Four South Florida Folk Acts to Watch Out for
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: a few local folk favorites.
Recently, I contributed a list of ten influential folk artists that had made South Florida their home. The tally included several revered artists -- Fred Neil, Vince Martin, Jimmy Buffett, and others of that ilk who have emblazoned their influence not only on our sound but the whole nation's.
Still, there were some performers that didn't make that list, mostly because they didn't have the tenure that would qualify them for iconic status. So, in order to give then their due, I figured I'd offer a belated shout-out to acknowledge their current contributions to our local folk legacy.
4. Jennings and Keller
The duo of Jennings and Keller boasts a career that's decidedly homegrown.
Laurie Jennings Oudin, a former Shakespearean actress and proprietor of Homestead's late, lamented Main Street Café (still one of the best venues for acoustic music South Florida has ever seen) and Dana Keller, a veteran session musician whose list of credits include backing such big names as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Johnny Rodriguez, create a sound they themselves describe as "Fusion Folk Americana."
The pair has produced three albums to date, but it's their relentless traveling schedule that also impresses, a continuing tour of clubs, house concerts, and intimate venues that have taken them from one corner of the country to the other and, happily, back again.
3. Matthew Sabatella and his Rambling String Band
Likewise, let's give a shout-out to Matthew Sabatella and his Rambling String Band, a freewheeling conglomerate whose main mission has been to spotlight the traditional American folk songs, spirituals, fiddle tunes, reels and sea shanties in the manner they were originally parlayed in the 19th century.
With guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, and fiddle at their front line, Sabatella and company take their music to schools, libraries, and various public gatherings where crowds of young and old are both entertained and educated by a sound belonging to an older era. Their efforts are encapsulated in a series of recordings and concerts Sabatella calls Ballad of America, all part of a heartfelt homage to this nation's rich musical wellspring.