Book Binder headlines 25th Delmarva Folk Festival

Veteran bluesman and story teller Roy Book Binder will perform at the 25th annual Delmarva Folk Festival Saturday night at Fields Farm near Kenton. The day will feature a wide array of music featuring local, regional and national acts. (Submitted photo)

Veteran bluesman and story teller Roy Book Binder will perform at the 25th annual Delmarva Folk Festival Saturday night at Fields Farm near Kenton. The day will feature a wide array of music featuring local, regional and national acts. (Submitted photo)

The Delaware Friends of Folk will celebrate a quarter-century of making music this weekend with the 25th annual Delmarva Folk Festival near Hartly.

It all starts tonight with the 10th annual Delmarva Folk Hero Contest and continues Saturday with a lineup of folk, blues, bluegrass, old-time and Celtic music, along with workshops, kids’ activities and craft, food and beer vendors.

Headlining this year’s event is singer-songwriter and storytelling bluesman Roy Book Binder.

Traveling the world for the past 50 years, Mr. Book Binder’s repertoire includes blues, country, bluegrass, folk and popular songs that originated on Tin Pan Alley.

He traveled with blues legend, the Rev. Gary Davis, in the late ’60s and recorded his first of 12 albums in 1971.

Best Bets logo -NEWIn the late ’80s, he opened for Bonnie Raitt on an East Coast tour, which included an appearance on The Grand Old Opry. He made more than 30 appearances on The Nashville Network Show “Nashville Now” and was part of the trio The Hillbilly Blues Cats.

With such roots in bluegrass, blues and country, many are surprised to learn he was born in Queens. New York. He never even heard these types of music until he was in the Navy.

“The live music I was seeing and hearing growing up were those Alan Free rock ‘n’ roll shows with Buddy Holly and Little Richard. I loved Ray Charles too. I think I liked Buddy the best because he had the same glasses as me,” said the 72-year-old Mr. Book Binder Tuesday afternoon by phone just after he rolled in to a gig in Reston, Virginia.

“Looking back, I realize now that the music was much like Afro-American blues.”

It was while serving in Europe that he got bit by the blues bug.

“There was a kid from Oklahoma who played the guitar. There was a kid from Texas, who had a Lightin’ Hopkins record and a kid from Brooklyn who had all of this Jack Kerouac literature. So I started to think about being a blues beatnik. I guess you should be careful what you wish for,” he said.

He said blues music was unlike anything he had ever heard before.

“It just tickled my ear,” he said.

Buying his first guitar on a military base in Italy, after his return to New York, he started to take lessons from the Rev. Davis.

“He influenced me tremendously. He taught guitar lessons for five dollars. After a couple of lessons, I said ‘I’ve got 50 dollars and I’m going on the road with you.’ He laughed at me but as he was getting ready to leave, he said ‘Show up with your 50 bucks.’ I did and he carried me the rest of the way.”

He said he came into the business in between musical movements.

“When I was starting out in Greenwich Village around 1965, folk singing was starting to die out. Bob (Dylan) was starting to go electric. But there were still some good hootenannies around, which are called open mics now. You had people like Janis Ian and Richie Havens. This was pre-Woodstock so he was just one of the guys back then.”

During a 15-year span starting in 1976, Mr. Book Binder toured nonstop in a motor home. In a 1992 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, he said he knew every rest stop from New Jersey to San Francisco and hoped one day to get a rest stop named after him.

Asked this week whether he ever achieved that goal, he joked, “No. Every rest stop I see has the word ‘Memorial’ after the name and I’m not ready to cash it in yet.”

These days, he tours six months out of the year and spends the rest at home with his wife in St. Petersburg, Florida. His tour schedule starts yearly at MerleFest in North Carolina in May and he usually wraps up around Thanksgiving.

“I don’t call what I do a ‘career.’ I call it a ‘lifestyle,’” he said.

“The motor home changed my life. Performing in the early days in Greenwich Village, you’d do a gig where people would have you sleep on their couch and say ‘The cats won’t mind.’ Or after the gig, they’d invite you to a pickin’ party and expect you to perform more music. But I only know about 60 songs. People think I’m anti-social but I don’t know how to jam.”

After almost a half-century in the music business, he said he still lives for performing. Part of the reason for that is his ability to perform on his own terms. He never plays a place that he wouldn’t want to visit and he has his own record label.

“I learned a long time ago that nobody knows what you need better than you know yourself,” Mr. Book Binder said.

“So I’ve always self-managed myself, booked my own gigs and for the most part, recorded on my own terms.”

He thinks his days of recording are over. ‘I’m a pretty slow writer and there’s no point in recording more of Gary Davis’ or “Mississippi” John Hurt’s music anymore,” he said.

So now he’s content to go from town to town and gig to gig until Thanksgiving rolls around.

“I never had dreams of making real big because I knew this music was never going to be really popular,” he said.

“But it’s been an amazing life for a kid from Jamaica, Queens.”

As noted, the festival starts tonight on Fields Farm at 352 Downs Chapel Road with the Delmarva Folk Hero Contest.

This year’s host will be comedy musician Todd Chappelle, who won last year’s Folk Hero Contest.

The winner will receive:

• $100 cash

• A noon performance slot on the Main Stage Saturday

• An invitation to appear with Mark Rogers live on the air on WSTW 93.7’s “Hometown Heroes” show

• Recording studio time with Digital Street Studio in Dover, which includes two hours for recording and two hours for mixing, editing and mastering.

Local favorite Crabmeat Thompson will perform at the Delmarva Folk Festival Saturday at 6 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Local favorite Crabmeat Thompson will perform at the Delmarva Folk Festival Saturday at 6 p.m. (Submitted photo)

This year’s contestants will be Joe Cahill, Molly Lyon, Mike Liddicoat, Katherine Rondeaum Harrison Doyle and Hoochi Coochi.

Saturday will see local favorites Joey Fulkerson, Crabmeat Thompson, Celtic Harvest and Sand Creek. Charter Friends of Folk members John and Vicky Lecroy will return from Tennessee. From southeast Pennsylvania, festival newcomers Butter Queen Sister will deliver up-tempo bluegrass while festival veteran Bob Beach will recall the songs of folk guitarist DC Fitzgerald.

Mr. Book Binder wraps up the festival starting at 9 p.m.

Advance tickets can be purchased today for $15 for Delaware Friends of Folk members and $20 for nomembers at the Delaware Store in Dover, B & B Music in Camden and Tip Top Trim Shop in Camden, or at www.delfolk.org.

Tickets at the gate Saturday will be $30 for everyone and admission for tonight’s Folk Hero Contest will be $7.

Mélomanie at Opera House

Saturday night, the group Mélomanie returns to the Smyrna Opera House

Mélomanie presents pairings of early and contemporary works in collaborations with guest performers and composers.

Mélomanie’s early music programming highlights Baroque music performed on period instruments. Their contemporary repertoire features works from the 20th and 21st centuries, including world premieres written especially for the ensemble.

Saturday night’s performance features Eva Ingolf, violinist from Iceland, performing “Raven Thoughts,” written for her by award-winning composer Mark Hagerty, along with Scandinavian Baroque music and a special arrangement for Mélomanie of Icelandic folk songs.

The show is at 7:30. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets are $16, $14 members, senior citizens and military, and $8 for children younger than 12.

They can be purchased by calling 653-4236, visiting smyrnaoperahouse.org or stopping by the box office at 7 W. South St.

Coming Alive!

As we told you last week, Alive! 55+ and Kickin’, a show about healing and the transformative power of story and song, comes to the Schwartz Center for the Arts Saturday night.

The show features a blend of gospel, jazz, R&B and pop music. The cast is comprised of everyday people ages 55 and older, from all walks of life representing hard working folks, from a stay-at-home mother to an ordained minister.

The 3 p.m. show is sold out but tickets do remain for the 7 p.m. show and may be purchased online at www.schwartzcenter.com or in person at the Schwartz Center Box Office, 226 S. State St., Dover.

Ticket prices are $40 to $45.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the remake of “The Magnificent Seven” with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt and the animated “Storks 3D.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the action comedy “Central Intelligence” and the thriller “The Shallows.”

To share news of your entertainment group, event or venue, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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