Sylvia Herold’s discovery of Irish and British traditional songs more than two decades ago sparked in her an obsession for songs and singing.  Since then, she has explored many styles.   Sylvia also has a passion for American popular songs of the '30s and '40s and recorded four albums with the swing vocal trio “Cats and Jammers.”  Her experience with other genres, however, only renews her appreciation for narrative folk songs.

The melodies of these songs are beautiful, yet the words fascinate her the most.  Epic tales are told in tidy fashion.  We learn the protagonist's life story and watch the unfolding of a pivotal scene.  Underplayed emotions only serve to heighten our empathy with the character's plight.  The absence of explicit detail gives us the chance to fill in the story from our own experience.

Sylvia finds singing these songs gratifying and never tires of them.  She is especially drawn to the sad ones, and her albums reflect a high proportion of them.  “I don't sing these songs to feel bad; it is quite the opposite,” states Sylvia.  “Sometimes the sadder the song, the more satisfying and uplifting it is. So by now, I should be very happy indeed.”
Traditional Irish/British music was Sylvia's first love.  In the hotbed of San Francisco's music scene, she met and found work playing with many talented Irish musicians.  Here she is in 1985 with James Kelly and Noel Hill during an extended run at McGurks Irish Pub in St Louis.
One of Sylvia’s most constant companions on the Irish music scene has been mandolinist and singer Marla Fibish.  This photo was taken of them in 1987.  The two regularly performed for over 13 years at the Plough and Stars Pub in San Francisco.
In 1986 Sylvia began performing in the swing trio Cats & Jammers.  The trio featured Sylvia Herold on rhythm guitar and vocals, Piper Heisig on acoustic bass and vocals, and Tony Marcus on violin, guitar, saxophone and vocals.  The group's intricate vocal arrangements took center stage at concerts and music festivals, and they worked extensivly throughout Northern California playing weddings and private parties.  For more information about the band and to see Tony Marcus' current projects, check out the Tuxedo Records Web site at www.tuxedorecords.com.
The Hot Club of San Francisco is a band inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France.  The band's music is a wonderful European-gypsy interpretation of American Jazz.  Sylvia played rhythm guitar and sang in this band for about five years and she appears on two of the band's recordings.  This is very exciting music, mostly instrumental.  Learn more about the Hot Club of San Francisco at www.hcsf.com.
  Paul Kotapish (back row, right) and Danny Carnahan (front row, right) are accomplished Irish musicians and fans of the Grateful Dead.  They came up with the idea of melding traditional Irish melodies with Grateful Dead songs and started a band called Wake the Dead.  The band has recorded two CDs to critical acclaim.  Hearing the songs of the Grateful Dead played on acoustic instruments makes the listener appreciate anew the song craft of these musical gems.  The Irish tunes are a surprisingly natural fit and are woven masterfully throughout.  Check out Wake the Dead's recordings and performance calendar at www.wakethedead.org.
Connie Doolan, Patrice Haan, and Sylvia Herold, whose tight harmonies lift Sylvia's "A Mockingbird Sings in California" album.

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