Sat. 5/19, 6:30pm, $10: Family Dance & Cakewalk!
8pm: Big Ol’ Square Dance!!
American Legion Hall Post 206, 227 N. Ave. 55, 90042
Joe Wack was first enthralled by old time music as an art student in West Virginia University in the early ’70′s. From that time he has maintained the dual vocations of musician and artist. As a banjo player, he was an original founder of the still-active WV stringband Stewed Mulligan. Since moving to the L.A. area in ’93, he has worked in animation as a character designer in the long-running TV series The Simpsons, all the while playing fiddle, guitar, and banjo with friends and his fiddler wife Katherine. He especially enjoys the repertoire of his native West Virginia. Joe will be joined by his frequent musical companions Steve Lewis and Laura Osborn. Steve started playing old-time banjo the same year he began his teaching career, and since then has been a regular performer at dances and festivals throughout southern California. For ten years he has hosted the monthly old-time jam at Encino, and he produces the 4th Saturday Contradance in Brentwood. Steve is also a member of the dance band The Screaming Earwigs. Laura Osborn has been a lifelong musician, performing and teaching flute in the Los Angeles area for almost twenty years. While enjoying a robust family life with her husband and two children, she finds time whenever possible to play old-time music on guitar, banjo, and banjo-uke.
The Flat Rock Stringband, from Portland, Oregon, plays old-time American stringband music with an emphasis on fiddle driven dance tunes. Although the members of band come from disparate parts of the country (Texas, Ohio, Washington, and California), it has been the years spent around Portland’s lively Old-Time music and dance scene that has given the band their old-time music foundation.
Fiddler Linnea Spitzer is a native of Custer, Washington. In addition to playing in The Flat Rock Stringband and other square dance bands in Portland, she was one of the original members of Bellingham Washington’s Mighty Ghosts Heaven.
Brooks Masten has been playing banjo since 1992 in various old time bands. In 1999 Brooks started his career as a banjo maker and has been making banjos full time since 2005. He has made hundreds of handmade banjos for folks across the U.S. as well as Scotland, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, UK, Australia and Japan.
As a youth in Dayton, Ohio, Eric Bagdonas was introduced to old-time music by his uncle and aunt, both string band musicians and cloggers, but was re-introduced to the music upon moving to Portland. It was Eric’s brother Brian who encouraged him to take the step from punk rock bassist and trade his amp for a banjo.
Robin Wilcox grew up in Texas where she was forced to listen to county music and dabbled with the piano and trumpet. Robin discovered old time music when she snuck into the Portland Old Time Gathering (who knew they let everyone else in for free, too?). She’s played bass with Ebenezer and the honky tonk band Ric-Rac, and later Eric recruited her for the old time band Salmonfly Stringband and then Flat Rock.
As much of a tune session between friends as a band, Flat Rock plays the music in the manner that we imagine the old-timers must have: to renew themselves after a day of work, to ennoble the joys of the day or to sweeten its troubles, and to just kick back and enjoy the evening.
While the sky unleashes on us Portlanders for six months straight every year, we’re rocking out in living rooms, rental halls, and pubs with fiddles and banjos, dancing, playing tunes, and enjoying each other’s company.
Amy Hofer is another Californian who moved up to Portland OR. She fiddles, calls square dances, and helps put on the Every Sunday Square Dance. By day she is a librarian.