10 p.m. to Midnight Host: Steve Winters
This is an especially sad show. American folk music lost three of its stellar performers this month: John Herald, Hedy West and Helen Bonchek Schneyer. This edition of “Profiles in Folk” is an all-too-brief tribute to their music, their personages and their place in American folk music history.
John Herald was one a founder with Bob Yellin Eric Weissberg in the late 1950s of The Greenbriar Boys, one of the first “Yankee” bluegrass bands. They became the first band from the North to win the Galax Fiddler’s Convention in Virginia. Herald was an elegant guitarist and a fine yodeler and was a regular on the folk and bluegrass scene for more than four decades. After the break up of The Greenbriar Boys in the late 1960s, Herald performed solo and with the John Herald Band and the Woodstock Mountain Revue. At the time of his July 18 death, he was 65.
Hedy West was an exquisite performer of American traditional songs, perhaps best known during the folk revival of the late 1950s and 1960s for composing/adapting “500 Miles” and “Pans Of Biscuits.” She died July 3 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Although she hailed from the mountains of Georgia, she was a well-educated woman who came to New York City to study classical music and flute. That was where she heard urban college students singing music that was a large part of her family and native state’s tradition. She recorded a few legendary albums for Vanguard Records and Topic/Folk-Legacy and then moved on primarily to teaching with limited performing. She lived for a number of years in England and Germany before returning to the United States and Long Island in 1970
Helen Bonchek Schneyer was an integral part of the Greater Washington, D.C., folk music scene for decades before moving to Vermont about 18 years ago. She possessed an extremely rich voice and an expansive knowledge of folk song. She wasn’t shy and retiring. She was feisty but warm and full of musical surprises. She recorded three albums (two of them on Folk-Legacy) and friends said she was preparing to release a new album at the time of her death on July 16.
We opened this show with selections from Richie Havens and Tracy Grammer, both of whom are appearing in Bridgeport in the next week.