Kruth's Latest Music


The Folklorkestra is comprised of: John Kruth – mandolin, mandocello, banjo, 12-string guitar, harmonica, flute, sitar and Irish whistle. Premik Russell Tubbs – clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, alto and bass flute, lap steel guitar. Kathy Halvorson – oboe, English horn. Kenny Margolis – accordion, electric piano, organ, electric harpsichord, clavinet. Ray Peterson – bass. Rohin Khemani – tabla, dumbek, assorted percussion

Kruth’s compositions mix elements of folk music from around the world, with American blues, jazz and chamber music. Many of the songs on this album are sonic portraits. There are no lyrics to any of these tunes. Instead, melodies and rhythms (inspired by the American roots music as well, as Eastern Europe, India and Ireland) create these sonic impressions and evoke emotions and moods, that often go beyond words.

(To delve further into my portfolio of sound, please visit my Bandcamp site @

The Backstory to The Folklorkestra’s A Strange Day in June

In October 2022, I applied for a grant to write and record an album of new music from CMA (Chamber Music America) and the Howard Gilman Foundation. In late December of that year, much to my surprise, I was notified that I’d won the grant and immediately began calling my old bandmates from the “other world music” ensemble, TriBeCaStan, who would best help me make this project shine.

Following the holidays, we began rehearsing at my small Greenwich Village apartment, with thankfully no complaint from the neighbors. Afterall, this was a new hybrid of chamber music, complete with oboe, flute, mandolin and… tabla? The idea was to cut the music as live as possible in the studio with minimal overdubs (which we did). What soon emerged was a fresh sound - ethereal, exotic, evocative of Nino Rota and Astor Piazzolla, with echoes of Miles Davis, Ravel and a bit summer thunder from Jeff Beck tossed in the mix.

Once the check from CMA arrived, I booked Jim Clouse’s ParkWest Studios in Brooklyn, where I had recorded many times in the past. Jim is an excellent engineer, intuitive to the point of telepathic. Working with him has always been a joy. 

Then suddenly, a surprise card popped out of the deck. Just days before we were set to record, I wound up in the hospital with what was diagnosed as a rare genetic heart disorder.  Three days in hospital, lots of tests later and juggling various cardiologists and pharmaceuticals, I have managed to avoid the saw thus far.

Meet the members of the Folklorkestra.



Whether playing in a classical setting or improvising, Kathy Halvorson is one of the most versatile oboists working today. Kathy studied at the New England Conservatory, and Rutgers University, and has performed regularly with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestra de Mineria in Mexico City, and recorded 12 CDs as principal oboist with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra. Halvorson’s reed work was heard in the Broadway Musical On the Town, as well as on the 2017 North American tour of Les Misérables. the Charles Mingus Epitaph at Lincoln Center, as well as with jazz bassoonist Michael Rabinowitz, and Bjork.

 “What a wild adventure into an unknown world of music, comprised of bizarre stringed instruments, wispy alto flutes, shamanic clarinets, zydeco keyboards, tantalizing tabla, rock’n’roll bass, and my own oboistic and English hornistic contributions,” Kathy said. “The spontaneity level was out of control, in a good way. A total romp. The musical outcome was truly fantastic and unique. Much laughter got laughed, and tears of unknown joys were shed."


Multi-instrumentalist Premik Russell Tubbs is a virtuoso master of soprano, tenor and alto saxophones and all genres of flutes and clarinets, as well as lap steel guitar. A composer, arranger and producer in his own right, Premik is renowned for brilliantly spanning all arenas from jazz fusion to traditional eastern melodies with his own ingenious soul-infused improvisation. Premik was greatly influenced by and privileged to study with Ornette Coleman, and has toured the world, performing and/or recording with Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, Whitney Houston, Sting, Herbie Hancock, as well as…. Lady Gaga, Elton John, Billy Joel, James Taylor and the list goes on…

“As a lover of music from various cultures from around the world, I find the music of Folklorkestra to be one of my favorite ‘fusion’ projects,” Tubbs enthused. “The process of rehearsing and recording the music was a joyful journey filled with fun, and most importantly, a true feeling of camaraderie amongst all the players.”



Keyboard and accordion player, Kenny Margolis began his professional career in 1976 playing with the eccentric Bahamian singer/guitarist Exuma, before joining Mink DeVille in 1979 and recording their highly acclaimed album, Le Chat Bleu for Capitol Records, as well as Coup de Gras, and Where Angels Fear To Tread for Atlantic. Playing with Mink DeVille made Margolis one of the most in-demand Cajun/Zydeco accordionists in New York City.  He was soon touring and recording with alt-rockers Cracker, appearing on nine of their albums. Margolis could also be found in the company of Elliott Murphy, The Smithereens, The Silos, Del Lords and Marshall Crenshaw and backed up the late great Shane MacGowan for a week of shows.

“I always look forward to participating in John Kruth’s music. He really outdid himself with The Folklorkestra!” Kenny said. “The starting point is chamber music, that branches out from there to include elements of folk, rock, jazz, Cajun/zydeco, tango, Latin, Indian sub-continent and old world music from Eastern Europe as well as ambient music. It’s soundtrack music for the film in your mind. Whoever I play it for is blown away by the sheer originality yet familiarity of moments in the music.”



“Musical boundaries are not our strong suit,” bassist Ray Peterson quipped. Before working with the Folklorkestra, Ray (also a long-time member of TriBeCaStan) brought the funk to legendary soul/jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris’s live shows and recordings. He can be heard on Harris’s albums, Eddie Live in Berlin, Listen Here Hi Life and Live at Fabrik. In the past Peterson also gigged with Blood Sweat & Tears, and Trinadad-born jazz steelpan player Othello Molineaux.



“Music of the past, present and future. Everything's an instrument with Folklorkestra and I brought the kitchen sink,” the band’s percussionist Rohin Khemani mused. “A meeting of percussive sounds from seemingly disparate traditions is where I began when invited to join the project; rooted in the creativity that might only be possible in NYC.”


The Backstory of the Songs

1.   Many of the songs on this album are sonic portraits. As there are no lyrics, mlody and rhythm evoke moods, that often go beyond words. The opening track “The Girl I Never Knew” is dedicated to Gaia Ferretti, a young, beautiful singer who tragically died of leukemia at age twenty-six. This piece and another I’ve written, titled “Gaia” have been performed several times in concerts dedicated to her memory, in her hometown of Spoleto, Italy. “The Girl” features another Gaia, the voice of Gaia Murasecco, the lead soprano of Spoleto’s Bisse Choir.

2.   “My Cousin, the Spy” is dedicated to my wife Marilyn’s cousin, who seemed to have a rather normal childhood until moving to Berlin in the late 90s and becoming something of a mystery. The first three pieces on this album were designed to flow into each other. “My Cousin” is a “hotter” tango than the more ethereal opening piece and features some fine clarinet soloing by Premik Russell Tubbs as well as John Kruth’s mandolin, the primary instrument behind these compositions. 

3.   “Cooking with Lightning” begins with dark, building diminished chords, until Kenny Margolis’s boogie-woogie piano busts loose. Somewhere in the mix (under Premik Russell Tubbs’ sizzling lap steel) Kruth plays a “Ruby Tuesday”-style alto recorder – inspired by his favorite Rolling Stone – the multi-instrumentalist/savant Brian Jones.

4.   With “A Pair of Boleros” the band improvises a Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way-like free-floating backdrop to Kathy Halvorson’s sinewy oboe reading of Ravel’s “Bolero,” before the band ascends the heights of “Beck’s Bolero” (the classic, written by Jimmy Page). Trombonist Sam Margolis and cellist Gideon Freudmann help take things up a notch. 

5.   “Punko” was written while Kruth was navigating the  sharp curves of the 110 – the Pasadena Freeway, heading south to LA. If it sounds like the soundtrack to a Quentin Tarantino film you’ve never seen before, then we couldn’t be happier. Kudos goes to the Folklorkestra rhythm section, with Rohin Khemani on “wipeout” dumbek and Ray Peterson (formerly Jaco Pastorius’s college roommate) playing a bass solo you won’t talk through.

6.   “(Be Careful What You Say to) An Armed Lady” can only be described as “21st Century Americana.” This sonic kitchen sink kicks off with the chug of Kenny’s Cajun accordion and then takes a couple unexpected turns with Gideon Freudmann’s cello sawing  a bit of Beethoven’s 5th at a square dance before Premik’s steel guitar and Kathy’s oboe ascend  the heavenly heights of Donovan’s “Atlantis.” Once again the Folklorkestra brings back the Cajun funk, all driven by Rohin’s irresistible tabla groove. 

7.   Shocking Blue’s dark eyed lead singer Mariska Veres, was the inspiration behind the sultry tango “Mariska,” which features the cascading kanun (a Turkish lap harp) by Ömer Doğramacı, whom John met while walking through Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village just a few days before the recording session. As the tune fades out, the Mongolian rockstar 戴秦 (Dai Qin AKA “Thin Man”) can be heard singing “The Shandong Hop” as Kruth plays the doshpuluur (a 2-string Tuvan lute).

8.   “Orange Sky” is a one-take improvisation in response to New York City being engulfed in a strange thick blanket of smoke from Canadian wildfires that partially blocked and filtered the sunlight on June 7, 2023, creating an other-worldly haze. 

9.   The album’s title track “A Strange Day in June” was originally written on the sitar by John. But the deep, doleful tones of the mandocello seemed to better fit the mood of this Eastern-European style waltz. Once more Ömer’s kanun brings a flair of exoticism to the mix, while Kathy’s ethereal oboe (and counterpoint arrangement) leads the group through a series of melancholy themes until winding up beside a glowing fire in the woods with “We Fight, We Bury the Dead, We Eat, and Drink and then We Dance,” a spirited folk dance featuring Tubbs’ clarinet and Deirdre Áine Eilís Morgan's throbbing Jew’s harp.

10.   The last three pieces which close the album are something of a medley, beginning with “Madam Gonzo,” (another sonic portrait, dedicated to the vivacious percussionist/dance Lara Gonzalez) which lightens up the mood with flutes from Premik and John bubbling over a Caribbean groove, laid down by guest percussionist Boris Kinberg on congas and bongos.

11.   Inspired by ethereal ballads like Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross,” “A Butterfly at Eighty” is dedicated to Marilyn’s mother Tilda, who brimmed with energy in her 90s, and once remarked that she was “a butterfly at eighty.” Most of A Strange Day in June was cut live in the studio to capture the Folklorkestra’s natural feel and interplay. “Butterfly” is an excellent example, with just one overdub of Premik’s bass flute, to give the tune a bit more float.

12.   The album’s closer, “Meet Me in the Meadow,” is a sonic tapestry constructed of repeating riffs and rhythmic accents (played on various bird whistles and “The Clong” – a steel pot lid filled with a bit of water swirled around to create an eerie flange). Once more the Folklorkestra gently stretches the boundaries of “World Music” to create “Otherworldly Music,” living up to their motto: “Where No Hand Has Set Foot!”