Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Liberty Players and Contra Swings!

What do you get when you combine expert fiddle with jazzy guitar and swinging mandolin? Rhythmic and rollicking Celtic and Old-Time tunes that will make you tap your toes and twirl your partner.  The Liberty Players are Jennifer Sordyl (fiddle), Don Berg (guitar), and Joe Ross (mandolin, tenor banjo, string bass).
Jennifer Sordyl performs Celtic & contra-dance tunes with her guitarist husband, Don Berg in the ensemble “Contra Swings.” Jennifer was literally "raised in the music business" in Springfield IL. She learned violin and other instruments, along with her eight brothers and sisters in the family-owned music store, the House of Music. Eventually, Jennifer landed in Southern Arizona, where she taught fiddle at two rural Montessori charter schools for 14 years. All the Kinders at the schools received a year of fiddle instruction as part of their regular curriculum. She also taught aspiring fiddlers at Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp in Colorado for 12 summers.

Don Berg hails from Tacoma WA, where he was heavily influenced by the playing of Jerry Miller from the Moby Grape, and Neil Anderson from Gypsy Jazz group, Pearl Jango. Jazz won out, and after retiring in Green Valley, AZ he performed with two big band jazz groups for over seven years. Jennifer and Don met while playing music in church. A musical match made in Heaven! After falling in love with Jennifer, Don took up the Celtic and Contra-dance style, and they performed in several groups in the Tucson, AZ area. New to the Coos Bay area in 2013, they’re delighted to be part of the active Celtic and jazz music scene here.

No one can resist Joe Ross’ invitation to have fun while he’s performing his interactive “edu-taining” shows with many different instruments. Born in Virginia, raised a “military brat” in Japan, his music career started on electronic organ in 1960’s rock/soul bands. Celtic and bluegrass music entered his life in the 1970s at University of Oregon. Over the past five decades, Joe has played from Celtic to Country, Latin to Hawaiian, and Gypsy-jazz to Bluegrass. According to Joe, his eight albums have “gone iron or lead.” Spanning various genres, they emphasize his originality, eclectic influences and tastes. Joe also presents a storytelling program (Folk Tales of Old Japan), teaches at Absolute Music in Roseburg, and writes regularly for magazines, blogs and websites.
All three of these musicians work full-time to share the “enjoyment, fun and camaraderie of making music together.” For example, The Liberty Players will be heavily involved with both performances and workshops at the South Coast Celtic Festival in Coos Bay in May.  

The Festival’s schedule can be accessed here, and be sure to check out their respective performances, as well as individual workshops such as Irish Pub Songs, Dissecting the Concertina, Beginning Fiddle for 5-7 yr olds (give or take a year) and as leaders of the Irish Session. Joe Ross & Contra Swings will perform at McFarlin’s Pub in Bandon on March 15, and at the South Coast Celtic Festival Revue House Concert in Coos Bay on March 16. You can also catch The Liberty Players at pubs, farm markets, restaurants and such special events as Douglas County’s Earth Day Festival and Energy Fair in Roseburg on April 5 and the First Presbyterian Church’s Lenten Meditation in Music on April 4.

For more info about The Liberty Players and Contra Swings, please phone 541-361-8188 (Coos Bay) or 541-673-9759 (Roseburg) or e-mail rossjoe [at] hotmail [dot] com  OR  violinjenn [at] charter [dot] net