For nearly two decades, the Vermont band Atlantic Crossing has been thrilling concert audiences and contra-dancers with traditional songs and acoustic instrumental music from New England–music which has deep Celtic roots in the British Isles and in French & Maritime Canada–together with original compositions inspired by these traditions. Viveka Fox on fiddle, bodhran, djembe; Peter Macfarlane on fiddle, low whistle, vocals; Tristan Henderson on mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, foot percussion, vocals, and more; Rick Klein on guitar, vocals.
Grammy-winning fingerpicker Pat Donohue’s devotion to acoustic guitar has made him an American standard. Borrowing bits and pieces of the styles of finger-picking pioneers he admired, he taught himself to play, building a repertoire flavored by Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Muddy Waters, Django Reinhart, Merle Travis, and Chet Atkins (who calls Pat one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world today.
Drawing on the legacy of such blues greats as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Blind Blake, Gary Davis, and Blind Boy Fuller, Scott Ainslie has taken his “fiery picking and slide work and his deep passionate bluesman’s growl” (Dirty Linen) to stages and classrooms across North America and beyond. This year, he’s teaming up with consummate musician and storyteller Reggie Harris, who combines a strong folk and gospel legacy with a solid background in classical, rock, and pop music.
Three accomplished musicians with eclectic tastes—fiery flamenco, baroque, Latin, and Appalachian—collaborate to create something unique: GX3+. The result is innovative arrangements of the traditional, classical, and Latin repertoire, as well as stunning original compositions by Maria. Ray Andrews on baroque guitar, charango, banjo, dulcimer; Sten Isachsen on classical guitar, mandolin, cajon; Maria Zemantauski on flamenco guitar, guilele, cajon.
Two of America’s most respected collectors, researchers, and interpreters of traditional music, Jeff Davis and Dave Ruch have each traveled far to learn from “source singers”—the people who built and settled our communities: farmers, miners, domestics, lumbermen, fiddlers, women, soldiers, children, immigrants, sailors, Native Americans, canallers, and more. Jeff plays fiddle, banjo, mandocello, guitar, spoons, jaw’s harps, and a few instruments hand-made by folk craftsmen. Dave plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, bones, spoons, washboard, and jaw harp.
Connecticut’s first mariachi band, Fiesta del Norte is a Mexican Mariachi band performing the traditional folk and popular music of Mexico. The band’s repertoire spans from the Mariachis of Jalisco, to the Nortenas of Chihuahua, to the harp music of Vera Cruz, down to the Marimba music of Chiapas. All this played on authentic instruments such as guitar, vihuela, guitarron, violin, and trumpet, and with beautiful singing throughout.
Bady-Dorzhu Ondar, Ayan-ool Sam, and Ayan Shirizhik are Alash, masters of Tuvan throat singing (as well as traditional instruments), a remarkable technique for singing multiple pitches at the same time. Alash are deeply committed to traditional Tuvan music and culture. At the same time, they are fans of western music. Believing that traditional music must constantly evolve, the musicians subtly infuse their songs with western elements, creating their own unique style that is fresh and new, yet true to their Tuvan musical heritage.
As a singer, actress, writer, and musician, Anne Hills has continuously built a reputation of merit. She is best known for her singing and interpretive gifts, while her commitment to social justice and to children keeps her busy with benefit concerts and community-service projects. Whether she is singing her own song, the words of 6-year-old Opal Whiteley, or the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, accompanied with her guitar, her banjo, or simply a Tibetan bell, she puts her whole heart and soul into the moment.
Joe Jencks is an international touring performer, songwriter, entertainer, and educator. Noted for his unique merging of musical beauty, social consciousness, and spiritual exploration, Joe weaves a diverse web of stories with brilliant musical skill, inviting even the most rigid of hearts to open, and inviting all of us to live inside of our passions and our beliefs. Si Kahn has worked for over 50 years as a civil rights, labor, and community organizer—and as a musician. His songs of family, community, love, work, and freedom have been recorded and performed by hundreds of artists. As an organizer, Si has worked with such groups as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the United Mine Workers of America, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (now part of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees), and Grassroots Leadership, which he founded in 1980.
The Jeremiahs combine traditional and contemporary sounds to create their own brand of Urban Folk music. Since 2013, the quartet has trailblazed across Ireland and Europe, playing some of the top venues and festivals. Joe Gibney (vocals, whistle) offers a diverse repertoire of songs, from rousing sea shanties to emotional traditional songs of hardship, love, and loss; James Ryan (guitar, bouzouki) draws on a wide a range of influences from different genres and traditions, evident is his unique percussive backing style; Jean Christophe Morel (fiddle, mandola) brings an exotic style of fiddling to the band’s sound.
Heather Pierson is an award-winning pianist, multi -genre singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, bandleader, and performer. From New Orleans-style jazz and blues to rousing Americana and poignant folk narratives, Heather’s live performances, both solo and with her acoustic Trio (Davy Sturtevant on strings and cornet and Shawn Nadeau on bass) move seamlessly and effortlessly from one style to the next, and a growing catalog of wildly divergent CD releases reflects her boundless creativity.
Seaglass is an exhilarating dance and concert band that combines the diverse talents of three seasoned and dynamic musicians. Their repertoire ranges from classic New England contra dance tunes to French balfolk and English country dance music, with roots-rock grooves and captivating improvisations interwoven. Their concert repertoire includes vocals that range from swing to cowboy songs. Rachel Bell plays accordion; Andrew VanNorstrand plays guitar; Eileen Nicholson plays fiddle.
The Vododeeyos are Joel Eckhaus and Tim Findlen. Maine’s “Ukulele Eck” has been “out there” for four decades or so, with his ukuleles, mandolins, tenor guitars, banjos, and musical saws in string bands, swing bands, vaudeville shows, and weird gigs of all sorts. Tim Findlen is the former leader of Over A Cardboard Sea, Portland’s premier ukulele novelty act. When not performing, they are likely to be found covered in sawdust, building and repairing the tools of their trade, especially ukes, at Joel’s Earnest Uncommon Musical Instruments.
Old-time string band The Down Hill Strugglers extend the legacy of the New Lost City Ramblers by bringing archaic sounds into the present. Unlike Sisyphus, these guys are desperately struggling to keep a huge boulder from rolling down a hill. Walker Shepard on fiddle, banjo, guitar, harmonica, voice; Jackson Lynch on fiddle, banjo, guitar, voice; Eli Smith on banjo, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, Jews harp, pump organ, voice. John Cohen often joins them, on banjo, guitar, mandolin, voice, brain.
The Press Gang perform the instrumental dance music of Ireland. These musicians have become popular for their skillful playing and their deep understanding of the music–and for their humorous stage presence. As American performers in the Irish tradition, the band brings a unique perspective to the music, interspersing their repertoire of Irish melodies with related tunes from Quebec, Scotland, and Appalachia, along with some New England waltzes. Christian “Junior” Stevens plays accordion; Alden Robinson plays fiddle; Owen Marshall plays guitar.
The Short Sisters—Fay Baird, Kate Seeger, and Kim Wallach—are neither sisters nor particularly short, but they share a delight in harmony. Their repertoire includes intricate rounds, songs from American, African-American and British traditions and material from contemporary songwriters. Their songs tell stories and paint pictures, conveying strong visual images through music. They favor a capella arrangements, but they also accompany themselves with guitar, autoharp and banjo.
Pascal Gemme and Yann Falquet started their musical journey 20 years ago, busking on the streets of Montréal. They have since played over a thousand shows in twenty countries with the Quebecois trio Genticorum, and they now return as a duo to present an intimate show based on the close musical bond forged by years of touring together. Pascal’s fiddling, Yann’s guitar accompaniment, and the duo’s vast repertoire of traditional songs and tunes are all presented with elegance and effortless musicianship.
Master guitarist, singer, and songwriter Archie Fisher is Scotland’s foremost troubadour. Archie was born in Glasgow into a large singing family, which yielded three professional singers—Archie and his sisters Ray and Cilla. Music was always in the house: his father’s appreciation of many musical styles (opera, vaudeville, and traditional ballads) proved to be a heavy influence on Archie’s own music, while his mother, a native Gaelic speaker from the Outer Hebrides, was a strong influence on the lyrical quality of his songwriting.
Tom Lewis’s repertoire—from traditional shanties to songs fashioned out of his own seafaring background—recruits his audience for a voyage by turns reflective, dramatic, and humorous. Born in Northern Ireland, Tom’s Celtic heritage is obvious in his clear, strong voice, evoking quiet sorrow for a fisherman lost to the sea just as honestly as it powers out a shanty “to be heard above the gales.” Tom accompanies himself on button accordion and ukulele, but it’s that powerful vocal style and infectious humour which keeps audiences coming back.
Sam Gleaves and Tyler Hughes are an old-time country music duo, performing songs old and new with close harmony singing and accompaniment on clawhammer banjo, guitar, fiddle and autoharp. Tyler and Sam’s programs feature fiddle and banjo hoedowns, close mountain harmonies, stories of all kinds, Carter Family-inspired autoharp and guitar, country gospel songs, lonesome ballads, and flatfoot dancing.
A native of Newfoundland, Keith Murphy offers a traditional song repertoire based in Eastern Canada and Quebec as well as his current home, Vermont. His direct and intimate style of traditional singing in English and French infuses old ballads and songs with a powerful immediacy, while his rhythmic and percussive finger-style of guitar playing brings new shape and color to his songs. Keith is also an accomplished arranger, as well a composer of songs at home in the tradition.
Larry Kaplan believes that “folk music always starts with the places that people call ‘home.’ We need to pay attention to those places—and to the people in them because that’s where life’s precious lessons are always waiting to be learned.” As he describes his songwriting, “I write songs I would be proud to know someday became part of the folk tradition. I write them to connect to people…” He presents his extensive repertoire of ballads and songs—poignant poetry and beautiful melodies—in an honest straightforward manner.