Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
the River of Song project and more...

List Artists by Genre
List Artists Alphabetically
Previous Artist
Next Artist
Discography
Video Clips

Smithsonian Institution
Americans Old and NewAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
John Keorner

 
"Spider" John Koerner hit the folk-blues scene in 1963, together with his partners, Dave Ray and Tony Glover. Koerner, Ray and Glover (as the band was called) stormed out of the midwest and set the country on its ear with their rambunctious, freewheeling take on the blues tradition. Thirty-five years later, Koerner remains one of the most quirky and original performers on the American scene. After a brief retirement from music, he came back as a traditional folksinger, performing old chestnuts like "Shenandoah" and "Careless Love," but reshaping them into unique, personal statements that remain true to the tradition and yet have a funky, rhythmic drive that is Koerner's alone.
       "In a sense, what I do is similar to something like Cajun music," Koerner says. "You've got a traditional thing, but it's not for just sitting around quietly, listening. I learn most of my stuff in the bars, and you've got to punch it out in the bars, and that picks people up and livens them up. I'm trying to not put them to sleep; I'm trying to have them feel the power of these songs."
       River of Song filmed Koerner at his local hangout, Palmer's, where he tends bar between musical outings. He was accompanied by the cream of the Twin Cities' sidemen, musicians who have known one another for decades and came to the attention of a national audience with the success of public radio's Prairie Home Companion. This "Twin Cities Folk Summit" brings together Koerner's old partners Tony Glover on harmonica and Willie Murphy on bass and keyboards with western swing guitar virtuoso Dakota Dave Hull and violin and mandolin master Peter Ostroushko.


"Come on in My Kitchen" performed by John Koerner. Words and music by Robert Johnson © (1978) 1990, 1991 King of Spades Music. All rights reserved.
 
 

Home | The River of Song Project | The Artists | Music Along the River | Calendar | Teacher's Guide | Press Room | The Store
© 1998 The Filmmakers Collaborative and The Smithsonian Institution, all right reserved
River of Song HOME the River of Song project the artists music along the river calendar teacher's guide pressroom store