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 Intensives.
This year's staff features Guy Davis, Ari & Mia, our host band Simple Gifts and more to be announced.
Here is our list of artists for 2018.
Guy Davis, son of actor/activist parents Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, has spent his musical life carrying his message of the blues around the world, earning him the title “An Ambassador of the Blues”. His work as an actor, author, and music teacher earmark him as a renaissance man of the blues. Guy’s new album, Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train – A Look Back at Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, is an homage to these two hugely influential artists, not only on Guy’s career, but to thousands of musicians around the world. Guy’s one-man play, The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed With the Blues, premiered Off-Broadway in the ‘90s and has since been released as a double CD. He went on to star Off-‐Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil, winning the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award. Along the way he cut nine acclaimed albums for the Red House label and four for his own label, Smokeydoke Records; and was nominated for nearly a dozen Blues Awards.
2017 Latin Grammy winner!
Toloache (prounounced, Toh-loh-Ah-che) is a flower from Mexico used in Love Potions. Band founder Mireya Ramos' Mariachi father has successfully passed it down while her music connoisseur mother has expanded Mireya's range into the world of hidden Latin American gems of her era. Add to this band Co-Founder and R&B songbird Shae Fiol's modern pop influences and you have a band that is just starting to scratch the surface of the possibilities that lie in this rich fertile musical ground, ready to grow out of its authentic roots to feed and inspire a whole new generation of Mariachi lovers.
Matt and Shannon Heaton, with their Irish infused sound on flute, bouzouki, guitar and vocals, are returning to Folk College! We loved them in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and we will have them again this year!
Shannon was named 2016 Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Artist Fellow. The Irish American News dubbed her Female Musician of the Year (2009) and Live Ireland nominated her Female Musician of the Year 2010 and 2011. She’s been compared to Alison Krauss and Altan’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh for her combination of vocal grace and instrumental prowess on Irish flute, whistles and accordion. She is also an acclaimed arranger and composer, and has published two instructional Irish music books.
In addition to his acclaimed work as an Irish accompanist on guitar and bouzouki, Matt has also received multiple Massachussetts Cultural Council Grants for his work with kids (he’s got two CDs of original rockabilly-tinged music for children and discerning parents). He fronts surf-rock band Electric Heaters and also holds a master’s degree in classical guitar. For his creative chording and driving grooves, Matt has been called “a combination of Bill Frisell and Arty McGlynn.”
Matt and Shannon are poised, passionate American performers with Irish roots and universal appeal. They are comfortable onstage and have a warm connection with their audiences. They move listeners with their love of traditional music (and each other), and their sense of adventure and fun in exploring new directions and possibilities.
“Strikingly beautiful, distinctive and exhilarating, with expressive vocals that will find a way into hearts and minds” (No Depression), sisters Ari & Mia Friedman reference the styles of Southern and Northeastern fiddle music and the early American songbook to create a realm where their own compositions cross paths with older traditions. Their stylish and sophisticated music honors the sounds of Appalachian cottages, rural dance floors, and urban concert halls. Combine this with their innovative approach to songwriting and the result is a captivating sound.
“Ari & Mia are not creating a new music; they are taking it to another level and exploring areas that have not been attempted in decades. Their all-acoustic, pure and honest approach has significance.
Tyler Hughes and Sam Gleaves 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 & flatfoot dancing. Tyler and Sam recently performed on West Virginia Public Radio's Mountain Stage, Lexington, Kentucky's Red Barn Radio, broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television, and at many other venues throughout the Appalachian region.
Ukulele guru Stuart Fuchs is a performing and teaching artist who has presented his innovative & holistic music workshops at the top ukulele festivals across the US and Canada.
In his concerts, Stuart balances virtuosity and heart on his classical guitar, ukulele, Native American flute & didjeridoo. Stuart is committed to a compassionate and holistic vision of music education.
In his workshops he blends meditation, qigong and yoga practice with practical music instruction and soulful improvisation process work - offering a playful and accessible gateway for anyone to bring more music making into their daily life.
Colebrook Road has become a standout string band, a bluegrass powerhouse made up of five individuals whose sum is more than the total of their talents.
Colebrook Road are winners of the 2016 D.C. Bluegrass Union's Mid Atlantic Bluegrass band contest in Washington D.C., winners of the 2015 Podunk Bluegrass Festival band contest in Hebron, CT, winners of the 2014 Watermelon Park Fest band contest in Berryville, VA, and winners of the 2011 Pickin' In The Panhandle Bluegrass Festival band contest in Martinsburg, WV.
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.
Debbie Rifkin is an award-winning music theory and sight-singing teacher at Ithaca College in upstate NY. She started out as a classical violinist, earning prizes and prestigious seats in regional orchestras in her youth. Now, she is an avid fiddler. Her main specialty is klezmer music, but she dabbles in French-Canadian, New England, and Scandinavian styles as well. She has played in several klezmer bands, directs the Ithaca College Klezmer Band, and occasionally performs at Scandinavian folk festivals.
Kelly Armor is a folklorist, instrumentalist, singer, storyteller, and educator. Her passion for folk music was ignited when she lived in East Africa for several years in the late 1980's to do ethnomusicology research. That in turn led her to study American roots music and a 13 year career as a performer. She is currently the Folk Art and Education Director at the Erie Art Museum where she directs Old Songs New Opportunities, a program that trains refugee women to work in childcares and to use their traditional songs on the job.
Kelly e. Parker is founder and artistic director of ABAFASI. Her life’s roles include: sistah, mother, grandmother, drummer, drum-maker, student, teacher, social worker, composer, craftswoman, wordsmith, jewelry-maker, and welder. Kelly’s first drumming experience occurred in 1994, and it recharged her life, since then drumming has been the soundtrack of her path. The drum is in her walk, talk, hair, children and spirit. Her travel to Africa in 2005 affirmed the influence that West African drumming has had on all genres of music. That influence has informed her rhythmic expressions.
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
Steven Greenman is recognized internationally as one of the finest practitioners, composers and teachers of traditional East European Jewish klezmer violin music in the world today. Steven has performed internationally with several renowned klezmer ensembles including the Klezmatics, Kapelye, Khevrisa, Budowitz, and the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band. He has self-produced two landmark recordings documenting his original Jewish and klezmer compositions. Several of Steven’s Jewish compositions have been recorded by international artists and researched by scholars while two of his liturgical melodies have been recognized and published by the Shalshelet Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music. Steven is the featured performer and co-producer of Smithsonian Folkways’ only klezmer music recording, Khevrisa-European Klezmer Music.
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!