Jolene – Reading, PA, Singer/Songwriter on Making Music as an Independent

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Among the more fun and enjoyable aspects of running an Internet TV channel in Berks County is the chance to get out and meet some of the many area singer/songwriters, hear their music, and learn first hand about their craft.

We met Jolene last week at the Hard Bean Cafe in West Reading, PA, where she organizes a singer/songwriter night the first Thursday of each month. Equally at home on the guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, Jolene has two full solo CDs behind her and three more in the making.

Here’s what one reviewer wrote about Jolene:

“The most striking thing about Jolene is that she’s a walking contradiction. It would be easy to say that she’s a paradox, but that be over complicating things. Paradoxes seem to imply that there is some mystery or enigma, but Jolene’s at home wearing her emotions on her sleeve. She’s not content to draw any punches, and that helps to create the contradiction. Not only does her music have the youthful amazement and joy of a child, but she has the maturity of wise old woman in not only her courage to be forward with her emotions, but also her intelligent presentation of those emotions.”

What started out as a “living room venture” has become a nice side career, as you’ll hear her describe in this segment. Jolene keeps the world apprised of her progress via her website and connects with other musicians via her MySpace page, where you can also sample some of her music.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 2:57, 26MB

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Sarah Reese: “Berks County is a wonderland for horse owners”

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A quick drive out Oley Turnpike earlier this week found us in the equine paradise of Passport Farms. We’d been invited to spend some time with Sarah Reese, president of Berks Equine Council, to hear about the Council’s work in the community and some of their upcoming events.

“Berks County is a wonderland for horse owners,” she said. The Council is a non-profit dedicated to horses, horse owners, open space, and educating people about what horses bring to Berks County.

Though perhaps not as famous for horses as neighboring Chester County, Berks County, PA, has a deep and well-preserved equine tradition, as you’ll hear Sarah describe. Frontier-day horses from Berks County pulled settlers West, Sarah said. Michael Matz, an Olympian and trainer of the race horse Barbaro, hails from Shillington, Berks County.

The tradition lives today, and the Council, through its education programs and professional shows and events, is at the center. More information about upcoming events Sarah mentions can be found on the Council’s calendar.

In an upcoming segment with Sarah, you’ll hear her talk about how she got hooked on horses, and why she sees many becoming passionate about horses as adults. She’ll also share her thoughts on the race horse Barbaro, this year’s Kentucky Derby winner who suffered a career-ending injury in the Preakness.

The handsome Hubley, the other star of this segment, is a 14-year-old belonging to Sarah’s daughter. Considering how patient and friendly he was (even in the 100-degree heat), we suspect this isn’t his first starring role!

UPDATE and Note to readers: Horse aficionodo or not, you’ll enjoy this higher resolution (640×360) version of the same video presented above. At 32 MB, it’s only slightly larger, but the more vibrant colors and detail are worth the extra download time. Enjoy the clip in your browser, or right-click on that link above and save the file, then view it after it’s fully downloaded. This will give you a sense of the exiting things to come on Berks.TV, and with video on the web in general.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 3:25, 23.2MB

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Bob Behling: Flooding validates master plan

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Despite recent Schuylkill River flooding, river development plans in Reading, PA, continue undeterred. With many projects in the “completed” column, and a deep queue of projects to execute, RiverPlace Development Corporation‘s Bob Behling is confident they have the right approach to get things done.

Many projects, including the Canal Heritage Mural, trail bridge over Lancaster Avenue, and a planting of Japanese cherry trees, are complete. Spring will see ground breaking on one of the most ambitious projects yet, a multi-use amphitheater designed to hold up to 2000 people. A good number of projects are championed by community volunteers, and more are needed.

What about the impact of the latest round of flooding?

“We believe that the flood validates the RiverPlace master plan, which calls for a continuous park and trail system along the river and in its floodway, and then for flood-proof construction to be on sites along the river,” Bob says.

You can find more information on the events mentioned in this segment by visiting the RiverPlace events page.

We think you’ll enjoy the waterway footage seen in this clip–all taken from the shores of the Schuylkill near the Reading Area Community College (RACC) campus and from the banks of the Wyomissing Creek near the Reading Public Museum. We shot the flood footage you see here from atop the Penn Street Bridge at around 7:30 pm on June 28, 2006, the night the river crested. You can see more of that footage in one of our earlier segments.

For an introduction to the river development master plan, see an earlier segment published here on Berks.TV.

The view looking north on the Schuylkill River from Reading, PA:

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 7:10, 55MB

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Artist Rich Houck on His Magnolia Series

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Berks.TV spoke recently with artist Rich Houck, whose work was then being featured as part of an exhibit at GoggleWorks in Reading, PA.

In this segment, Rich talks about ideas of light and contrast in his Magnolia Series, which was inspired by the magnolias in Manhattan’s Central Park.

Rich talked about balancing nature and the abstract and the importance of giving an audience ways to connect with his work. “Regardless of your thoughts on positive and negative, contrast, luminosity–things like that, you can still enjoy it for the tree and the blossoms and for the memories that that creates.”

Note to Readers: A great way to learn more about the GoggleWorks, of course, is to visit it at 2nd and Washington Streets in Reading, PA. Short of that, check out this inspiring blog post from Reading’s Mayor Tom McMahon, which he wrote shortly after the arts center opened in fall, 2005. If reading it doesn’t make you want to visit, I’m not sure what will!

You may also enjoy earlier segments here on Berks.TV with Rick Houck and an interview with GoggleWorks Executive Director Diane LaBelle. We had one viewer write to tell us he is planning to visit GoggleWorks after seeing our interview with Diane. Wow!

I’d say the vision for GoggleWorks continues to be realized.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 1:18, 7.3MB

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Diane LaBelle on the GoggleWorks Mission: Educating Anyone About Any of the Arts

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Having spent an enjoyable time at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts talking with artist Rich Houck, we were thrilled when executive director Diane LaBelle agreed to spend a few minutes on camera talking with Berks.TV managing editor Tara Karleen.

It’s an exciting time in the life of young GoggleWorks, the arts center in downtown Reading, PA. It’s surprised more than a few skeptics with its momentum. In addition to strong daily traffic, “Second Sunday” events, where visitors are invited to explore the facility and interact with artists, regularly draw thousands.

In this segment, Diane talks about the various threads of her career coming together in this job and her delight at the surge of interest on the part of artists and the Greater Reading community.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 3:03 minutes, 18MB

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Bill Thompson: How National Pro Fastpitch Will Succeed

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If you tuned in last week for our talk with Jaime Dacey, you learned about southeastern PA’s newest pro team, the Philadelphia Force. We caught up with co-owner Bill Thompson prior to a recent home game, and he told us what it will take for individual teams and the young National Pro Fastpitch league to succeed.

“We need to get attendance to 1200-1500 to survive as a team and keep the prices down to family-affordable prices. We’re running it similar to small-venue format like the minor leagues where we have the in-game entertainment. We have the mascots, we have the hot dog, pizza, and cheesesteak races, tug-of-wars and dizzy bats, and sumo wrestling. Anyone who’s come to the stadium says they would definitely come back, that they felt it was a great experience.”

“The players are playing their hearts out, the owners have acquired a great product, and now it’s up to the community and the businesses to get behind it,” he continued.

A longtime softball coach himself, Bill is excited by the team’s talent, depth, and potential.

They’ve certainly caught ESPN’s attention; the Force’s July 26th and 27th games will be broadcast on the well-known cable sports network.

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Download Video (400×225): Quicktime, Running time: 3:39, 20MB

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Kris Kehr and Julie Edlow, Singer/Songwriters, MySpace Inhabitants

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We’re always curious to learn how those we interview on Berks.TV are using the Internet to further their fortunes. Because we initially learned about Kris Kehr and Julie Edlow through their MySpace pages (here’s Kris’s, and here’s Julie’s), we asked them to explain how they use the increasingly popular social networking site.

As you’ll learn in this segment, MySpace isn’t only for kids. Artists, bands, and others seeking creative ways to introduce their work to the world have taken up residence, creating vibrant mini-communities connecting their work to that of their peers and even their idols.

In Kris’s case, this means the ability to promote new tracks and “connect” with some of his favorite artists, even the likes of Townes Van Zandt, who has departed this world but through the magic of MySpace lives on to please fans.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 3:52, 18MB

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View all appearances of Kris Kehr on Berks.TV.

View all appearances of Julie Edlow on Berks.TV.

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RiverPlace’s Bob Behling: Using the Power of the Schuylkill to Unite Communities

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RiverPlace Development Corporation opened its GoggleWorks offices to Berks.TV this week for an inside view and update on efforts to revitalize river communities in Reading, PA.

In our first segment on the development efforts, Executive Vice President Bob Behling introduces RiverPlace’s vision and outlines the scope of the effort.

We were impressed by the firm’s long-range perspective and community-centered purpose. Those of you who participated in the June 21 Solar Flair walk from GoggleWorks to the Reading Public Museum have a sense of the scale and potential of this endeavor.

In a coming segment, Bob talks about how recent flooding impacts the plan and how RiverPlace hopes to enlist more individuals from the community to help with individual projects.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 2:37, 10MB

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Jaime Dacey, Pro Fastpitch Player, And How She Joined the Force

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Think nothing’s new in Philly sports? An energetic team of national fastpitch standouts is anxious to convince you otherwise.

On a sweltering July afternoon, Berks.TV traveled across the county’s northeast border to Allentown’s Bicentennial Park to learn more about the area’s newest professional sports team, the Philadelphia Force. The 21-member Force is part of the four-year-old National Pro Fastpitch league consisting of teams from across the U.S.

Right fielder Jaime Dacey, a Bucks County native, spent a few minutes with us prior to warmups for a game with New England (which the Force took in extra innings). She’s one of two locals on the team; the other is catcher Jaime Wohlbach, a Kutztown University grad.

Despite several of the first few games being rained out, and some close losses, Jaime senses things are about to turn a corner. “We have really good team chemistry, so hopefully the rest of the season we’ll do well.”

As for the prospects for the sport itself, Jaime is equally optimistic. “We’re at the grassroots of the league,” she said. “Hopefully it gets bigger.”

With Major League Baseball officially backing the effort, we’d say she’s onto something.

The Force face Akron Racers in their next homestand beginning July 26, in a game that will be carried by ESPN.

Look for more segments on the Philadelphia Force in coming weeks on Berks.TV.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 1:52, 10MB

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Artist Rich Houck on Goggleworks: “So much learning is happening”

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Berks.TV recently caught up with artist and Reading, PA, native Rich Houck at his studio in Goggleworks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading.

Rich returned to Reading after thirteen years away and now practices his craft in a third-floor studio at Goggleworks.

He spoke with us about the benefits of working among the community of artists here. “The ideas that have been passed around between the artists and the staff–it’s incredible. So much learning is happening.”

Rich’s work, including the installation piece seen in the background in this clip, was featured as part of an exhibition at Goggleworks during the month of June.

Look for additional segments from our interview with Rich here on Berks.TV in the next few weeks.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 1:16, 6.7MB

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Allan Johnson on Natural Soapmaking, Part 2

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In this segment, we present the conclusion of our time with Allan Johnson from Herbs for Healthful Living. Allan, who has been making natural soap for more than 20 years, was kind enough to share his expertise about the process of natural soapmaking recently at the Kutztown Folk Festival in Kutztown, PA. In our first segment with Allan, he talked about the various kinds of soaps that can be made using a natural process.

So how much do you know about that bar of soap you use every day?

“A lot of people don’t know how or why or where soap comes from or how it’s produced and manufactured,” Allan said. “A lot of commercial soaps are made to go fast, to disappear and be used quickly. Air and other things are whipped into them and so you buy more.”

We think you’ll be as intrigued as we were to learn about the differences between commercial and natural soapmaking processes and the effects on resulting products.

A special thanks to Blue Mountain Gospel Express, whose music you hear in this segment.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 4:13, 23.9MB

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Julie Edlow, Singer/Songwriter, On Her Journey from Musical Theater to Acoustic Folk

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We have to admit, we were easily seduced by the harmonies of Wernersville, PA, performers Kris Kehr and Julie Edlow. Kris and Julie were kind enough to spend a few minutes with Berks.TV recently prior to one of their shows at Stonersville Hotel in Birdsboro, PA.

We asked each of them about their background and influences as musicians. We shared Kris’s thoughts here on Berks.TV last week.

In this segment, Julie talks about her evolution as a musician, from the early days doing musical theater and learning to play guitar, to joining Black Eyed Susan (then a Baltimore-based band), to meeting Kris and opening for his band, The Recipe, and then on to joining The Recipe and most recently performing as a duo with Kris. The two play together frequently in the Reading, PA, area, and also throughout the East Coast.

Though she grew up on soul, R&B, and, funk, Julie now says “some of what I write is more influenced from a female singer songwriter perspective like Fiona Apple or Ani DiFranco.”

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Many thanks to Kris and Julie for allowing us to use footage from their Stonersville show in June, 2006.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 2:47, 14.5MB

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View all appearances of Julie Edlow on Berks.TV.

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Artist Rich Houck on Influences: “The Medium Is What’s Really Important”

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When Berks.TV spoke recently with artist Rich Houck, several of his pieces were being featured as part of a third-floor exhibit at Goggleworks in Reading, PA, where he occupies a studio.

The influence of natural elements in his work–particularly trees and flowers–is clear. When we asked about his other influences as an artist, his thoughts turned to the importance of the Internet in the spread of ideas in art and culture.

“The medium is what’s really important,” he said. Thanks to things like video blogs, he continued, “periods and movements in art are going to move globally very quickly.”

Look for more segments featuring Rich and his work in the coming weeks on Berks.TV.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 1:42, 8.6MB

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Kutztown Folk Festival – and Allan Johnson on Natural Soapmaking

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A pinnacle of Pennsylvania Dutch goodness comes each summer in the form of a weeklong celebration of art, music, technology, food, faith, and domestic method. Berks.TV was there this year at the Kutztown Folk Festival, in Kutztown, PA, on a beautiful weekday morning to grab some stunningly colorful footage on our high definition camera.

Here we’re pleased to present some clips from around the soapmaker’s kettle, the bandstage, and the barnyard (our favorites are the sleepy chick and the kissing bunnies).

A special thanks goes out to Allan Johnson of Herbs for Healthful Living of Saegertown, PA, and all the guys from Blue Mountain Gospel Express, who you see near the beginning of this segment.

Stay tuned to Berks.TV for more from Allan Johnson about the unique and ancient process of making soap the natural way.

The festivities in northeastern Berks County wrap up on July 9.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 3:21, 18.7MB

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Kris Kehr, Singer/Songwriter, On His Musical Influences

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Berks.TV was on hand at Stonersville Hotel on Boyertown Pike in Birdsboro, PA, recently for a compelling evening of harmonica- and mandolin-inspired acoustic folk with Kris Kehr and Julie Edlow, a Wernersville-based singer/songwriter duo.

When we asked about their musical influences, Kris talked about his career as both a professional mandolin player and a singer/songwriter, and the genres and performers that inspire him–names like Neil Young, sOn Volt, and Frank Sinatra.

With this segment, Berks.TV is pleased to kick off a series of interviews with local artists and musicians. Be sure to check back for more from Kris, Julie, and others in the coming weeks.

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Download Video: Quicktime, Running time: 1:47, 9.5MB

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View all appearances of Kris Kehr on Berks.TV.

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