Folkus Project of CNY
great acoustic music, pure and unpasteurized


Rebecca Colleen in ConcertWhat is the Folkus Project?

The Folkus Project was created, officially, in the fall of 2000 as a nonprofit, community arts organization presenting folk and acoustic music in Syracuse, N.Y. The 2014-15 season is our 15th.

However, the roots of Folkus go back further, to Happy Endings Cake & Coffeehouse in Syracuse, which operated from 1993 until 2003. For virtually all of its existence, Happy Endings provided a stage for musicians, both local and touring (including a famous Tuesday night open mic). Although styles varied, the majority of touring acts that appeared at Happy Endings were folk/acoustic. Many, many of the acts that appear in the Folkus series today appeared at Happy Endings then, often making their first visit to Syracuse. Folkus owes its existence to Happy Endings’ owners, John and Shelby Crowley, pictured at right.Crowleys (Sadly, Shelby passed away in 2005.)

In the mid-1990s, a local folk enthusiast, Joe Cleveland, was retained by Happy Endings part-time to operate the music series. Cleveland further developed the calibre of music at Happy Endings and solidified the folk/acoustic emphasis. It was also under his guidance that Folkus was established as a 501(c)3 in 2000.

Then, in 2003, representatives from May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society in Syracuse approached Cleveland for help establishing a music series at their church. Cleveland agreed, imagining a coordinated series of concerts staged at both Happy Endings and May. As it happened, though, Happy Endings closed in December 2003, for unrelated reasons. And so the entire Folkus Project series moved to May Memorial, in a format very similar to the present day.

Over time, the stature of acts and size of the audiences grew. With that, Folkus, as an organization, developed a broader and broader base of volunteer staff and management — fortunate, because in 2009 a change in career emphasis caused Cleveland to depart for theological training in Boston. The still-growing volunteer community he left behind remobilized and carried Folkus into the future.

Alison & ZoeToday, that version of Folkus thrives, with a core management team (roughly a dozen lead volunteers) and a roster of additional volunteers helping staff shows and perform other tasks. All the while, the variety and quality of music presented continues to rise, allowing Folkus to provide Central New York a menu of folk, acoustic, and Americana music greater than any time in the region’s history.

The Folkus Project's 2014-15 officers are:

  • Jeff Pelletier, president
  • Marilou Murphy, treasurer
  • JoAnn Cooke, secretary

Other volunteer directors are

  • Paul Murphy, concert manager
  • Susie Weiss, memberships/sponsorships
  • Jackie Downing, assistant membership coordinator
  • Dana Cooke, booking coordinator, website
  • Steve Pfanenstiel, publicity/promotion volunteer
  • JoAnn Cooke, concessions director
  • Doug Randall, lead volunteer

We are almost always searching for new volunteers and board members. Won't you join us? Folk music exists outside of the commercial mainstream and needs the focused attention of a community to survive. E-mail


Address questions about this website to Dana Cooke,

Folkus Contacts
For booking inquiries, e-mail Dana Cooke at

Steve Pfanenstiel,

Diana Luscombe,

Susie Weiss,

Dana Cooke,

Folkus's Address
Folkus Project, Box 197, 4465 E Genesee St.
DeWitt, NY 13214. (Agents and artists: Please do not send unsolicited materials to this address.)

Who Appears in Folkus?
In recent years . . .

Dar Williams
Lucy Kaplansky
Tony Trischka
John Gorka
Ebony Hillbillies
Richard Shindell
Tim O'Brien
Joanne Shenandoah
Ellis Paul
Karen Savoca
The Burns Sisters
Dana & Susan Robinson
Chris Smither
Maggie & Suzzy Roche
The Parkington Sisters
Mustard's Retreat
Jonathan Edwards


Honey Dewdrops
David Wilcox
Red Molly
Bill Staines
Cliff Eberhardt
Peter Mulvey
Roy Book Binder
Jonathan Byrd
Rod MacDonald
Toby Walker
Joe Crookston
Seth Glier
David Francey
Michael Jerling
Patty Larkin
Jamie Anderson

. . . among many others.

Plus we make a point of booking some of the best local folk/acoustic acts, such as Lost Time, John Cadley, Andrew & Noah VanNorstrant, Mike Powell, and Rebecca Colleen.