Let me introduce the group.
The lead fiddler and the group’s founder, John Jacobson, a born and raised Delaware County musician has plenty of energy and enormous love of Catskill Mountains, to share with the band and any audience. John has been playing more than 30 years with variety of local fiddle and dance performers such as Kathy Shimburg, Erik House, Peter Blue, Ernie Scheck and the Little Victory Players. Last summer he worked with adored local performing artist, Hilton Kelly playing Hilt’s tunes and calling dances in a program sponsored by Catskill Folk Connection designed to allow musicians to learn, play and record live music lead by Mr. Kelly. This summer John is hoping to reach a broad audience with in his incredible voice, fiddling, and songs. Being part of a group of musicians who love music and are willing to reach further than their comfort zone while supporting each other. John’s a storyteller who relishes other musicians stories. Jams at John’s always includes good food, laughter, “ya, you’ve got it’, and music for the many. John has many passions: fly fishing, hiking, drawing and photographing the natural world, writing articles and music, stream clean-ups and family.
Playing claw-hammer banjo Ed McGee was the first band member to start playing with John regularly. Ed is a member of the Stoddard Hollow String Band playing the claw-hammer style typical of Appalachian old time music. Claw hammer banjo adds both rhythm and drive. Mr. McGee is inspired by old time southern players such as Fred Cockerham who played with Tommy Jarrell an old time fiddler from northwestern North Carolina. He’s also an Andes Central School teacher. Children who stop over love to see him, which says kids like him. No better compliment for a teacher. Enjoying the outdoors is of great value to Mr. McGee, as it is for the other members of the band.
On the acoustic guitar and vocals, is John Van Benshcoten with deep ancestral ties to Catskill Mountains and Delaware County. Like John Jacobson he knows the people the places and the challenges of Delaware County. He knows the trees, the soils, the fish and something about farming. One of his musical mentors is Bill Keith, well known bluegrass banjo player currently of Woodstock, who travelled and played with Bill Monroe back in 1963. John has played and sung in many other venues pleasing audiences with his earthy, bluesy style on banjo and guitar. Since he has been recently elected as mayor of Margaretville, John has to carefully spend his time. With a new wife Kate, a demanding job and a recent job change in politics John may need one of Mr. Obama’s Blackberries.
Ginny Scheer flutist and one of the founders of the full-fledged regional folk life center, known as the Catskill Folk Connection is also an administrator for the Manhattan School. The school is unique in that it provides frequent opportunities for metropolitan children to participate in rural life predicated on the belief that what we come to know and understand we will value.
Ginny began to play for the best reason a young girl can have, the boy she fancied in 5th grade played the flute. She said she was not a “diligent student”. After college Ginny discovered New England contra dancing but didn’t find opportunities to play here. “So I started a folk music project at the Manhattan Country School that brought together Hilt and Stella Kelly, the Sidekicks, and Peter Blue with our elementary students. At first we worked on a lot of Catskill folk songs with Herb Haufrecht, but it soon became clear the kids wanted to try the instruments. The musicians have been teaching their instruments ever since to our 5th graders who then perform at Kirkside Retirement Home”. About herself Ginny says “Playing with the Tremperskill Boys is the fulfillment of my own dream since coming to the Catskills over 30 years ago to play with a group of like-minded musicians who are tolerant of the things I still have to learn.”
Ginny is sometimes accompanied to practice by her son Jose’, but is always accompanied by Sally a good natured brown Retriever, who remains the nemesis of our cat Sassy.