Skipjack Music

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Skipjack is Robin Loeffler on vocals and hammered dulcimer; Todd Morgan on vocals and fiddle; Aviv Naamani on vocals, guitar,bouzouki and mandolin; and Deborah Thompson on vocals, clawhammer banjo, lap dulcimer, and rhythm guitar. They play a wide variety of tradition-based music, including old time string band tunes and songs, contemporary folk-based songs, country blues/Louisville jugband ditties, English country dance music and some Irish/Scottish songs and tunes. These people either are the most eclectic bunch of folk musicians or they just can't make up their minds.Since 2004, Skipjack specializes in tight three- and four-part harmonies on traditional and contemporary songs, inventive arrangements of instrumentals, and costumed presentations of dance music from the 18th and 19th centuries. Once they get their hands on a song or tune, it becomes a different animal -- in other words, it becomes "Skipjacked". There is no cure for this -- they just can't help themselves in this regard.

Frank Jenkins, their dance caller of choice, may be booked with the band. His experience as a caller and good humor (which one needs in order to survive dancers who haven't figured out which side is left and which is right) ensures that even beginning dancers have fun from the start.

Deborah Thompson is from a musical family, so she was doomed from the outset to follow the family down the road of perdition. Her influences range from folk revival to choir music, rock and roll, and opera and even (hush hush) bluegrass.. She has sung all her life, and started playing guitar and banjo as a teenager, picking up the mountain dulcimer while still in college. She grew up along the mid-Atlantic megalopolis, but her bandmatesnever held it against her. To atone for this,she has made her home in eastern Kentucky, and much of her repertoire has been developed from living and playing in Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and New England. She has taught classes and workshops in Appalachian music and dance for all ages since 1984, including public school residencies, senior programs, and music camps such as Augusta Heritage Center and Campbell Folk School. She and her husband, dance caller Frank Jenkins, enjoy involving audiences in traditional folk dance. Her specialty is interpreting Appalachian music and dance, presenting programs that tie together the history of the Appalachian region, information about and demonstrations on various instruments, and a smattering of music theory (whatever a smattering means). Despite her connection of music with academia (the dreaded tower of ivory), including obaining a recent Ph.D. in Geography (with a dissertation and continuing scholarship focusing on the interconnections between traditional music, place, race, gender, and community in Appalachia), she really plays music because it is fun! Her music has taken her to festivals and folk clubs in Scotland, international seminars in Austria, dance and sports festivals (?) in Denmark, and cultural study programs in Mexico, Poland, and Ukraine.She was still allowed to return to her native

Todd Morgan took up the fiddle in the fourth grade, and hasn't put it down since. This has caused some obvious problems, especially around meal times.He first met up with Robin and joined the band Ten Penny Bit until it's demise. When the group Skipjack was formed, Todd joined and added his fiddle leads, harmonies, and wonderful improv that makes the group sound. His ability to weave in and out of a melody, even tunes he has never heard, is a rare gift.  At six foot six he is hard to miss, and like his bandmates, he has a somewhat twisted outlook on life.

The elder statesman of Skipjack -- is a native of Louisville, Kentucky who grew up listening to Jewish/Israeli folk music, country music, and rock and roll. This son of a conservatory graduate discovered blues, world music and classical guitar in his teens. At Indiana University, exposure to bluegrass, jazz and Appalachian music, mixed in with learning fingerstyle guitar (more blues), set him on a different musical path. This was further enhanced by getting involved with Irish music (Where he met Robin, and the group Ten Penny Bit), and Louisville Jug Band Music (obviously the man just can't get rid of the blues). He has played with several old time/blues bands and one Scottish/Prince Edward Isle Celtoid band, all of whom played in the Kentucky and Indiana area until members got sick of each other. At present, he specializes in East Coast blues, Appalachian music, Louisville jugband songs, Renaissance and Baroque music of the British Isles and --  he plays Klezmer as well. Somewhere along the line he picked up some mandolin and bouzouki, but at his age he is not sure he remembers where or how...

Robin was first introduced to traditional music by her father, George (a harmonica player), and her Uncle Elwin (a clawhammer banjo player). She took up guitar and harmonica in her teens, learning how to play by ear. Then she discovered the group Pentangle, the guitar work of John Renbourn, and  John Mayall. She also met her husband Bob, also a guitar player.  Robin first heard the hammer dulcimer at a local music festival, and immediately had a love for the instrument. She was an active member of the Louisville Dulcimer Society for many years, as well as the stage band manager for the Louisville Contra Dance Society. Becoming more and more involved in Celtic music, she and Bob formed the group Ten Penny Bit, which Robin was band leader for almost 20 years. The band performed in 13 different states, and Denmark, and disbanded in 2003. Wanting to return to more traditional American music, the group Skipjack was formed in 2004.  Robin has come full circle, performing and playing the music she remembers hearing and loving as a child.