Old Time banjoist Benny Bleu releases meditative album March of the Mollusk
February 24 on all streaming services and CD
Press Release: Benny Bleu Haravitch plays old time banjo in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, perched at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains. Haravitch, a geologist himself, grew up in the region defined by deep lake valleys and steep highlands. This up-and-down is reflected in the local flavor of fiddle tunes, and Benny Bleu’s banjo surely sways with the perpetual oscillation that shapes the Finger Lakes old time sound. He contemplates ages of ecological relationships in his music. While previous projects featured compassionate songwriting of ne’er-do-well forest characters, his instrumental offerings have been just as profound. His clawhammer banjo playing is like a marching band – the bugle melodies in lock-step with the drum corps. On March of the Mollusk, his forthcoming album of meditative banjo tunes, Haravitch holds true to the local tradition and offers a collection of grooves soothing in their dance-like delivery. He invites us to walk with the cadence of a snail through the woods. For only by softening our pace could we hope to answer the conundrum of modern existence together.
The album is releasing on Friday, February 24 with a celebratory LiveStream at 7pm EST on Youtube and Facebook. Streaming LIVE from Bernunzio Uptown Music in Rochester, NY, and powered by Bop Shop Records, a fine seller of vinyl and rare records.
Bio: In an infinitely expanding universe nearly fourteen billion years in the making, let’s zoom in on a sleepy hillside in the Finger Lakes, where Benny Bleu Haravitch’s banjo rings out in harmony with it all. Haravitch, through his lens as an earth scientist, contemplates ages of ecological relationships in his folk music. His career is dedicated to purveying honest acoustic roots music, not for the sake of revival, but as a living, breathing community experience in the here and now. An award winning banjo player (finalist in the prestigious 2022 Online Old Time Banjo Contest), and a cherished songwriter, Benny Bleu lives up to the truest form of folk music – made by the folks, for the folks. His hypothesis: building connections with nature, each other, and our history through music makes for a richer future. Simple, testable, repeatable.
Photos for press
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From the liner notes:
Consider the snail. They are never in a hurry. They carry their homes with them wherever they go, and can retreat there on a dime. Yet they are respectful and curious about other snails. They can smell the world around them in stereo. They generate so much slime that they get to glide wherever they go almost friction-free. They eat mostly fungi, plants, and earth, yet they never take more than their share. They help the whole forest by precessing the leaf litter and occasionally one sacrifices itself for the benefit of a fellow creature like a turkey. And since they’ve been around since the Cambrian Period and they still thrive all over the globe, maybe we can learn a thing or two from them.
In reverence of snails and other gastropods, and the pace at which they savor this world, I humbly offer this collection of tunes played at rather gentle tempos and with as little friction as possible. There are some brisk moments that may flirt with 110 bpm, but overall I hope you find it relaxing. Perhaps this music can accompany you while you do something you enjoy like yoga or cooking or taking a walk or something. They are marches after all. The bugle melody in lock-step with the drum corps.
Richie Stearns, Rayna Gellert, Rosie Newton, Jason and Pharis Romero, Adam Hurt, Bruce Molsky, Aaron Lipp, and Reed Martin are some of the folks who inspired these recordings. They have taught me to feel the tunes. They crooked adaptation of Elk River Blues was taught to me by Fred Coon. And here’s a cosmic nod to Mac Benford for teaching me Julianne Johnson. Bernard Purdie, James Jamerson, and Ray Brown need recognition too.
Fairy Shrimp are tiny little lobsters who live for a month or two in vernal pools in the forests of Oregon and Northern California. Before they die and their pool dries up, they bury eggs in the mud, which hatch a year later when the pool returns. Like magic.
Most tunes were played on a Bart Reiter Standard banjo and two were played on a fretless mountain banjo made by geologist Dick Gilman.
Performed and recorded by Benny Bleu Haravitch in spring 2022 in Hemlock, NY. Mastered by Aaron Lipp at Temple Cabin Studios. Cover painting by Erika Guli. Back portrait captured by Andy Smith. Inside photo by Jim Dombkowski.