Rolling Hills Radio To Feature Traditional Folk Acts

The next episode of “Rolling Hills Radio” will give area residents the opportunity to catch two noteworthy folk artists.

“Rolling Hills Radio” episode No. 21, featuring John C. Merino and Maria Gillard, is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at The Labyrinth Press Co. in Jamestown.

According to Ken Hardley, show host, an episode with veteran folk musician Gillard and Jamestown native Merino is going to be one not to be missed.

“It worked out great that these two are going to be on the show together because they are both folk artists,” said Hardley. “Shows like this are often geared towards folk music and so are venues like the Labyrinth.”

Gillard, a singer, songwriter and music educator from Finger Lakes, reminds Hardley of what Merino refers to as the “great folk scare of the early 1960s.” It’s her first time appearing on the show. And Hardley, who hosts a live radio interview with the guest artists each episode, cannot wait to chat with her.

“Maria reminds me of that era of folk music because she sings genuinely, is unselfconsciously a folk musician and writes her own stuff,” said Hardley. “She’ll definitely make a good interview because she’s very knowledgeable, interesting and really sweet.”

Gillard has a bachelor’s degree in music from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. She currently directs the vocal jazz ensemble at Finger Lakes Community College in addition to being a private voice, piano and guitar teacher. She also leads a four-piece, Rochester-based swing and jazz band. She has three studio albums available, including “Mending,” which was released in October. The album features other musicians who have in the past appeared on “Rolling Hills Radio,” including Steve Piper and Scott Regan. Plus, Gillard is often commissioned to write “made-to-order songs,” which are tunes with a personal message that are meant as gifts. For more information visit www.mariagillard.com.

On the other hand Merino has appeared on the show twice before. According to Hardley, one of the many cool things about Merino is that he was actually at the original Woodstock.

“He is very well connected in the folk scene,” said Hardley. “He knows a lot of famous people, interacts with them and has actually traveled with them. Ramblin Jack Elliott is probably the prototype of the traveling folk musician, and he is a good friend of John’s. He is also in The Amazing Dr. Zarcon’s Breathing Machine Jug Band, which played at The Great Blue Heron festival a couple years back. They recorded their first album at the Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock.”

Merino was also instrumental in bringing several prominent musicians to Jamestown such as Eric Andersen and Geoff Muldaur. For more information visit www.merinomusic.com.

“The last time John was on the show, I said to him, ‘John I’d like to just do an hour of interviewing with you,’ and he said, ‘Why, was my playing that bad?'” said Hardley. “John’s playing is actually very unique to this area. He plays Mississippi John Hurt style by doing a really great finger-picking style. It’s so unique and he does it so well that the 10,000 Maniacs chose to have him play on their new album ‘Music From The Motion Picture.’ John plays on the cut ‘Clouds.’ In the intro John is playing by himself. Then the band fades in, and at the end the band fades out and it’s John playing by himself again.”

Hardley is also looking forward to episode 22 on Thursday, March 28, because Dennis Drew and Jeff Erickson will perform in an intimate setting that offers an experience much different from what people see with 10,000 Maniacs.

Tickets to the Feb. 28 show are available for $5 at the Reg Lenna Civic Center ticket office, online at reglenna.com or at the door while they last. The Labyrinth Press Co. is located at 12 E. Fourth St. in Jamestown. A meet and greet will be held at Forte on Third Street following the performance. The show will debut on WRFA-LP, 107.9, on Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m.

The season finale of “Rolling Hills Radio,” featuring10,000 Maniacs, is scheduled for Sunday, July 28, at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater. The show will be longer than the normal episodes and will involve more variety by including performances by John Latini and Cammy Enaharo, as well as some comedy and interviewing.

For more information, search for “Rolling Hills Radio” on Facebook, or visit wrfalp.wordpress.com/rolling-hills-radio to purchase tickets, stream WRFA’s broadcast debut of each show or listen to previous performances.