About Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings

Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings is a musical celebration of the season of Advent. Beginning on November 29 (the first Sunday of Advent) and ending with Christmas Day, we will post a song recorded especially for you, our listeners, every day. Our recordings will be a mix of secular and religious hymns, carols, and songs that we hope will put all of you in the Christmas spirit.

Songs will be available on this web site as well as on our Facebook page. You can keep up with this musical Advent calendar either place, or you can subscribe to the rss feed to help keep you up to date. In addition to mp3 files for each song, we will post lyrics and interesting information.

The origins of Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings lie with a Christmas present I (Greg Barlow) received in 2007. My wife, Liddy, gave me a banjo for Christmas, and though I'd never really played an instrument before, over the next year, I made pretty good progress learning to play clawhammer-style. With Christmas coming up, I'd been planning to learn some Christmas hymns, and I thought it would be fun to share them with others. This became the first year of Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings.

The response in 2008 was so positive, I wanted to make Hark! 2009 even better. So first, I practiced for a year, which should help with the quality of my playing. Second, I've recruited several other musicians to join the project. Since they play a wide variety of instruments, it won't just be banjo this year. Keep reading to meet all the musicians.

With multiple musicians, the recording setups will vary some this year. Since we're doing this for fun, the sound quality won't be professional, but we'll do our best! Since you'll be able to enjoy a wide range of instruments this year, each daily post will have some information about what instrument was used to record the song of the day.

Sources are listed for each song, but the most helpful sources for this project were the Presbyterian Hymnal (1990), the Oxford Book of Carols (1964), the New Century Hymnal (1995), and the Cyber Hymnal.

You can contact Greg Barlow about Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings at greg at barlow dot info.

The Musicians

Greg Barlow (11/29, 11/30, 12/1, 12/2, 12/4, 12/6, 12/8, 12/10, 12/11, 12/12, 12/13, 12/14, 12/16, 12/17, 12/18, 12/20, 12/25)
The founder of Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings, Greg plays clawhammer-style banjo. He'll also be singing and recording on his homemade banjo.
Liddy Barlow (12/16)
Liddy is Greg's wife. She'll be recording on the flute.
Lindsey Barlow and Amanda Stewart (12/24)
Lindsey is Greg's sister. She and her friend Amanda will be singing and playing the ukulele.
Andy Chase (12/9, 12/19)
Andy is Sue's brother. He'll be recording on the banjo.
Kim and Rich Clark (12/7)
Kim is the Keene schools elementary band director, and Rich is the Monadnock Region schools music teacher and band director. The Clarks and the Hahs will be performing as a brass quartet of trombones and tubas.
Mark Gerchman (12/3)
Mark is Liddy's father. He'll be recording on the mandolin.
Sarah Mary Gerchman (12/5)
Sarah Mary is Liddy's sister. She'll be recording on the piano.
Mark Gionfriddo (12/15)
Mark directs the Jazz Program and is Catholic Music Director at Mount Holyoke College, Liddy's alma mater. Though he does have a Steinway M in his office, he will be recording his selection on an aluminum iMac using a Steinway grand sample courtesy of Logic Studio.
Sue Hahs (12/7, 12/18, 12/21)
Sue is a long-time friend of Liddy, stretching back to their time together in the 5th grade flute section! Sue is a music teacher, and therefore entirely unable to resist Greg's invitation to contribute to this project! She'll be recording on trombone.
Jay Hahs (12/7, 12/21)
Jay is Sue's husband. He'll be recording on the tuba.
Mark Palatucci (12/22)
Mark and Greg are both in the robotics Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon. He'll be recording on the mandolin with the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra.
Matt Wagers (12/23)
Matt and Greg were roommates in high school. He'll be recording on the banjo.