Rolling Hills Radio at Chautauqua Institution Sunday

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 at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5. Hardley notes that this concert is an excellent opportunity to hear these well-known musicians and to experience a Rolling Hills Radio show.

Joe 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. And these stories are set to glorious guitar work which blends his classical guitar training with the deep roots of Americana music. Says Hardley of Crookston, “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.”

Crookston’s career has been a string of successes. His first album, 2004’s “Fall Down as the Rain,” was rated one of the year’s top twelve 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, Tennessee.

Sing Out Magazine writes, “With all the performers out there, an artist has to go beyond good…and Joe does.”

Todd 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. Host Ken Hardley says that he “cannot listen to a Todd Burge song without being simultaneously amused, perplexed, moved and, often, deeply touched.” So it is not surprising that this artist wrote a song about a woman who buries her husband of 35 years in her flower garden, then waters him daily while telling him to “grow up!”

Burge has played venues from the Kennedy Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame to literally hundreds of clubs, including the obscure. 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. Pete Marshall, owner of a Charlottesville venue where Burge performed, said he is “literate, witty, off-kilter and always highly entertaining…a real revelation.”

This will be the fifth year for a Chautauqua presentation of Rolling Hills Radio. Ken Hardley says he “feels at home at Chautauqua” because the show and the Institution share the American values of intellectual curiosity, multi-culturalism and authenticity. “It is the perfect setting for a peaceful Sunday afternoon of Rolling Hills Radio music and conversation. Like a visit with some old friends. “ says Hardley.

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, Access Channel 5 in Mayville, and in the capital region on Open Stage Media in Schenectady.

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 currently available for purchase at Individual and season tickets are available by calling 716-294-0416, online at, or at the door starting Oct. 22.