Logo: Susquehanna Folk Music Society
Central Pennsylvania's grass-roots voice for folk music and dance!

The Folk Community

SFMS is proud to be part of Central Pennsylvania's vibrant community of musicians, dancers, artisans and enthusiasts.

Below this menu is a Folk Artist Spotlight article and a look into our community.

Folk Artist Spotlight: Bring the Family! Music, Dance & Story

Three members of The New Christy Mistrels perform on a darkened stage. Ed Stockton, at left, plays guitar; a seated woman behind them claps along; and a fiddler plays. This is a smaller part of the photo below.
Ed Stockton (left) performs with the New Christy Mistrels (photo courtesy of the artist)

In our Spotlight series, we take a closer look into the kaleidoscope of traditional arts in Central Pennsylvania and the work of artists featured in our Folk Artists Gallery. This article spotlights traditional arts that connect generations.

Traditional arts often embody what is most important to a community: the things each generation wants to pass on to the next. And so by its very nature, much of traditional art is intended for the whole family.

Each new generation adopts what they love of the old, and makes it new with their own aesthetics and experiences.

This month we're spotlighting performances from two very different genres of traditional art: a concert by folksinger Ed Stockton and a production of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book with Bharatanatyam dance. Both represent art that is deeply rooted in the traditional, while also innovative, appealing and relevant for today’s audiences.

Ed Stockton – Free Folk Concert

Ed Stockton plays his guitar, smiling.  He is standing under a small tree on a summery day. He is a stocky man, wearing a plaid shirt and straw hat, and has a white beard.
Ed Stockton plays his beloved custom "New Christy Mistrels commemorative" Martin 12-string guitar. (courtesy of the artist)

Local folk singer Ed Stockton, member of the Grammy award-winning New Christy Minstrels, will be performing a free concert at The Cracked Pot in Mechanicsburg on March 24, 2023. Ed will bring his particular style of American folk, bluegrass, gospel, and country music to the stage. You are sure to hear some songs you have never heard before — even classic poetry put to music! — and when he gets excited, Ed can fingerpick really fast.

Ed Stockton performs at The Cracked Pot (130 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA) on March 24, 2023 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Admission is free.

Ed fell in love with folk music in the early 1960s, enjoying the Kingston Trio, the Weavers, the Limelighters, the Chad Mitchell Trio and their contemporaries. He learned to play the 6 and 12 string guitars, and for over 40 years has played this music all over the world. In 2015, to his surprise and delight, he joined his favorite group: The New Christy Minstrels, (Still) Under the Direction of Randy Sparks®. He says he is member #301 of that long-running group (formed in 1961!) and he still tours with them.

Four members of The New Christy Mistrels perform on a darkened stage. Ed Stockton, at left, plays guitar; a seated woman behind them claps along; a fiddler plays; and another guitarist at right faces toward them.  This is a larger view of the photo at the top of the article.
Ed Stockton (left) performs with some members of the New Christy Mistrels (courtesy of Ed Stockton)

The Jungle Book, with Bharatanatyam Dance

Four teenage girls strike a pose as they rehearse for The Jungle Book.  They are all wearing tunics and sashes, and are all of Asian Indian descent. The girls at left and right are in a lunge pose, facing center.  The girl front & center is also in a lunge pose, but her upper body is twisted so she's facing the camera. The fourth girl stands behind them, looking as if she might be a narrator. All of the girls hold their arms and hands in graceful, stylized gestures from the Bharatanatyam dance tradition.
Rehearsing for The Jungle Book, left to right, are Ameya Rangaswamy, Sanjana Menon, Medha Rajesh and (behind them) Nithya Nandakesh. (photo by Rachita Nambiar)

Rachita Nambiar (Rasika School of Dance) and Melissa Nicholson (Gamut Theater’s Young Acting Company) are at it again. After their highly successful collaboration on The Panchatantra Tales (April 2022), they are pooling their creativity to produce Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

The Jungle Book: March 31, April 1 & 2 at Gamut Theatre (15 North 4th St, Harrisburg, PA)

You may remember the story: an infant “man cub” is adopted by a pack of wolves and raised among them in the jungles of India. Young Mowgli grows up under the watchful eyes of Bagheera the panther and Baloo the sloth bear, who train him in the Laws of the Jungle. But not even their strict guidance can protect Mowgli from riotous monkeys, a man-eating tiger, and the most fearsome animal of all — Man.

Adapted from the original by Sean Adams, and directed by Rachita Menon Nambiar and Melissa Nicholson, this unique production of The Jungle Book will include four classic Bharatanatyam dance numbers and a movement piece to help tell the story. You will believe you’ve been transported to the jungles of India.

There is a classical Welcome Dance to welcome the audience to the jungle; a movement piece called Monkey Madness showcasing the rowdy and the goofy nature of the wild monkeys; a South Indian folk dance from the state of Tamil Nadu celebrating the endangered culture of the Kurathi; the Elephant Dance depicting the graceful and powerful movements of the elephants; and finally, the Celebration of Love, a folk dance from the State of Gujarat in the western part of India.

This classic tale highlights the importance of family, respect for nature, and what it means to be human.

Rachita says her favorite quote from the play is “Unfortunately there are many fools in this world!” To find out who says this and why, you’ll have to get a ticket. Seats are going fast so buy yours now.

The cast members of The Jungle Book pose for a candid portrait with their teacher.  They are five teenage girls, four of whom are of Indian descent, and one is caucasian. Rachita Nambiar kneels among them, wearing a long green flowered tunic and black leggings.  The girls wear typical American teen clothing.
A new generation of dancers with their mentor:
(front row left to right) Aadya Kiran, Sophia Commissiong, Nithya Nandakesh (standing), Rachita Menon Nambiar, Richa Shyam (standing) and Georgia Bailey.

Photo courtesy of Rachita Nambiar, Choreographer and Co-Director of this production of The Jungle Book.