February 10, 8:00 PM:
Benefit Concert - Tickets $15; $10 for students
Welcome Blend: A Bennington-based mixed a cappella quartet, will present an evening of folk, gospel and other favorites. Members are Mardi Sargent singing soprano; Amy Kuzmicki, alto; Scott Frost, tenor, and Mike Kovage, bass. The group began singing together at the Old First Church in Bennington as a gospel quartet in the summer of 2008. Mike and Scott have had experience singing together in barbershop quartets and church choirs since 1980. Mardi, a classical soprano, and Amy, with a rich foundation in choral and band singing, had been singing duets together at the Old First Church when the four decided to mix it together and form a quartet. The smooth sounding foursome subsequently moved into some close harmony jazz arrangements and now enjoy singing a wide variety of music including contemporary, novelty, 50’s, spiritual, and jazz styles. They set out to have fun singing together and you will enjoy watching them entertain themselves as much as they entertain their audience.
March 17, 8:00 PM:
Tickets $15; $10 for students
Jane Rothfield and Allan Carr: Roots music from America and Scotland. Award winning fiddler Jane Rothfield and husband Scottish singer and guitarist Allan Carr have been playing their unique blend of traditional and original Celtic and Appalachian style music for over 30 years. Allan (from Aberdeen, Scotland) grew up surrounded by the rich traditional music of the Northeast of Scotland and is one of the finest singers from that tradition.
His Celtic/old time guitar style perfectly complements his traditional songs and all styles of fiddle tunes! Jane is an award winning fiddler, claw-hammer banjo player and tune composer with deep roots in the fiddle traditions of New England, Scotland and the American South. She has numerous recordings to her credit, and has TWICE won the prize for Best Non-Traditional Tune at the Clifftop Appalachian Music Festival in West Virginia. They play roots music that is directly from the source while expanding on that tradition with newly composed songs and tunes. Great singing, hot instrumentals and with Allan’s humor, always a whole lot of fun!
April 21, 8:00 PM:
Tickets $15; $10 for students
Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen, and Jack Williams: Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen will do a hometown concert between concert tours at the Meetinghouse Café in Bennington. They've asked veteran performer Jack Williams to join them.
According to the Sing Out Magazine review of Steve and Cindy's recent album, Being There, "Steve and Cindy have hit on a combination that consistently produces high quality recordings and entertaining stage shows. Their voices and styles meld seamlessly with a gentleness and a maturity that is unmatched in the world of folk duos."
Steve is best known as a songwriter, with songs recorded by artists from Ian & Sylvia to Garth Brooks, from Jiminy Cricket to John Denver. His song Darcy Farrow alone has been recorded by more than one hundred artists since 1966, most recently by Jimmy Dale Gilmore and Nanci Griffith. Quite literally, he wrote the book on songwriting: Songwriting and the Creative Process (Sing Out Press) is a standard text in songwriting classes across the country.
. Cindy, who married Steve in 1989, is also a songwriter, but her focus has been on songkeeping. Cindy is a master interpreter of traditional ballads, rich in myth and legend. She plays guitar, concertina, and banjo, and is renowned for her compelling voice, described by one critic as a voice that can warm a New England winter. Her newest solo CD is Cat Tales: Songs of the Feline Persuasion (2005, Compass Rose Music), an album of songs about cats and their people.
Cindy and Steve have asked the veteran performer Jack Williams to join them for this concert. Cindy says Jack is "the best guitarist we know, with mesmerizing lyrical songs." Jack's music is rooted in his native South Carolina, was shaped by a 54-year career of playing folk, rock, jazz, R&B, classical and the popular music of the 30s, 40s and 50s. He is counted among the most dynamic performers on today's "folk" circuit - "...one of the most enlightened and entertaining performers I've ever encountered", said Dave Humphreys of Two-Way Street Coffeehouse in Downer's Grove, IL. Jack is considered a "musician's musician", an uncommonly unique guitarist, a writer of vivid songs with a strong sense of place, and a storyteller in an old Southern tradition who further illustrates each tale with his guitar. Rich Warren of WFMT Chicago's The Midnight Special said, "His artistry is nothing short of amazing". Vic Heyman, in SING OUT!, wrote, “He is one of the strongest guitar players in contemporary folk.”
May 19, 8:00 PM:
Tickets $15; $10 for students
Woods Tea Company: Woods Tea Company, the Vermont-based folk trio, performs fiery Celtic tunes, bluegrass, sea shanties, and American folk songs with ease and skill. The trio includes Howard Wooden on bass and guitar, Patti Casey on guitar and flutes and Pete Sutherland on fiddle and guitar. The group only performs on special occasions and they consider coming to Bennington a special occasion. After building a solid reputation in New England, Woods Tea Company started touring on the concert circuit nationwide, eventually playing in all the lower 48 states. Notable performances include New York's Lincoln Center (twice), the Chautauqua Institute (three times), appearances on PBS and National Public Radio, who labeled them "Vermont's hardest working folk group.
June 9, 8:00 PM:
Tickets $15; $10 for students
Duo Eamon perform tunes for fiddle and guitar in the instrumental dance tradition of Ireland, New England & Québec. Known for their pure fiddle tone and unique guitar voicings, Duo Eamon has been playing together every day since 2008. The interplay between these two consummate musicians is intimate, inviting, energizing.
Duo Eamon’s first CD was released in 2013, and the second, “L’Abri ~ The Shelter” will be recorded in the spring of 2015. The duo’s signature shines through both albums: fresh settings of traditional tunes—from “André à Toto” to “The Vicar’s Knickers.”
Cassandra Cleghorn, Fiddle: Ten years ago Cassandra turned from her classical training to immerse herself in the music of Ireland, New England and Québec. Constant session playing and study with monster fiddlers including David Boulanger, Eric Favreau and Kevin Burke has shaped her sound that combines a lyrical sweetness with a rhythmic drive.
Jeffrey Levine, Guitar: A guitarist’s guitarist, Jeffrey founded the Buffalo Guitar Workshop in the 1970s and has evolved his style ever since. Blending his classical roots, his love of jazz and his passion for Celtic music (shaped by work with Québecois masters Guy Bouchard and Paul Marchand), Levine creates his trademark extraordinary voicings.
Centered in the Berkshires, Duo Eamon perform throughout New England and beyond, at pubs, cafés, festivals, markets, barn- and house-concerts. High-profile venues include the Fresh Grass festival (Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA) and the Roots Cellar at the Calliope House (Pittsburgh Folk Music Society).
Previous Concerts from the series:
Sally Rogers and Claudia Schmidt: Sally performs traditional, contemporary and original ballads and song, interwoven with stories taken from her life as a performer, a wife and a mother. She accompanies herself on guitar and Appalachian dulcimer, or performs without accompaniment. Rogers began her career as a full-time touring musician in 1979, after encouragement from Stan Rogers, the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter. That was followed by an invitation from Garrison Keillor to appear on A Prairie Home Companion. She appeared more than a dozen times on that show, which launched her performing career. Her travels have since taken her to Europe, China, Hungary and Poland, England and Scotland and across the United States. Sally has released thirteen albums, not including several collaborative projects with other artists. Her 1987 album, Closing the Distance, recorded with Claudia was voted by many public radio stations throughout the country as among the ten most popular albums of the year. Claudia has been exploring the nuances of acoustic music with her voice, 12 string guitar and mountain dulcimer for more than 40 years. She performs an exciting collection of original, traditional, and contemporary writing. She has performed in small clubs and on large concert stages. She has been featured on PRI's A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, a television documentary on KTCA-TV in St. Paul called "I Sing Because I Can't Fly", and has written music for and acted in the musical "Bag Lady Tendencies" with Friends Mime Theater in Milwaukee and Frank Galati's production of "Good Person of Szechuan" at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, for which she won a Jefferson Award. She has produced more than a dozen CDs.
Pete’s Posse is composed of Pete Sutherland (fiddle, piano, banjo and vocals), Oliver Scanlon (fiddle, mandolin, dobro, foot percussion and vocals) and Tristan Henderson (guitars, mandolin, jaw harp, bodhran, foot percussion and vocals).
The sound of twin fiddles in tight, wild harmony over hi-powered guitar and pounding footwork with mandolin, clawhammer banjo, jawharp and rocking keyboards adding their voices to the mix offer a flavor of Pete's Posse. The group offers old songs and tunes, lyrical and driving, alongside brand new ones. That’s the multi-generational heart and mind of Pete’s Possee.
Vermont's legendary multi-instrumentalist and troubadour Pete Sutherland has decades of concert touring, teaching and studio production behind him. His all-Vermont “Posse” includes his talented young fiddle protégé and fellow Clayfoot Strutter, Oliver Scanlon, and the dynamic accompanist Tristan Henderson, also of Atlantic Crossing and Pipers Den. Featuring Pete’s footsy songs, the band’s original and traditional fiddle music, and a few unique covers, this band provides a fine opportunity for an intimate listen to an ever-evolving musical friendship that spans generations!
Bill Staines: After 41 years of touring some would think that musician and songwriter Bill Staines might think about slowing down, but that’s just not the case. Bill continues to perform more than 175 shows a year and drives close to 70,000 miles getting to them. He is one of the most durable and beloved singers on the folk music scene today.
Staines has twenty-six recordings to his credit and has written over three hundred songs, many of which have been recorded by the likes of Peter, Paul, and Mary, Makem and Clancy, Nanci Griffith, Glen Yarborough, and Jerry Jeff Walker. On stage, Staines is an intimate, compelling performer, out of the folk scene of the 60’s, encouraging his audience to sing with him on his chorus songs. He will mix in traditional tunes with his own contemporary folk ballads. His humorous tales of life on the road and observations of everyday people provide an entertaining blend of story and song.
Bill has done numerous radio and television appearances and, during its early years, was a frequent performer on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion Show.”
Nanci Griffith once wrote, “Bill Staines has been my hero since 1977. He carries on where Woody left off- carrying on the tradition of stories and characters you wish you knew.”
“When do you think it will be time to retire?” someone once asked Bill. He answered, “In the words of my old friend, Tommy Makem…about ten o’clock tonight.”
Spiff Wiegand: Spiff Wiegand is, in a word, eclectic. He plays over 20 instruments and composes in genres as diverse as Hard Rock, Classic Country, Jug Band, and Pop. He has been compared to artists like Hank Williams, The Mountain Goats, Buddy Holly, Hot Hot Heat, Devo, and Josh Ritter. While Spiff often performs with a backing band, he is perhaps best known for his one-man-band concerts. Juggling up to seven instruments simultaneously without loops or technological trickery, he creates complete textures that are as unexpectedly musical as they are visually impressive
Tret Fure: Tret Fure began her career at the age of 16, singing in coffeehouses and campuses in the Midwest. At 19, she moved to LA in hopes of obtaining a record deal. Within a year she was performing as guitarist and vocalist for Spencer Davis, touring with him and penning the single for his album “Mousetrap”. She went on to record her own album in 1973 on MCA/UNI Records, with the late Lowell George of Little Feat as her producer. With the success of that release, she opened for such bands as Yes, Poco, and the J Geils Band.
One of the most prolific artists in the contemporary singer-songwriter arena, Tret Fure has released 15 albums and CDs over the course of her 45 year career. Her latest CD, "Rembrandt Afternoons" is her best yet and is garnering raves in the radio/folk world. Tret will be featuring this album in this latest tour.
One of the most prolific artists in the contemporary singer-songwriter arena, Tret Fure has released 15 albums and CDs over the course of her 45 year career. In addition to being a gifted songwriter, Fure has engineered and produced countless recordings by a variety of artists, including her own work.
l’Esprit Creole: Fingers and bow flying, Dennis Stroughmatt takes listeners on a musical odyssey not so different from his own musical journeys into Upper Louisiana Creole Culture. Taught to play fiddle by local Creole fiddlers Roy Boyer and Charlie Pashia in the tradition of their fathers, Dennis gradually became an adopted son of the French Midwest Creoles living along the Mississippi River near St Louis.
A vibrant blend of Celtic, Canadian and Old Time sounds, this music bridges the gap between contemporary Canadian and Louisiana Cajun styles. Preserved by families in the Ozark foothills, the music remains largely intact and true to the traditions that have been passed down for over three centuries.
Annie and the Hedonists: Annie and the Hedonists perform at festivals, concerts, and swing dances throughout the Northeast. The band interprets the songs of the great female blues artists of the '20s, 30s & 40s: Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, Memphis Minnie, Billie Holiday, Rosetta Tharpe, Blue Lu Barker, Ella Fitzgerald and others. Other styles include western swing, bluesy country, and roots Americana. Annie and the Hedonists are Annie Rosen on lead vocals, Jonny Rosen on guitar and vocals, Peter Davis on guitar and vocals and Don Young on upright bass and vocals.
Saakumu Dance Troupe, a West African team of performers, is dedicated to introducing audiences to traditional and contemporary African music and dance. Saakumu means traditions, and as the name implies, the company bases their aesthetic on traditional styles combined with contemporary forms, creating a repertoire uniquely their own. They are an artist-founded association driven by a passion for bringing innovative dances and world music to their audiences. In addition to collaborating with artists and presenters of all kinds, they are committed to building new audiences via performances.
The award winning Saakumu Dance Troupe is one of the leading traditional/contemporary music and dance groups of Ghana, West Africa. Led by master musician, Bernard Woma, the group’s repertoire spans genres from spiritual, ceremonial and recreational to contemporary African dance forms. Their music and dance is joyful, expressive and highly participatory.
Based in Medie Accra, the Saakumu Dance Troupe has performed at important governmental functions and national and international music and dance festivals throughout Ghana and the United States. They were the designated official performing troupe at the 2007 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC), the largest cultural festival in Ghana. Saakumu Dance Troupe has a strong educational and community engagement component that flourishes both at home in Ghana and along their tours. The group has developed programs in schools and colleges that involve all levels of participants in dance and music workshops, residencies and interactive, highly-engaging performances. Their educational work strives to promote the value of hands-on, experiential involvement in the arts as a tool for global and cultural understanding as well as a way to deepen the understanding of West African music and dance among students of all ages.!
Cantrip: This Scottish/Vermont trio has been captivating audiences on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade with its driving blend of twin fiddles, bagpipes and guitar. The name is an Old Scots word meaning a charm, magic spell or piece of mischief. While firmly rooted in the Scottish tradition, Cantrip's music takes influences from, and excursions into, music from the Scandinavian, Balkan, Basque, Breton and Québécoise traditions. Founding members Dan Houghton (highland bagpipes, borderpipes and smallpipes, flute, whistles, voice) and Jon Bews (fiddle, mandolin, voice) along with Eric McDonald (guitar) create a sound that is energetic and inspiring in the reels and jigs, sensitive and contemplative in the slow airs and never without a touch of humor.
Cantrip formed itself rather organically from a Thursday-night session in a pub at the top of Edinburgh's Royal-Mile. By 2002, Jon Bews, Gavin Marwick, Dan Houghton and Cameron Robson had recorded their first album “Silver” and in 2005, the long awaited second album “Boneshaker” was released on the Mischief label, followed by “Piping The Fish” in 2008. Dan Houghton has played and taught pipes extensively throughout New England, Britain and Europe, and has toured as a soloist as well as in various ensembles, including the Scottish fusion band Salsa Celtica, and the New Zealand Irish band Blackthorn. In addition to performing with Cantrip and the acclaimed vocal-led Scottish band Malinky, Jon Bews has earned a reputation for himself as a dance fiddler, playing for Scottish Country Dance classes and balls all over Europe. Boston-based, Berklee College of Music graduate Eric McDonald performs with celtic, contradance band Matching Orange, and New England Scottish Fiddle Champion Katie McNally.
Rod MacDonald: A "big part of the 1980s folk revival in Greenwich Village clubs", performing at the Speakeasy, Bottom Line, Folk City, and the Songwriter's Exchange at the Cornelia Street Cafe for many years. He co-founded the Greenwich Village Folk Festival. He is perhaps best known for his songs "American Jerusalem", about the "contrast between the rich and the poor in Manhattan" (Sing Out!), "A Sailor's Prayer", "Coming of the Snow", "Every Living Thing", and "My Neighbors in Delray", a description of the September 11 hijackers' last days in Delray Beach, Florida, where MacDonald has lived since 1995. His songs have been covered by Dave Van Ronk, Shawn Colvin, Four Bitchin' Babes, Jonathan Edwards, Garnet Rogers, and others. His 1985 recording "White Buffalo" is dedicated to Lakota Sioux ceremonial chief and healer Frank Fools Crow, whom he visited in 1981 and 1985, and who appears with MacDonald in the cover photograph. His first novel, The Open Mike, about a young man in the open mike scene of Greenwich Village, was published on December 5, 2014, by Archway Publishing.
Matt and Shannon Heaton share many similar Irish music memories, because they have performed together from their first meeting in Chicago in 1991. Behind their Irish flute- and guitar-driven tunes and stirring songs is a deep well of mutual memories, setbacks, and triumphs. They bring to the stage a depth of shared experience and a love for Irish music; their stage banter is comfortable, often hilarious.
The Boston Globe's Scott Alarik wrote: “Their playing is masterful and inventive, their arrangements city-smart and spacious. Still, they never forget that Irish music is, at its heart, a neighborly form meant for sharing, not showing off."
Musically speaking, the Heatons play the heck out of their instruments (Irish wood flute/accordion, guitar/bouzouki). After years of study in Chicago, and many nights of music in Clare, Galway, and their adopted home of Boston, Irish Music Magazine’s John O’Regan wrote, “their duet playing is tight, sweet, and tasteful, lacking nothing on either technical expertise or instrumental virtuosity.”
The Heatons’ music comes from a traditional aesthetic, a devotion to strong traditional bones, and a passion for reaching out to the modern world around them. They are devoted to Irish traditional music and uplift listeners by connecting with each other and the people around them.
Low Lily: The string and vocal trio explores the roots and branches of American folk music with traditional influences and modern inspiration that weaves together a unique brand of acoustic music. Liz Simmons (vocals and guitar), Flynn Cohen (vocals, guitar, and mandolin), and Lissa Schneckenburger (vocals and fiddle) are masterful players with deep relationships to traditional music styles ranging from bluegrass to Irish, Scottish, New England, and Old Time Appalachian sounds. When you combine this with stellar composition skills and inventive arrangements you get music that is rooted yet contemporary.
PopMatters says Low Lily has " an incredible knack for putting a little pop twist on a traditional folk/Americana sound... it’s a blend that works beautifully."
Low Lily’s new self-titled album brings their influences together in a collection of six songs which includes original and traditional material on three voices, guitars, mandolin, fiddle, double bass, and trombones. Additional musicians include Corey DiMario (double bass) and Fred Simmons (trombones). The album’s first track, “House Carpenter”, debuted at #1 on the Folk DJ charts– the band’s second #1 song.
Reggie Harris combines a strong folk and gospel legacy with a solid background in classical, rock and pop music. He has performed with Pete Seeger, Ysaye Barnwell, Jay Leno, Tom Paxton, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Harry Belafonte and others. He has appeared at The Kennedy Center, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Smithsonian Institute, Reunion Arena in TX, the Psalm Festival in Graz, Austria, as well as a myriad of theatre arts centers, festivals, universities and schools, have given this inspiring duo standing ovations for their vibrant performances.
Pat Wictor first burst on the folk and acoustic scene as an innovative slide guitarist known for fresh and memorable interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs. He has since made his mark as a singer-songwriter penning lean and poetic songs that incorporate - and subvert - rural blues and gospel traditions. He appeared at the Meetinghouse Café two years ago as one third of Brother Sun, the powerful harmonizing trio with Joe Jencks and Greg Greenway, garnering critical acclaim, a #1 CD on the Folk DJ charts, and a continent-spanning tour schedule.
Recognition and honors have followed Pat for years: he won the Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist Showcase, was nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year by the Folk Alliance, was nominated for Gospel Song of the Year by the Independent Music Awards, and was a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk songwriting contest. His CD "Sunset Waltz" reached #2 on the Folk-DJ charts, and "Heaven is so High" and "Waiting for the Water" both reached #4. And even more attention has come to Pat through his work in Brother Sun.
Rani Arbo & Greg Ryan: Rani Arbo is a fiddler, guitarist, songwriter and song collector. She has toured nationally for more than 20 years, most of them with the quartet Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem (Signature Sounds), which frequents folk festivals from coast to coast. Rani has toured and recorded with Joan Baez, John McCutcheon and many others. Greg Ryan performed for years as a singer/songwriter before forming the modern gypsy jazz group They Might Be Gypsies with his son Aidan. Their two records received rave reviews, with their debut album winning the Times Argus' Instrumental Album of the Year. In addition to playing with They Might Be Gypsies, Greg performs with the gypsy jazz group The Queen City Hot Club.
Together they perform Arbo’s wry, reflective originals, as well as traditional and cover songs, from Appalachian ballads to Ray Lamontagne. Acoustic Guitar Magazine writes, “Arbo is blessed with an unmistakable voice, both light and sultry, with a hint of tremolo and smoke.”