Delaware Friends of Folk kick off new concert season

This fall marks the return of the Delaware Friends of Folk for the 10th consecutive season of family-friendly, monthly music events held the second Friday of the month from October through March at The Old State House in Dover. We connected with the group’s Board of Directors Vice Chairman John Kidd to learn more about the organization, artists and the importance of keeping the music alive.

Local eelctric blues band Bad Juju performs an acoustic set at a live concert at The Old State House.
Bad Juju is a local electric blues band that featured an acoustic set during a concert at The Old State House. Photo courtesy of the Delaware Friends of Folk.

Who are the Delaware Friends of Folk?

The organization got started in 1992. We had a folk festival that was simply called a “fall fling.” Basically, a bunch of friends got together and played some music in a clearing in the woods on a guy’s farm — I wasn’t around then. They realized it was best to start an organization. Right after that festival is when Delaware Friends of Folk was incorporated, in ‘93. That’s been our story ever since.

We recently held our 32nd folk festival. It’s one of the longest-running folk festivals in the country now. A couple of years after that first folk festival, the group started a thing called a coffee house. Basically, it’s acoustic music — you might call it folk music, but it’s much broader than that. The idea is to find an empty space and take it over for an evening. I went to coffeehouses when I was in college 50 or 60 years ago. It’s an old concept in folk music. We were at Wesley College for 26 years, and now we’re in our second year at the Dover Art League in downtown Dover. We hold those almost every month. They’re a mix of contracted artists and open mics, that sort of thing.

The Delaware Friends of Folk has a nine-member board of directors. It’s a membership group, and it’s $15 per year for individual members and $20 for a family. That gets you discounted admission to our coffeehouses and festival. And like any good nonprofit, we always need volunteers.

Folk artists Paul and Begonia perform at The Old State House in Dover.
Paul and Begonia perform a Flamenco set. Photo courtesy of the Delaware Friends of Folk.

What’s special about folk music?

It’s handmade music. It’s music that’s performed, usually, on acoustic instruments. Electric guitars, sometimes, electric bass or keyboards, but it’s often done acoustically. A lot of it is original. A lot of performers write their own music, and they’ll do a couple of covers. It can be in-your-face but it’s not loud in your face, usually.

There’s also this concept in folk music of what’s called a house concert. People open their house to an artist and invite folks in. [These performances] are like a house concert in the sense that it’s in The Old State House.

What are the concerts like at The Old State House?

What makes The Old State House such a neat place is performers come in there and don’t use any amplification or microphones. It’s like being in your living room. That’s the magic of that place. People just come in and they sit and they play.

It started about 10 years ago, when folks at the First State Heritage Park first contacted us, looking for something to do in the winter that could replace the lantern tours they did in the summer. Then we toured The Old State House and began playing there in partnership with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. It’s really an amazing space to play and listen. 

Mark Stuart, a Nashville artist, happened to be in the area when he performed at The Old State House as part of the Delaware Friends of Folk concert series.
Mark Stuart, a Nashville artist, happened to be in the area when he performed at The Old State House as part of the Delaware Friends of Folk concert series. Photo courtesy of the Delaware Friends of Folk.

We’ve been doing that for 10 years now, and almost all of those years, we’ve received grant support from the Kent County Fund for the Arts. That allows us to offer those shows for free and we can pay the artists. And the venue is there and they seem to like us coming in once a month in the winter. We present quality music at a price you can’t find anywhere else. It’s hard to find free music anymore, and we’re proud to be able to do that. It lets families come so kids can listen. That’s another thing about folk music: There’s a heritage to it. Instruments get passed along, and songs get passed through families.

Why does the group like performing at The Old State House?

It gives us an opportunity to showcase mostly local artists from Delaware and the Eastern Shore. They’re from around here and it gives us a chance to showcase these artists in a different setting. A lot of people make a living playing in bars and that’s not always a great listening setting. Here, people can also interact with the artist after the show.

Tell us more about Delaware’s historical connection to folk music.

I don’t know a whole lot about that, but I know there’s a strong bluegrass tradition in western Kent County and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Apparently — and this is just what I’ve been told  — when the Depression hit and mines started shutting down, people moved to the coast and brought their music with them. A lot ended up on the Maryland shore, so I guess that’s where bluegrass came from, especially in Talbot County and up through Elkton. 

We’ve been doing this here for 30 years. There are other groups, like the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, who have been in business longer than we have, up in New Castle County. Our membership largely is in Kent County. It started that way.

What else do you want people to know about the 10th season partnering with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs?

We really appreciate the space, the help that the staff gives us, the attention they pay to everything. They keep us on track sometimes. It’s a really neat relationship and the people are great.

All performances are one-hour shows starting at 7:30. We’re on the first floor, which used to be the courtroom. There are a lot of little chambers in there, so sometimes people are sitting right beside the performers. It’s a neat space, it really is. We can get 50-60 people in there pretty easily.

How can people support the Delaware Friends of Folk?

Join. Become a member. You can do that on our website. And then volunteer to help at different things, especially the festival. Join and volunteer.

It’s fun. You can also learn to play and come and listen. And if you don’t want to play, come and listen because we always need ears.

To learn more about the Delaware Friends of Folk, visit Check out videos of past performances on the division’s YouTube channel.

To learn more about The Old State House, located at 25 The Green in Dover, visit us online, call 302-744-5054 or email

Upcoming performances

October 13: Bob Beach and Pat Wictor

The new season will kick off with a special 7 p.m. performance by Brooklyn-based slide guitar master Pat Wictor along with Pennsylvania-based harmonica player Bob Beach.

Wictor first burst on the folk and acoustic scene as an innovative slide guitarist known for fresh and memorable interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs. Since then, he has made his mark as a singer-songwriter penning lean and poetic songs that honor and extend rural blues and gospel traditions. Wictor took a convoluted path to folk music, winding his way through rock, heavy metal, jazz, and free improvisation. He started with guitar, shifted to bass, moved to saxophone, and then quit music entirely before returning to guitar, and teaching himself lap slide guitar. He organized and ran a songwriters circle in New York City for 13 years, mentoring and influencing dozens of songwriters. An adept improviser and accompanist, he is sought after as a collaborator, sideman, and session musician, with over 60 recording credits to date. His style has also been classified as Americana, with Dirty Linen stating that the clear quality of his voice makes for an “interesting juxtaposition” alongside his musicianship.

Beach plays harmonica with calm fierceness. A mouth-harp maestro who swaggers into a solo like The Marlboro Man, then quietly leaves the set while the crowd wonders what just happened and how such a tiny instrument could possibly sound like that. Beach has been a working professional musician for more than 40 years bringing harmonica, flute, and vocals to a broad scope of genres. He has recorded or performed with acts such as Ollabelle, Langhorne Slim, The Avett Brothers, Pat Wictor and others.

November 10: Mike Weyrauch

Mike Weyrauch’s music represents decades of musical influences and inspiration from an eclectic array of artists and musicians. His influences can be heard in his original music with sounds of gospel, soul, alternative, classic rock, and Americana. A Frederica resident, Mike’s passion for emotionally and spiritually driven music has helped him gain regional notoriety as a powerful live act sure to please live music fans everywhere. With the recent release of his third album “One Became Four,” Mike hopes to reach wider audiences with relatable storytelling that reflects his journey, and craft catchy hooks leaving you wanting the songs to never end. Renditions of covers reflect his creativity and intent to add originality to songs you know, and some you didn’t know you knew.

December 8: Ty and The I 

Ty Mathis is a Newark, Delaware-born multi-instrumental artist who passionately spreads the message of peace and love through his heartfelt music. With a remarkable repertoire of five studio albums, Ty’s unique sound incorporates elements of soul, folk, rock, rhythm and blues, funk, disco, psychedelia. A master of many instruments, including guitar, bass, drums, piano, and vocals, Ty’s diverse musical abilities allow him to craft rich and harmonious compositions that resonate deeply with audiences. Accompanying Ty for this performance is his good friend and percussionist Jason Gallagher. This duo is also known as Ty and The I, you will surely feel the peace and love flow through the music.

January 12: Red Birds

 Red Birds are an indie folk trio from the Elkton, Maryland, area. Featuring Zoë August on vocals and bass, Dan August on guitar and banjo and Sam Williamson on percussion, Red Birds deliver an honest and heartfelt take on indie folk music. Through their songwriting they explore balancing work, family, creativity and mortality while trying to have fun and stay comfy. Their newest release “Tell Me Lies” can be found on Bandcamp and all other platforms.

February 9: Lavender Browne

 Lavender Browne is more than a musician. Lavender Browne is the energy of emotion channeled through art.  “I write from the heart and sing from the soul.” A Delaware native, singer-songwriter Lavender Browne uses her diverse musical background to immerse fans in a melodically-driven, multi-genre experience that is poetic, fresh, and emotionally honest. With just her voice and bass guitar, “Big Lola,” Lavender crafts choruses that feel like friends.

It was apparent from the start that Lavender was destined for a musical existence. The only daughter of two musicians, Lavender was playing violin by age three, and enrolled in art school by age six. It was at Southern Delaware School of the Arts where she became accustomed to the stage, and began singing, dancing, writing poetry, and composing songs. Several years, stages and guitars later, Lavender has firmly established herself as a multimedia artist, with a flourishing music career. Along with her solo career, she has lent her talent to bands such as Marissa Levy & The Lady Parts, The Repeat Offenders and Soul Chase.

March 8: Mother’s Highway Junction

Mother’s Highway Junction’s tagline, “the World’s First and Only Original Folk Power Trio,” is both a bit mischievous and a good description of their range of songs and live sound. Many of their tunes are written by band leader Mike Miller, and most of the rest come from the Americana and roots catalog. Yet the band often rearranges these traditional songs into fresh and innovative versions, reminding us that what matters is what’s going on today. 

The band formed in 2018 and has performed across Delaware in a variety of venues.  Miller, who also performs solo, appreciates the broader and deeper treatment the band can provide to some of his original songs. Miller was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts in 2023, and the band commands a small yet loyal following.

The band’s roster is completed by John Kidd on harmonica and vocals, and Bob Hamel on bass guitar. Despite the few members, the band consistently gets positive feedback on the breadth and clarity of their sound, and appreciation for its treatment of some great American music. At this point, the band can also claim to be contributing some of that music directly.

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