(This article appeared in the Fairfax Times, Tuesday June 1, 2010.  Reprinted by permission.  Original article can be viewed HERE)

Still strumming after 25 years

Local folk club lets its hair down every Tuesday

by Gregg MacDonald | Staff Writer

The folk music spirit of the 1960s is alive and well in Herndon.

On May 25, The Folk Club of Reston & Herndon celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Tortilla Factory restaurant, where it has met every Tuesday evening for nearly all of its quarter-century existence.

"My name is Dave Hurd and I'm a folkaholic," announced original club member Dave Hurd, kicking off the Silver Jubilee Anniversary Celebration. "It is an ailment for which there is apparently no cure. Everyone else who initially started this group has moved on and I'm still here."

According to Hurd, the club was started in May 1985 by a group of close friends who modeled it after the British "folk club" concept that another founding member, Rose Haskell, discovered while living in London. After short stints at two now-defunct Reston locations, the club moved to Herndon's Tortilla Factory in 1987.

"It's been a very rewarding experience," said Chuck Curcio, the owner of the Mexican eatery. "Club members have become close friends and long-standing customers, and we just love having them here."

"This level of commitment by a restaurant to the music community is not the rule of thumb," said longtime Folk Club member Ellen Kaminsky. "Very few clubs in the United States have enjoyed as many years in one place, and The Folk Club enjoys a reputation in the music community as being a very rare --and fortunate -- venue."

"In Great Britain," Hurd explained, "neighborhood pubs have individual histories that have been preserved for centuries through a folk music tradition. We expanded that concept into sort of a 'singer-songwriter' club of our own. "

The club, which has about 70 members, meets every Tuesday evening in the restaurant's back room, where it hosts open microphone nights and concerts.

Performing artists include emerging singer-songwriters as well as legends in the folk music industry. The mainstay of the club is its open mic nights, during which local performers are featured in 12-minute sets consisting of three songs each. The club also features a monthly concert series in which well-known local, national and international performers display their talents. Another featured event is the monthly member showcase, in which members are selected by lottery to perform an extended 25-minute set.

By its own admission, the club's definition of folk music is very loose.

"Folk music is whatever we folks play," said Bill Davis, another longtime member. Performances can vary from traditional 19th century English folk music to wild, modern-day ditties.

Some performers play guitars, while others may play banjos, ukuleles, or no instrument at all.

"I use only my voice," said "A-Cappella Pete" Nelson, a member since 1996.

"There aren't but maybe a handful of folk clubs like this in the country," said Kaminsky, adding that she still lives her life in the spirit of the 1960s folk troubadours.

She and her husband, Ray, recently sold their Herndon home -- along with everything in it -- and are planning a three-plus-year tour of North, Central and South America by RV.

They plan to visit many folk venues along the trip, Kaminsky said.

"We are really going to miss everyone here in Herndon," she said. "But we have always said that this is the best folk club in the country -- from Boston to Austin -- and now we plan to prove it."

The Folk Club of Reston & Herndon meets Tuesday nights, 7:15 p.m. at The Tortilla Factory, 648 Elden St. in Herndon.

For information, go to www.restonherndonfolkclub.com



© The Folk Club of Reston/Herndon, 2005
Created by Armen Karimian