CAPE MAY – Longtime folk singer, Mary Roth, has become something of a figure at the annual Cape May Christmas Tree Lighting.
Roth will appear for the 29th time when she steps onto the Rotary Park Gazebo in Cape May, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. A performer who has made a name and reputation for herself with her Appalachian Mountain dulcimer, Roth brings her guitar to perform classic Christmas music as she has for so many years.
“I remember the kids when they were little, how they used to come up on the steps and listen to the songs. Now they are the high school chorus, which is really cute,” Roth said.
Roth said she first performed at a Christmas tree lighting in 1993 and continued under many different mayors. She has also performed at other venues during the Christmas season, including the Historic Cold Spring Village, where she has performed Christmas and Channukah music. Although she will stick with her guitar on Dec.2, she said she gets a good reaction to holiday music played on the dulcimer.
“This time of year the most requested instrument is the Appalachian Mountain dulcimer. Down here, they really like the holiday music on a dulcimer,” she said.
Roth said the city is still making a comeback from the pre-Covid days, when the Cape Harmonaires would perform. The social distancing mandate put a damper on some festivities, but she sees the appearance of the Lower Cape May Regional High School chorus as a boost.
Depending on how long the event is scheduled to go, she will perform songs such as “Deck the Halls,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and her personal favorite, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
Roth said she started to learn guitar and dulcimer at the same time, back in the 1980s. Later she began to teach dulcimer, which she said is an easy instrument to learn, at the Montgomery County Community College, in Blue Bell, Pa. She said she taught a couple of summer classes at Atlantic Cape Community College for kids.
“It’s pretty easy. You can learn to play ‘Old Joe Clark’ in a day,” she said.
Roth said the dulcimer is a very versatile instrument.
“It sets a nice ambiance – it isn’t overpowering,” she said.
Roth performs music from a wide and broad spectrum. She has been classified as an Indie/Folk/World Music Artist. Her performance venues have ranged from large music festivals to intimate cafes. Past performances have included the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Flower Show, as well as numerous local venues. Her Music has been aired on a number of radio stations in several states as well.
Roth has also hosted a radio show going for 10 years on WCFA LP 101.5 FM in Cape May, called, “Artists with a Purpose.” She said the concept of the show comes from her own beginnings as a musical artist, putting herself out there, taking financial risks, wondering where she was going to find her next gig. Roth decided she wanted to promote artists like herself, including musicians, visual artists, potters, and even culinary artists.
“I had Chistine Perillo – a vegan chef. I had Lucy Arnez as a guest when she did something at Cape May Stage. (Cape May Stage Producing Artistic Director) Roy Steinberg every year. (East Lynne Theater’s) Lee O’Connor was a great guest,” she said.
Besides the Lower Cape May Regional High School chorus there will be a visit from Santa Claus.
To find out more about Mary Roth and her radio program, visit www.facebook.com/artistswithapurpose.