Rolling Hills Radio has brought its show to the Amphitheater four times in recent years. Its fifth performance will have a key difference: the show will be recorded for TV and aired on a later date on local cable in the surrounding areas.
The show will begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, in the Amp, and the lineup includes singer-songwriters Joe Crookston and Todd Burge. This will be the first performance for both artists at the Institution.
This year’s lineup “picked itself” according to Ken Hardley, host of Rolling Hills Radio. At a previous show, Hardley and Crookston were having a conversation during intermission, and Crookston jumped at the opportunity to play in the Amp. Crookston said performing at Chautauqua is a “life goal” of his.
Crookston won the Album of the Year Award from the International Folk Alliance in 2009 for his album Able Baker Charlie & Dog. He tours regularly in the United States, Canada and Ireland.
Not only does Rolling Hills Radio have a surprise for the upcoming performance, but Burge does, too.
“I have new music that I will be performing live for the first time,” Burge said. “That has me energized.”
Burge used to play in a band, but went solo partly because it was an “artistic and egotistic thing.” Burge has plans to record new music with Don Dixon, a producer who worked on his 2012 album Building Characters.
“I realized I can make a living doing this, when I started doing solo shows,” Burge said. “It was all-around good. (I) didn’t have to worry about other musicians and schedules. It was just more practical for me to play solo.”
Your Reflection Will Kill You is Burge’s upcoming album, the title of which comes from “looking into your past and how that can be poisonous,” Burge said. He said this album is “ironic” because he will be re-releasing an album from his past that has been heard before.
Burge said he doesn’t have a favorite genre to play and would rather not label himself as one thing. Burge remembers Louis Armstrong who, when asked what kind of music he liked, replied, “I like good music.” That has stuck with Burge his whole life.
Burge has been making music for over 20 years, and he attributes his longevity to “happy accidents.” Something may be unattainable in a individual’s mind, but they’re constantly striving to reach it, he said. They may never reach it, but when they do, it’s usually by accident and comes out great.
“I try to treat (writing music) as a job,” Burge said. “I write every day — like a journal. I am just looking for something to strike me.”
While Hardley was writing up the plans for the upcoming performance, he called Crookston and Burge to see what the final song should be. They came up with “This Land is your Land,” by Woody Guthrie.
“We thought this was the most American song for the most American place in the land,” Hardley said. “I wish I could take the Chautauqua crowd with me everywhere.”