Home        About        Recordings        Songbook        Schedule        Programs         Friends        Contact


The Ramblin' Conrad Folklife Institute


November 25, 2016

Bob Zentz Announces Donation of Folklife Collection, New Institute

Gift to ODU Special Collections coincides with founding of the Ramblin’ Conrad Folklife Institute

November 25, 2016 – Tidewater Troubadour Bob Zentz announces the first phase of his donation to Old Dominion University of his archive spanning of a half-century of folklife collecting centered on Eastern Virginia and extending to the wide world.

The first phase, documents, is expected to be followed by photographs, recordings, books, and artifacts that mark the “great American folk revival” as it passed through Hampton Roads in the mid-late twentieth century, concurrent with many social and cultural movements and continuing in a long tradition of folk sharing homemade, inherited traditions with each other.

The local folk music revival centered around Ramblin’ Conrad’s Guitar Shop and Folklore Center at various locations in Norfolk from 1972-1995. Bob also hosted the public radio program, “In The Folk Tradition,” for 27 years at WHRO-FM and WHRV-FM and founded Songmakers of Virginia, later known as Tidewater Friends of Folk Music and, later still, Acoustic Music. He has taught various instruments and aspects of folklife to students and audiences, elementary to elders. For going on six decades, his performances and travels have carried local folk traditions around the world and brought back global traditions to our area in turn.

“I’ve always wanted to keep this collection together,” says Bob, “not only to document the folk revival of our times as it happened in our area, but also to promote study and appreciation of ‘the folk’ and folkways in our community, in much the same way that the shop did back in the day.” The shop also served as a folklore center, a music school, a concert venue, and a meeting place for people to share folk traditions – participants, and appreciators alike.

To continue in that tradition, the donation of Bob’s folklife collection is tied to the establishment of the Ramblin’ Conrad Folklife Institute

RCFI co-founder and executive director Jeanne McDougall says the Institute’s first program will be a free concert about the night where the story all began, with Bob re-telling ‘The Ramblin’ Conrad Story’ on the 51st anniversary of his meeting up with Ramblin’ Conrad.  The concert will be held in the Diehn Composers Reading Room at ODU, 7:00 PM on December 15, 2016.

During the spring semester of 2017, the new institute will offer programs with the theme “Roots and Branches: The Transmission of Tradition through the ‘Folk Process.’” Among the activities are:

-     A free monthly series in the Diehn Composers Reading Room at ODU for students and the public alike featuring internationally known folk artists who all performed at the original Ramblin’ Conrad’s location at 4318 Hampton Blvd.; each program will include a 2-4 PM seminar session and a 7-9 PM evening concert, both of which will be recorded and made available online as part of a new body of scholarship about the Folk Revival as it occurred in Norfolk. In addition, some artists will also offer workshops at Ohef Sholom Temple, Norfolk, on the day before the seminar.  Dates and artists include:

January 11, 2017

The Blue Ridge Buddies

Performers at the original Ramblin' Conrad's Guitar Shop and Folklore Center

February 8, 2017

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

Legends of Roots / Americana Music

Workshop, 7 PM Tues., Feb. 7: Bob Zentz

March 8, 2017

Alan Reid with Rob van Sante

co-founder of Scotland's Battlefield Band

Workshops, 7 PM Tues., Mar. 7: Alan Reid, Rob van Sante

April 5, 2017

Caroline and David Paton

Founding Family of the legendary Folk-Legacy Records

Workshops, 7 PM Tues., Apr. 4: Caroline Paton, David Paton

-     A monthly coffeehouse hosted by Ohef Sholom Temple in the Ghent section of Norfolk (usually on the first Sunday afternoon of each month), beginning on January 8.

-     Weekend workshops and concerts at remote campuses including Kill Devil Hills, NC March 24-26) and Newfane, VT (dates TBA).
Information about Ramblin’ Conrad Folklife Institute programs is available at www.bobzentz.com/rcfi.htm

Bob offers “many thanks to all those who’ve made it possible to find home for these accumulated treasures that have been a part of Virginia’s folklife legacy, in a place where it may be shared by all, encouraging future generations in their own exploration and discovery of the opera of the common folk.”


For six decades – the 1960s to the 20-teens – Bob Zentz has been at the heart of the Hampton Roads traditional music scene. The Norfolk native performs internationally yet still lives and plays in his hometown, and is active in nurturing the next generation of folk performers, in the belief that the future of our world depends upon our youth, and music. Information about Bob's music, life, friends, performances, and programs for all ages – elementary school to elders – is available at www.bobzentz.com


Bob Zentz
RCFI Co-Founder and Folklorian

Jeanne McDougall
RCFI Co-Founder and Executive Director


Home        About        Recordings        Songbook        Schedule        Programs         Friends        Contact



Copyright © 2016, Bob Zentz