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Finest Kind is the remarkable folk trio from Ottawa, Canada whose exquisite harmony singing and brilliant vocal arrangements are bringing a fresh sense of excitement and discovery to the performance of old songs. The trio's glorious sound, served up with easy-going humor, has won a devoted following across North America. Thrills and Chills...Finest Kind's vocal arrangements are a creative tour de force. Tradition-based yet curiously modern, the trio's harmonies are an enchanting feast of opulent chords and ever changing textures. The trio's amazing vocal blend has been called "molecular bonding" by one reviewer: "Any closer," he says, "and they wouldn't be allowed to do it in public." Audiences invariably mention "goosebumps."
Finest Kind was formed in Ottawa, Canada, in 1991 by Ian Robb, Ann Downey, and Shelley Posen. Ian, originally from London, England, is renowned as one of North America's most gifted performers of British folksong, a concertina player extraordinaire, charter member of Toronto's Friends of Fiddler's Green, and composer of folk standards such as "The Old Rose and Crown." Ann, who hails from the southwestern U.S., plays guitar, banjo, and bass, and has performed in bands playing old-time and cowboy music, bluegrass, klezmer, jazz, and swing in North America and Europe. Shelley, a professional folklorist from Toronto, is a versatile singer and multi instrumentalist who has spent a lifetime researching, teaching, writing about, performing, and sometimes composing songs. Shelley and Ian were both columnists for Sing Out! magazine for many years.
Kate Chadbourne is a singer, storyteller, and poet whose performances combine traditional tales with music for voice, harp, flutes, and piano. She holds a Ph.D. in Celtic Languages and Literatures from Harvard where she teaches courses in Irish language and folklore - but the heart of her understanding of Irish folk tradition comes from encounters with singers, storytellers, and great talkers in Ireland.
She has been a "tradition bearer" in the Revels Salon series and in the Gaelic Roots Concert Series at Boston College. Her music was featured recently on NPR's programs, "Cartalk" and "All Songs Considered," and songs from her latest CD, The Irishy Girl, are played on Irish radio programs throughout the country. The Harp-Boat, a collection of poems about her father, a Maine lobsterman, won the Kulupi Press 2007 Sense of Place Chapbook Contest and was published in 2008. Whether she is singing, telling stories, teaching, or sharing a poem, she aims to leave her audiences moved, enlivened, and eager for their own adventures.
Kate will be performing with many special guests. During the first half of the show she'll be joined by Aisling Keating (flute & voice), Laurel Martin (fiddle & voice), and Michael O'Leary (vocal and bohran). During the second half she'll be joined by Bill Kehoe (guitar and vocal), Pat Kenneally (guitar, bodhran and vocal), Bob Phillips (banjo, guitar), Linda Abrams (banjo), and Tom Smith (guitar, mandolin, vocal). Kate will play her big harp and will also use the First Parish's lovely grand piano.
Proceeds from this concert will benefit the First Parish's Helen Robinson Wright fund, which assists individuals in need.
This show has been canceled!
We strongly suggest that you purchase tickets in advance for this concert. Advance tickets will be available on BrownPaperTickets.com, at the Minor Chord in Littleton and at Sandy's Music in Cambridge. You can also purchase advance tickets by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check payable to FSSGB, Inc., to FSSGB Tickets, c/o Lori Fassman, 17 Faulkner Hill Road, Acton, MA 01720. Please indicate how many member and non-member tickets you are requesting.
Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur are back at it, playing gigs and bringing knowing smiles to the faces of their fans. As founding members in the 1960s of the nationally popular, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band, they helped to create a new style in American musical culture. Jerry Garcia's first band (Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a forerunner to The Grateful Dead), was formed after Jerry and Bob Weir heard the Kweskin Band's first album. They not only went for its music but also its look . . . no more matching striped T-shirts and rehearsed jokes for these guys. It was finally okay to wear street clothes and be natural on stage. John Sebastian, after playing in the Even Dozen Jug Band in New York, formed the legendary Lovin' Spoonful to carry on the carefree spirit of his Cambridge heroes. It was the Kweskin Band's jug player, Fritz Richmond, who gave the Lovin' Spoonful their name. Fritz also brought his hipster persona to the folk and folk-rock scenes for all to emulate - his granny glasses becoming the look for The Birds, John Lennon and many others.
Although Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band appeared to have a laid back, spontaneous approach, the group was not an easy one to copy. Their music seemed simple, but it was often complex. The other jug bands of the day dropped out one by one. Aside from Fritz Richmond's nonpareil jug and washtub bass playing, two of the most distinctive qualities of the band were Jim Kweskin's clean, rhythmic finger picking and Geoff Muldaur's emotional, quavering voice. To this day, no one plays guitar like Jim Kweskin and no one sings like Geoff Muldaur. They are singular artists.
Jim and Geoff were brought back together in 2006 for a Fritz Richmond memorial concert in Tokyo and their chemistry was instantly re-activated. They've been doing select dates together ever since. Jim has honed his dazzling picking skills, developing new arrangements of American folk and jazz material. His singing is as joyous as ever (no one can sing "Rag Mama" like Jim). Geoff returned to full-time performing in the late nineties with his much-heralded album, The Secret Handshake. Since then he has traveled the world, playing his guitar and singing his heart out.
Jean Redpath is recognized as one of the foremost interpreters and champions of traditional Scottish music. Making her home near Edinburgh, Ms. Redpath is known today as one of the few exponents of Scottish music, and is recognized as a world authority. She is equally well known to millions of Americans as a radio personality through her appearances on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, and Robert J. Lurtsema's Morning Pro Musica.
Her songs and ballads come from the oral tradition of Scotland and reflect the stoic lovable qualities of the Scottish character. She has devoted a large portion of her professional life to the songs of Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns. Her work with the late Serge Hovey, who researched and arranged over 300 of Burns' songs has produced seven recordings which have won critical acclaim. Four more recordings made in Scotland are sung mostly a capella.
"Jean Redpath possesses a mezzo soprano that most classically trained art singers might envy, and there is no one who interprets the Scottish tradition more beautifully or with more affection." - The New York Times
Sponsored by the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston and the West Gallery Quire
Carols from the Sheffield, West Gallery, and Sacred Harp traditions (as well as some standard favorites). Music will be available
Email Suzanne Mrozak (suzanne AT smrozak DOT com) for more information.
The annual FSSGB members' concert is always a popular event. Our members perform songs which range from traditional ballads to original compositions, and from instrumental to a cappella pieces. Some of the instruments that have been played at this concert in the past include violin, cello, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, keyboard and concertina. Some FSSGB members who have performed at this event have gone on to have successful performing careers, such as Elijah Wald, Mark Ryer, Fool's Errand and Merle Roesler.
Our hosts this year will be Ellen Schmidt and Paul Beck. Ellen and Paul are both talented performers who play out regularly in duos that were formed with fellow FSSGB members: Ellen is half of Two for the Show with Jake Kensinger, and Paul performs as half of Ergo Canto with Leslie Bryant.
Members are invited to sign up to perform - one song or a spoken word piece. You may perform alone or with others. Some performers have been participating for years; others will do so for the first time. Children are most welcome. The program will feature professional musicians as well as living room folk enthusiasts. All are welcome. The Midweek Singers are an important part of the program as are the many members who show up especially for this event. The audience is always supportive and lively.
FSSGB members (including new members!) are welcome to sign up to perform one song or spoken word piece. Contact Ellen Schmidt at eschmidt01742 AT gmail DOT com by January 12, 2011, to sign up.
Lorraine and Bennett Hammond play and sing in perfect complement: blending their instruments with consummate skill, they create a new voice for music that ranges in style from classical through Celtic, blues and contemporary. The joy they take in their music is contagious, and their flair for tailoring their selection of songs and tunes for individual audiences lends a lively freshness to each performance. Between them they play 5-String Banjos, Appalachian Dulcimer, Celtic Harp, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, and a vast repertoire of traditional and contemporary songs, tunes & ballads.
Bennett began teaching himself to play guitar in 1959 and has been helping others learn to play since 1960. His workshops bring a wealth of technical ability and understanding within reach, derived from the simplest and most familiar chords and strums. A lifelong New Englander, Lorraine has played fretted dulcimer for over thirty years, performing mountain ballads and jazz standards with equal skill. "Quite simply acoustic music at it's finest," ...Dirty Linen Review. Lorraine's numerous credits as singer, songwriter, teacher and instrumentalist include her Shanachie release with fiddler Gerry Milnes, "Hell Up Coal Holler". .and, with her husband Bennett, "Love has a Life of its Own" on the Wizmak label.
"... the Hammonds are folk missionaries of the first order, devoted cultural activists, teachers, event organizers and performers who love to introduce people to the joys of traditional music." - Boston Globe
Ballads, chanteys and songs of the sea are the mainstay of "Knockabout".
Colin de la Barre, Barry O'Brien, Rose Sheehan, Audi Lane, Peter and Joanne Souza have spliced together many nautical tunes that represent both new and old world music with a wealth of knowledge and talent. Vocals and harmonies are a major part of performances mixed with knowledge and lots of good fun. All members of "Knockabout" reside in Gloucester and Essex, MA.
Colin de la Barre has grown up in very a musical household. Colin's unique ability to harmonize is his true talent that surfaces at every performance. Colin has a brilliant sense of supporting all songs and has been our mainstay for group harmonies.
Barry O'Brien has been playing and singing music for many years. Barry's stage presence captivates audiences and draws them into his music and song. Barry plays the mandolin and guitar as he leads songs and chanteys. Barry owns and manages a local communications company and is adept at arrangements and presentations. Barry is also a Director of the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. Rose Sheehan has been singing since the early 1980's in folk venues in the Boston area.
Rose was the primary musician for a Western Massachusetts Morris team for several years. Rose is the founding and original director for Welcome Yule! A Mid-Winter Celebration with performances ranging back 20 years. Rose's ballads, sea songs and chanteys are exceptionally well presented for all to enjoy. Rose currently works in the field of primary education, plays the melodeon and performs superb vocals.
Audi Lane has been singing since her childhood in church choir, school musicals and in small groups. In the past year she has very much enjoyed singing sea shanties with her friends in Gloucester, where she lives.
Joanne Souza is a classically trained musician who plays the flute, concertina and base. Joanne participated in many choral groups while in college. Joanne primarily sings soulful sea songs and ballads with meaningful messages of loss, life and humor. Joanne has been singing for over 25 years and is currently the Director of the Schooner Adventure in Gloucester.
Peter Souza is a long time lover of the sea, its music and the people who work the waters. Peter plays the guitar and sings chanteys from the golden age of sail. Peter is the VP of the Schooner Adventure and directs her 4 million dollar restoration and has been employed for almost forty years in the high tech industry. Peter has a very keen wit and brilliant sense of humor, as you will see during performances. Be prepared for a lot of fun and good song from "Knockabout".
Proceeds from this concert will benefit the Friday Night Supper Club at the Arlington Street Church in Boston.
After over 40 years of singing, collecting, teaching and spreading traditional music around the world, Sara Grey seems more enthusiastic about her chosen work than ever. "We don't work at it, we just do it. We just open up our mouths and do it." The smile in her voice reveals the love of continuing the singing tradition with her son Kieron.
"When a child grows up with a parent who sings and plays music, it's just part of their lives--it's bound to happen," Sara continued. "Kieron always knows where I'm going. He knows when I'm going to pause, and I know when he's going to pause--even when it's out of context. We just feel it."
Once you have heard Sara Grey you will never forget her. She has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. It is a voice well suited to native American ballads and the ballads of Ireland and Scotland. One of the best things about her singing is that it reflects her great knowledge of and feeling for traditional music. She just seems to know what is right in the interpretation of a traditional song. She is a ballad singer of great strength with a fine understanding of the importance of understatement. Her singing is richly emotional and she is equally at home with a gentle lyric or a harsh account of life on the frontier.
It is not Sara's lovely voice alone that makes her one of the most popular singers on the folk scene, on many of her songs Sara accompanies herself by frailing a five string banjo and, when playing dance tunes, it is obvious why she is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the clawhammer style. As well as singing and playing, Sara is well known for her storytelling - specialising in stories from New England where she grew up learning many of her stories from her father.
Her son Kieron Means has such a tremendous passion when he sings, it goes right to the very core of himself, he's totally immersed the songs. He is a terrific performer on account of just that passion. His voice is especially striking, achieving the rare combination of a high lonesome edge with a warm richness of timbre, and it has a power to move the listener that few of his generation can match. His guitar playing is unconventional, its spareness a mile away from any notion of fancy picking, but it's highly effective, while his stage presence is charismatic, yet laid-back. His songs range from old-time, through the blues - which he sings with startling conviction - to the work of tradition-influenced songwriters, and his own compositions have people, who know a good song when they hear one, nodding in approval.
Sparky and Rhonda Rucker perform throughout the U.S. as well as overseas, singing songs and telling stories from the American folk tradition. Sparky Rucker has been performing over forty years and is internationally recognized as a leading folklorist, musician, historian, storyteller, and author. He accompanies himself with fingerstyle picking and bottleneck blues guitar, banjo, and spoons. Rhonda Rucker is an accomplished harmonica, piano, banjo, and bones player, and also adds vocal harmonies to their songs.
Sparky and Rhonda are sure to deliver an uplifting presentation of toe-tapping music spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. They take their audience on an educational and emotional journey that ranges from poignant stories of slavery and war to an amusing rendition of a Brer Rabbit tale or their witty commentaries on current events. Their music includes a variety of old-time blues, slave songs, Appalachian music, spirituals, ballads, work songs, Civil War music, cowboy music, railroad songs, and a few of their own original compositions.
Sparky and Rhonda weave their music into captivating stories that the history books don't always tell, and they share this knowledge in many schools and colleges. Their educational programs span over three centuries of African-American history, including slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the westward migration, the birth of blues music, and the civil rights Movement. Each era is interspersed with stories and popular songs from the time period, celebrating the diversity of the nation's history.
This concert is produced in conjunction with the Cambridge Center of Adult Education's annual Spring Dulcimer Festival.
Fennig's All-Star String Band has been setting standards in the New York string band music scene for over 40 years. Bill Spence is best known for playing the hammered dulcimer. In 1970 he formed Fennig's All-Star String Band with musicians living in the Albany area. In 1973 "The Hammered Dulcimer" was recorded in the Spence family's living room on a 2-track machine, and has sold over 100,000 copies. Three more albums followed, capturing the fancy of a new generation of musicians and inspiring hundreds of new-found hammered dulcimer enthusiasts. George Wilson is a multi-instrumental virtuoso and singer whose repertoire samples a wide variety of traditional and folk styles on fiddle, banjo and guitar. His dynamic fiddling, influenced by Cape Breton and French Canadian styles has been popular with musicians, contra dancers and concert-goers since the early 1970s. Toby Stover is a pianist, singer and dancer and more than 35 year veteran of the music and theater arts. She has worked with many groups, at home and abroad, including Bottle Hill, Alistair Anderson, Fiddle Fever, Walt Michael and Co., Fennig's All-Stars, and The Vanaver Caravan. As a dancer she has performed with the Li Sangua Ya Bato and Nego Gato Afro-Brazillian Dance Companies. She performs and teaches African dance and drum, and of course, provides Fennig's All-Stars with its rock-solid piano backbone.
Please join us for this delightfully upbeat last concert of our 2010-2011 season!
Larry Hanks is a complicated guy who sings songs of other people's complicated lives in an uncomplicated manner. His earthy and deeply resonant voice draws us into worlds of people and places where we may never otherwise go, and elegantly embroiders landscapes that never existed, save in song. For decades, Hanks has been delighting audiences with his rough-hewn bass vocals, tastefully spare 6 and 12-string guitar accompaniments, and virtuosic Jew's Harp playing. Listeners respond warmly to his easy, unpretentious mannerisms, and a loving approach to the repertoire he painstakingly selects to reflect the many facets of the human condition. Larry Hanks brings charm, depth, and a heart full of tenderness to every song he sings. Influenced by the music of Sam Hinton, Leadbelly, and Woody Guthrie, Hanks is also known for his many old songs of the American West-- both sad and rollicking cowboy and work songs, topical and political songs, and Traditional American ballads.
Deborah Robins comes from a singing family and the Chicago folk music tradition. She brings classical music training and a background in bass clarinet and baritone saxophone performance to her harmonic sensibilities. With a keen interest in American vernacular music as cultural anthropology, she co-developed a PBS television series , "The Music of America: History Through Musical Traditions" (WETA), and it's "Word of Mouth: The Journey of American Folk Music" Oral History Archive; soon to be housed at The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Larry Hanks & Deborah Robins' first duet album, "No Hiding Place", produced by Steven Strauss, features 19 brand spankin' OLD songs, and is now available (along with Hanks' other recordings) through the artists or via CDbaby, Down Home Music, Amoeba Records, and other fine retailers near you.
Hamish Henderson (11 November 1919 - 8 March 2002; Scottish Gaelic: Seamas MacEanraig (Seamas Mor)) was a Scottish poet, songwriter, soldier, and intellectual. He has been referred to as the most important Scots poet since Robert Burns and was a catalyst for the folk revival in Scotland. In the 1950s, he acted as a guide to the American folklorist, Alan Lomax, who collected many field recordings in Scotland.
Hamish was also an accomplished folk song collector himself and collected widely in the Borders and the north-east of Scotland. There he discovered such notable performers as Jeannie Robertson, Flora MacNeil, and Calum Johnston, and created links between the travellers, the bothy singers of Aberdeenshire, the Border shepherds, and the young men and women who frequented the folk clubs in Edinburgh.
From 1955 to 1987 he was on the staff of the University of Edinburgh's School of Scottish Studies, which he co-founded with Calum Maclean. There he contributed to the sound archives that are now available on-line. Henderson held several honorary degrees and after his retirement became an honorary fellow of the School of Scottish Studies.
Danny Spooner (who will put on a concert for us on Saturday, July 9th), a kindred spirit, has studied Hamish"s work and will present what he calls "an illustrated lecture", which will delve into Hamish's life. Songs, of course (written or collected by Hamish) will be included as well!
Danny Spooner's passion is the expression of British and Australian culture through folk music. Born into a working-class family in the East End of London prior to World War II, Danny grew up with the traditions, music and folklore of a typical Cockney family.
His passion is getting people singing, and he has inspired and encouraged many in developing their singing craft. Nothing gives him more pleasure at a festival than getting a good singing session going, "That's what folksong is about". Long described as "a living national treasure", Danny Spooner can make traditional music seem new and make new songs seem old.
In recent years Danny has sung at festivals, clubs and house concerts in Europe, England, Canada and the USA. But for 40 years in Australia audiences have enjoyed his concerts, workshops and one-man shows, his deep multi-disciplinary understanding of social history, his personal warmth, and his immense repertoire of songs covering the full range of human emotions, endeavours and experiences. He is a spellbinder.