Rolling Hills Radio To Present Crookston, Burge

CHAUTAUQUA — As part of its “summer on the road,” Rolling Hills Radio with Ken Hardley will present Joe Crookston and Todd Burge on the Amphitheater stage at the Chautauqua Institution today at 2 p.m.

Crookston is a songwriter, guitarist, painter, fiddler, slide player, eco-village member and believer in all things possible, but he is, above all else, a storyteller.

His songs are rich retellings of peoples’ lives, whether his own father building airstrips in the South Pacific in World War II or the imagined life of a man who one day found inaction to no longer be possible.

“He writes such high quality songs and, more often than most, hits them out of the park. His songs move the listener immediately and constantly,” Hardley said.

Crookston’s first album, 2004’s “Fall Down as the Rain,” was rated one of the year’s top 12 self-produced recordings and was featured on NPR’s “All Songs Considered.” In 2007, he received a Rockefeller Foundation grant for a project called “Songs of the Finger Lakes.” He spent a year traveling central New York, finding stories to turn into songs, several of which have been recorded. His 2009 CD, “Able Baker Charlie & Dog,” was awarded “Album of the Year” by the International Folk Alliance in Memphis, Tenn.

Burge has emerged as one of West Virginia’s most prolific singers/songwriters. He employs wry humor, dexterous guitar work and an assortment of odd characters — from humans to bugs to animals — to sing his stories.

Hardley says that he “cannot listen to a Todd Burge song without being simultaneously amused, perplexed, moved and, often, deeply touched.”

Burge has played venues from the Kennedy Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame to hundreds of clubs. He is a repeat guest on NPR’s Mountain Stage, where he also hosts from time to time. He wrote 13 songs for a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labours Lost,” and he has collaborated with arts such as Tim O’Brien on his several albums. Burge has shared the stage with performers such as Hot Tuna, Bela Fleck and Ricky Skaggs.

Chautauqua Institution is open free of charge to the public on Sundays.

The show, which will be episode 77 for Rolling Hills Radio, can be heard locally on WFRA 107.9 in Jamestown, nationally through Global Community Radio (check local listings) and seen on Spectrum channel 1331 and on Access Channel 5 in Mayville. It will also be available, after broadcast, on-line through the Rolling Hills Radio website

Season tickets for Rolling Hills Radio with Ken Hardley are available for purchase at Beginning Aug. 1, individual and season tickets will be available by calling 294-0416, online or at the door starting Oct. 22.