WELLSBORO, Pa. (WETM) – Nationally acclaimed American folk singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter Joe Crookston will perform in the Deane Center’s Coolidge Theatre on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
A resident of Ithaca, New York, Crookston regularly tours in the United States, Canada, and Ireland.
“I will be performing upbeat, high-energy songs along with artful and quiet songs,” Crookston said. Not only is he known for his lyrics, “created with wit, intelligence and heart” but also for his excellent musicianship and charismatic stage presence.
Crookston has written many songs based on true American stories. His music is deeply rooted in the grand celebration of life, death, ancestry and the interconnectedness of us all.
In 2007, he was awarded a year-long Rockefeller Foundation songwriting grant for a project called “Songs of the Finger Lakes.” He traveled around the region setting its people and history to music.
After meeting Dina Jacobson, an elderly Holocaust survivor from Poland who was living in Elmira, N.Y., Crookston wrote “Blue Tattoo.” She bore an identification number tattooed on her body from her time in the Auschwitz concentration camp. That 2007 song was the inspiration for a 2014 documentary of the same name. The film is about how Crookston and Jacobson met and formed a unique friendship. Their common goal was to help keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and its lessons of humanity relevant.
In 2017, another of Crookston’s story songs, “Brooklyn in July” was made into a short film produced by Laura Delano and directed by Bob Celli. It is the story of Frank Walker, an African-American World War II veteran who was working as a chauffeur.
In Wellsboro, Cookston will perform two of his story songs, “The Letters of Florence Hemphill” that he wrote about a nurse from Wilson County, Kansas who volunteered to serve in World War 1, and “Blue Tattoo.”
Crookston is also a painter. When he sings those two songs, the supersized acrylic portraits he painted of Hemphill and Jacobson will be displayed on stage.
During intermission, the singer will have some of his 8½- by 11-inch matted, framed and autographed monoprints available for purchase. Crookston created them based on lyrics in his songs.
Audience members can bring their favorite beverages and snacks and reserve a table at no extra charge. Admission is $20. For tickets and a table, call 570-724-6220 or visit deanecenter.com.