Monday, August 21, 2006

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and ... MUSIC

New Jersey Daily Record report.....
August 18, 2006
Ellen S. Wilkowe
Four Sisters provides the wine and music; the bread is up to you

It doesn't get any more Jersey Fresh than this: HomeGrown Radio NJ and Four Sisters Winery will pour on the music and wines Aug. 19 at the HomeGrown Wine and Music Fest in White Township.

The fully loaded fest goes down at 11 a.m. at the Four Sisters Winery at Matarazzo Farms. Cost is $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and includes live performances and wine tasting. Suds heads will cheer for the truck bearing beer. Proceeds from brew sales will benefit Global Reach International, a not-for-profit charity that promotes sustainable development and funds orphanages in Southeast Asia.

The festival is a first for the nearly 2-year-old listener-supported Internet radio station that presents an entourage of live independent musicians, the core of HomeGrown's existence, along with a say-and-play-what-you-want philosophy implemented by its volunteer staff.

"We want local and independent artists to be heard without fear of program directors," said HomeGrown Radio spokersperson Kathy Cameron. "All our DJs self-produce their own programs."

A long-term goal for HomeGrown founder Todd Mills, the music festival seemed a natural fit this year, given the hiatus of the neighboring Knowlton Riverfest, an 11-year free-for-all music festival along the banks of the Delaware River. Co-sponsored by the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the New Jersey Council on Arts, Knowlton Riverfest also provided a platform for independent artists, many of whom will perform Saturday.

HomeGrown was launched into cyberspace on Mischief Night 2004 with 12 broadcast revolutionists who support independent musicians and unrestricted play lists.

Since its inception the Frelinghuysen Township-based studio is home to 45 programs and an expanding audience rooted in New Jersey and reaching overseas to England, France and Switzerland, Cameron said.

"We started with 12 DJs and now we have 55," said Cameron.

John Major of Hampton, host of the "Railroad Earth Happy Hour," is one of them. Born into the HomeGrown Radio family, Major's Thursday night show exclusively plugs the music of Railroad Earth, a five-year-old bluegrass jam band from Northwest New Jersey, with four CDs and a national following.

As the band's archivist, Major spotlights Railroad Earth's extensive recording catalog and spotlights side projects exclusive to Railroad Earth band members.

Railroad Earth's lead singer and acoustic guitarist Todd Sheaffer is expected to perform solo Saturday. Despite his namesake show, Sheaffer has been a HomeGrown fan since its inception. "It's a community-minded station," he said.

Fresh off a national tour in support of the January release of "Elko," Railroad Earth is gearing up for another recording session. Saturday's performance will be one of several scheduled through October before they hibernate in the studio.

Live studio broadcasts are a natural for independent artists like RailRoad Earth and HomeGrown Radio. Two-time Grammy-winning John Ginty, formerly of The Robert Randolph Family Band and Blind Boys of Alabama, has also graced the studio with live performances, as well.

A Morristown native who claims to have inherited his grandmother's "gospel gene," Ginty has toured with Santana, Bad Religion, Jewel, Matthew Sweet, Sheryl Crow and Citizen Cope, to name a few.

Last October, The John Ginty Band released a double-CD, "Fireside Live," on its own label, Shark Attack Record. The nine-track collaboration was recorded at The Fireside in Denville. It features original songs as well as covers like Santana's "Savor," the blues classic "Done Somebody Wrong" and "Gospel Jam," a jam of spiritual songs including "When The Saints Go Marching In" and "I'll Fly Away."

Capitalizing on some post-show down time, Ginty is happy to jam on the low-key festival circuit. "I like the family vibe," he said. "Festivals are a much more creative atmosphere than a smoky club."

Ginty is gearing up for a three-month tour with Citizen Cope that starts with a performance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" on Sept. 8.

Other artists at the music fest include singer/songwriter Brett Mitchell, Brit popsters Locksley, world percussion by Marifanyi, jazz fusion from Peter Biedermann and the funky female folk duo Folk by Association.

Internationally acclaimed children's musician Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou (a.k.a. Daria) will provide a hands-on, jam-on opportunity for children.

Multilingual queen Daria plays just as many multi-cultured instruments as languages she speaks.

Hailing from Latin America, the cajon, for example, is a fun and functional square drum made from dresser drawers or shipping crates. And yes, you can try this at home.

"In third world nations, music is part of a community," she said. "The instruments are first demonstrated and then the children can play (them)."

Daria will implement this do-as-I-play scenario in the children's tent. Be sure to ask her about the didgeridoo, shekere, and have the little ones wrap their hands around the more familiar rainstick.

In addition to sampling the melting pot of music, there are 27 wines such as the Warren Hills Red and White, Cayuga and Niagra, and Beaver Creek Red, awaiting your discriminating palate.

Plus two out of four sisters, Sadie and Melissa, daughters of owner "Matty" Matarazzo, are expected to pop by their namesake vineyard. "(Robin) is celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary so she is forgiven," Matarazzo joked.

In keeping with the homegrown theme and expected festival-inspiring weather, Matarazzo said to expect a sangria or wine spritzer.

Ellen S. Wilkowe can be reached at (973) 428-6662 or