What an absolute treat to welcome Maine’s own Don and Cindy Roy to the festival celebration in June. As our final performer announcement , our lineup is one of the finest in folk music that we’ve seen in a while. We hope you’ll get your tickets and join us for the fun on June 8, 2019 at Woodford’s Congregational Church!


Partners in life and music for nearly 40 years, Don and Cindy Roy are leading exponents of Franco-American traditional music in Maine. Both are descendants of French families that emigrated from Canada—Don’s grandparents from Quebec, Cindy’s from Prince Edward Island. Don’s virtuoso fiddling and Cindy’s steady, rhythmic piano accompaniment, plus her top-notch step-dancing, have livened up many a house party and entertained audiences across the country.

Music was a big part of life for both Don and Cindy as they grew up. Every Saturday night, and Sundays after mass, family and friends would gather for a soiree, with plenty of music, food, and good times. It was through this community network that Don and Cindy’s families got to know each other. Don and Cindy met in March 1980 on a blind date to play music and were married the following year.

Both Cindy’s grandfather, Alphy Martin, and Don’s grandfather, Joe Mathieu, were fiddlers, though due to a mill accident that cost Mathieu a finger, Don was never able to hear him play. Fortunately, he had passed his music on to one of his sons, Don’s uncle Lucien; it was through Lucien that Don learned the music. He took up the fiddle in 1975, when he was 15. This was the heyday of fiddle contests in New England, and Don soon established himself as one of the top players on the circuit, while also learning from older players such as Ben Guillemette, Bill Darrah, and Gerry and Joseph Robichaud.

Following the fiddle contest years, Don and Cindy pursued other avenues for their music, both locally and on the broader stage. From 1988 to 1996 they led the Maine French Fiddlers, performing at festivals and venues such as Wolf Trap, the National Folk Festival, Carnegie Hall, and public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. They have been members of other ensembles in Maine and now perform as the Don Roy Trio, with longtime musical collaborator Jay Young on upright bass, at a range of venues, large and small, local and national.

Both Don and Cindy are dedicated to passing on their tradition and love of music to others. Since 2000, they have led Fiddle-icious, a community fiddle orchestra with more than 100 members. Both often teach at music camps, and Don gives private fiddle lessons. He is also a highly skilled luthier whose commitment to passing along knowledge and skills to others is evident at his shop in Gorham, Maine. He has taken on numerous aspiring craftspeople to work on their own instruments under his watchful eye and guidance.

Don has received three Individual Artist Fellowships from the Maine Arts Commission and the Harold Carter Memorial Award from the Down East Country Music Association.

Colleen Raney

We are delighted to share that Liz Faiella will be returning to the Little Sea Folk Festival for a second year!! An instant crowd favorite, Liz’s beautiful fiddling and clear, inspired vocals will take your breath away. Get your tickets today and join us on June 8!


Liz Faiella brings to life the traditional music of her roots, with crisp vocals, lyrical fiddling, and exhilarating rhythmic drive. Her music calls to mind the convivial grange hall contradances of her youth in New Hampshire, while conveying a wistfulness for her ancestral Ireland. 

Liz has taken the mainstage at premier folk venues throughout New England, including Club Passim, the Acadia Trad Festival, Maine Celtic Celebration, Little Sea Folk Festival, the Seacoast Irish Festival, and the Boston Celtic Music Festival. She is a sought-after teacher, sharing her craft with students at camps, festivals, and community music schools. 

Liz’s study of Irish fiddling, training in classical violin, and love of social dancing have shaped her musical approach. When she’s not gigging, Liz spends her days teaching fiddlers and coaching folk ensembles at the Concord Community Music School in Concord, NH, where she is chair of the Folk, Jazz, and Popular Music Department. Liz is founder and organizer of the Music School’s annual Fall Fiddle Festival. 

Colleen Raney

You asked and we listened and we couldn’t be more excited about it, to be honest. Maine’s favorite Irish pub songs trio, The Napper Tandies, will make their Little Sea Folk Festival debut on June 8, 2019 and you’re not going to want to miss it. Get your tickets today and join us in Portland!

The Napper Tandies - Chris Brinn (piano accordion, vocals), Randy Billings (double bass, vocals), and Matt Smith (banjo, vocals) - are a three piece Irish folk group from Maine. Drawing heavily from legendary groups such as The Dubliners and the Pogues, they carry on the great pub music tradition with a energy and pride. With their unique blend of instruments and generous repertoire of music, they can keep any crowd singing, dancing, and drinking for hours.

Colleen Raney

Join us for what’s looking like a pretty incredible evening concert at the 2nd Annual Little Sea Folk Festival as we add Josephine County to the lineup! Get your tickets today and make sure to catch an amazing day and night of music!

Josephine County is more than the combination of four powerful traditional musicians. It is a gathering of friends, sharing their expertise, knowledge, and enthusiasm for music ranging from the United States to  French Canada to Ireland and back.  

Award-winning fiddler and singer Erica Brown dedicated herself to traditional music at a very young age. Classical, French Canadian, Bluegrass, Country, and much more can be found in her wide-range of musical styles. Her talent for combining the precision of classical music with the spontaneity of country and bluegrass fiddle makes for a fun-filled performance, every time she plays. 

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Shipman’s love of traditional music is apparent in his mastery of Bluegrass, Country, and Irish styles of playing. Matt has called Maine his home for many years, and is no stranger to national and international touring. His detailed and thoughtful guitar, bouzouki, and banjo playing captivate and delight audiences while his singing is clear and rooted in the traditions he loves.

Traditional Irish flute player and singer Hanz Araki is known worldwide for his innovative approach. His musical sensibility is both inspired and disciplined and has made him a household name from the UK to Japan.  Hanz is known for his exquisite instrumental work on both Irish whistle and flute, and a haunting singing voice that was born to tell tales. 

Colleen Raney is among the finest interpreters of traditional songs of her generation. Her singing brings warmth and authenticity to the songs she collects. Colleen is compelled by the beauty of traditional Irish songs and has committed herself to honoring the music not just with her voice, but in her tireless research of the origins and story behind each piece. Colleen’s bodhrán playing is both driving and nuanced as it weaves between melody and rhythm.

Colleen Raney
FESTIVAL ANNOUNCEMENT - Neil Pearlman & Alden Robinson

It’s announcement day here at the Little Sea Folk Festival and today’s edition features Neil Pearlman and Alden Robinson, who we’re very excited are joining us for the day! Well versed in the traditions of Irish, Scottish, and Downeast Maine fiddle music, Neil and Alden treat the audience to a diverse night of traditional tunes, played authentically, with a streak of creative energy. Get your tickets today and join us for an incredible day of music and more on June 8, 2019 in Portland, Maine


Called “a tremendous pianist” on BBC Radio Scotland, Neil Pearlman is renowned for his unique approach to Celtic music on the piano. Rooted in traditional Cape Breton piano styles, Neil’s accompaniment explores traditional music using a broad palette of techniques from jazz and other genres. An accomplished Cape Breton step dancer as well, Neil grew up in the family band Highland Soles. He has performed with Natalie MacMaster, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, among many others. He currently tours with several projects including the Gaelic music quartet Fársan and the Afro-Celtic Funk band Soulsha. Neil also hosts the traditional music podcast Trad Cafe.

Alden Robinson has been described as a “powerhouse fiddler” by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. He gravitated towards Irish traditional music in college, studying fiddle in Cork, Ireland. He performs regularly throughout the U.S. with the Maine-based Irish band The Press Gang. He also plays regularly for dances and teaches at music camps. He recently served as an Arts Envoy with the U.S. State Department in Lithuania.

Neil and Alden first started playing together at Maine Fiddle Camp, where they continue to teach every summer.

Colleen Raney

Today is an excellent day to tell you that Fódhla will be joining us at the 2nd Annual Little Sea Folk Festival on June 8, 2019 in Portland, Maine! Hooray!! Pop over and get your tickets today and join us for what is going to be a fantastic day of folk music, dance, and more!


After 15 years of performing together and recording on each other’s solo albums, Portland, Maine-based flute player Nicole Rabata and Boston-based fiddler Ellery Klein decided a group together was long overdue. With the addition of Bethany Waickman on guitar, the trio found a sound rooted in the traditional Irish music Ellery and Nicole honed during years abroad in the Irish cities of Cork, Limerick, and Ennis. The trio is also influenced by the depths of Nicole’s virtuosic classical music career, Ellery’s Americana sounds, and Bethany’s soft-spoken, yet driving, guitar playing.

Fódhla have been well received at festivals such as Portland’s Saltwater Festival, the Maine Celtic Celebration, and the Boston Celtic Music Festival. Their debut recording, Notes from Millpond, was released in December 2015 to a sold-out show at Acoustic Artisans in Portland.

Fiddler Ellery Klein brings a style steeped in traditional Irish sounds seasoned with American fiddle styles. She toured with the Billboard-charting Irish music group Gaelic Storm from 2003-2007 and was a founding member of the all-female ensemble Long Time Courting. In 2015 she was invited to be a featured soloist with Duluth, MN’s Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, performing Nickitas Demos’ Double Concert for Celtic and Bluegrass Fiddle. She holds an MA in Traditional Irish Music from the University of Limerick. www.elleryklein.net

Irish flutist Nicole Rabata is highly regarded in traditional Irish, classical, and Brazilian choro music circles. She has toured America and Europe. In 2014 she spent two months in India where she performed and taught music at the Gandhi Ashram School in the Himalayas. She spent four years in the west of Ireland where she immersed herself in the local music and was influenced by the playing of many great musicians. She is on the music faculty at Colby College and the University of Maine Augusta, and has an active private home studio in Portland. www.nicolerabata.com

Bethany Waickman is a guitarist based out of Portland, Maine. She grew up in a musical family in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York state. After college she spent some time traveling, hiking, and playing music in Ireland. Upon returning, she moved to Boston to focus on music. She co-founded the contra dance trio, Anadama, and is the guitarist for VT-based fiddler/singer Lissa Schneckenburger. She’s toured across the US, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and Germany. Bethany moved to Maine in 2013 and has been enjoying the Portland session scene as well as keeping in rotation in the New England contra dance circuit. www.bethanywaickman.com

Colleen Raney

We are thrilled to announce that renowned fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch will be headlining the 2nd Annual Little Sea Folk Festival on June 8, 2019 in Portland, Maine! Get your tickets today and join us for an amazing day of music, dance, and more!

The April Verch Band

Fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch knows how relevant an old tune can be. She was raised surrounded by living, breathing roots music—her father’s country band rehearsing; the lively music at church and at community dances; the tunes she rocked out to win fiddle competitions. She thought every little girl learned to stepdance at the age of three and fiddle at the age of six. She knew nothing else and decided early on that she wanted to be a professional musician.

She took that leap, and for over two decades has been recording and captivating audiences worldwide, exploring new and nuanced places each step of the way. On February 17, 2017, she will release The April Verch Anthology (Slab Town Records), an 18-track collection celebrating her life’s work. Hand-picked by Verch, the songs on this compilation offer an enchanting mix of regional Canadian, American old-time, bluegrass, country and Americana tracks.

The April Verch Anthology is a testament to the many chapters in Verch’s musical journey. Moving from exuberant stepdancer to fiddle wunderkind and silver-voiced singer; from upstart prodigy to mature and reflective songwriter, interpreter, and storyteller.  The compilation is an excursion through Verch’s 1998-2015 recordings, featuring tunes and songs dear to Verch as well as a healthy dose of fan favorites and two newly recorded tracks.  “Through this anthology, I am reminded of the inspirations with which I began and of the hopes I hold for the future.  I take a moment to reflect and to celebrate,” says Verch.

While Verch is perhaps best known for playing traditional fiddle styles from her native Ottawa Valley, Canada, her performances extend into old-time American and Appalachian styles and far beyond, for a well-rounded tour-de-force of North Americana sounds. Verch and her fellow trio members pare down their arrangements, highlighting the simple pleasures of upright bass, guitar, clawhammer banjo, voices, fiddle, and stepping in intimate conversation. At the heart lie Verch’s delicate voice, energetic footwork, and stunning playing.  Sometimes she sings, steps and fiddles all at once, with apparent ease and precision. Verch is – as they say – a triple threat in performance, her live show a beautiful companion to her music: versatile, robust, and masterfully executed.

Verch began her full time touring career in 2000 and has performed around the world, including festival, theatre and performing arts centre appearances in Canada, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates. She also presents workshops, master classes, and lectures as part of her tours and at selected music camps.

Verch won’t be the one to tell you about her championship titles, nominations, and awards, or the fact that she was one of 6 fiddlers who represented the Canadian fiddle tradition to the world at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, as part of a segment called “Fiddle Nation”.  Instead, in speaking with her, you’ll hear about how passionate she is about sharing her music; in small gatherings in remote communities in Iqaluit, to large prestigious concert halls like Mozartsal in Vienna.

Even as she plays with the tradition she inherited, Verch keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners. It’s why Rolling Stone cited her “One of the 12 best things we saw at MerleFest in 2016.”

“Just as contemporary bluegrass has Alison Krauss as an ambassador, the Ottawa Valley has April Verch,” said NPR’s Marco Werman on “The World.”  And Verch never forgets the roots of her music, that connection to the people out there in the audience, on the dance floor, to the community sparked by a good song.  “It’s about joining together to celebrate everyday life, through music.  We’re all in this together.”

Colleen Raney
Peaks Island Community Dance Series
peaks dance series full.jpg

We are delighted to partner with the Peaks Island Fund to present a series of live music and dance events on Peaks Island in 2019!

January 26 • Swing Dance (The Hadacol Bouncers with dance lesson from Gillian Davis)

March 29 • Irish Céilí (Junior Stevens, Amanda Gale Stevens, Alden Robinson, Hanz Araki with dance lesson from Colleen Raney)

June 29 • Contra Dance (Stomp Rocket with dance lesson from Mary Wesley)

Other details:
Suggested donation $10 - $20 per family, kids ages 12 and under admitted free.
No experience necessary.
No partner required.
Spectators very welcome.
Light refreshments will be available, but a water bottle is always a good idea.
Dances finish before the last boat to Portland, so all are welcome!

Colleen Raney
Giving Tuesday 2018

On Tuesday, November 27, Little Sea Folk Festival joins non-profit organizations worldwide to ask for your support.

Youth access, from the very start of Little Sea, has been a pillar of operation. All Little Sea events - dances, concerts, festivals, workshops - are free of charge for children ages 12 & under, and deeply discounted for youth from ages 13-18. We were able to accommodate roughly 100 children in our 2017-2018 events and we not only would like to expand that number, but dedicate resource to the development of specific programming for youth of all ages, interest levels, and communities.

Our goal is $3000

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Direct giving to the Little Sea Folk Festival. You can click here to contribute.

  2. Host a fundraiser on Facebook.

    • click here to begin fundraiser

    • select Little Sea Folk Festival from the list of non-profit organizations.

    • select the goal amount of your fundraiser (Facebook will be matching up to $7 million of selected fundraisers on Giving Tuesday).

    • set the date you’d like your fundraiser to end (hint: Nov 27 is Giving Tuesday).

    • Give it a title and information (hint: Facebook autofills this for you with all pertinent information about Little Sea and our goals and qualifications).

    • Choose cover art (we have some options there for you).

    • You did it!

  3. Share this post to your friends a family in advance of Giving Tuesday so they can host fundraisers as well. The more merrier!

  4. Share a fundraiser on social media to let people know that you support the goal. Every little bit of an awareness campaign helps a small organization like ours!

Those are just some ideas. If you’d like to help us with the festival, admin, marketing, or something else we’ve forgotten, we’d love to hear from you. Please email hello@littleseafolkfestival.com and we’ll chat.

Thank you!

Colleen Raney
Announcing the Second Annual Little Sea Folk Festival!

Just a quick note to announce that earlybird tickets for the Second Annual Little Sea Folk Festival on June 8, 2019 at Woodfords Church in Portland, Maine go on sale at 8am on Friday, October 2018!

Use the code EARLYBIRD until Dec 31 to receive $5 off of any full festival pass or day pass level admission.

We’ve been working hard to make some good changes to the festival and we’re excite to share them with you in the coming months!

Colleen Raney