our music page.  If you know someone who might need a bit of perspective and reflection on that which makes us good, rather than great, as Americans, you might like our album “Alternative Medicine.”  "A Home in the Catskills" delivers traditional music, Catskill style.  And "Melodicism" is just plain fun from top to bottom!  And if you want to do some super early Christmas shopping, there's "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In."  Check it out under “Music.” 

September

Well, I tell you, folks, September has been a broiler here in Central Kentucky.  We are past the first week, and you would think we were still in July.  Just yesterday, I saw a little toad sitting by the porch with his tongue hanging out.  Hotter than a pepper sprout, as some have said… 

We have dived back into Berea World with full gusto.  We have some concerts, events, and other performances outside the college this fall as well...Please see our "News" page for more details.

 

We are back in Berea, and have begun the academic year.  A.J. is playing for six (6!) dance classes per week; Liza continues her work leading the college Folk-Roots Ensemble and teaching music education, Appalachian Music, and horn and piano.

Some other exciting news:  Liza has had her work selected for a juried presentation of spoken word and music by the Women of Appalachia Project. The selected work is an original song entitled "That Esau Bed." The song tells the story of women in West Virginia mining communities. A jury selected 39 works from over 150 entries.  The song was inspired by information uncovered on this subject by the wonderful West Virginia folklorists Mike and Carrie Kline.  Liza will be included in an evening of spoken word and musical performance in a program entitled "Women Speak" on September 21, 6-9 PM at Northern Kentucky University in Fort Thomas, KY.

 

On the other end of the duo, A.J.'s setting of Rudyard Kipling’s “If” will be featured by the college’s Concert Choir on April 14, 2019. 

 

Liza and the Folk-Roots Ensemble will  be working on a project with the college, recording unknown Abolitionist songs. 

August 2018

It has been a glorious summer up here in the Catskill Mountains, but as always, Winter is behind every breath of wind here; He hides behind the sun like a jealous lover.  The leaves have already begun to turn, and the fall rains have begun to replenish the thirsty and weary pond and stream.  Queen Anne is in her lacy glory, asters add dots of blue to the landscape, and goldenrod is sweeping the hills with its broad yellow paintbrush.  Blackberries bleed in our hand, to quote Dick McCormack, and the increasingly chilly nights tell us that summer is in her final stages and that it is time to follow the geese south.

We have had a wonderful summer.  Our parents are still with us, for which we are grateful, and we got to spend some quality time with Liza’s over the summer, for which we are even more grateful.  Apologies to Northern friends whom we did not manage to see due to our rather hectic schedule and family situation; catch you on the downbeat next time.

Thanks to the New York Folk Music Society, Bound for Glory, Common Ground on the Hill, and Willow Valley Communities for having us come and share our music with you.  We look forward to maintaining our connection with you and coming back in the near future!

It always takes an adjustment, this move from the wilds of the Catskills to the more sedate and contained town life of Berea, but we always greet it with joy.  Many exciting things await us there!  Liza continues her work leading the college Folk-Roots Ensemble and teaching music education, Appalachian Music, and horn and piano; A.J. continues his work accompanying the dance program, and particularly the Country Dancers.  His setting of Rudyard Kipling’s “If” will be featured by the college’s Concert Choir.  We also expect to both be working in various capacities on a project with the college, recording Abolitionist and Slave Songs.  Various concerts and events have details yet to be finalized; we’ll put them on our calendar when it’s settled.

Public service announcement:  Please make sure you are registered to vote.  Strange things are happening to voter rolls these days.  Bad things happen to good voters, in short; so make sure they don’t happen to you.  End of announcement.

BTW, if you need a bit of perspective and reflection on that which makes us good, rather than great, as Americans, you might like our album “Alternative Medicine.”  Check it out under “Music.”  We are available to deliver this message to progressive political gatherings, groups, and fundraisers, by the way, and would love to do so.  Just ask.

This is also a good time to think about Christmas programs.  We are looking to be in Berea early in the month of December and Pennsylvania/New York later in the month.  Take a listen to “Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In” for a sample of what kind of music we offer for the holidays.

Y’all keep in touch!  Have a great end of summer. 

July 2018

 

June was a wonderful month up here in the Catskill Mountains…beautiful cool nights, warm but not hot days, and perpetually Catskill Blue skies.  We managed to take a trip to Kaaterskill Falls, which is one of the jewels of the Catskill Mountains.  It’s a glorious double-tiered 180-foot waterfall, the subject of many a painting by adherents of the Hudson River school of painting.  No painting could do it justice though.  The rest of the time, both Liza and A.J. have been working on their books, and both of us have been hard at work on music for summer festivals.  We have also just finished arranging A.J.'s "Epitaph" for choir; it will be performed by the Berea Concert Choir in the fall.

 

We had a lovely time back at the end of May at the Folk Music Society of New York’s Memorial Day weekend, and the good times continued with a concert at Willow Valley in Pennsylvania and appearance on Bound for Glory, the longest-running folk radio show in the country, hosted by Phil Shapiro.  We loved the cool vibe of the alternative library concert space, though it was hard for Liza to put the books down and do the show.

 

We are so looking forward to reuniting with our musical tribe at Common Ground on the Hill next week.  CGOTH is a folk arts school, where people of different traditions and places meet on the ground of the traditional arts.  It is our home away from home, and in this crazy time, we appreciate it all the more.  Check them out at www.commongroundonthehill.org

 

Beyond the summer lies Berea, and an extra busy year there…but for now, somebody get me a nice cold smoothie!  We are available for house concerts and concerts and who knows what up here in the Catskills until early August, minus 7/8-7/17.  Give us a holler!

January 2018

 

Hail the New Year!

We settle back into our lives in Kentucky, both recovering from whopping head colds.  It's good weather to stay in anyway; it got down to close to zero last night, which for Upstate New York is early spring, but for Kentucky is all but cataclysmic.  A good day for hot tea and blankets and watching the slowly rising sun creep across the sky.

We had a lovely Christmas Eve with family in Lancaster, PA, and then Mom had a heart episode which landed her in the hospital for five days, and us with her to mind things.  Upshot: pacemaker; downside; there are major problems that won't solve.  Family was together though, and in a weird way, it was some of the best family time we've ever had.

Grateful going forward for friends, family, music, and Berea.  We count you among our friends, and hope to share our music with you soon.  Onward. 

​November, 2017

 

After an exhausting October, we get to settle down to a fairly normal fall here in Berea, or so we thought.  The death of one student, and severe injury to three others, in separate accidents last week has left the whole community numb and grieving, however.  We are doing our best to help students and colleagues cope, but there is little that really helps when young lives are taken in such a tragic and abrupt manner.  

Music is often a solace in such times, but really, the community is too stunned even for that.

We ourselves count ourselves blessed.  Our own families are well and healthy; Liza's dad just celebrated his 102nd birthday, we have a roof over our heads and gainful employment, and are still on this journey together.  It is impossible to be unaffected by the sadness that has settled on Berea like a fog, though, nor should we want to be.  We're a part of here.  It's a part of us.  We do what we can and keep walking.

We were lucky enough to get some time in October to visit Liza's mom and dad, in time for his birthday, and also to spend some time with our good friends Karyn and Eitan Grunwald, with whom we ate too much, walked in the countryside of West Virginia, and played music way too late into the night.  Times like those sustain us and remind us how lucky we are.

We look forward to crossing paths with some of you soon.  We'll be in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, doing our Christmas show, with possibly a toe dipped into NY State.  Let us know if you'd like to have us bring our Wassail program to you.

Be well, and take care of each other,

​​

Peace and Syncopation,

Liza & A.J

lizadisavino@gmail.com​

 

December, 2017

 

December brings a time of reflection for many of us.  The year dies, the cold comes, and those of us with aging parents, or who are aging ourselves, feel that season of endings a little more deeply.

 

It is a time of turmoil in our country, and yet we still believe that no matter how passionate our differences are, music is the great healer, the Great Uniter.  Not always, certainly; it can be as powerful a tool for ill as for good.  Such is the way with all things magical.  It is as good or bad as the person wielding it.

 

We, too, are more than a little agitated at the national scene these days.  Still, we hope to use our music in this season of darkness, both seasonal and social, to bring some light and joy.  No political screed here.  Just the music.  We plan to take the instruments out, start playing, and get out of the way.  More love, the Shakers used to sing.  More joy.  We'll do our best.

 

Light and love and joy to you all this season of the Turning, peace, and just enough syncopation to keep life fresh and new.

 

Peace,

 

Liza & A.J.              

February, 2018

 

Happy New Year, ya’ll, from frosty Kentucky!

 

We had a great December, performance-wise!  Thanks to those who booked and those who came and listened.  Those of you who we couldn’t fit in, please keep us in mind for next Christmas season!

January has been a typically quieter month.  We have been working at bookings, and enjoying our status as employed folk musicians through Berea College.  A.J. continues playing with the Country Dancers, and Liza is molding the Folk-Roots Ensemble into shape for their spring performances.

 

We are currently booking Liza & A.J. performances, lectures, and workshops for

Summer and Fall18. 

 

Kentucky area events and concerts are still possible for Winter and Spring ’18.  House concerts are a wonderful way to be cozy with friends…hot chocolate, friends, and music…what could be better?  Holler at us if you’re interested!

 

Wishing you a cozy and happy February (dang that groundhog!, and the best kinds of peace and syncopation,

 

Well, our big news (at least to us) is that we found a new place to live!  Our new place is more conducive to musiic-making and is in a better neighborhood.  It is also better for gatherings, so we expect to be having a few music parties pretty soon.  Stay tuned!

We continue our work at the college, grateful for a place like Berea, an oasis in some troubled times.

A.J. continues to be engaged in gender issues, and just spearheaded a film festival at the college on same.  We are looking into recording an album on gender-based issues.  Stay tuned.

There is no gray like the gray of Kentucky winters.  We remain grateful for music, friends, good work, and most of all each other.  Here's hoping our paths cross soon!

December 

Season’s Greetings!

 

First, THE DECEMBER 3 CONCERT AT FIRST CHRISTIAN, BEREA, IS CANCELLED.  We will be doing a show for them this coming spring, but the timing did not work out for them this season.  Don’t come; we won’t be there!

 

Beyond that, we are looking forward to a busy season.  The Berea College Christmas concert is always a highlight; Liza’s Folk-Roots Ensemble will be performing.  After that, we have some concerts in Kentucky and Pennsylvania coming up at which we will feature music from “Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In,” our album of Christmas music, available here at our store, under the "Music" tab.

We still have some openings for concerts, house concerts, and events for December.  If we are where you are, we'd love to come play for you.  Our Wassail program, featuring music from "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In," is well-suited to churches, concerts, and house concerts.  A house concert, up close and personal, is a wonderful gift to give your friends. Connection, reflection, community - these are things we could all use more of.   

 

Our schedule of locales looks to be as follows:

December 1-2, Berea College Christmas Celebration (the same event that was televised nationally on WCBS TV last year)

December 3 - First Christian Church, Berea, KY, 3 P.M. CANCELLED

December 4-8 - Kentucky and environs, dates open.  

December 12-14 - Kentucky and environs

December 15 - As Illegal Contraband, dance at the Carlbergs, over the Fudge Shoppe, Olde Towne, Berea, KY, 7:30 P.M.

December 17- House Concert, Berea, KY, 3 P.M.

                          House Concert Berea, KY, 8 P.M.

                         (contact 607-434-1164 for more                                    info)

December 18-21  TBD

December 22 - Willow Valley Communities, Lancaster, PA

23-24 - Lancaster, PA

​​

Please see our "Music" page for our Christmas (and other) albums, and contact us if you would like to have Liza & A.J. add the in-person gift of music to your holiday season.

 

 

We are of course also booking summer festivals and other venues for Spring and Summer, 2018.  We pride ourselves on being excellent teachers as well as performers, so please give us a shout if you or anyone you know is interested in having us do concerts, lectures, or workshops.

 

 

Please see our "News" page for more in-depth information about our doings.

 

​​

Peace and Syncopation,

Liza & A.J

 

lizadisavino@gmail.com​

October 2017

 

Happy Fall!

We are fully into Berea Gear, which is fifth gear to the 10th degree.  Playing, teaching, coaching, accompanying, lecturing…it keeps us busy.  We are delighted to be employed by such a wonderful institution to teach the music we love so much.

 

A.J. continues his accompanying work with the Berea Country Dancers and the dance classes here at the college.  He toured China this summer with the Berea Festival Dancers (and made the front cover of the Country Dance and Song Society magazine!), and came back with several new instruments for which he is already composing music.  He will be touring with the group again in early October.  Liza is again leading the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble and teaching Appalachian Music.  And we are SO looking forward to hosting "Head of the Holler" at this year's Celebration of Traditional Music and getting to interview West Virginia legend Alice Gerard.

Please see our "News" page for more in-depth information about our doings.

We are of course booking summer festivals and venues for Spring and Summer, 2018.  We pride ourselves on being excellent teachers as well as performers, so please give us a shout if you or anyone you know is interested in having us do concerts or workshops.

We are still booking concerts, house concerts, and events for December as well.  Our Wassail program, featuring music from "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In," is well-suited to churches, concerts, and house concerts.  A house concert, up close and personal, is a wonderful gift to give your friends. Connection, reflection, community - these are things we could all use more of.

 

Our schedule of locales looks to be as follows:

December 1-2, Berea College Christmas Celebration (the same event that was televised nationally on WCBS TV last year)

December 3 - First Christian Church, Berea, KY, 3 P.M.

December 4-8 - Kentucky and environs, dates open.  

December 10 - Berea, KY, tentative house concert

December 12-14 - Kentucky and environs

December 15 - As Illegal Contraband, dance at the Carlbergs, over the Fudge Shoppe, Olde Towne, Berea, KY, 7:30 P.M.

December 17- House Concert, Berea, KY, 3 P.M.

December 18-21  TBD

December 22 - Willow Valley, Lancaster, PA

23-24 - Lancaster, PA

​​

Please contact us if you would like to have Liza & A.J. add the gift of music to your holiday season.

​​

Peace and Syncopation,

Liza & A.J

muzfctry@gmail.com 

lizadisavino@gmail.com​

 

October, 2017, home page

We had a fabulous time with Robinson and Rohe on our double duos concert.  The night was a reunion for us with Jean Rohe, who we have known since she was wee, and it was a delight to share the evening with her and Liam, and even combine for a few numbers ("Arise, Arise," by Jean; "Kaaterskill Falls" by Liza, and a rollicking finale version of "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep.")  The Appalachian Center provided the perfect backdrop for this night of music between friends.  They also came in to work with the Folk-Roots Ensemble.  In between, we showed them the Berea Campus.

 

Liza had a lot of fun with Richard Underwood at the EKY library to celebrate the release of Richard Underwood’s “Murder Ballads:  True Crime Stories from Southern Murder Ballads” book, which recounts the true story behind some Appalachian murder ballads.   The Reading Room is a grand space, like someone shipped a section of the New York Public Libarary to Kentucky, with glorious acoustics.  Who knew murder could be such fun?

A.J. will be touring with the Berea Country Dancers to the historic Pine Mountain Settlement this month and other parts of East Kentucky.  That, for our northen friends, is the home of Hazard and Harlan County, feuds and ballads, and Primitive Baptist Singing.  If American music has a DNA helix, one big fat old strand of it sits in East Kentucky.

Liza and the Folk-Roots Ensemble and the Country Dancers (A.J. accompanies) will be playing Mountain Day here at the college, a day when classes are cancelled and the whole college goes to the mountains (The Pinnacles, just outside town, owned by the college).  The choir sings the sun up at dawn, and the Country Dancers dance at the edge of the Eastern Pinnacle.  It is always truly glorious, except for the year when poor Ian Wilke sat down on a bee's nest.  Alas, the bees drove us away, pardon the pun, in droves that year.  We hope for a better time this year.

As for the Celebration of Traditional Music, Berea's grand 42-year-old tradition, Liza's Folk-Roots Ensemble will play, and Liza and A.J. will host the show "Head of the Holler."  We will get to interview the Grande Dame of West Virginia folk music, Alice Gerard, long known for her activism and her work with Hazel Dickens.  We're so very excited about this.  Liza will also deliver a lecture on "Lasting Impressions from 'English Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians, 1917" in this, the centennial year, on Friday afternoon.  And Loyal Jones will speak on his new book "My Curious and Jocular Heroes," for which Liza trancsribed ballads.  Concerts are Friday and Saturday night, with a Thursday night performance of the folk opera "In These Fields" by Berea's own Sam Gleaves and Silas House.  Sunday morning wraps up the Festival with a Gospel Sing at Union Church.  More info is here:  CTM schedule

 

Mastering our new CD "My Lord, What a Morning" has fallen to the back burner for now, though that album is recorded…we hope to have it out by Christmas.

Here's where we'll be in the next few weeks.  Hope to see some of you there!

Upcoming Dates:

October 6-8 - A.J. tours with the Berea Country Dancers to East Kentucky.

October 18 - Mountain Day, The Pinnacles, Berea, KY.

October 27-29 - Celebration of Traditional Music, Loyal Jones Center and Phelps-Stokes Auditorium, Berea College

Novermber 17 - as Illegal Contraband, Contradance, at the Carlbergs, over the Fudge Shoppe, North Broadway, Berea, KY.

September 2017

As we sit here snug in Kentucky, hurricanes are pounding our southern coastlines.  Our thoughts are with those affected, some of whom are friends and relatives, and we hope for their safety.  Tragically, the events that scientists have been predicting for decades are now coming to pass.  It is one of the greatest sleight-of-hands in history that science has been reduced to something that one can or cannot “believe” in.  Gravity exists.  It doesn’t matter whether we “believe” in it or not.  Burning fossil fuels, of which are all guilty, releases chemicals into the atmosphere that have predictable, dependable, and measurable effects.  We are now seeing the first of the results of our disdain for fact and for the fragile planet on which we live.  We hope it is not too late to reverse the direction we have taken.

 

We are sadly and ironically reminded of liner notes to our “Alternative Medicine,” recorded back in 2007 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:  “When blind trust in corrupt government officials results in people drowning in the streets of America, we prescribe a little healthy cynicism.”  Or perhaps just a little critical thinking.  From that album, here is Liza’s empathetic and unfortunately timely look at the victims of Hurricane Katrina, “Look Away,"  

 

****************

More Mundane Matters:  Change of pace...We are thrilled to have our new website in swing.  It is meant to be a way to keep in touch with people who follow us and our music, and to serve as an online store as well.

 

Alternative Medicine," as well as our other three albums, are for sale here at our website. Please do peruse our "Music" page and feel free to purchase early and often. After all, winter is coming! and with it, Christmas.  What could be better than curling up by the fire with "A Home in the Catskills," or decorating the tree to "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In"?  "Alternative Medicine" is unfortunately once again apropos to the troubles of the era in which we live, and "Melodicism" is sure to lift your spirits in these troubled times.  There have also been some requests for Liza's first studio album, "A Single Hope," so we are making that available here as well.

 

On a more day-to-day note, we are diving into the year here in Berea full throttle.  Liza’s book on Katherine Jackson French is done; it is sitting at the publisher, and she has transcribed her ballads as well.  The big news is that the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center has agreed to publish these ballads, fulfilling a 117-year-old promise on the part of Berea College. Liza has been asked to lecture on Katherine at the Womans Department Club of Shreveport in 2019, for their Centennial Celebration. We will be adding Katherine lectures to our lecture/performances roster in support of the book's publication, along with Catskill Traditional Music (both) and Women in Balladry. (Liza)  (Please see our Workshops page for a complete list of workshops and lectures.)

 

This month:  We are looking forward to a double duo evening on September 23 with Jean Rohe and Liam Robinson.  We watched Jean grow up through our involvement with the Folk Project of Northern NJ, from a 5-year-old prodigy to a poised young writer and performer.  We are very excited to be hosting her and Liam here in Berea.  The concert will be at the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, 7:30 P.M.  Jean has been a MacDowell fellow, an ASCAP award-winner, and recipient of the Audience Favorite Award at the Montreaux Jazz Festival.  Her unflinching alternative national anthem “Arise, Arise,” performed here at Berea three years ago by the Folk-Roots Ensemble, was included in “Rise Up Again,” the sequel to the famed “Rise Up Singing” songbook.  Come, and be prepared for a wonderful night of music.

 

A.J. continues his accompanying work with the Berea Country Dancers and the dance classes here at the college.  He toured China this summer with the Berea Festival Dancers, and came back with several new instruments for which he is already composing music.  

 

Liza will be singing Appalachian ballads at a special event at Eastern Kentucky University on September 29, at 5 and again at 7 at the Grand Reading Room, Crabbe Library, to celebrate the release of Richard Underwood’s “Murder Ballads:  True Crime Stories from Southern Murder Ballads” book, which recounts the true story behind some Appalachian murder ballads.  Join us for a night of musical murder and mayhem.

 ​

Mastering our new CD "My Lord, What a Morning" has fallen to the back burner for now, though that album is recorded…we hope to have it out by Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, we are booking concerts, house concerts, and events for December at this time.  Our Wassail program, featuring music from "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In," is well-suited to churches, concerts, and house concerts.  A house concert, up close and personal, is a wonderful gift to give your friends. Connection, reflection, community - these are things we could all use more of.

 

Our schedule of locales looks to be as follows:

December 1-2, Berea College Christmas Celebration (the same event that was televised nationally on WCBS TV last year)

December 3-8 Kentucky and environs, dates open.  

December 8 - Willow Valley Communities, Lancaster, PA

December 10 - Berea, KY, tentative house concert

December 12-14 - Kentucky and environs

December 15-17 - Upstate NY, tentative house concert, date tba

December 22- Tentative House Concert in Lancaster, PA area

December 23-24 - Lancaster, PA and environs

There will also be a concert at First Christian Church, Berea, date tbd.

Please contact us if you would like to have Liza & A.J. add the gift of music to your holiday season.

​​

Peace and Syncopation,

Liza & A.J

muzfctry@gmail.com 

lizadisavino@gmail.com​

__________________________________

August 2017

As we wrap up our summer here in the beautiful Catskill Mountains in the Northern Appalachians before heading back down South to Kentucky, we have much to reflect on.  

 

We had a great week at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, Maryland (if you haven't gone to this great folk arts school yet, plan on it for next year!), playing, teaching, and seeing old friends.  It was wonderful to spend time with Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, Josh Hisle, Guy Davis, Walt Michael, Jo and Wayne Morrison, Ryan Koons, and so many others.  Prior to that, A.J. went on tour to China with the Berea Country Dancers, bringing back a hulusi and many recordings of music.  (We already have performed an original  piece with hulusi and guitar, "Wu Tao Requests the Honor of Your Company For Lunch." )

 

Liza has finished her book on Katherine Jackson French; it is sitting at the publisher, and she is busy transcribing the last of her ballads, seeing through a one-hundred-year-old promise on the part of Berea College.  She will be lecturing on Katherine at the Womans Department Club of Shreveport in September, date tba. We will be adding Katherine lectures to our lecture/performances roster in support of the book's publication, along with Catskill Traditional Music (both) and Women in Balladry. (Liza)  (Please see our Workshops page for a complete list of workshops and lectures)

 

We have been working on our house in the Catskills, as always, and rehearsing nightly.  We've added bari uke, hulusi, and a beautiful new frame drum to our menu of instruments. We have many beautiful new pieces that we look forward to sharing with you!  Liza has fifteen new pieces and tunes, inspired by life here in the Catskills. Arpi has several as well.

We are offering our four albums for sale here at our website. Please do peruse our "Music" page and feel free to purchase early and often. After all, winter is coming! and with it, Christmas.  What could be better than curling up by the fire with "A Home in the Catskills," or decorating the tree to "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In"?  "Alternative Medicine" is unfortunately once again apropos to the troubles of the era in which we live,  and "Melodicism" is sure to lift your spirits in these troubled times.  There have also been some requests for Liza's first studio album, "A Single Hope," so we are making that available here as well.

Mastering our new CD "My Lord, What a Morning" has fallen to the back burner for now, though that album is recorded..we hope to have it out by Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, we are booking concerts, house concerts, and events for December at this time.  Our Wassail program, featuring music from "Lift the Latch and Let Us Come In," is well-suited to churces, concerts, and house concerts.  A house concert, up close and personal, is a wonderful gift to give your friends. Connection, reflection, community - these are things we could all use more of.

 

Our schedule of locales looks to be as follows:

December 1-2, Berea College Christmas Celebration (the same event that was televised nationally on WCBS tv last year)

December 3-8 Kentucky and environs, dates open.  

December 8 - Willow Valley Communities, Lancaster, PA

December 10 - Berea, KY, tentative house concert

December 12-14 - Kentucky and environs

December 15-17 - Upstate NY, tentative house concert, date tba

December 22- Tentative House Concert in Lancaster, PA area

December 23-24 - Lancaster, PA and environs

Please contact us if you would like to have Liza & A.J. add the gift of music to your holiday season.

muzfctry@gmail.com

lizadisavino@gmail.com

Peace and Syncopation,

Liza & A.J

2017 Liza DiSavino and A.J. Bodnar