Saturday, May 21, 2005

Franklin Taggart
on the same program with
Bernie Stolls

Franklin Taggart

ranklin Taggart writes songs that not only reflect the experiences of his own life, but give voice to the unspoken hopes and longings common to us all. With musical influences beginning with late night listening to border AM radio stations and expanding to include jazz legends, great songwriters and flatpicking guitar masters, Franklin's music features strong chords, simple melodies and real life lyrics. He says, "I like music that sounds simple, but within its simplicity I like it to be interesting".

rawing on experiences as diverse as herding sheep, pouring concrete, crisis counseling, selling church choir music and teaching, Franklin finds much to write about. Songs of his from his CD Falling All the Way like "Climb That Mountain", "Falling All The Way", and "Heart On The Line" draw people together to celebrate both their strength and their fragility.

n concert, his audience can expect enthusiastic performances, spontaneous dialogue, and intriguing stories. People leave his performances feeling like they've had a personal conversation, a bit of encouragement and a hell of a lot of fun.

ranklin is affiliated with ASCAP, the Washington Area Music Association, and the International Folk Music and Dance Alliance. He plays a Taylor 25th Anniversary 310-MCE guitar and uses catoctin pottery exclusively. He buys all of his clothes at JCPenney and is particularly fond of cotton pajama bottoms and white t-shirts with a pocket.

e has left junk food behind for the most part in favor of organic, locally grown food. His favorite chef, Monica, runs a great catering company, the Basic Feast. He reluctantly agreed to take yoga classes at ISSA Center in Takoma Park, but secretly loves them. His favorite band is Zeala, a hot, all woman funk band. He gets more cranky as he gets older.

e had a great deal of fun at this, Franklin's debut appearance on our Hard Luck Café stage! ... we look forward to his next visit to our stages.

Link to his website:    

Listen to his music:  


and on the same program


Bernie Stolls

ernie Stolls grew up in the Bronx listening to the music of Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, and Burl Ives. He learned to play the guitar, and as an older teenager, working at a camp on Lake George, he got to hear 5-string banjo music first hand. It was love at first sound. He took up the banjo then, and soon became the camp¹s resident folksinger, affectionately known as 'Bernie Banjo'.

e married, started raising a family, and moved to Long Island some 38 years ago, but all the while kept strong ties to the world of folk music. In the summer of '78, at Pinewoods Camp Folk Music Week, he was introduced to contradance music and the sound of the hammered dulcimer. That soon became his 2nd instrument.

ernie has developed a unique banjo style. When asked what style he plays, it's not a simple answer. In his own words ... "I tell people I'm not a frailing or clawhammer player, and I don't play Scruggs banjo. I started off learning Pete Seeger's up-picking style, and though I'm mostly self-taught, I took Scruggs (Bluegrass) banjo lessons for about two years. The right-hand technique was great, but after two years I knew I didn't want to be a Bluegrass banjo picker. I integrated this right-hand technique with Pete Seeger's up-picking style, added in some other finger picking styles and here I am ... don't have a name for it! A number of years ago I started playing a Dobro Banjo."

hen Bernie applies his unique style to his equally unique 5-String Dobro Banjo, he dispels the notion that 'mellow 5-string banjo music' is an oxymoron.

n the 1980s Bernie performed with an Irish band called 'The Mayors of Dublin', four non-Irish lads playing and singing Irish folk music, and in the 1990s with a singing trio called 'Aged In The Wood'. He may have come full circle for the Folk Music Society of Huntington — on November 4, 1978, he gave a concert for us and has a CD to prove it.

emember a local contradance band called Raw Bits? Bernie played hammered dulcimer with them in the 1980's — and you may know Bernie through his hammered dulcimer playing with the LITMA Contradance Orchestra (he became the orchestra Director in January 2004), but he is first and foremost an accomplished banjo player.

his was a session of wonderful folksongs, banjo instrumentals, a couple of hammered dulcimer tunes, and a repertoire ranging from the outrageously witty to the seriously sublime. Bernie's wide ranging selection was appreciated and enjoyed by all.


Our host tonight was Karen Finkenberg, and our open mike featured performances by:

  • Claude Margouleff
  • Bill Lauter
  • Samuel P. Lazow
  • Richard Barnhart
  • Alan Michaelson
  • Bob Mist
  • Dave Waxman
  • Larry Moser & Mary Nagin
  •   ... and   Tim Atwell
  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...