Award-Winning Folk Music Group Subject of New Book, 50th Reunion Concert Part of IUP Homecoming Celebration

Posted on 10/8/2014 10:48:07 AM

It’s been 50 years, but the memories are still very much alive in the minds and hearts of an Indiana University of Pennsylvania award-winning musical group, the Folkmen, and their fans.

The FolkmenThanks to Folkmen member Alan W. Luckey, of Indiana, the memories are collected in his book, Changing Times: The Folkmen at IUP, 1963–1969.

He completed the book in time for the Folkmen’s 50th anniversary this year, which includes a special reunion concert on October 11 at 7:00 p.m. in Gorell Auditorium in Sutton Hall. The concert is free and open to the community.

Luckey, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1987 and his master’s degree in 1989 at IUP, will sign copies of his book from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex during the IUP Homecoming Crimson Huddle event and immediately after the concert in the Annex Gallery in Sprowls Hall.

The book is available for purchase at the book signings, the IUP Co-op Store on campus or online, and at Amazon.com. All proceeds from book sales benefit the Folkmen Scholarship for music majors.

The book is not just about the Folkmen, which eventually included a total of 10 IUP students over the years, but discusses the great changes of the 1960s in America and the changes on the IUP campus, Luckey said.

“(This is) a personal history of how they saw, and reacted to, the shifts in American life, and how they built their own lives in this turbulent time,” Luckey writes.

The Folkmen, in addition to Luckey, included Warren Allen ’69, Bruce Bly, Larry Carter, Fred Danziger, Mike DuBois ’68, D. C. Fitzgerald, Dave Frye, Jeff Kelley ’69 and George “Woody” Woodbury.

The concert on Oct. 11, in addition to Luckey, will feature Bly, of Dayton; Carter, of Altoona; Danziger, of Philadelphia; Frye, of Silver Springs, Md.; and Woodbury, of Lansdale.

Folkmen Allen, formerly of Distant, Pa.; DuBois, formerly of Greensburg, Pa.; Fitzgerald, formerly of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Kelley, formerly of Mt. Pleasant, Pa., are now deceased.

Danziger, a well-known artist with works in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, has several of his pieces on display at Kipp Gallery in Sprowls Hall in conjunction with the reunion concert. Danziger specializes in large-scale paintings and digital artwork.

The IUP Libraries also has a display honoring the Folkmen and the group’s 50th anniversary, including the group’s albums, awards, instruments, memorabilia, photographs, scrapbooks, and uniforms.

“This group was just a fabulous experience, and we all remained close friends,” Luckey said. “About five years after most of the Folkmen had graduated, we started a tradition of reunions, and it has lasted for more than 40 years. After Jeff (Kelley’s) passing, my wife (Dr. Rhonda Luckey) had the idea of the scholarship, and we announced its establishment at his funeral.”

The idea for the book started after one of the Folkmen’s gatherings, this time at the home of Steve Allen, younger brother of Folkmen member Warren Allen. Steve Allen gifted the Folkmen with his late brother’s Folkmen memorabilia.

“When I got home with these items, my wife said, ‘You have to write a book!’”

The book started with a lot of research, Luckey said, not only about the Folkmen, but about the 1960s in America and the 1960s at IUP.

The book was about two years in the making, Luckey said. While he didn’t necessarily set out to complete it in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Folkmen, he is pleased to have it coincide with the anniversary and reunion concert.

When he started the book, he invited members of the Folkmen to his home. They stayed for three days, reminiscing, and Luckey recorded it all.

“That gave me the personal stories from everyone to put into the book. And, as I was writing, my own memories just kept pouring back. Being a member of the Folkmen was, and continues to be, a wonderful thing to have had in my life.”

IUP President Michael Driscoll authored the forward for the book. He praises Luckey’s storytelling, noting that “(Folk music) called all of us to rise from the couches of comfort in our dens of disinterest and stride forward to right the wrongs of the world. It is around this rallying cry that the Folkmen came together and stayed together. And folk music is the warp through which Luckey skillfully weaves the stories of the Folkmen, and the reality of the times, to create the tapestry of an era.”

Luckey believes that his book, especially for those that were young in the 1960s, will bring back memories of what they were doing during that era. He also thinks that readers who knew the Folkmen, or heard them perform at IUP, will find that his book is a “pretty accurate look at how things were, through the eyes of the people who were there at the time.”

Luckey recently retired from his work as an English teacher at Purchase Line High School, and also taught a speech and drama elective.

“The experience of being one of the Folkmen was really the training for my work teaching in speech and drama,” he said. “We’ve always been a group that was filled with life and exuberance for our performances, and even though we’re older, we promise that excitement for this reunion concert.”

The Folkmen in rehearsal

The Folkmen, rehearsing for the 50th-reunion concert. The author of Changing Times: The Folkmen at IUP, 1963–1969, Alan Luckey, is pictured second from left (on banjo).

Left to right: Larry Carter, Alan Luckey, Dave Frye, Woody Woodbury, Bruce Bly