schedule for performances, workshops, and more coming May 2019!!
the second annual little sea Folk Festival artists are…
The April Verch Band
Bow. Feet. Vox. A trifecta of talent, keeping tradition feisty.
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 beyond, for a well-rounded tour-de-force of North Americana sounds. Verch tours with world class musicians as a trio, featuring acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass and clawhammer banjo in addition to Verch’s vocals, fiddle and foot percussion.
One might suspect a performer with as many talents as Verch would pause to take a breath, or need to somewhat compartmentalize her skills during a live performance. But on stage, Verch is almost superhuman, flawlessly intertwining and overlapping different performative elements. She stepdances while fiddling. She sings while stepdancing. 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.
Josephine County combines the talents of four powerful traditional musicians into one exceptional musical experience ranging from the United States 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 expertise. Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Shipman’s love of traditional music is apparent in his mastery of Bluegrass, Country, and Irish styles of playing. His detailed and thoughtful guitar, mandolin, and banjo playing captivate and delight audiences nationwide. Irish flute player and singer Hanz Araki is known worldwide for his command of traditional music. Those sensibilities, both inspired and disciplined, have made him a household name from the UK to Japan. Among the finest interpreters of traditional songs of her generation, singer Colleen Raney brings warmth and authenticity to music from Ireland, Appalachia, Scotland, and beyond. Colleen’s bodhrán playing is both driving and nuanced as it weaves between melody and rhythm.
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.
Neil Pearlman & Alden Robinson
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.
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.
The Napper Tandies
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.
Liz & Dan Faiella
Liz and Dan Faiella bring to life the traditional music of their roots, with crisp vocals, mesmerizing fingerstyle guitar, lyrical fiddling, and exhilarating rhythmic drive. Their music calls to mind the convivial grange hall contradances of their youth in New Hampshire, while conveying a wistfulness for their ancestral Ireland.
Liz and Dan have 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. They are sought-after teachers, sharing their craft with students at camps, festivals, and community music schools.
Responsive and down-to-earth in performance, they often disregard their setlist and rely on sibling intuition, anticipating where the music is leading them, with a nod—or a sharp nudge, if that’s too subtle. They navigate with their audiences through haunting ballads, the intricate compositions of Turlough O’Carolan, snappy and danceable jig and reel medleys, and poignant slow airs. They play with detail and polish, with heart and effervescence.
Their debut album, At Long Last (2018), explores heartache, wonder, and joy, expressed through the traditional music they love.
Don & Cindy Roy
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.