Homegrown String Band
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Homegrown String Band

Rocky Point, New York, United States | INDIE

Rocky Point, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk

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"Ragged but Right CD Review"

The Homegrown String Band has institutionalized the performance, creation and support of America’s traditional musics. From the Appalachian hollows to the rolling cotton of the rural South to West Texas vistas, the landscapes of our indigenous musics are explored and conserved. A family band, the tightness born of DNA is razor’s edge and the musicianship is of the caliber of virtuosity. Ragged But Right explores the roots of roots music. Opening with the sounds of Kentucky and Tennessee’s eastern edges, bluegrass pours out with purity and joy as they voyage. The sweetness of these organic sounds and their infectious rhythms take you home. The disk opens with a soft reel from mountain laurel country called “Goin’ ‘Round the World.” “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” was soft and round and reminded me of Garcia/Grisman. “Take Me Away” recounts a Civil War tale made even more poignant by the morass we refer to as Iraq. The meat grinder of Cold Harbor isn’t that much different from Baquba. “A Minor Catastrophe” is in a minor key in a majorly entertaining way. “When the Apples Bloom in New York” is sad and longing and feels like Gordon Lightfoot yet the following tribute to Johnny Cash called “The Man Who Dressed in Black” cooks and shakes and vibrates with primal energy. “Life Is Hard’ sweats inevitability in a Robert Earl Keen fashion and the disk finishes with a rousing “Darlin’ Corey.” This disk pours forth string mastery, emotional depth, pulsing rhythms, and is a celebration of unikewity and that’s cool because I love uneekness.—Dr. Blues - LI Blues Society, Dr. Blues Reviews


"STRING BAND KEEPS IT IN THE FAMILY"

NEW YORK’S JACKOFSKY CLAN SERVES UP ‘UNIKEWITY’

“Ragged but Right” is the Homegrown String Band’s new CD. You won’t find a whole lot ragged about it, though. You will find a whole lot right. The band--the Jackofsky family of Long Island, N.Y.--has preserved the spirit of American folk music in classics such as “Shady Grove” and “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” as well as originals such as “Prayin’ for Spring” and “The Man Who Dressed in Black” (a tribute to Johnny Cash).

Like traditional American folk ballads, many of the songs tell a story--as in “Take Me Away,” an original tune about two brothers at the Civil War battle of Cold Harbor.

“We try to keep our music fresh but still rooted in the sounds of traditional American roots music,” said Rick Jackofsky. Rick and his wife, Georgianne, with their daughters, Erica and Annalee, have been performing together for 11 years.

After two years away, the Homegrown String Band is returning to Fredericksburg on Monday at 7 p.m. to play Music on the Steps at the headquarters library on Caroline Street.

WE ARE FAMILY

Rick and his daughters sing. Rick plays guitar, clawhammer banjo and harmonica. Georgianne plays banjo, uke, dulcimer and doumbek. Erica plays fiddle, and Annalee, the mandolin and jaw-harp.

“We didn’t set out to play any particular genre of music--we just tried to make music and have fun with the instruments we had chosen,” said Rick.

They have taken “the Quaker testimony of simplicity to heart,” he said. “Keeping with the theme of simplicity, we naturally chose traditional acoustic instruments.”

The family’s faith is part of who they are, as is their music, Georgianne said. But “we don’t preach anything. Maybe by example we can sort of show people a slower way of life and one where families can stay close and enjoy each other.”

Their quest for simplicity goes back to a time before they were a family band. Although Rick had studied bass at the Berklee College of Music, and used to play in country and honky-tonk bands, he had pretty much given up music by the time he and Georgianne got married in 1980. Ten years later, after the girls were born and he was working as a photographer, Rick was seriously injured when he got hit by a bus.

“That accident is what led Rick back to music,” said Georgianne. “He decided then that life was about family, and we were spending too much time doing useless things.” They determined to go “back to a simpler way of life,” she said. “I began making bread by hand again. We got a beehive. We made yogurt. We grew an herb garden and vegetable garden. We also read books out loud.”

“We started telling stories, dancing, and making our own music to entertain ourselves,” added Rick. He took up guitar again. Erica began learning violin in fourth grade. “Annalee didn’t want to be left out, so we bought her some jaw-harps,” said Georgianne. “That same year, in some crazy inspired moment, Rick bought me a mountain dulcimer as a 15th wedding anniversary present,” she said.

A few years later, they gave their first public performance, at the Long Island Traditional Music Association members’ concert. “We thought we were going to do three or four songs, but got there to find out that only us and one other person came to perform,” said Georgianne. “So we played for 45 minutes. We had so much fun, we continued doing it.”

Four CDs and hundreds of concerts later, they are still having fun together, delighting their audiences with music, stories and dancing.

Traditionally, they wind up their shows with a performance of Appalachian flatfoot dancing--Rick strumming his guitar while each of the ladies does a clog dance with such energy and rhythm that you’ll be glad someone is keeping this folk art alive.

The Homegrown String Band and its fans celebrate something they call “unikewity” (based on Annalee’s child- hood mispronunciation of “unique”). They define it as “the special quality that makes you you, the part of you that is extraordinary, one of a kind, unique.”

This band has plenty of that, and they share it, giving their audiences an hour or so of joy that they can choose to take home with them and keep on living.
Steve Dunham lives in Spotsylvania County. 7/08 - Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star


"What People Are Saying About the Homegrown String Band"

“. . . superbly talented . . . a warm feeling of camaraderie . . . playing and dancing with an energy that could fill a festival stage. Their devotion to their craft and way of life is obvious, and the audience claps not only for their excellent performance, but for the simple fact that this family is breathing fresh life into the American folk tradition at a time when our nation’s roots are so often forgotten.” – Sarah Craig, Manager, Caffè Lena

“Rock Hollow . . . their third and strongest recording. Rick’s steady guitar drives tunes such as “Train on the Island” and “Down on my Knees” giving daughter Erica a great foundation for her inventive fiddling. His banjo playing is highlighted on “Liza Jane” and “The Ballad of Mary Wyatt.” Another standout is the original blues instrumental “Ackamarackus” by Erica. It once again highlights her fiddling prowess but also features some fine jawharp from sister Annalee and the steady banjo uke of Georgianne. A highly enjoyable recording by a real family band.” – Sing Out! magazine, fall 2004

“The spirit of the Carter Family is alive and well in this Rocky Point NY quartet.” – Brian Fostervold, “Shout Brother Shout,” WXCI

”The Homegrown String Band has institutionalized the performance, creation and support of America’s traditional musics. A family band, the tightness born of DNA is razor’s edge and the musicianship is of the caliber of virtuosity.” – Dr. Blues, LI Blues Society


“A talented and unique family. The Homegrown String Band represents all that is good with “Ole Time” music today. The simple joy of a family making music together makes you wish you could be one of them. Once again ranking as one of the most requested bands on the A.F.B.A.’s festival questionnaire.” – AFBA bluegrass festival, Wind Gap PA

“The Homegrown String Band has a true fiddle power house with daughter Erica . . . an assured and infectious dance style that drives the eighteen songs on Big Fork Little Fork, the band’s second CD. A particularly heartfelt original, “Mama was a Radio,” transports the listener back to the days of families gathering together to sing the old tunes . . . they keep those old family musical traditions alive. Keep it up, you’re doing just fine!” – Sing Out! magazine, fall 2002

“You guys are really talented and I love the way you play the music as if it were 1923 instead of 2003 . . . thanks for keeping the music alive . . .” – Johnny Timewarp, WFCS

"Excuse Me! These folks are a damn sight better than those skeleton comparisons made by other fools who just can't embrace and love these genuine folks for who they are. Come to Wisconsin, my friends, we'll jam all night and if we don't see you in the future we'll see you in the pasture." – Doc Mongoose

“Some fine OT music . . . this one won’t gather dust.” – Bill Moffett, WCOJ

“Like climbing into a cloud or a sweet spell of sound. It’s hard to describe their music. Old time, Appalachian, string band, not Bluegrass exactly, more Carter Family . . . a musicologist could tell you a lot about it and the history of rural America it reflects.” – Paul Vitello, Newsday

“One of the most refreshing, invigorating, and lively shows I’ve seen in a while . . . a real American music experience.” – Suzanne Johnson, Asst. Dir., Longwood Library

“Passion, conviction, integrity, respect for tradition . . . You achieve a delightfully individual approach to the material.” – Bruce Cameron, “Come All Ye,” 2MCE-FM, Bathurst NSW Australia

“An incredible old time string band!” – Little Toby Walker

“They electrified our Hard Luck Cafe stage . . . wowed us with their percussive flatfoot dancing.” – Folk Music Society of Huntington

“I love all good music: classical, jazz, ethnic country; yours is the best, together with Mozart, Satchmo, Masekela, etc. I congratulate you all as members of a loving family—I believe that is what makes your performance so moving.” – Gary Pleet - various


"A SIMPLE KIND OF LIFE"

ROCKY POINT’S HOMEGROWN STRING BAND ARE JUST YOUR AVERAGE QUAKER FAMILY BLUEGRASS-FOLK ACT
By Kenyon Hopkin

Walking into the home of the Jackofsky family is like walking into a small library. The shelves in the front room are lined with books of all kinds. In the kitchen, it’s like an authentic general store. There’s a scale to weigh vegetables (which they grow themselves), a pasta-maker and dried herbs in jars. Georgianne, the mother of the house, is eager to show off the electricity-free devices and large assortment of acoustic instruments, such as a dulcimer, banjo and stand-up bass. What you won’t see in this Rocky Point house, built in 1929, is a TV, dishwasher, video game system or microwave. That’s because the family—also known as the Homegrown String Band—have adopted the lifestyle of Quakers, where tradition, rather than technology, defines them.

“You don’t really think of the things you don’t have,” says Georgianne, who, like her daughters, wears spectacles and has long, bristling hair tied behind her back. “Sometimes I feel like we have too much and we need to get rid of more.”

Rick Jackofsky, a former marathon runner, is also adamant about their anti-consumerism stance. “One of the testimonies of Quakers is simplicity, to not use more of the earth’s resources than you need.”

This same attitude goes with the music of the foursome (which also includes Erica, 20, and Annalee, 17). Playing a blend of bluegrass and traditional folk, the group’s instrumentation is an acoustic combo of banjo, fiddle, jaw harp, mandolin and dulcimer. Original and classic pieces can be heard on their third and latest recording, Rock Hollow, the original name of Rocky Point. Due to the nature of the music, people are often surprised to learn that they live here, assuming they are from West Virginia or South Carolina.

“On Long Island we’re like a novelty act,” says Rick. We get invited to do things like harvest festivals, museums, and old-timey things like that. When we play upstate or Pennsylvania, people know the music already and we’re more accepted.” Georgianne agrees: “On Long Island people want us more because they like the idea of the family and they think because we’re a family and we play this kind of music that we fit into an image.”

Though they do live in a relatively secluded northeastern patch of LI, why not just move into the woods or on farmland in Pennsylvania or upstate New York? Besides low expenses from their daily routine, the reasons are actually ironic.

“One good thing about living here is the dense population, giving us more opportunities to play,” explains Rick. “We know people who live in [the South] and they have to drive four hours to every gig they play.”

Having spent enough time upstate, Rick and Georgianne moved to Rocky Point in the early ‘80s and began raising their two children. But 1990 proved to be a turning point in their life. Things changed. Rick, a marathon runner sponsored by sneaker companies, had injured his knee, so he started riding a bike. In an unfortunate twist of fate, he was hit by a school bus while riding and broke his back. From that day, they found a new set of values, and shifted to an Amish-like view, going so far as to give away the vacuum and television, and use candles instead of lightbulbs. They knitted, made bread and yogurt, and kept an active beehive in the backyard (yes, a beehive). Since then, modern conveniences such as a CD player and toaster have slowly “crept up” on them, though it’s still far from a standard suburban LI home. (Just in case you’re wondering, they do have a refrigerator, phone and plumbing.) Television, of course, was a big challenge. It only took three weeks, however, to get used to its absence.

“I don’t think about it, I haven’t had a TV since I was 7 years old,” says Erica, who, along with Annalee, has been home-schooled. “I don’t remember missing it when we shut it off. Now if I sit in front of a TV I fall asleep. We weren’t around our peers who had TVs, so we didn’t have the pressure. We didn’t have to worry about the latest fashions. We just did our own thing.”

Rick recalls this crucial turning point, that motivated him to pick up a guitar and sing to his kids. This proved to be the seed for the band. “I started thinking, ‘We rush through so much and we’re missing things.’ That’s when I decided I would get back into music. What really matters is the family and time together.”

For more information, go to www.homegrownstringband.com. - Long Island Press


"AOL Cityguide Review"

The Jackofsky family is a tight-knit bunch, willing to live, work and play together night after night as they present their blend of all-American roots music. The quartet, which hails from Rocky Point, N.Y., consists of mom (Geogianne), dad (Rick) and daughters Erica and Annalee. Though officially formed in 1997, it's easy to see that this group has been together a lot longer. They make their mountain music using a number of popular instruments, from the mandolin to the banjo, the dulcimer to the fiddle. With a bit of dancing, they create a fun-for-all hoe down that relies heavily on folk and bluegrass. Reminiscent of the Carter Family of the 1920s and '30s, the Homegrown String Band adds modern strains of blues, country and rockabilly that makes their music interesting and lively, even to the casual listener. About the only thing missing for this real-life Partridge Family is a flower-power tour bus. - John Briggs - AOL cityguide


"Rock Hollow CD Review"

I have to admit I have a soft place in my heart for family string bands, I play in one and I have nothing but admiration for any family that can travel the highways and work in the recording studio together and produce fine music.

The Homegrown String Band is really the Jackofsky family who live in Rocky Point, New York out on Long Island. Rock Hollow was the original name of their hometown and thus a title for this, their third and strongest recording. The band, comprised of Rick Jackofsky on banjo, guitar, harmonica and vocals, daughters Erica, on fiddle and vocals, and Annalee, on mandolin, jawharp and vocals with wife/mother Georgianne on banjo uke and mountain dulcimer, produce very sweet and lovely music.

It is always interesting to trace the development of the youngsters in any family band but I think the greatest development this time has been with Rick’s vocals and instrumental performance. His steady guitar drives tunes such as “Train on the Island” and “Down on my Knees” giving daughter Erica a great foundation for her inventive fiddling. His banjo playing is highlighted on “Liza Jane” and “The Ballad of Mary Wyatt,” an original song based on an account of a murder in Berlin, N.Y., in 1845.
Another standout is the original blues instrumental “Ackamarackus” by Erica. It once again highlights her fiddling prowess but also features some fine jawharp from sister Annalee and the steady banjo uke of Georgianne. In case you’re wondering, the title was found in a book of New York slang meaning nonsense, maybe it will come back into fashion again.

The only criticism with Rock Hollow is the relative quiet afforded the background vocals. They could have been beefed up, but that is a minor quibble with a highly enjoyable recording by a real family band.—TD - Sing Out! magazine


"Ragged but Right CD Review"

There's something special about the music a family creates together. The harmonies, the timing, the spirit breathe as one. And so it is with Ragged But Right, the Homegrown String Band's latest album. Whether you classify their sound as Americana, bluegrass, folk, or old-time country, Rick Jackofsky, his wife Georgianne, and their daughters Erica (a standout on fiddle) and Annalee are not only dedicated to keeping a classic tradition alive, they're advancing it. Alongside the traditional rural laments "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and "Darlin' Corey" are a clever tribute to the late Johnny Cash and the stark, insightful original "Life Is Hard," each testifying to the power and joy of music made by a real family band. –Bill Dahl - Bill Dahl


Discography

Ragged But Right - 2007
Rock Hollow - 2004
Big Fork Little Fork - 2002
Blind Dog Thumpin' on the Porch - 2000

Photos

Bio

WE'VE PRETTY MUCH ABANDONED THIS SITE. YOU CAN FIND ALL OUR PRESS MATERIAL AS WELL AS UP TO DATE PHOTOS, CALENDAR & VIDEO AT OUR WEBSITE.
www.homegrownstringband.com

ACOUSTIC AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC SINCE 1997

"This family is breathing fresh life into the American folk tradition at a time when our nation’s roots are so often forgotten.” - Sarah Craig, Manager, Caffe Lena

"Whether you classify their sound as Americana, bluegrass, folk, or old-time country, Rick Jackofsky, his wife Georgianne, and their daughters Erica and Annalee are not only dedicated to keeping a classic tradition alive, they're advancing it." - Bill Dahl, author of Motown: The Golden Years

"A real family band.” - Sing Out! magazine, fall 2004

"Mooie aanstekelijke plaat." Moors Magazine

“An incredible old time string band!” - Little Toby Walker

“The spirit of the Carter Family is alive and well in this Rocky Point NY quartet.” - Brian Fostervold, “Shout Brother Shout,” WXCI

”The Homegrown String Band has institutionalized the performance, creation and support of America’s traditional musics. A family band, the tightness born of DNA is razor’s edge and the musicianship is of the caliber of virtuosity.” - Dr. Blues, LI Blues Society

"The simple joy of a family making music together makes you wish you could be one of them. Once again ranking as one of the most requested bands on the A.F.B.A.’s festival questionnaire.” - AFBA bluegrass festival, Wind Gap PA

“One of the most refreshing, invigorating, and lively shows I’ve seen in a while . . . a real American music experience.” - Suzanne Johnson, Longwood Library

"It's impossible to separate "the family" from "the band." The bond of humility, of love and warmth and gentle ribbing that only a family can experience informed their stage presence. But their musicianship is not compromised; it's a factor in their success. They're good and they're also lovable." - John Nyman, Winona Folk


JUST A FEW OF THE HUNDREDS OF VENUES THE HOMEGROWN STRING BAND HAS APPEARED AT SINCE 1997:

Festival of American Music (Silver Dollar City, Branson MO)
The National Theatre (Washington DC)
Musikfest (Bethlehem PA)
AFBA Bluegrass Festival (Wind Gap PA)
Newport News Festival of Folklife (Newport News VA)
Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square PA)
Mountain Culture Festival (Hunter NY)
Pawtucket Arts Festival (Pawtucket RI)
Great South Bay Music Festival (Patchogue NY)
XFest (Telford PA)
Harvest Moon Folk Festival (Warwick NY)
Park Slope Old Time & Bluegrass Festival (Brooklyn NY)
Stony Brook Folk & Fiddle Festival (Stony Brook NY)
Record Family Bluegrass Festival (S. Paris ME)
LITMA Old Time Fiddle Festival (Smithtown NY)
Willow Creek Bluegrass Festival (Montgomery NY)
Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs NY)
Music on the Steps (Fredericksburg VA)
The Fabulous Jalopy Theatre (Brooklyn NY)
Pioneer Arts Center (Easthampton MA)
RA Fountain General Store (Fountain NC)
The Purple Fiddle (Thomas WV)
Kings County Opry (Brooklyn NY)
The Vanilla Bean (Pomfret CT)
Rosendale Cafe (Rosendale NY)
The Bull Run (Shirley MA)
The Bottling Works (Romney WV)
Bound for Glory (Ithaca NY)
Amazing Things Arts Center (Framingham MA)
Patchogue Theatre (Patchogue NY)
Brooklyn Winter Hoedown (Brooklyn NY)
Ridgefield Folk (Ridgefield CT)
Heckscher Park (Huntington NY)
Nottaway Nights (Vienna VA)
Stone Soup Coffeehouse (Pawtucket RI)