Jim Rooney with Nanci Griffith

Jim Rooney with Nanci Griffith

Famed Recording Producer Jim Rooney to Keynote May 16-20 SERFA Conference in Montreat

CARRBORO, NC: Musical renaissance man Jim Rooney will deliver the keynote address at the 11th Annual Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) Conference in Montreat, NC on Friday, May 18, 2018. The keynote is scheduled for 2 PM, SERFA Executive Director Art Menius announced. Rooney, who recounted his career in the 2015 memoir In It For The Long Run: A Musical Odyssey (University of Illinois Press), has played nearly every position in music. He has exceeded as a recording producer and engineer, songwriter, musician, music publisher, festival producer, folk club manager, and author.

Above all, Jim Rooney is a folksinger. He is a leading member of the generation that came of age during the great folk music revival of the late 50s/early 60s for whom the moniker ‘folksinger’ encompassed not only performing but, folklore scholarship exploring roots music. From 1965 through 1967, he managed the legendary Club 47 in Cambridge, bringing guitar masters Doc Watson and Merle Travis, bluegrass artists like Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and Jim & Jesse, and blues legends such as Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and Mose Allison to northern, urban audiences, while giving folk musicians including Tom Rush, Richie Havens, Tim Buckley, and Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band a place to play regularly for listening audiences. In 1968 and 1969, Rooney programed the Newport Folk Festival and founded the event which evolved into the famed New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Rooney fell into recording producing and engineering unintentionally, encouraged by his mentor Cowboy Jack Clement. As a producer or engineer he has worked on projects with John Prine, Hal Ketchum, Peter Rowan, Iris Dement, Ian Tyson, Don Edwards, Carl Perkins, and Nanci Griffith. From 1970 to 1972, he constructed and managed the Bearsville Sound Studios in Woodstock, New York, for Albert Grossman, who managed Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Janis Joplin. Dozens of noted artists have recorded there over the past five decades including The Band, Todd Rundgren, Phish, and the Rolling Stones. As a partner in Forerunner from 1986 to 2000, he helped build a successful and innovative, artist-first music publishing house with writers like David Mallet, Pat Alger, Shawn Camp, Barry & Holly Tashian, and Tim O’Brien turning out numerous hits topping the country charts for Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, Patty Loveless, Vince Gill, and others.

Rooney began with bluegrass music in Massachusetts in 1954 when he heard a band called the Confederate Mountaineers on radio station WCOP. The transplanted southern band members Bea and Everett Lilly, Tex Logan, and Don Stover inspired him. It wasn’t too long before the sixteen-year-old was on WCOP himself and hooked on performing.

At Amherst College in 1959, he met the late Bill Keith, the essential bridge figure in the evolution of the 5-string banjo from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck. Keith would be a friend and musical partner for much of the next 60 years. In 1962, they recorded “Devil's Dream” and “Sailor’s Hornpipe,” the first documentation of Keith’s revolutionary chromatic style shortly before he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. The tracks appeared on their Living on the Mountain LP. Their many collaborations would include the revolutionary Blue Velvet Band whose music spread worldwide person to person, with all-star collections of Woodstock musicians on the Mud Acres: Music Among Friends album and with the Woodstock Mountains Revue, and concerts and tours with many different musicians.

In addition to his memoir, Rooney has authored two significant books. Bossmen was the first biography of both Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters. Baby Let Me Follow You Down with Eric von Schmidt was the first history of the Boston folk scene.

Formed in 2002, SERFA (www.serfa.org) is the southeastern regional chapter of Folk Alliance International (www.folk.org). According to its website, The Southeast Regional Folk Alliance exists to preserve, promote, develop and celebrate the diverse heritage, of roots and indigenous music, dance, storytelling and related arts of the southeastern United States. It has produced its annual conference at the Assembly Inn in Montreat, NC since 2011. Previous SERFA keynote speakers include Kathy Mattea, Peggy Seeger, Si Kahn, Pam McMichael, and John McCutcheon.

For More Information: Art Menius 919-675-2787 art@artmenius.com