John Specker in Concert

What: Cornell Folk Song Society Concert
When: Saturday, February 7, 2009
Where: 165 McGraw Hall,
Cornell University
How Much: $17/$15 (door/advance) / $12/10 students / usual discounts

John Specker

This fiery, Vermont-based fiddler made his name in the 1970s as the "Father of the Ithaca sound" (Old-Time Herald Magazine, Winter 2000/2001). He fiddled with the Correctones String Band, pioneers with a riveting mix of old-time, Reggae, and African rhythms. Fellow band member Danny Kornblum explains, "We wanted to take ourselves and our dancing friends to another level where the droning buzz of the fiddle and the chunk of the banjo...hung in the air like a ball of fire. We played into that fire to make it grow and burn brighter."

With full respect for, and mastery of, traditional Appalachian music, Specker has profoundly influenced the next generation of old-timey fiddlers. Since the early 1990s, Specker has been a mainstay at the Grassroots and Champlain Valley festivals, legendary for his darkly intense, original style. "On stage, John stomps and screams, whispers and grins, crowds fall to attention, and he works them with professionalism and wit. Truly a wild-eyed fiddling-man from the hills...who plays early American music the way it should be played, with heart. Crazy, crazy heart." (, 2004)

After his move to Vermont in 1978, Specker spent the next 25 years in orchard work, pottery, and raising a family (daughters Lila and Ida Mae are also professional fiddlers who record and often tour with their father). But always, at every available moment through the day and night, he fiddled and sang in a gritty, passionate baritone. Sometimes he played with groups, but more often solo. He created a whole-band sound through the complexity of his bowing technique, with its inventive and dizzyingly fast double and triple stops, while singing and tapping a powerful foot percussion.

About 10 years ago, he made his first solo CD, Old Bunch of Keys. Now he's on the road much of the time, a vital force in the "mountain-music" revival. A strong believer in honest, fresh music-making, Specker is known for one-take recordings that convey the energy of a live performance. But nothing beats the way he drives an audience to near-frenzy.

The Cornell Folk Song Society is delighted to provide this chance to see him in action. Our only regret: even proclaimed non-dancers may feel compelled to take to the floor, but we have limited flat space.

Tickets are available at Ludgate Farm Market, Ithaca Guitar Works, Greenstar Co-op, Small World Music, Bound for Glory, and, if any are left, at the door. You may also order tickets online and by mail: SASE to CFSC, PO Box 481, Ithaca, NY 14851.

(Margaret Shepard)

For information about the concert, contact

More info about John Specker
Folkstuff home page

tcTrailer Logo
Author:Ted Crane
Last Modified:Monday, May 23, 2022 08:34:22
Accessed:4783 times since 2009/01/28
Remote IP: