Rick and Georgianne Jackofsky of Rocky Point haven't owned a TV for about 20 years. But it's part of their family's story – a family that plays music together and tours as the Homegrown String Band.
Years ago, when Rick Jackofsky owned a photography lab, he'd come home and want to spend quality time with his family without relying on TV for entertainment.
"So instead I read books out loud and we played music and we played board games," Georgianne Jackofsky said. "That was the way we entertained ourselves. That’s how we got so close and stayed together all these years."
Together with daughters Erica and Annalee, now 27 and 24, Rick and Georgianne started the Homegrown String Band, which has played anywhere from 30 to 60 shows a year since 1997. On Sunday, May 20, the band will play a free show at in Setauket at 1:30 p.m.
Their music consists of both original and traditional songs in a style they call acoustic American roots music.
"A lot of people don’t know what ‘traditional’ is," Georgianne said. "It’s what would have been considered country music before there were any labels in the genre."
Erica plays the fiddle and does some singing and percussive flat foot dancing. Annalee plays the mandolin and jaw harp, sings, and dances. Georgianne plays the banjo/ukulele, mountain dulcimer, and doumbek, and dancing, and Rick sings and plays the guitar, banjo, and harmonica. The family has toured all over the country, playing concerts and festivals.
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It's fair to say the family is an especially creative one: Erica designs knit patterns and sells her own line of yarn via her website, fiddleknits.com. Georgianne studied art in college and works in desktop publishing; she also makes copper jewelry and blogs about slow cooking and solar cooking. Annalee makes handmade soaps when she's not working at North Shore Public Library. Rick studied music at Berkeley College in Boston, later opened up his own photography studio, and has recently begun making spindles, casting pewter buttons, and coppersmithing.
The band has drawn praise across the music industry. "Whether you classify their sound as Americana, bluegrass, folk, or old-time country, Rick Jackofsky, his wife Georgianne, and their daughters Erica and Annalee are not only dedicated to keeping a classic tradition alive, they're advancing it," writes Bill Dahl, author of Motown: The Golden Years.
The family got its start when Rick began teaching Erica traditional songs to play on her violin when she was in the fourth grade. Rick and Annalee wrote a song for a "show and tell" event at her school. And Rick bought Georgianne a dulcimer as a gift.
"Next thing you know it was all of us playing together," she said.
Now, isn't that just the kind of story you'd watch on TV?