Artists on the faculty of Folk College lead workshops, coach the student bands, perform in the concerts and lead evening jam sessions. Some artists lead 3-hour intensive workshops on Friday: check out Master Classes.
This year's staff features Happy Traum, The Appleseed Collective, Bumper Jacksons, Anna and Elizabeth, Simple Gifts and more. Here is our full list of artists for 2017.
Happy Traum was smitten by American folk music as a teenager and began playing guitar and 5-string banjo. He was an active participant of the legendary Washington Square/Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1950s and ‘60s, and studied guitar with the famed blues master, Brownie McGhee. Over the past five decades he has performed extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan, both as a soloist and as a member of various groups. His avid interest in traditional and contemporary music has brought him recognition as a performer, writer, editor, session musician, folklorist, teacher and recording artist.
Happy's first appearance in a recording studio was at a historic session in 1963 when a group of young folk musicians, including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Peter LaFarge and The Freedom Singers gathered in Folkways Records' studio for an album called Broadsides. Happy with his group, the New World Singers, cut the first recorded version of "Blowin' In The Wind", and Happy sang a duet with Dylan on his anti-war song "Let Me Die in My Footsteps." These tracks were re-released in August, 2000 by Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings as part of a boxed set, "The Best of Broadsides 1962 - 1988: Anthems from the American Underground."
The New World Singers (Happy, Bob Cohen and Gil Turner) soon recorded an album for Atlantic Records, with liner notes by Bob Dylan, and released a single of the first recorded version of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." The group toured folk clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada, including several stints at Gerde's Folk City and the Bitter End in the Village, the Riverboat in Toronto and the Gate of Horn in Chicago..
The Appleseed Collective represents Americana music rooted in traditions from all over the world and from every decade, creating a live experience that welcomes every soul and is impossible to replicate. Band members’ musical backgrounds and interests span a complementary and contrasting range of American music, from Motown old-time fiddle, to pre-World-War jazz harmony singing and even Indian classical music. Expect some interesting workshops!
The Bumper Jacksons are hot and sweet, painting America's story from New Orleans' brothels to Appalachian hollers. Unafraid to scrap together new sounds from forgotten 78's, the Bumper Jacksons boldly and elegantly balance paying homage to the traditions while fashioning their own unique, DIY style. Honored as the region's 2015 "Artist of the Year" and "Best Folk Band" from 2013-2015 at the Washington Area Music Awards, the Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagining roots music with both power and tenderness. Bursting at the seams with some of the richest threads of old America, Bumper Jacksons bring you into the center of a party where everyone's invited and the dance floor never sleeps.
A collaboration between Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle, the pair’s growing acclaim springs from a shared quartet of talents: Both are historians, storytellers, visual artists, and gifted, intuitive musicians—in combination, a groundbreaking approach.
Inspired by the richness and tradition of the music, Anna & Elizabeth gather songs and stories from archives and visits with elders. They bring these songs to life in performance with sparse, atmospheric arrangements using guitar, banjo, fiddle, and the uncanny blend of their voices in close harmony. They accompany their songs with stories—of the lyrics, of the singer, of the quest to learn the song—and they illustrate them in mesmerizing fashion. The two revive the old scrolling picture show, dubbed “crankies”—intricate picture-scrolls illustrating the old songs they sing, which they create in tandem with papercuts, shadow puppets, prints, and embroidered fabric.
Amadou Kouyate is the 150th generation of the Kouyate family of Manding Diali (oral historians/musicians of West Africa). Amadou performs on the 21-string Kora, and rhythmic presentations on Djembe and Koutiro drums. His repertoire ranges from traditional songs from the 13th century to original compositions incorporating blues and jazz riffs. In addition to his solo work, Amadou performs with his world rock ensemble Proper SKANKS as well as with Farafina Kan, Manding Jata, Spank Rock, Urban Afrikan, The Kouyate Family/Memory of African Culture.
Maivish explores the landscape of time-honored melodies and songs, and comes home along new pathways, making music with vibrant energy and delight. Gathering traditions from the British Isles, Ireland and America with a mix of original compositions, their performance is infused with lush vocal harmonies, inspired interplay, and captivating spirit.
At its core, the group is a collaboration between American fiddler Jaige Trudel and British born guitarist Adam Broome who have been performing together as a duo for over a decade. Maivish frequently includes Matthew Olwell on flutes, bodhrán, and percussive dance.
John Lilly's unique blend of music bridges the waters between tradition and innovation. Mixing his own roots-based original songs with the best of early country music, he offers a lively and entertaining program of American roots music.
John Lilly is a multi-faceted performer and songwriter who makes his home in Charleston, West Virginia. An award-winning songwriter, John is also recognized as an accomplished vocalist and song stylist. He accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and mandolin, playing original songs that sound as old as the hills and old songs like they were made yesterday. According to one reviewer, "If Hank Williams had a sunny disposition, he'd be John Lilly." (Durham, NC, Independent)
He is especially known for his mastery of the early country music styles of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. John is considered a fine yodeler and frequently teaches workshops in yodeling, as well as workshops in the songs of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. He has been on the teaching staff for Early Country Music Week at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College five times.
Folk College's host band, Simple Gifts, is three women (Linda Littleton, Karen Hirshon & Rachel Hall) playing twelve instruments, with styles that range from old time to Celtic to Klezmer and beyond. Karen Hirshon plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar, 6-string banjo, bowed psaltery, doumbek, and spoons. Linda Littleton plays fiddle, hammered dulcimer, recorders, and bowed psaltery, and she's starting to learn banjo. Rachel Hall is recognized as one of the leading English concertina players in the U.S., and she also performs on piano, accordion, and tabla. Based in State College and Philadelphia, PA, Simple Gifts members designed Folk College and work with the Huntingdon County Arts Council to make it a reality. They have a strong philosophy that everyone can play music, that music is best when shared, and that above all, music is about communication, not competition.
Henry Koretzky is a mandolinist, guitarist, and singer from Harrisburg, PA, who has performed in a wide variety of styles and groups, from bluegrass with Cornerstone, Sweetwater Reunion, and High Strung; klezmer with The Old World Folk Band; old-time with the duo Rootbound; as well as swing, celtic, contemporary folk, and contradance music. He has taught at Folk College in previous years as part of The Keystone Rebels and as part of a duo with singer-songwriter- guitarist Kevin Neidig, and has also been a staff regular at Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.
Jerry Trusty grew up in Mississippi where he learned and played traditional music at an early age. He has a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in music performance (French horn). Jerry was a high school band director for several years, and he is a retired professor of counselor education from Penn State. His current musical passions include playing, researching and building clawhammer and old-time banjos.
Richard has been exploring the harmonica from the inside out for over 30 years. He has performed with Taj Mahal, Maria Muldaur, Bo Diddley, Susan Werner, and many others. His studio work includes award winning films, TV, radio, and theatre soundtracks, and other projects. As a soloist, he combines his fluid and highly developed rack playing with soulful vocals, guitar, and intricate solo harp flights. Richard’s music is American roots - ranging from rural and urban blues, fiddle tunes, swing, country, gospel, to early rock and roll. He has three solo releases - “Steppin Out”, The Joliet Sessions”, and his most recent collection titled “Celtic Instrumentals”. You can also follow Richard on his blog.
Carl Rahkonen is a Music Librarian and Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as a member of the Library Faculty. Carl plays fiddle, mandolin or string bass with local musicians, with Finnish-American musicians, with the Irish band Aran, the Pennsylvania old-time band Keystone Rebels, Grist for the Mill and other musician friends. He was an ArtsPath artist from 2001-05 in fiddling for Western Pennsylvania.
His research interests include Finnish, Scandinavian, Baltic, Russian and Celtic folk music; folk instruments, especially the Finnish kantele; polka bands and fiddling, especially in Western Pennsylvania; and the history of ethnomusicology, especially its women pioneers.
As a pianist, Judy is at home in many styles of music including jazz, classical and contra. She plays English Country Dance music with the band Kestrel, and Irish music with Patrick Clifford. Some years ago her experience at Folk College prompted her to take up the piano accordion. Much easier to haul around than a Steinway, that instrument has opened the door to many rich musical possibilities and ensembles. As a bandleader, Judy often can be found conducting large groups of musicians who have never rehearsed together, including at the Mt. Airy Contra Dance and the Northeast Squeeze-In, in addition to the Folk College Contra Dance Band. Her teaching is focused on helping musicians find simple, and perhaps unexpected, ways to improve and enjoy their playing. She explores ideas about achieving mastery, both as a musician and a martial artist, in her blog, Kotsu Kotsu.
The Fiddling Thomsons are an award winning multi-instrumentalist father and son team residing in New Hampshire, with 12 years of duo performance experience on twin fiddles, banjos, guitar, accordion, irish flute, pennywhistle, and percussion instruments.
They have performed internationally at venues including the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival, and the Bath Folk Festival in England, and at New England venues including the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire; Massachusetts Maritime Academy; and Fenway Park. Ryan played keyboard for years with Boston based ceili bands - Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and Ceol Tradsiunta na hEireann.
Ryan has won the Northeastern USA trophy at the National Fiddle Contest, banjo awards from California to Massachusetts, and a Boston Music Awards nomination for his accordion playing. Brennish has variously placed third through first at several local fiddle contests and a first place band award at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia. Together the Thomsons won a Twin Fiddling Award at the Lowell National Park Banjo and Fiddle Contest. More info is available at http://captainfiddle.com/thomsonsband.html
Bob Nicholson is a Folk College tradition, making our annual Saturday night contradance truly special. Bob is in demand as a contra and square dance caller who is known for his relaxed teaching style, patience, energy, and ability to make the dance fun!