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‘Red Rooster’ writer Joe Crookston climbs Kellish Hill on Saturday

Ohio-born, Ithaca-based songwriter Joe Crookston will strum, sing and tell stories at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Kellish Hill Farm Music Farm, on Pompey Center Road.

Ohio-born, Ithaca-based songwriter Joe Crookston will strum, sing and tell stories at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Kellish Hill Farm Music Farm, on Pompey Center Road.

— Twenty six years ago, Joe Crookston took a weekend off from his collegiate studies to attend the Kent State Folk Festival, and after he heard fingerpicker Harvey Reid and the furious fiddling of The Horse Flies, he sold his electric guitar and acquired a steel-stringed acoustic flat top.

The Ohio native never looked back.

He strummed those steel strings until his fingers bled. He learned folk tunes like “Easy and Slow” and moved to Seattle in 1996. For about a year he worked with troubled youth in prison, and he started writing songs.

A few years ago, the International Folk Alliance in Memphis named Crookston’s third CD, “Able Baker Charlie & Dog” as the Album of the Year for 2008.

Now based in Ithaca, Crookston will strap on his 1948 Gibson six-string to perform his often offbeat songs along with guitarist Peter Glanville at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Kellish Hill Music Farm on Pompey Center Road. Admission costs $10.

Many of Crookston’s tunes have a humorous edge, such as “Red Rooster in the Mash Pile” about a drunken fowl. Other titles include “Blue Tattoo,” “Freddy the Falcon” and “Fall Down as the Rain.”

“After years of creating,” he says, “I feel as though I’ve honed a way of writing and performing that expresses my quirky uniqueness.”

While most of his material is original, Crookston also sings a haunting cover of Don Fogelberg’s “Wandering Shepherd,” and his 2011 disc, “Darkling & the Bluebird Jubilee” includes a song by New Orleans tunesmith Mary Gauthier titled “Mercy Now.”

Roots Music Examiner critic James Carlson has high praise for “Darkling” – “Joe Crookston is decidedly one of today’s standout troubadours. On ‘Darkling & the Bluebird Jubilee,’ he sings the heart pure, he sings the soul holy, he sings the mind unshackled and he sings the world loud and true.”

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