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Joe Ridolfo Class of 1969
Joe Ridolfo learned to play sitar while living in India from 1966-1970. His family moved to Bombay from Kenilworth, N.J. when his father secured a job buying Indian steel to manufacture oil drum parts. The Beatles were staying at the Taj Hotel the same time his family was. He was not aware that he was in the same elevator with George Harrison until the lift operator started pointing to the people in the back and saying "Beatle Man, Beatle Man." Joe's sitar master was Balbaru Khulhini who taught at Bombay Women's College.
While in India, Joe attended AIS and graduated in 1969. He was known as a banjo player and was in a folk group with Agnus Thermer. The folk group was chosen by Ambassador Chester Bowles to sing "Union protest songs and Labor Day songs which he recorded to send out for Labor day.
Joe had a chance to trek the Himalayas in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir with visits to the holy cave at Vishnu Devi and several glaciers. In Nepal, Joe stayed in Kathmandu with the Ide family and hiked though foot hills that looked very similar to the Chattanooga area.
Joe moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1970 to attend MTSU and moved Chattanooga in 1989. There he met singer and harmonium player Anoose Taj who owns Taj International. Together they play Indo-Pak music. Both artists are registered with Allied Arts and have preformed for the Tennesse Arts Commission.
When Joe moved to Tennessee, he was introduced to the mountain dulcimer and went on a quest to meet and learn music from rural folk artists. The similarities of the sitar and dulcimer inspired Joe to become an accomplished player and has won numerous prizes for his dulcimer talent. He has appeared on local, national television, the BBC in England when he was taped in the US, and various art institutions.
Joe has completed an 18 track CD called "South Meets East." This CD mixes East Indian folk music and folk music from the Cumberland Plateau with dulcimer and sitar. Joe added pure mountain folk music and East Indian vocals featuring Anoose Taj separately to show how the East Indian and American folk music method have similar ways of expression. "South Meets East" is an eclectic journey that took almost two years to complete and is intended as a labor of love for the music and musicians that influenced Joe's music style.
South Meets East