Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

Dearest Home Performs Music from the Civil War

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Dec 19, 2013 4:55 PM

The music group Dearest Home recreates traditional early American music from a number of different eras, including performing authentic music from the time of the U.S. Civil War in period costume. Beth and Stephen Folkemer are the founders of the group.  Beth plays guitar and mountain dulcimer, Stephen plays concertina, piano and reed organ.  Their daughter, Margaret Folkemer, also performs with the group, singing lead and playing pennywhistle. The other members are bassist Christ Barnabei, fiddler and banjo-player Chuck Krepley and flugelhorn player Charles Thompson. Most of the members also provide vocals.

They perform throughout the region and have released a self-titled recording of period songs.  A schedule of area performances and information about their album is available at their website.  Many of the members of the group are also a part of the Celtic music group Cormorant’s Fancy, playing their own arrangements of traditional Scottish and Irish tunes. Both groups appear on witf’s Center Stage, playing seasonal music on December 28.

Dearest Home is also working with a large collection of unpublished songs from the Samuel Bayard collection.  Bayard was an internationally known folklorist and musicologist who taught at Penn State. From 1928 to 1963 he travelled rural areas in in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia collecting the traditional tunes of the region from elderly people he met. He released two volumes of fife and fiddle tunes, but his collection of over 550 songs was never published.

Beth Folkemer has been working with the material, indexing the handwritten manuscripts and finding some of the most suitable songs to record. The Dearest Home album contains three songs from the collection, and Beth has plans to record more.

Below you can hear our interview with Beth and hear some samples of the music of Dearest Home.

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