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Peter Solomon

Articles by Peter Solomon

Folk Festival Feature: Gospel Ranger

One of the last songs that Johnny Cash recorded before he died was called “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).” But that song is not a Johnny Cash original. “Ain’t No Grave” was actually written in 1934 by a 12-year-old boy named Claude Ely. Ely went on to become an itinerant Pentecostal preacher known to his followers as Brother Claude, the Gospel Ranger.

Folk Festival Feature: Plunky Branch

Last April, Richmond saxophonist Plunky Branch celebrated 40 years leading his Afro-Jazz Funk Ensemble “Plunky and Oneness.” 88.9 WCVE’s Peter Solomon caught up with Plunky at his home near Byrd Park where he spoke about his life and musical career.

This segment originally aired last April on 88.9 WCVE’s Jazz Program. Find more information on Plunky and Oneness here.

Folk Festival Feature: Tredegar Ironworks

Historic Tredegar Ironworks is situated in the middle of the Richmond Folk Festival Grounds. Today its the site of the American Civil War Center. In its heyday, it was the South's most important manufacturing establishment. Tredegar Ironworks played a crucial role in arming the Confederacy, and that story is inextricably linked with the story of its owner: civil engineer, industrialist and Confederate General Joseph Reid Anderson.

Folk Featival Feature: Debo Dabney

If you’re a fan of live music in Richmond, odds are good that at some point you’ve run across the path of Herbert ‘Debo’ Dabney. Debo is everywhere. You might catch him playing Gospel, Jazz, R&B, even Country-swing. On October 14th, he played the Hammond B3 organ in a concert at Capitol Ale House, and the recording will be used for his first CD project.

Folk Festival Feature: Virginia Folklife Area Part 1

The Virginia Folklife Area has been an important part of the Folk Festival since it first came to Richmond 10 years ago. This year, the Virginia Folklife area celebrated 25 years of documenting the Commonwealth’s rich musical and material traditions from Bluegrass to Gospel, fiddle making to boat building.

Even though the events that Jon Lohman discusses in this segment have passed, you can find lots of information on all of these artisans at

Folk Festival Feature: Ukelele Scene

In recent years around the world, there has been a resurgence of interest in the ukelele. Peter Solomon originally produced this piece in 2013 and it was re-packaged and updated by Steve Clark for this year’s broadcast. Since this piece first aired, both Steve Clark and Peter Solomon have taken up the ukelele.

Details on the event mentioned in this piece, the third annual Uke Fest Virginia can be found here.

Folk Festival Feature: James River and Kanawha Canal

The site of the Richmond Folk Festival intersects the path of the historic James River and Kanawha Canal. George Washington conceived of the canal to connect the coastal areas of Virginia with the West. Unfortunately, the canal never made its way across the Allegheny mountains. 130 years after it fell out of use, there are still people who remain enthusiastic about its preservation. 88.9 WCVE’s Peter Solomon explore’s the canal’s history.

Folk Festival Feature: Guitarist Lonnie Johnson

Long before Jimmy Hendrix, Chet Atkins, Les Paul or Charlie Christian, there was a guitarist from New Orleans that some have called the Original Guitar Hero. Lonnie Johnson recorded with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, was one of the first jazz or blues musicians to play melodic solos on the instrument. B.B. King credits Johnson as one of his greatest influences and he is said to have inspired other influential guitar players including Robert Johnson and T-Bone Walkker.