A Traditional Folk Music Concert

April 6, 2002


— Debby McClatchy —

Debby McClatchy ebby McClatchy brought her brand of Appalachian roots music to our stage tonight, and wowed the audience with her strong clear voice and virtuloso banjo frailing. Her own composition played on her obstinate guitar (which fought against being tuned) was quite humorous, and her fiddling and clogging added variety to her show. Her brand of music recalls our American musical heritage played in the parlors and back porches of our forebears, — which brought joy to their lives, just as she brought this same joy to ours tonight.

hough Debby McClatchy has lived most of her adult life near Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, in the Appalachian Mountains, she was born in San Francisco in 1945. Her roots on her fatherís side include a great-great grandfather who came from Ulster to be a Ď49er in the gold rush, and then founded northern Californiaís leading newspaper, The Sacramento Bee. Her roots on her motherís side include Thomas Jefferson's father.

ix San Francisco with a mother who grew up in the Smoky Mountains near Knoxville, Tenessee, who sang Carter family songs as lullabies, music hall songs for fun, and might yodel after a little creme de menthe — and you have the great influences on the way she lives her life, and on her music ...

rowing up amongst such a sense of history and diverse musical heritage solidly underpins McClatchy's deep knowledge and respect for the origins of the music she makes. Her powerful songwriting and occasional use of contemporary material are directly related to and rooted in her ingrained sense of the traditional forms of the music.

n San Francisco, back in the 1960s, McClatchy was playing in ceilidh and old-time string bands. Going solo, she became a full-time, professional touring musician, first going to Britain and Europe in 1968. During 1999 she made her 25th visit to Britain.

ebby McClatchy is an expert entertainer with wit and imagination. While she plays a variety of acoustic instruments, when touring she just totes her 1907 Bacon 'FF Professional' banjo and maybe a fiddle. She is recognized as one of the finest frailed-banjo players in the accompanying style and is reknowned for her banjo and singing workshops. Her combination of goodtime, old-time banjo, glorious singing — with occasional outbreaks of mountain fiddling and freestyle Appalachian stepping — has made her a favorite.

Read these reviews of Debby's most recent album, 'til the Good Times Come, to hear what the experts think.


  • " ... as ever, her choice of material is impeccable ... treated with respect but not reverence ... old-timey and vaudeville music as it should be played ... !"
      Folk Roots

  • "McClatchy has no difficulty turning back the clock and turning on the charm of old-timey music."
      The Washington Post

  • "Debby McClatchy certainly knows how to sing old-time music. Her rich, expressive voice envelops each selection, making even familiar songs distinctly her own. She is one of the best old-time banjo players around; something that people who admire her singing often overlook."
      The Old Time Herald

  • "Debby McClatchy has shown herself to be one of our most indefatigable collectors and flawless interpreters of American traditional music. There's a way McClatchy wraps her resonant alto voice around a song that brings a real warmth and presence to this material. She's a treasure."
      Sing Out!


Link to a music clip:           Link to more of Debby's albums and clips: