Greg Reish

Greg Reish


Old-time, hillbilly, country blues, and other traditional music performed in authentic styles of the 1920s and 1930s by a distinguished musician-historian. Powerful, haunting, and sometimes humorous music from the backroads and backwoods of America's past.


Singer, instrumentalist, historian, and teacher, Greg Reish has been making music the focus of his life for over thirty years. Playing folk music, jazz, rock, and bluegrass through most of his childhood in Atlanta, he went on to study jazz guitar at the University of Miami, work as a freelance musician in Nashville, then earn master’s and doctoral degrees in historical musicology from the University of Georgia. He received a Fulbright grant to study the music of Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi in Rome, and served on the faculty of the University of Georgia, the University of Hawaii-Hilo, and Buffalo State College, before assuming his current position at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Greg's performance and study of traditional American music concentrate on the rural, mostly Southern music of the 1920s through the 1940s, encompassing such styles as old time, hillbilly (early country), country blues, ragtime, and bluegrass. A guitarist first and foremost, he is adept on a variety of other instruments. Having performed throughout the U.S. and overseas, some of his more noteworthy gigs include opening for Roger McGuinn (of the Byrds) and playing for Japanese dignitaries at the American Embassy in Tokyo. As a scholar, he participated in The Bluegrass Music Symposium at Western Kentucky University, has collaborated with Mike Seeger, and conducted research in the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress. Currently he is writing a book on the history of Old Time Guitar Styles.

Set List

Emphasizing the breadth and richness of traditional American song, Greg's repertory draws from diverse sources: old- & new-world ballads, cowboy songs, play-party songs, bluegrass & country songs, 19th century parlor & minstrel songs, hobo ditties, sailor shanties, Carter Family & Woody Guthrie songs, novelty songs, blues, work songs, spirituals, and a smattering of material by contemporary songwriters with a strong sense of tradition. He also performs rags, fiddle tunes, and other instrumentals.

The list provided below is not complete, nor should it be considered fixed and static. On the contrary, Greg is continually revising and expanding his repertory as he discovers new material, absorbs new influences, and conceives new shows. And true to the folk tradition, you are not likely to hear a song performed the same way twice.

All Go Hungry Hash House
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Banks of the Ohio
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Captain Kennedy
Charles Guite