We’re currently assembling the 2017 gathering. Here’s what we presented in 2016.
Jesse Lege – Cajun Accordion
When you think of Jesse Lege, you might think of the accordion, or his tattoo, or his ability to skin a chicken in one piece, or how hard he works, or the way he can play longer and farther than anyone you’ve ever seen. And his high and soulful singing.
Jesse grew up with eight siblings in Gueydan, Louisiana, in a one room house with no electricity. They had a battery-powered radio, where Jesse first heard some of his greatest influences: Améde Ardoin, Lawrence Walker, Améde Breaux, and Austin Pitre. The family saved their batteries for Friday and Saturday nights, for Louisiana Hayride, Grand Ole Opry, and boxing events. When Jesse was fourteen, they moved into a new house with electricity and an indoor bathroom. “We had made it to the modern world,” Jesse recalls. “So much changed from that very night, but so much stayed the same and still is with me today.”
Jesse started out learning the guitar and harmonica, but by the age of fifteen his father’s cousin loaned him an accordion, and without anyone around to teach him he taught himself to play. He’s played in many bands and with many people over the decades, and has been nominee and winner of numerous CFMA (Cajun French Music Association) awards, often referred to as the Cajun Grammys: Traditional Band of the Year, Accordion Player of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Band of the Year, Song of the Year (for “Memoires Dans Mon Coeur”). In 1998 he was inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. His mission: bring foot-stompin’ Cajun music to the world, one dance hall at a time.
Pete Sutherland – old time and New England fiddle
A warm voiced singer, songsmith and accomplished multi-instrumentalist, known equally for his potent originals and his intense recreations of age old ballads and fiery fiddle tunes, Pete Sutherland’s music covers the map, and shines with a pure spirit which cannot fail to move anyone who hears him. He has been on staff at dance and music camps coast to coast and is a widely known year-round teacher and performer at home.
Pete is a veteran of many touring and recording groups including Metamora, Rhythm In Shoes, The Woodshed Allstars, Woods Tea Company, Ira Bernstein’s Ten Toe Percussion and is a founding member of the long running contradance jam band The Clayfoot Strutters.
Pete is also a producer with over 80 projects under his belt, and a prolific songwriter covered by the likes of Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Nightingale and Altan.
Frank Maloy – old time and swing fiddle
We’re extremely pleased to have Frank Maloy return to the festival this year. Frank was born in Georgia in 1927 into a family in which nearly everyone played string instruments. He played music from the 40s (with the Maloy Brothers) to the 50s ten-year stint on TV and radio with Gene Stripling’s band) to the 60s (The Swingmasters) to the 80s (beach rock and roll).
Over time Frank became proficient on guitar, mandolin, bass, saxophone and clarinet, in addition to the fiddle.
Mick Kinney – old time guitar, banjo
Frank will be accompanied by Mick Kinney, who’s been playing traditional music for 35 years. He has been fortunate to learn from Northeast Georgia fiddlers Ben Entriken, Curley Parker, Fonzie Kennimore, and Opel McMichen.
He calls his favorite style of playing “Deep South,” which spans Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
Judy Raber – old time fiddle
Some of you may remember Les Raber, who brought his Michigan fiddle music to Fiddle Tunes in the late 90s. This year Les’ daughter Judy will bring more of her dad’s music to Port Townsend. Judy is a fifth-generation fiddler, playing her father’s instrument, and they’re the only father/daughter duo ever to be inducted into the Michigan Fiddlers Hall of Fame.
Les often played at home, but it wasn’t until 2000 that Judy thought she might want to learn to play. She asked her dad, “Why don`t you fix me up with a fiddle and teach me?” Les was able to teach Judy one song. He told his daughter that she was a natural – and asked her if she wanted his fiddle when he was done with it. Judy told him yes, little knowing that he would pass a few days later.
Grieving the sudden loss of her father, she knew it was her destiny to carry on his legacy. Judy now travels the country and even into Canada playing the fiddle at different events and festivals, carrying on her father’s name and creating one of her own.
Jim McKinney – old time fiddle
Jim McKinney started his musical endeavors with the guitar at the age of 18 in 1978. His grandfather, a native of Harlan, Kentucky, had immigrated to Michigan for work and encouraged him to begin the fiddle upon seeing his success with the guitar. Eventually, he began attending fiddlers’ jamborees and other musical sessions, and became an active participant in the folk and traditional music of southeastern Michigan, a scene that involved an array of Irish, Scottish, southern, and regional Michigan tunes and styles. He was also inducted into the Michigan Fiddlers Hall of Fame, in 2013. Jim also calls for dances.
In 2001, Jim and Judy Raber published Come Dance With Me, a biography of old-time Michigan fiddler Les Raber, containing articles, photos and Jim’s transcriptions of 119 tunes from Les’s repertoire, including Les’s original compositions, rare old tunes learned from Les’s father and grandfather which had never before been written down and many old favorite fiddle tunes played in Les’s unique style. The book is now in its fifth printing.
Frank Ferrel – Maritime fiddle
Maine coast musician Frank Ferrel is considered one of the seminal traditional New England and Maritime fiddlers. In fact, Boston Globe music critic Scott Alarik called him “One of the finest living masters of the genre.” His CD recording Yankee Dreams was selected by the Library of Congress to be included in their “Select list of 25 examples of American folk music on record.” His original compositions have enjoyed great popularity in the Canadian Maritimes, and have been recorded by such notable Canadian fiddlers as Buddy MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, Brenda Stubbert, Tracy Dares, Maybelle Chisholm, Andrea Beaton, Joe Cormier, and J.J. Chaisson.
Frank is a regular fixture at local traditional dances and concerts, and has performed and toured throughout North America, Ireland and the British Isles, including numerous appearances with the legendary Celtic group, The Boys of the Lough.
Frank managed the Fiddle Tunes Festival in its early years, and we welcome him back for the 40th birthday.
Doug Protsik – piano
Frank will be accompanied on piano by Doug Protsik. Doug likes to play the “old-time piano” for dances, melodramas, honky tonk saloons, and silent movies. He learned his style from Otto Soper, Geneva Walton, and Danny Patt among many others.
Doug plays with Old Grey Goose and produced all three of their recordings, including the group’s first recording in 1978 for Folkways, “Old Time Country Dance Tunes and Songs from Maine,” now available again on CD. Doug also plays accordion and fiddle, calls country dances, and is the director of the mighty Maine Fiddle Camp.
Rayna Gellert – old time fiddle
Rayna grew up in a musical family, and has spent most of her life immersed in the sounds of rural stringband music, heartfelt gospel songs, and old ballads. After honing her fiddle skills playing at jam sessions and square dances, Rayna fell into a life of traveling and performing. Her fiddle albums are widely celebrated in the old-time music community, and she has recorded with a host of musicians in a variety of styles – including Robyn Hitchcock, Tyler Ramsey, Sara Watkins, Loudon Wainwright III, John Paul Jones, and Abigail Washburn.
From 2003 through 2008, Rayna was a member of the acclaimed stringband Uncle Earl, with whom she released two albums on Rounder Records and toured like mad. In 2010, she met songwriter Scott Miller, and they began performing and recording together. In 2012, Rayna released her first vocal album, Old Light: Songs from my Childhood & Other Gone Worlds, on StorySound Records. She lives in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
Pedro Cruz –violin
Andre Dantas –accordion, piano
Grupo Apui is a duo from Brazil who play traditional music from deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Pedro Cruz (fiddle) and Andre Dantas (accordion, piano) are from Rio Branco in Acre, Brazil’s westernmost state bordering Bolivia and Peru. As popular hosts of the lively social dances held in the town square, they play waltzes, schottisches, mazurkas, marches, sambas, choros and forros (two step). In addition to being dance musicians, they teach classes, conduct orchestras, present workshops and perform traditional Acreano music throughout Amazonia.
For many years Pedro Cruz has studied the repertoire of his beloved mentor, prolific local fiddler Helio Melo. Pedro also plays rebeca (a primitive fiddle) on the recordings of indigenous artist and elder Antonio Pedro. He teaches violin at the Federal University of Acre. Andre Dantas began playing accordion in his family’s band when he was six years old and has since become a highly respected musician, composer and teacher in the area. He teaches piano at João Donato School of the Arts
As for as the tradition: back in the early 1900s during the rubber boom, regional bands emerged to create a cultural identity in Acre which continues to this day. Many traditions found their way into the music, including songs of the rubber collectors, indigenous tribal traditions, and the African rhythms of former slaves. All have contributed to make a musical blend as culturally unique and diverse as the people who populated the land. Pedro and Andre are beloved Acreanos who tell the history of this music through their instruments.
With great regret, Mme. Rioux (below) will be unable to attend the festival this year. Lisa Ornstein has graciously (and on short notice) agreed to fill in. She and Keven DesRosiers will together present the music of Mme. Rioux at the workshop. We are presently setting up a Skype visit with Mme. sometime during the workshop.
Mme. Thérèse Rioux – fiddle
Born in 1930 in St-Gabriel de Rimouski, a small farming village in eastern Québec, Thérèse played her first notes on the fiddle at the age of four. Her sincerity, generosity, and huge musical talent quickly gained her a loyal local following. She played for countless weddings, dances and house parties in her youth and toured with Jean Grimaldi’s vaudeville troupe. In the 1950s and 60s she played in a number of bands, often backed up by Rimouski fiddler Paul Bossé, who became a very important musical influence. Thérèse also appeared in variety show television broadcasts in the 1970s. She recorded several albums over the next twenty years and played fiddle at musical events across the province, all the while raising her family and taking care of the farm when her husband was working in the logging shanties on Québec’s North Shore. Towards the end of the 1990s, she produced an eighth album honoring Paul Bossé and in 2007 recorded yet another CD, Mes 70 années en musique (My 70 Years of Music), which has delighted her many followers. At the age of 86, Mme Rioux shows no sign of slowing down! She continues to be affectionately known on the Lower North Shore of Québec as “La Reine des violoneux” (“The Queen of Fiddlers”) and is widely admired by fans of traditional Québec folk music.
Keven DesRosiers – accordion
Accordionist, fiddler, and pianist Keven was born in 1993 into a family of musicians” His grandmother played button accordion and passed on to him both her passion for music and some of his earliest musical knowledge. Around the age of six, Keven began playing accordion, taking lessons with renowned players such as Réjean Simard et Gaston Nolet and getting advice from the great Marcel Messervier.
Despite his young age, Keven has already had a very full and busy musical life! In 2004, he recorded his first CD, titled Pour la première fois (For the First Time) with Réjean Simard. Three years later came a second CD titled Du bout des doigts (From the Fingertips) with accompaniment by Manon Turcotte, Jacquelin Guérette and Sébastien Dionne. In 2011, he put together a tribute album to one of his favorite mentors, Thérèse Rioux. In Autumn 2015, Keven recorded a duo CD with his good friend, fiddler Benoit Joncas Leblanc titled Poursuivons la tradition (Let’s Keep up the Traditions), in honor of their grandparents.
Keven has shared his music in concerts and festivals in many parts of Québec, and made appearances in New Brunswick and New England. He continues to play every week-end for dancing in his region. He considers it a great honor to come to the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in the company of Mme Rioux.
Jimmy Triplett – fiddle
Jimmy Triplett is a North Carolina native now living in Oregon, but he spent a serious portion of his life in West Virginia, studying the rich fiddle traditions that have persevered in that region. He plays traditional Appalachian fiddle tunes learned from rare field recordings and visits with older musicians throughout West Virginia, and elsewhere. Jimmy puts great emphasis on achieving an old-time sound.
In 2001 he co-produced a two-CD compilation of the fiddling of Ernie Carpenter, and in 2004, he co-produced the CD/DVD One More Time: The Life and Music of Melvin Wine. He has become an in-demand fiddle teacher, and in his workshops, in addition to sharing tunes and their stories, he emphasizes bowings and ornamentation that capture the simple beauty and graceful rhythm of old-style Appalachian fiddling.
Wendy MacIsaac – fiddle
Wendy is an award-winning fiddler, piano player and step dancer from Creignish, Cape Breton. A born performer, she began appearing publicly at age 5 as a step dancer. At age 12, she began fiddle lessons with Stan Chapman. By age fifteen, Wendy was playing dances all over Cape Breton Island, forming the sound that makes her so recognizable today. She is recognized as one of the “old school” style of players who has kept the traditional sound going and has a deep respect for it.
Wendy is a founding member of Beòlach, and has also performed with The Cape Breton Summertime Revue, Capercaillie, The Chieftains, Ashley MacIsaac, toured with The Rankin Sisters, and traveled and recorded with Mary Jane Lamond for over fourteen years. Wendy has released multiple recordings, the latest of which, Off the Floor, won an East Coast Music Award for Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year.
Katie McNally – fiddle
Described by Living Traditions Magazine as “the new face of Scottish fiddling in the USA,” Katie McNally grew up steeped in the vibrant Scottish and Cape Breton music community in Boston and was the 2009 New England Scottish Fiddle Champion. She was a student of Hanneke Cassel and has performed at venues such as the Freight and Salvage, Club Passim, Benaroya Symphony Hall, The Barns at Wolf Trap, Symphony Space, and various folk venues throughout the country and in Europe.
Katie is a devoted teacher whose teaching style reflects her philosophy that learning music is about joy and community and fun! She recently travelled to Cape Breton to record a brand-new album under the guidance of producer Wendy MacIsaac. This recording contains a collection of tunes that draw inspiration from raw, mid-century recordings of Cape Breton fiddlers both in Nova Scotia and Massachusetts, and is sculpted by the creative energy of the Boston acoustic music scene.
Joe Newberry – old time banjo
Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. Internationally known for his powerful banjo work, he is a prizewinning guitarist, fiddler, and singer as well. Joe’s songwriting is characterized by the same clean, elegant style as his banjo playing. Musicians in the folk and bluegrass world often record his songs. The Gibson Brothers’ version of his song “Singing As We Rise,” featuring guest vocalist Ricky Skaggs, won the 2012 IBMA “Gospel Recorded Performance” award.
A frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, Joe is a founder of the string band Big Medicine, and along with Mike, performs with Bruce Molsky, Mike Compton, and Rafe Stefanini as The Jumpsteady Boys. A special side project pairs Joe with old-time music legends Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, and Jim Watson. The four play to enthusiastic audiences around the country as often as their busy individual schedules permit.
Rafe Stefanini – old time fiddle
Rafe Stefanini is an old-time banjo player, fiddler, guitarist, singer, and teacher. He was born in Italy and came to live in the U.S. in 1983. Rafe has been at the forefront of the revival of traditional music from the rural south for over thirty years. His work on fiddle, banjo, guitar and song is represented on over 20 CDs, both as the featured performer and as a guest.
Rafe has played and recorded with Carol Elizabeth Jones, Stefan Senders, Dirk Powell, Bruce Molsky, and Beverly Smith, as well as his wife Nikki and daughter Clelia. He has been a member of such influential bands as The Wildcats, Big Hoedown, The Rockinghams, and most recently the Jumpsteady Boys with Bruce Molsky, Joe Newberry and Mike Compton.
In addition to playing music, Rafe also makes and restores violins.
Grupo de Cuerdas Mirando el Lago
Pedro Dimas – fiddle
Hermenegildo Dimas – tololoche
Miguel Dimas – vihuela
The music that Don Pedro played for almost 50 years with his family string band, “Mirando el Lago” (Gazing at the Lake), is traditional indigenous music from the Purepecha communities of Michoacán, Mexico. Don Pedro and his family are from Ichupio, a small village community made up of houses sprinkled on the hillside above Lake Pátzcuaro.
He is a master violinist and composer in the music and dance traditions from that region, traditions are still a vital part of everyday life for the Purepecha people. Purepecha tunes, usually played in harmony on two fiddles, is a fast-paced energetic dance music generally played at weddings, birthday parties, baptisms, and other community gatherings. The rhythms behind Don Pedro will be provided by his sons, Miguel on vihuela and Hermenegildo on guitar and tololoche.
For videos and photos, click here: Mirando el Lago.
Alice Gerrard – old time fiddle
In a career spanning some 50 years, Alice Gerrard has known, learned from, and performed with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats and has in turn earned worldwide respect for her own important contributions to the music. Alice is particularly known for her groundbreaking collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s. The duo produced four classic LPs (recently reissued by Rounder on CD) and influenced scores of young women singers — even The Judds acknowledge Hazel and Alice as an important early inspiration.
Alice’s four solo albums, Pieces of My Heart, and Calling Me Home, and Bittersweet (produced by Laurie Lewis), were released to critical acclaim in Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited, New Country, and other publications. These superb recordings showcase Alice’s many talents: her compelling, eclectic songwriting; her powerful, hard-edged vocals; and her instrumental mastery on rhythm guitar, banjo, and old-time fiddle. Her most recent album, Follow the Music (produced by Mike Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger) was nominated for a 2015 Grammy.
Alice has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including projects with many traditional musicians such as Tommy Jarrell, Enoch Rutherford, Otis Burris, Luther Davis and Matokie Slaughter; with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich as Tom, Brad & Alice, with the Harmony Sisters, the Herald Angels, Beverly Smith, and with Anna R-g and Elizabeth LaPrelle. With her in-depth knowledge of mountain music, she has produced or written liner notes for a dozen more. She also co-produced and appeared in two documentary films.
A tireless advocate of traditional music, Alice has won numerous honors, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Tommy Jarrell Award, and an Indy Award. In 1987 Alice founded The Old-Time Herald and the Old-Time Music Group, a non-profit organization that oversees publication of The Old-Time Herald. Alice served as editor-in-chief of The Old-Time Herald from 1987 till 2003. She continues to perform solo and with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich, the Herald Angels, and Beverly Smith.
Phil Jamison – dance
Founding coordinator of Old-Time Music & Dance Week, Phil is nationally-known as a dance caller, musician, and flatfoot dancer. Since the early 1970s he has been calling dances and performing and teaching at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas, including thirty years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. His flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as Traditional Dance consultant.
From 1982 through 2004, he toured and played guitar with Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, and he also plays fiddle and banjo. A longtime proponent of traditional Southern square dancing, in 2004, he founded Dare To Be Square!, a weekend workshop for square dance callers. Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his book, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance, will be published by the University of Illinois Press in 2015.
Phil teaches mathematics and Appalachian music at Warren Wilson College, and in 2008, he became the twelfth recipient of the Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement.
Bertram Levy – old time fiddle and banjo
Born into a family of musicians, Bertram Levy began piano lessons at four years of age. At age fourteen he discovered the 5-string banjo and began a lifelong passion for traditional music. In 1959 he chose an Atlanta college in order to immerse himself in Southern folk music. There he played the bluegrass banjo for 6 years. In 1965 Bertram moved to Durham, North Carolina, where he met Alan Jabbour, who introduced him to the music of the old-time fiddlers in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, including the West Virginia fiddler Henry Reed. Together with Tommy and Bobbie Thompson, they formed the Hollow Rock String Band.Their 1968 album is credited with launching the traditional American fiddle music revival of the 60’s and 70’s. One of the cuts from the album, Over the Waterfall, is included in the Smithsonian’s collection, “The History of American Folk Music.”
In the late 1960s, imbued with a mission to keep the music alive, he moved to California, where he spread the Southern fiddle revival to an entire generation of West Coast musicians. It was during these years that Bertram developed his unique “piedmont swing” banjo style,a crossover of bluegrass and old-time claw-hammer styles played on nylon strings. His solo album “That Old Gut Feeling” is considered a banjo classic and part of most banjo players’ libraries.
After spending a year in Dublin, Ireland, he settled in Port Townsend, Washington to practice medicine. In 1977 he was asked by Joe Wheeler, Centrum’s founding director, to create a folk festival. He seized the opportunity to fulfill his mission of keeping the tunes alive and created the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. His vision and direction in the early years made Fiddle Tunes the model for traditional music festivals throughout the United States.
Bertram is also a concertina virtuoso, featured in over a dozen albums and film scores. He has written two instructional methods for the instrument, including “American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina”. He has taught and performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe and has been highlighted in several national broadcasts of The Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. His banjo style is featured in the CD “The Reed Reunion” with Alan Jabbour and James Reed and the music of Surrey County with Kirk Sutphin.
In 2005 he retired from 30 years in medicine to devote himself to music. For the last 12 years he has studied the bandoneon with Rodolfo Daluiso at the Conservatorio de Manuel de Falla in Buenos Aires Argentina.
Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum – Bluegrass
Songwriter, fiddler, vocalist, teacher, and producer Laurie Lewis is among the best known and best admired bluegrass musicians of either gender in the world. Two-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, she is also a great fiddler and guitar player, an extraordinary songwriter and arranger and a hard-working and effective band leader. She has an astounding range of talents and interests (dance, violin making, long-distance bicycling, and more…).The Sacramento News called her “as fine a singer as anyone on the acoustic music circuit, anywhere in the world.” Billboard praised her ability to “successfully walk the high wire above esoteric country, combining elements of bluegrass and pure country to form her own seamless mix.”
Since joining forces with Laurie in 1986, Tom Rozum’s versatility and diverse musical influences come to the fore every night on stage with the band. He plays primarily mandolin with the band, but is also an accomplished fiddle, mandola, and guitar player. His background as a rock and swing musician adds a uniquely satisfying flavor to the band. His rhythmic approach to mandolin especially punctuates the band’s repertoire, adding to their on-stage shows a verve and excitement that has become a distinctive feature of their performances.
The Savoy Family: Ann, Marc, Sarah, Joel, Wilson, and Gabrielle – Cajun
The Savoy Family Cajun Band plays honed down, hard-core Cajun music laced with an earthy sensuality. In their hands, the old tunes have been revived and returned to new life. Marc and Ann Savoy and their sons Joel and Wilson are strong individual musicians working together to create a tight, intense sound.
Marc and Ann have been performing and recording together since 1977. They have traveled all over the world, appearing in such prestigious venues as the Newport Folk Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, the Getty Museum, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Ann and Joel appeared in the film Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and they performed on the Warner Brothers Soundtrack, as well as at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. Ann served as associate music producer on All The King’s Men (Sony Pictures) , wrote a song that was used in the film, and she, Joel and Wilson appeared therein with Sean Penn as musicians.
Marc Savoy has received the National Heritage Fellowship Award. Marc and Ann appeared on the PBS series “American Roots.” Ann was awarded the Botkin Book Award for her definitive Cajun Music, A Reflection of a People. Wilson, as a member of the Grammy-nominated Pine Leaf Boys, appeared on HBO’s “Treme” series. And Joel was a founding member of the Red Stick Ramblers and today has his own record company, Valcour Records..
Maintaining a more acoustic approach to Cajun music, the Savoy Family Cajun Band can nonetheless hold its own amongst Cajun music lovers everywhere, and takes pride in drawing considerable power from four acoustic instruments.
Ann will teach singing; Joel – fiddle; Wilson – accordion and fiddle; Marc won’t be teaching any formal classes; Sarah will tutor accordion; Gabie will be the staff photographer.
Tony Demarco – Irish
Tony DeMarco: Irish fiddler. If that sounds slightly off, you have only to listen to the music on this recording to be cured of any preconceptions about the importance of ethnic purity in traditional music. There may have been a time when Irish music in New York City was played exclusively by Irish immigrants and their offspring, while their Italian neighbors strummed mandolins and sang opera. But the Big Apple really is a melting pot, at least for some of its disparate immigrant elements. Before World War II it really wasn’t very common for Italian and Irish Americans to marry each other. By the 1950s, however, this kind of ethnic mixing was fairly normal in Tony’s native Brooklyn, where the Italians and Irish lived side by side and attended the same parish churches.
He never grew up with the competitive Irish Comhaltas scene—he came through the hippie scene, the folkie scene. He tells the story of how he took up the fiddle and discovered Irish music, but it is worth repeating here that his first exposure to Irish traditional music was through a Folkways recording of the County Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman. Tony had many other musical influences before this, and would have many more afterward, but for him the appeal of the Sligo fiddle style will never fade.
Alicia Svigals – Klezmer fiddle
Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer fiddler, a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics who she co-led for seventeen years, and a composer who was selected to be a 2014 MacDowell Fellow. She has played with and composed for violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, the late poet Allen Ginsburg, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman, Avraham Fried, singer/songwriters Diane Birch, Gary Lucas and Najma Akhtar, and many others. She has appeared on David Letterman, MTV, PBS’ Great Performances, NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, Weekend Edition and New Sounds, and on the soundtrack for the L-Word.
Svigals is the recipient of the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 2013 New Jewish Culture Network commission for her new score to the 1918 Pola Negri silent movie The Yellow Ticket. She is currently touring this multimedia event, in which she and pianist Marilyn Lerner perform live to screenings of the film.
Accompanying Alicia will be Patrick Farrell, an accordionist, composer and bandleader based in Brooklyn, NY who has been described as a “wizard” (Feast of Music) and as a player of “mordant wit and blistering speed” (Lucid Culture).
He is an integral part of the international klezmer community, plays with “new music” and improvisational groups, and enthusiastically toots on an alto horn in various brass bands.
Farrell has appeared on over 35 recordings, most recently with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble and Ljova and the Kontraband, and also enjoys working with dance and theater ensembles as a composer, music director and accompanist.