Central Pennsylvania's grass-roots voice for folk music and dance!

York County Oral History Project: Tales of a Musical Life

Interviews with York County residents who have a long-time involvement with music.

Randy Heisley-Cato

Randy Heisley-Cato at home with dog and banjo ukulele

Randy Heisley-Cato currently lives in Etters, Pennsylvania and specializes in old-time music: the type of music played at rural dances in the days before Bill Monroe popularized Bluegrass. Randy comes from a musical family: his grandfather was a Vaudeville performer in the Depression, and he has fond memories of his parents singing.

About the Project

SFMS began the "Tales of a Musical Life" project in the fall of 2017 and continued collecting stories through the summer of 2018. Twenty-eight people, some professional musicians and some not, were interviewed and asked questions about how they first came to love music and how music had enriched their lives. What emerged is a fascinating collection of stories which shows the diversity of music that thrives in York County, including bluegrass, jazz, folk, classical, soul, and even cowboy music!

Four of the individuals interviewed — Cushla Srour, Wayne Morris, Joe Coria, and Jerry McCoury — shared their stories in front of a live audience during the inaugural Susquehanna Folk Festival in summer 2018. SFMS hopes to be able to provide further public forums to share these stories in the future.

SFMS is indebted to the students of Dr. Richard A. Pierce’s Adult Development and Aging class at Penn State York who conducted the interviews, and to the York County Community Foundation's Hahn Home Fund for Embracing Aging for helping to fund the project.