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'It's a Two-Pronged Asset to the Community': New Book Explores the History of Godfrey Daniels | WDIY Local News

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Godfrey Daniels
Dave Fry with a copy of his new book, "Welcome to Godfrey Daniels."

A newly-published book chronicles the history of performances at one of the Lehigh Valley’s most well-known music listening houses. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.

Welcome to Godfrey Daniels: How a Small Folk Club Became a Legendary Venue for Musicians from Around the World highlights stories and events which took place at the donut shop-turned-folk club on Bethlehem’s SouthSide over more than four decades.

The book is written by musician and storyteller Dave Fry, who co-founded Godfrey Daniels with Cindy Dinsmore in 1976.

Fry said he worked on the book for at least eight years, and that over that time, it morphed into more than just a collection of photos and captions.

“I felt it necessary to lay out the history of Godfrey Daniels in that it is unique unto itself as an organization that grew out of thin air and used community to support it and help it grow,” Fry said.

“And when the club needed something, somebody always rose to the occasion.”

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Godfrey Daniels

Fry said creating the book was a team effort, which reflected the team of community members who assisted the club’s performers – whether by providing them with good meals, putting performers on-stage with good sound, or supplying them with what he called a “listening, attentive audience.”

“And those elements don’t always happen on the folk scene around the world,” he said.

The 144-page book includes photographs, stories and an index of performers, spanning from the club’s “pre-history” and foundation through to 2020, just before the pandemic.

It’s divided up by decade, which Fry said made logical sense as he was going back through records and artifacts of the over 4,000 performances that have taken place at Godfrey’s.

“And, in that way I could recognize trends and various elements that moved in kind of a decade-type of span,” he explained.

“A lot of first-rate bluegrass bands, how the blues bands were touring…the Celtic bands, the folk scene, the singer-songwriters, how all that kind of had its own life, and to be able to recognize the various waves over the course of 45 years.”

Fry said some of his favorite performances have also worked their way into the pages of Welcome to Godfrey Daniels.

“It was great to recognize some of the great evenings of Utah Phillips and Rosalie Sorrels sharing stories on stage. When the Nashville Bluegrass Band brought in the gospel band The Fairfield Four, and then doing an encore between both of those acts, doing gospel music on the stage…a capella, that was just thrilling," he recalled.

“Also having notable acts like Peter Tork of The Monkees, John Sebastian, various other headliners coming in, and watching professionals of that ilk have a great time on our stage.

Fry said he hopes the book's readers will come to recognize the power of folk music in society, but also the value of the club as a community resource, through its community jams, improv groups, open mics, storytellers and more.

“How the community bubbled up and took ownership of the club, and how that is as important a feature of the folk circuit, of how the locals utilize a club like Godfrey’s. That is as important as presenting the top-notch professionals on the circuit," he said.

“It’s a two-pronged asset to the community, and I hope people recognize that that is kind of the lifeblood of what a folk club is.”

The book retails for $45 and is available on the Godfrey Daniels’ website, at the club and in several local bookstores. Proceeds from its sale will go toward Godfrey Daniels’ future operations.

*Dave Fry is also a host of "Live from Godfrey Daniels" on WDIY.

(Original air-date: 11/23/22)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's Interim News and Public Affairs Director.
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