Wisdom of the Elders

  Friday, February 16, 1pm-2:15pm, Liberty

With so many new voices on the scene, countless changes in technology and communication, and the passing of friends and folk legends each year, it’s worth pausing every now and then to celebrate our elders. Many of these community leaders and folk music pioneers have been interviewed individually over the years, but in 2010 Sonny Ochs entertained the idea of presenting legends and luminaries of the folk community in small group settings where they could interact and share stories and perspectives about their experiences over a lifetime in folk music.

The first Wisdom of the Elders panel was held at NERFA (the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance) in 2010 and featured Oscar Brand, Theodore Bikel and David Amram. This year’s panel includes Holly Near, Tom Chapin, and Hans Theessink. The host is Sonny Ochs.

Photo by Irene Young

Holly Near

For over 45 years, Holly Near has been "singing for our lives." She puts herself in challenging learning opportunities (war zones, prisons, Carnegie Hall!), then passes her discoveries on through song. Perhaps Near's success lies in the power of her voice. Her blend of folk, cabaret, humor and compassion can lift an audience from the despair that many experience and offer a curiously bright perspective. Holly started her public work as an actor in Hollywood but was drawn in to the complexity of social change music by such artists as Odetta, Belafonte, The Weavers and Phil Ochs. Then the women's movement changed her perspective and she began writing about the world and the heart through a feminist lens. Singer. Critical thinker. Songwriter. Record producer. Elder.

Tom Chapin

In a career that spans five decades, 25 albums and three Grammy awards, the multi-talented Tom Chapin has covered an incredible amount of creative ground. In addition to his work as a recording artist & concert performer, Chapin has acted on Broadway and worked extensively in television, radio & film. Chapin has maintained two long and productive parallel careers, both as a respected contemporary folk artist and a pioneer in the field of children's music. He has established a reputation for insightful, heartfelt songcraft and effortlessly charismatic live performances. In addition to his musical and media endeavors, Chapin is an advocate on behalf of a variety of charitable organizations, with a focus on hunger, the environment and music and the arts in our public schools.

Hans Theessink

After 7,500 concerts, 50 years "on the road" and more than 30 albums to his name, Dutch-born Hans Theessink has become a roots and blues institution. With his sonorous baritone voice and unmistakable guitar work Hans delights audiences around the globe with his rich and emotional sound. The US press called him "An international blues treasure" and "One of the world's pre-eminent pickers". Hans Theessink, is one of the fiercest acoustic players in Europe and one of the top acoustic blues stars worldwide, he has played with the best and is one of the best, American or European, black & white, old and young, since the 1960's.This guy is the real deal, simply a master who is as good as it gets on every level.

Mission Statement

The mission of Folk Alliance International is to nurture, engage, and empower the international folk music community - traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional - through education, advocacy and performance.

Additional Conference Events

2019 FAI Conference

DATE: February 13-17, 2019

LOCATION:  Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montréal, Québec, Canada

UPCOMING DEADLINES:  Early Bird member registration ends May 31, 2018