My wife, Sandra, and I had always dreamed of performing music together professionally. We tried over several years, with occasional spurts of practicing and two or three performances at church. But because of our busy lives raising our two daughters and teaching music, we never could really get it going. I often thought about teaching my daughters to play music and having a family group, but Sandra didn't think we could find enough time, and in reality, neither did I.
As the economy started to turn, we downsized to a cheaper home in a small town. That was January of 2008. We quickly realized that we hadn't bought cheap enough, and our mortgage was too much for our income. In November that same year, to make ends meet, Sandra began booking small gigs for me playing fingerstyle guitar at any place that would pay and a few that wouldn't.
Around that time, Amy, our church's organist, who is also an activities director at a nursing home, asked me to perform for her residents. She then surprised me by saying, "why don't you bring the whole family? I'm sure the residents would love anything the girls can do!" At that point, they could only play a few guitar chords and sing along to a few songs, and that was all. But by then, we had even chosen a name for our nonexistent family group... The Flemming Fold. So when Amy presented the idea, I immediately said "We'll do it" and much to my surprise, so did Sandra. We told the girls that we were now officially a group and had a gig scheduled for January, one month away!
So there we were with a gig and no songs. We didn't even know who would play what instrument! After a lot of practicing, we had four songs as a family. Sandra and I were on guitars and vocals, our 7 year-old daughter would play a mini-guitar and sing, and our 5 year-old would play autoharp and sing. It was decided that I would sing and play two thirds of the performance myself with occasional help from Sandra, and we would insert the family songs at intervals throughout. The month went by very quickly with our nervous anticipation growing more intense every minute. Well, turns out we had little to be nervous about, the show came off without a hitch and was a big hit! Once we saw the smiling faces and heard the applause, we were hooked! And thus began our amazing adventure.
Troy Flemming ranks high among the many talented acoustic musicians on the Twin Cities scene today. He is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist as well as a versatile vocalist and yodeler. Troy performs for audiences as often as possible in all types of settings. As a longtime teacher, he has a passion for passing on his musical knowledge to others.
Troy grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, MN. He was raised on a steady diet of novelty songs, Alpine yodeling, train sounds, old-time music, and rock'n'roll. At fifteen he learned his first fingerpickin' guitar tune, Roy Buchanan's "Adventures of Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby," and was hooked!
At 18, Troy's guitar education continued with a year at McNally Smith College of Music (called "The Guitar Center" back in 1987). Troy spent the next 10 years in a string of bands, usually as lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter.
In 1995, Troy went back to school and began working on a degree in music. He has studied with James Flegel, O. Nicholas Raths, and James McGuire on Classical guitar.
After surviving Y2K and having two babies, Troy's long dormant passion for Alpine music and yodeling came bubbling to the surface and quickly became a full blown obsession! Though his yodeling goals may be a little lofty (he plans to eventually take over the title of "Der JodelKönig" [Yodel King] from his hero, Franzl Lang!), he is determined, and you never know what ten or twenty years hard work might produce!!
These days Troy stays very busy. He performs several times a week both solo and with his family group, "The Flemming Fold," on the radio, in festivals, nightclubs, senior communities, restaurants, and at churches. Additionally, he teaches as many as 40 guitar students a week, arranges music and records whenever possible, practices yodeling, studies the German language, and raises his wonderful daughters with his amazing wife, Sandra.
In our living room we had a piano and every once in a while after dinner my father would sit down and bang out a lively rendition of "Dixie." I decided I wanted to play too, so I paid close attention to music class in the fifth grade when they taught about the staff. Using a chart I found in our piano bench, I taught myself to read music and play from our piano books. I was about 10 years old. Piano playing became my passion for years and when I started college, I began pursuing a music degree. It quickly became apparent that while I was good, I had some deficiencies from being self taught that would prevent me from giving concerts at Carnegie Hall!!! No matter, because while I was at Normandale Community College I met Troy!!! He was a rock band musician and after we married, built a nest and had kids, he confessed to me his very private and very large passion for YODELING!!! Who knew?? Then he looked me deep in the eyes and informed me most sincerely that he needed an accordion player. I said, "No! I HATE accordions!" (My grandmother used to stand in her living room and play accordion to us and sing Swedish folk songs - it was wonderfully sweet, but she wasn't headed for Carnegie Hall either!). So, like someone who is hard of hearing, he bought one for me from Ebay. After it sat in a closet in our basement for over a year, I got it out one day... and liked it!! And the rest, as they say, is history.
At 13 years old, our youngest daughter amazes audiences with her virtuosic upright bass playing. She began playing bass at 6 years old and stood on a stool to reach the notes! Additionally, she sings lead and back-up vocals. Her memory is astounding, making her our go-to-girl for lyrics and chords when one of us forgets. Her other studies include guitar, piano, and dance.
The girls never cease to amaze us as our children and as band-mates. They are so sweet, so bright and so much more musically talented than we would have ever thought possible. To top it off, they are perfectly comfortable on stage, which is something that takes most people, including Troy and me, years to achieve.