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Growing up in upstate New York in the 60’s, then graduating from Lehigh University in 1973 with two degrees (BS – Mechanical Engineering, BA – Philosophy), Dave Fry began performing folk music in college with the Graveyard Skiffle Band, specializing in early 20’s folk and jug band music. The early 70’s found Dave with the Shimersville Sheiks, expanding his horizons with bluegrass, early country, blues and novelty acoustic music. It was in spring of 1976 that Dave founded Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, a 100-seat coffeehouse and listening club that eventually became a not-for-profit organization in 1983, and remains an important and well-respected stop on the national and international folk circuit today.
The 1980’s introduced Dave to children’s music as a member of Touchstone Theater’s company for six years, creating and performing in original productions, touring schools and summer street venues, eventually touring Mexico and the White House lawn. Dave struck out on his own as children’s performer while playing clubs with his new band, Steppin’ Out!, a Texas-swing and rock ’n’ roll band. Dave eventually formed an alternative folk/rock quartet, Out on a Limb, in the early 90’s. The rest of the decade saw Dave with a progressive bluegrass band, Pavlov’s Dawgs, and a Celtic-rock band, Murphy’s Trousers.
While maintaining a performing career, booking Godfrey’s and starting a family, Dave began presenting roots music on the college radio station WMUH, Allentown, in 1986 (Hep Cat’s Holiday) and on WDIY public radio, Bethlehem, from its inception in 1995 (All Reet Street).
Dave developed an educational assembly program RockRoots, a history of American Pop music in 1990. This four-piece band continues to tour schools and festivals, working with Young Audiences of Eastern PA and New Jersey for over ten years, and is recognized as one of the premier and popular educational assemblies on the East Coast. The show, taped by WLTV-TV, won Best Children’s Programming in PA in 1991, and has been broadcast nationally. It remains a popular assembly in NJ and PA.
On the main stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival
Dave has five albums to his credit: Pearls, an adult-oriented folk album featuring blues, swing, Celtic instrumental and folk music, I Like Peanut Butter, a compilation of two kids’ music tapes, a winner of the Children’s Web Music award in 1999, and another kids’ music album, Shake It!, a variety of dance music for children. Playground, released in 2013, is his latest and most ambitious family music CD, with inspiration from jump rope rhymes and playground songs. His latest folk album, 2018’s Troubadour, is a polished and mature collection of Dave’s current repertoire, featuring blues, old-school country, folk rock, and Celtic music, as well as original songwriting and Americana styles.
PBS-TV has also released the DVD How to Play Guitar with Dave Fry, Dave’s friendly introduction to the joys of acoustic guitar. Recorded in 2004, this educational special has been played on over 160 PBS-TV stations nationally, and continues to encourage beginning guitarists all over. It is now out of print.
Dave continues to perform family music at festivals, including regular stops at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the New Jersey Folk Festival, Bethlehem’s Musikfest, as well as the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage, Winterhawk and Falcon Ridge festivals. He is one of the very few performers to have performed at every Musikfest in Bethlehem, highlighted by his week-long residency in 1999, performing 7 shows, solo and with his bluegrass, RockRoots, Celtic-rock bands.
Dave has been honored by the State of New Jersey as a Master Artist and by the State of Connecticut as a Teaching Artist for his work in schools, and was a charter member of Pennsylvania Performing Artists on Tour. Dave has been runner-up in the CT State Troubadour Contest in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Dave also has been a judge for NAMM, the independent record labels, for the last 8 years, in folk, acoustic instrumental, blues, children’s, Celtic and international music styles.
Dave has won multiple Lehigh Valley Music Awards including Best Folk (’09, ’12, ’16) Best Children’s Performer (’14, ’15, ’16), Best Radio Programmer (’16), and received the LVMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. He also won the Bethlehem Fine Arts Artist of the Year in 2012.
Dave was an integral part of PASELA, a ground-breaking pilot program charting the effect of arts on literacy with pre-kindergarten children and toddlers in Head Starts, schools and daycares on the SouthSide of Bethlehem, PA, creating a national template early education and the arts. He has also completed training in Creative Beginnings, the YANJ program for early childhood education.
Dave is an award-winning folk radio-programmer, with 45 years of on-air experience on WSAN, WMUH, WLVR and now on WDIY with Sunday Folk and Live From Godfrey Daniels.
Dave co-founded Godfrey Daniels in 1976 and remains one of the premier folk music clubs nationally and internationally. He remains an active volunteer.
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I’ve been with Young Audiences of NJ/ Eastern PA since 1990.
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