About TFAM


The mission of Tidewater Friends of Acoustic Music is to create opportunities for individuals and communities to celebrate, share, and sustain the vitality of ethnic and traditional arts for present and future generations.

Artistic Vision

Five values underlie the Tidewater Friends of Acoustic Music mission statement: participation, sharing, heritage, community, and social good.

1. TFAM believes it is as important to participate in the arts as it is to watch them.

2. TFAM encourages people to share their cultural arts which promotes understanding between peoples and leads to a deeper understanding of self.

3. TFAM believes that traditional art forms live, breathe, and change in people and that each person is a bearer of folk arts no matter what his or her background. The preservation of heritage is vital, however, preservation can and must allow for continued growth and development.

4. Community is the basis of all our work. We rely on communities to inspire and create programs and we believe that the people themselves are the best judge of what is important, useful or traditional in their cultures.

5. Finally, we believe that humans are revitalized by the arts, both mentally and spiritually. When a person shares aspects of their culture, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, breakdown stereotypes and increase respect and tolerance for one another which results in the social good of all. And, too, folk arts are universal and accessible, emphasizing what is common - and what is special - about each of us.


TFAM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, run entirely by volunteers who are dedicated in bringing quality music to the Hampton Roads area.


Tidewater Friends of Folk Music banner
19681969 Concerts @ the Barn in Virginia Beach
The Barn was the dairy barn on an old Mennonite farm in the College Park section of Virginia Beach. The concerts featured all local performers. Concerts were held there from 1968 through 1969 until the farm was sold to make way for housing and retails shops.
1971 Songmakers of Virginia
Doug Bartrom, Steve Proscher, John Currie, Steve Millhouse, Rosie Zentz, Jim Humphries, Hank Martin, Bob Zentz, and a few others, founded the Songmakers of Virginia, (now known as the Tidewater Friends of Acoustic Music). It was modeled after Songmakers of California which Bob Zentz had become familiar with during his time in Los Angeles.
1972 Ramblin’ Conrad’s Guitar Shop & Music Emporium
Ramblin’ Conrad’s opens across from Old Dominion University. This is the first permanent home for Songmakers of Virginia with concerts happening almost every weekend
1972 Old Dominion University Folk Festival
The members of Songmakers of Virginia approached Old Dominion University (ODU) with the idea of having the event on campus. ODU accepted and a fourteen year partnership began. Songmakers of Virginia, with support from ODU began the Folk Festival ODU in the Fall of 1972. This festival brought performers from around the country and was always considered a highlight to students and the community. In 1985 the Festival was picked up by Festevents and moved to Waterside in 1986, where it continued until the early 1990s.
19721974 The Bluegrass Buddies
John Currie, John Beale, Steve Proescher, Steve Millhouse, Dave Jennings and Bob Zentz played to raise money for the ODU Folk Festival
1975 Tidewater Friends of Folk Music
Songmakers of Virginia became Tidewater Friends of Folk Music.
1995 Ramblin’ Conrad’s Closes
After 23 years, Ramblin’ Conrad’s closed for good.
19962005 The Tidewater Traditional Arts Festival
The Tidewater Traditional Arts Festival ran from 1996 to 2005 on the campus of Thomas Nelson Community Collage in Hampton. Along with many different styles of music the festival showcased traditional arts such as blacksmithing and candle making. Reenactors were a large part of the event with Civil and Revolutionary Wars group from around the state setting up to take festival goers back in time to experience the life style and music of each era. This event was free to the public. The night time concert, which was a paid event, brought top talent from around the area, state and country.
1994present TFFM has continued to present quality music at concert venues around Hampton Roads including the Francis Land House, Center of Music in Denbigh, the Contemporary Arts Center of Virginia and Nauticus. Since 2001, TFFM has held all its concerts at the Virginia Beach Central Library, now known as The Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library in Virginia, Beach

Accomplishments — Lending a Hand

TFFM worked with Nauticus to raise money to bring every fifth grade student from the city of Portsmouth to tour the museum and the USS Wisconsin. This was accomplished through TFFM’s “Port-A-Call” Concert Series that was presented in the Nauticus Theater. Performers such as the legendary Norman Blake and Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel made the series a huge success.

TFFM worked with the Naro Theater and their Clearance Foundation to raise funds to help with the theaters renovation, TFFM raised nearly $10,000.

TFFM offered assistance to the Little Theater of Norfolk to raise funds for the much needed floor restoration. The Norfolk Commission for the Arts aided us with allowing us to use the Wells Theater in Norfolk, free of charge. Tim O’Brian performed to a near sell out audience.

We’ve worked with the Whole Food Co-Op to bring awareness to our members and the public of their great work in the community.

TFAM worked for several years with the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center (JCOC) in Virginia Beach to help raise funds to feed and house the homeless. The JCOC mission is to empower homeless families and individuals to recover from crisis situations and return to being self-supporting, productive, and independent members of our community.

We have presented FREE Children’s Concerts at the Virginia Beach Central Library since 2001. Known as “The Cocoa House Concert Series,” these concerts run run all year long on the third Saturday of the month. TFFM selects the performers and pays them to perform.

TFFM has a 22-year working partnership with WHRV Radio. We help during their fun drives by answer phones for their programs “Pickin on WHRV” and “Acoustic Highway”. WHRV in return helps promote our events and will be on site for the Gathering.

SOLD OUT HOUSE — We have presented concerts at the Contemporary Arts Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach. The resurgence of Celtic music back in the 1990s found TFFM itself as a front runner when it came to presenting this style of music in the area. Our first Celtic concert there was The Celtic Fiddle. During the River Dance Explosion we presented Kevin Burke, Gerry O’Beirne, Chulrua, Dervish, Andy Irvine of Planxty, Patrick Street, Paddy Keenan and the late great Johnny Chunningham.

O’Brother Where Art Thou — When O’Brother hit the airwaves and the big screen TFFM was already ahead of the game again. We had already planned and booked our “Grass in Ghent “concert series and with bluegrass icon Larry Sparks, bluegrass favorite The Lonesome River Band and bluegrass diva Claire Lynch. These concerts were at the Kaufman Theater inside the Chrysler Museum. Other concerts @ the Kaufman were Mary Gauthier and John Gorka.

Since 2012 has presented the TFAM Acoustic Music Gathering.

2013 Name Update to TFAM — TFFM updated our name to TFAM: Tidewater Friends of Acoustic Music to recognize the broader audience that is reached by folk music, which actually encompasses Americana, Bluegrass, Folk, Celtic, Contemporary Acoustic Music, and more.