Saturday, November 20, 2004

Russ Rentler
on the same program with
Maria Fairchild

Russ Rentler

RUSS RENTLER uss started playing stringed instruments with his first ukulele in 5th grade purchased with S+H Green stamps in Dover, NJ. After a brief stint in heavy metal bands in high school he discovered bluegrass which led to a life-long love of acoustic music. At his first night at Moravian College, he met John Gorka where they were both playing at an open mic. They soon formed a band with Doug Anderson and were joined the following year by Rich Shindell on lead guitar. Russ was the mandolin player, John played incredible 5 string banjo and Doug Andersen provided the solid rock rhythm on his custom made Froggy Bottom guitars. Tim Germer later joined as bass player. Throughout all four years of college, they played around the Lehigh Valley centering around Godfrey Daniel's and the southside of Bethlehem, PA.

fter college, Russ went to medical school, Doug received a Ph.D. and needless to say, John and Rich went on to well-deserved fame and glory in the folk music world.

uring his medical training, Russ continued to pursue his passion of acoustic music and picked up hammer and mountain dulcimer, fiddle, dobro, autoharp and bouzouki. He also started building his own hammer dulcimers and uses his own instruments on stage. While continuing to practice general internal medicine, Russ played every chance he could at local bookstores, churches, open mics and music festivals. On several of Gorka's return trips to the Lehigh Valley, Russ has joined him on stage.

uss has recently closed his practice of medicine and is now pursuing his life-long dream and passion of performing original and traditional music. He counts Bob Dylan, John McCutcheon and Walt Michaels as major influences in his style.

e recently won the "Gold Prize" in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriters Association contest for his instrumental tune on hammer dulcimer Planxty Fluharty, which he will be performing live at the Hard Rock Café in Washington DC in November at the awards ceremony. We expect to hear this composition live on our Hard Luck Café stage; we look forward to something very special.

ambles, a Celtic Culture Online Magazine, has praised his newest CD Acoustic Minstrel with an on-line review on, saying that his "music lifts spirits, cures the blues and may help us think better ...".

onight, Russ opened with a dazzling tune on the hammered dulcimer with the hammers flying. His overall performance was a terrific mix of folk, celtic and blues-inspired tunes with multiple instrument changes interspersed with his off-beat humor and wry observations about events in his life, including his stomache churning entry into Manhattan from the Lincoln Tunnel that exacerbated his irritable bowel syndrome and had him choking on his Altoids. His was a most pleasurable set.

Link to Russ's website:         Listen to Russ's music:

and on the same program

Maria Fairchild

Maria Fairchild aria Fairchild excels in the traditional Appalachian style of banjo playing known as clawhammer or frailing. She plays 19th century dance tunes, sings ballads and work songs from America’s past, and speaks of the people and times that produced this unforgettable music.

aria is one of those rare performers who really inhabits the stage. She is a splendid instrumentalist — in particular she is a virtuoso clawhammer banjo player and a great singer. Authentic Quebecois songs and Old Time banjo music are tied together by Maria's sly and engaging wit. Her unique ability to make traditional material feel contemporary and accessible along with her sparkling stage presence makes Maria's performances a compelling and memorable experience.

he has performed in major folk venues on both coasts as well as in Canada and England. She has previously performed at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, the Portland Folklore Society in Oregon, the Vancouver Folk Song Society in Canada, the Cecil Sharp House in London, England and locally at LITMA and the UU Fellowship of Huntington.

n addition to performing as a featured solo artist, Maria is currently working with Larry Moser and Mary Nagin in the contradance band Dance All Night.

onight was her debut appearance at our Hard Luck Café, and we expect it will not be her last. Her voice is strong, crisp and clear, and quite beautiful. Her selection of traditional tunes was varied and scintillating, and her introductions were both personal and informative. She was joined on a few of the melodies by Blake Hanson on the fiddle, which provided a perfect complement.

Praises for her recent performance at UUFH:

  • "I just wanted to tell you again how wonderful you were on Saturday night. When you perform, you sparkle. It’s a delight to watch you and to hear you."

Our host tonight was Scott MacDonald, and our open mike featured performances by:

  • Claude Margouleff
  • Steve Robinson
  • John Bechhoff
  • Nick Vermitsky
  • Nick Ventresca
  • Alan Michaelson
  • Bob Campbell
  • Walter Sargent
  • James O'Malley
  • J.R. Agolia
  •   ... and   Ken Bowgort
  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...