“MUSIC OF THE SEASON, FROM OTTAWA TO THE OZARKS”
Growing up, musicians Joe Newberry & April Verch absorbed traditions of home and hearth–in his Missouri Ozarks and her Ottawa Valley of Canada. The holidays have always been a special time of year for both, with the lure of family and friends, festive decorations, gifts under the tree, and always…. music. So now, each year the duo sets out in a modern day sleigh (with four-wheel drive) to perform their eagerly anticipated holiday tour. Original songs join timeless hymns. Stories warm the heart and give a twinkle to the eye. Lively fiddle and banjo numbers combine with traditional dance steps to illustrate happy times when people made their own fun at the holidays, and all year long. Make your holiday concert list, and check it twice… Newberry & Verch are coming to town!
Newberry & Verch
Joe Newberry and April Verch are masters of their traditions. For these veteran performers who come from distinct traditions and parts of the world, their collaboration is fueled by their kindred passion for bringing people together to celebrate traditional music. Tunes, ballads, step dancing, and original songs by way of Canada and the Ozarks ring like silver and shine like gold. Their voices blend in harmony, their tasteful instrumentals prove that these masters have nothing left to prove, and their feet kick up the dust in perfect rhythm. When these two hit the stage, they make audiences remember why this music existed in the first place.
Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. His powerful and innovative banjo playing, as well as his songwriting, guitar skills, fiddling, and singing has delighted audiences around the world.
Joe’s songwriting is characterized by the same clean, elegant style as his banjo playing, and his songs are often recorded by artists in the folk and bluegrass world. The Gibson Brothers’ version of his song “Singing As We Rise,” featuring guest vocalist Ricky Skaggs, won the 2012 IBMA Gospel Recorded Performance award. In 2013, Joe shared co-writing honors with Eric Gibson for the IBMA Song of the Year, “They Called It Music.”
Joe was a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and was recently featured on the Transatlantic Sessions tour in the United Kingdom with fiddler Aly Bain and Dobro master Jerry Douglas. In addition to performing solo, Joe plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton, and sits in the banjo chair with old-time music legends Mike Craver, Bill Hicks, and Jim Watson.
A noted teacher of traditional music and song, Joe has taught at numerous camps and festivals, including Ashokan, Pinewoods Camp, Vocal Week and Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center, the Australia National Folk Festival, the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week, and the Bluff Country Gathering. For many years he served as coordinator of Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV. He also teaches at weekend vocal workshops around the country with singing partner Val Mindel.
Joe grew up in a family full of singers and dancers. He took up the guitar and banjo as a teenager and learned fiddle tunes from great Missouri fiddlers. He came to North Carolina as a young man and quickly became an anchor of the incredible music scene in the state. Still going strong more than 30 years later, he does solo and studio work, and plays and teaches at festivals and workshops in North America and abroad.
Fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch knows how relevant an old tune can be. She was raised surrounded by living, breathing roots music—her father’s country band rehearsing; the lively music at church and at community dances; the tunes she rocked out to win fiddle competitions. She thought every little girl learned to stepdance at the age of three and fiddle at the age of six. She knew nothing else and decided early on that she wanted to be a professional musician.
She took that leap, and for over two decades has been recording and captivating audiences worldwide, exploring new and nuanced places each step of the way. On February 17, 2017, she released The April Verch Anthology (Slab Town Records), an 18-track collection celebrating her life’s work. Hand-picked by Verch, the songs on this compilation offer an enchanting mix of regional Canadian, American old-time, bluegrass, country and Americana tracks.
The April Verch Anthology is a testament to the many chapters in Verch’s musical journey. Moving from exuberant stepdancer to fiddle wunderkind and silver-voiced singer; from upstart prodigy to mature and reflective songwriter, interpreter, and storyteller. The compilation is an excursion through Verch’s 1998-2015 recordings, featuring tunes and songs dear to Verch as well as a healthy dose of fan favorites and two newly recorded tracks. “Through this anthology, I am reminded of the inspirations with which I began and of the hopes I hold for the future. I take a moment to reflect and to celebrate,” says Verch.
While Verch is perhaps best known for playing traditional fiddle styles from her native Ottawa Valley, Canada, her performances extend into old-time American and Appalachian styles and far beyond, for a well-rounded tour-de-force of North Americana sounds. Verch and her fellow trio members pare down their arrangements, highlighting the simple pleasures of upright bass, guitar, clawhammer banjo, voices, fiddle, and stepping in intimate conversation. At the heart lie Verch’s delicate voice, energetic footwork, and stunning playing. Sometimes she sings, steps and fiddles all at once, with apparent ease and precision. Verch is – as they say – a triple threat in performance, her live show a beautiful companion to her music: versatile, robust, and masterfully executed.
Verch began her full time touring career in 2000 and has performed around the world, including festival, theatre and performing arts centre appearances in Canada, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates. She also presents workshops, master classes, and lectures as part of her tours and at selected music camps.
Verch won’t be the one to tell you about her championship titles, nominations, and awards, or the fact that she was one of 6 fiddlers who represented the Canadian fiddle tradition to the world at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, as part of a segment called “Fiddle Nation”. Instead, in speaking with her, you’ll hear about how passionate she is about sharing her music; in small gatherings in remote communities in Iqaluit, to large prestigious concert halls like Mozartsal in Vienna.
Even as she plays with the tradition she inherited, Verch keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners. It’s why Rolling Stone cited her “One of the 12 best things we saw at MerleFest in 2016.”
“Just as contemporary bluegrass has Alison Krauss as an ambassador, the Ottawa Valley has April Verch,” said NPR’s Marco Werman on The World. And Verch never forgets the roots of her music, that connection to the people out there in the audience, on the dance floor, to the community sparked by a good song. “It’s about joining together to celebrate everyday life, through music. We’re all in this together.”
The Chenango Craftsman Sessions are an occasional series of concerts and live recording events which take place at the home of Sarah Gerk and Andru Bemis in the Northside of Binghamton, New York. Because of the intimate nature of the space, sessions are by invitation only. This can come from a performer’s newsletter or website, through our periodic email newsletter (sign up here), or from an acquaintance, family member, or other guest.
Recordings from the Chenango Craftsman Sessions are broadcast during the Audio Classics Local Music Hour on WBDY-LP 99.5 FM, Binghamton’s new community radio station. The Local Music Hour airs weekdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and weekends at 7 p.m.
100% of audience donations go directly to the artist. To ensure a seat for you at the performance, we encourage you to make your donation in advance. Guests without advance reservations may donate—cash or check—at the concert, and will be seated according to availability. Reasonably well-behaved kiddos and babies are always welcome.
Doors open at 6:30 pm. Join us for potluck-style food, snacks and drinks before the concert, if you wish. Don’t feel that you must bring something to be included; there’s enough for everybody. Music starts at 7:30 pm. April and Joe will play till 9 pm or so. Feel free to stay and visit after the performance, and don’t be afraid to arrive late or leave early if your schedule requires it.
We’re looking forward to seeing you on the 16th!
If you have questions or would like more information, contact Andru.