Joel Simpson has been a self-employed musician since 2001. Growing up in a musical family, Joel started playing guitar as well as singing/songwriting at a young age. His passion for music led him to earn a music business degree from Elmhurst University, and found Randomosity Records in Downers Grove, Illinois. He splits his time between private instruction, music production, and music performance. Joel is proficient on voice and many string instruments. His production work focuses on folk and jazz. Joel has recorded with Lee Murdock, Ashley & Simpson, The Chancey Brothers and many more.
Saskia Tomkins is a master musician on Violin/Fiddle, Viola, Cello and Nyckelharpa, who moved to Canada from England in 2007. She is classically trained with a folk background and a B.A.hons. in Music (Jazz). Saskia won All Britain Champion Irish Fiddler and in October 2022, was given an award for her services to Irish music in Canada by Comhaltus Canada.
Over the years, Saskia has worked with many musicians, including: Jimmy Bowskill, The Chieftains, Kim Doolittle, Tim Edey, Tim Garland, “Jabbour”, Robb Johnson, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Ron Korb, James McKenty, David Newland, Donald Quan, “Sin E” Ted Staunton , “Sultans of String”, “Uriah Heep”, Lotus Wight (Sam Allison), Ken Whiteley, “Al-pha-X” and Astrid Young, her husband Steáfán Hannigan and son Oisín Hannigan, and a plethora of other amazing musicians, actors and dancers!
Her theatre work includes: Originating the “Celtic-ifying” of the Broadway hit “Come From Away” in it’s first 2 years of development; touring with The English Shakespeare Company and Michael Bogdanov; 8 seasons with 4th Line Theatre, Ontario; and working with dancers at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London UK;
Saskia’s current personal projects include and Irish instrumental duo: Steáfán & Saskia with husband Steáfán Hannigan, the instrumental jazz/roots duo: 2ish, with Brandon Scott Besharah; the Celtic crossover group: Cáirdeas and the jazz trio: Marsala and the Imports. She frequently plays Nyckelharpa with Sultans of String and fiddle/ viola in the Maple Leaf Jug Band. Saskia is principal 2nd violin for Quinte Symphony Orchestra, and also teaches at Upbeat! an El Systema organisation in Peterborough, Ontario.
She loves to do session work, collaborate with others, be on the road, and share her skills at workshops. Currently working on the P2 thing to be able to tour in the USA.
Sharon Abreu (“Ah-BRAY’oo”)
Sharon Abreu is a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, teacher, and student of life. She was singing harmony with her family around the dinner table by the age of 3. Sharon grew up with many musical influences, from classical and opera to Broadway to folk, pop and rock, and she enjoys mixing those up in her concerts. She performs as a solo artist and also as half of the acoustic Irthlingz Duo with her partner Michael Hurwicz. She has performed at venues as diverse as the Northwest Folklife Festival, the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, and the United Nations.
Sharon was studying classical singing in New York City when she attended a pumpkin festival in the West Village and ended up joining the sponsoring organization, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Through her work with Clearwater, she started using her voice and songs for environmental education and ended up singing in concert with legendary folksinger Pete Seeger.
Sharon has sung lead roles in operas including The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute. She’s been a soloist in performances of major choral works including Bach’s Magnificat and B Minor Mass and Mozart’s Requiem and Vespers. Sharon starred in a sold-out run of the musical The Taffetas at the Orcas Center and in summer stock at the Ferry Terminal in Bellingham, Washington. Sharon has provided music for major international Earth summits at the United Nations in New York and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. And she was honored to sing for Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai in Berkeley, California in 2006.
In 2007, she prepared New York City high school students to perform her climate change musical revue Penguins on Thin Ice for the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, receiving a standing ovation from a full auditorium of international delegates.
In 2016, Sharon performed her one-woman musical show The Climate Monologues in the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York, and for The MarshStream Theatre Festival online in 2021. She received the “Spirit of Nature, Ecology & Society” Environmental Justice Award for her performance of The Climate Monologues, at the Culture of Climate Change Colloquium at the City University of New York in 2011. Sharon composed and recorded the songs for Zero Waste Washington’s public school education program.
Sharon teaches voice, violin and piano, and she has been the vocal coach for musicals including Billy Elliot and Mamma Mia. For 2-1/2 years, she was a Musician-in-Residence with the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, bringing music and singing to local preschools. She is featured in Professor Mark Pedelty’s books, Ecomusicology (2012) and A Song to Save the Salish Sea: Environmentalist Musicians in the Pacific Northwest (2016).
Sharon has been a member of the Local 1000 North American Traveling Musicians Union, American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO since 1997.
John hails from the Bronx, New York. His father Juan Acosta was a percussionist from Cuba who worked as a touring musician with Latin jazz greats such as Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. In California, John began his recording career working as a composer, guitarist, producer and engineer for artists on Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, Geffen, BMG, Elektra and Capitol Records. John was a member of the group Forest for the Tree’s which reached #18 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts, has collaborated with Beck, and landed a top ten hit in the UK working with the artist 1000 Clowns. John’s work as a musician lead to his work with AFM Local 47, advocating for musicians rights. Currently John serves as President of AFM Local 47 and on the AFM International Executive Board.
From bluegrass and jazz to rock & roll and old-time fiddle, Vi the Fiddler exudes energy, passion, humor, and musical mastery in every performance.
Vi Wickam is an accomplished solo performer and also fronts his own band, cleverly named Vi Wickam and The Band. In addition, he’s a member of Fritto Misto, and Fiddle Whamdiddle. The latter’s albums Old School Old Time and Not My Monkey were honored by inclusion on the Grammy Ballot in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
In 2018, Vi had 2 albums chart in the top 5 of Folk DJ Radio. His album Armadillo on a Hot Tin Roof hit #4 in April and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas hit #5 in December. He’s a 4-time Colorado State Fiddling Champion, a finalist at the Grand Masters’ Fiddler Championship, and Runner Up in the National Fiddle Contest.
In addition to performing, Vi is a highly regarded music instructor. He’s a founder of the online music school myTalentForge.com, and is much in demand as a teacher at music workshops and camps around the US.
Singer. Songwriter. Music Educator. Choir director. I am especially passionate about music that gets ordinary people singing along.
Ken Giles teaches violin/viola at D.C. Youth Orchestra Program and in private lessons. He also sings with the D.C. Labor Chorus. Longtime peace and civil rights activist, Ken was a member of the topical song group “Bright Morning Star” and played for peace demonstrations, environmental activists, and human rights groups. Ken teaches his students all kinds of music, including classical, folk, blues, labor songs, and civil rights songs.
Multi-instrumentalist Ben Deschamps plays regularly with Celtic artist Heather Dale, and also tours internationally as a side musician for other folk and blues acts. Ben’s long recording career includes producing and/or engineering over 40 albums, and running live sound for performances. Ben Deschamps and Heather Dale have played 1500+ shows across 3 continents. Together they run the musician-friendly OnlineConcertThing.com music platform. Ben has been a proud Local 1000 member since 2011.