Colleen is a bilingual songwriter who stirs listeners with her clear voice, collective spirit and rhythmic sensibility. Her music is informed by nature, social and environment movements, and Latin American progressive folk in a genre she likes to call “americaña” (TM) aka “gringa latin”. She’s a twice nominated Sammy nominee and has seven albums and three benefit compilations for antimilitarism and antifracking causes. Her latest release is Besos/Kisses (with one on the way). Her original song honoring the early feminist movement, “Dangerous women’ is now featured in the National Women’s History Museum in Seneca Falls NY. Here is a link for it:
Julia Lane is an award-winning Celtic harper, singer, and folklorist. A founding member of Castlebay, she has toured the east coast from Cape Breton to Florida, and internationally in the UK, Ireland – even Kosovo. Julia has done extensive research into traditional songs collected in Maine and arranged many of them for a contemporary audience. She has also written and recorded original songs and harp solos. She composed incidental music for “Sang O’ the Solway,” a two-hour concert piece commissioned by the Galloway & Dumfries Art Association, wrote the book and music for an historical play with music, “The Grand Design.” She has appeared as a guest artist on recordings on both sides of the Atlantic.
Folk singers often try to one-up each other with obscure details and pastimes. No slouch in that regard, Kray Van Kirk, who will be playing our house concert series on Friday, May 19th, has not one but two obscure distinctions. First, he holds a Ph.D. in fisheries population dynamics modeling. If that’s not obscure enough, he does a spot-on impression of Japan’s nineteenth century blind swordsman, Zatoichi.
A fine finger-style guitarist with a precise baritone, Van Kirk obtained his doctorate from the University of Alaska. Coming off five years of living in his van and playing music across the US and Canada, he thought that a career in the sciences might be a bit more secure than playing music for a living, especially as a single parent. Eventually, however, he realized that healing the world was primarily a matter of the heart, not the head, and he put aside his computer, picked up his guitar, and set out again.
When Van Kirk reached Scotland and the prestigious Fringe Festival, the Daily Fringe Review wrote “The evening’s act was Kray Van Kirk, whose 12-string guitar and soaring vocals were spellbinding; the Alaskan singer-songwriter, in his Edinburgh debut, was not the reason I arrived early, but was certainly why I stayed late.”
Van Kirk, however, is not your average crying-in-your-coffee singer songwriter. “We need a renewal of myth and wonder and hope,” he says.
This is where the Zatoichi impression comes in handy. Shintaro Katsu played the blind but fictional wandering masseuse as a bumbling nobody in movies from 1962 to 1989. Prior to unleashing his unrivaled swordsmanship, he closes his eyes, cocks his head to one side and listens intently, as does Van Kirk. “We are driven by myth and the seasons of the heart. We need new stories and new myths so that everyone, absolutely everyone, regardless of creed, color, gender, sexuality or anything else, can listen and look and see themselves on the Hero’s Quest.”
Thus his songs: ‘Thunderbird’ resurrects the Phoenix in an empty desert diner in the American Southwest (yes, the Phoenix drives a Thunderbird), ‘The Queen of Elfland’ plucks Thomas the Rhymer from the English-Scottish border in 1250 and drops him and the Queen into a subway car, ‘The Library Song’ has Superman moonlighting as a librarian, and ‘The Midnight Commander’ celebrates an insane old man leading the city of New York to take up arms (and underwear) against hatred.
Of this charming, Quixotic, and decidedly eclectic performer, the Borderline Folk Club in New York wrote “it is what every singer-songwriter should aspire to.”
Elise Witt’s concerts of Global, Local & Homemade Songs™ and her Impromptu Glorious Chorus™ workshops create and connect singing communities around the globe. Her songs are available for choruses and choirs through the Elise Witt Choral Series and for solo and community singing in All Singing: The Elise Witt Songbook, as well as on 12 CDs.
She currently serves as Director of Music Programs at the Global Village Project, a special purpose middle school for teenage refugee girls in Decatur GA, where she uses singing to help students learn English, share their cultures, gain self confidence, and learn to navigate their new world.
your thoughts are prayers
all of them
your actions are worship
all of them
“gravel in my boot ain’t nuthin’ “
Dan is half of the duo Dan & Faith, an acoustic, singer/songwriter/storyteller duo from New Hampshire. Dan plays guitar, harmonica and banjo. Faith plays acoustic bass guitar, mandolin, dulcimer and ukulele. Their songs tell the stories of people and places, real and imagined.
Tom Kastle has been a singer and folk musician for decades, traveling the world, collecting and performing maritime songs and stories, and captaining sailing ships on the Great Lakes. These days, Tom lives in Madison and his passions are even more diverse and include a recording of original songs based mostly on traditional fiddle tunes, film projects like Francisco Torres’ Delight In the Mountain, with Richard Riehle and Tom Wopat, an opera role, and television where he hosted a short documentary that was nominated for an Emmy Award. Add in musical director and composer credits, and recent theatrical roles ranging from musicals to Shakespeare, playing a political pundit with the legendary Ed Asner in God Help Us! and a one man play based on the life of Joe Hill and you have an artist living a vivid life, indeed!
“With his solo recording and original songs, Tom Kastle shows further dimensions to his talent and range of material. His resonant voice, heartfelt lyrics, and solid instrumentation proves he is a more “grounded” talent, as capable as writing about the open road as he is about the open waters.” — Lilli Kuzma: Folk Festival WDCB-FM Radio
“What do you say about a guy who can command a tall ship and all her crew, whose songs can make an Irishman cry tears of pure Tullamore Dew?” — Bryan Bowers
“I heard Tom Kastle sing his song, ‘Whose House? Our House!’…. Timely. Inspiring. A great gathering song sung with power and presence.” — Holly Near
“…one of New England’s clearest and most distinctive folk voices, with unusually piercing lyrical insight…” – Hartford Courant
“Folksinger for our times.” – The Boston Herald
“…one of New England’s first and brightest stars.” – The Boston Globe
Folk singer/songwriter Lui Collins has been performing, writing and recording for over 45 years, her early Philo and Green Linnet recordings earning international acclaim and establishing her as a respected voice in the folk world. Lui has shared the stage with such notables as Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Stan Rogers, Dar Williams, and John Gorka. Renowned guitarist Dave van Ronk called her “one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.”
“Lui sings my songs better than I do.” – Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers
From playful 4-string arrangements of some favorite original songs, to the fabulous jazz chords in American standards and Bossa nova, Lui translates her rich and complex guitar arrangements onto her tenor ukulele to create something unexpected and delightful.
Lui is often joined by guitarist/Grammy-nominated producer and longtime collaborator, Anand Nayak, accompanying her in a wide range of styles and languages. Their decade plus of creative collaboration is evident in the fluid musical dialogue of their live performance.
“Lui Collins sings the way people did a great long time ago, before most of us forgot how to breathe.” – Andrew Calhoun, Waterbug Records
“Lui’s got the juju!” – Geoff Bartley, singer-songwriter, guitarist
“Lui has a gentle way of capturing the hearts of her audience and having what amounts to a musical conversation with them during her performances… No one weaves a spell quite like she can.”
– Champlain Valley Folk Festival Newsletter
Alana is a Toronto-based fiddler specializing in combining Irish, Cape Breton and Scottish styles to create her own sound. She performs both solo and in a duo with her father, Leigh Cline.
Alana & Leigh Cline specialize in telling the history and stories behind tunes and musical styles, and many of their tunes are from the 1700s and 1800s. They also specialize in performances and workshops comparing different Celtic fiddle musical traditions. They include occasional Balkan tunes in their sets.
Having performed in Canada and the US, a small selection of performances include the Great American Irish Festival, Celtic Island Music Festival, Trenton Scottish Irish Festival, Irish Real Life Festival, Chris Langan Weekend, City of Toronto’s Canada Day Celebrations, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Music Niagara, Toronto Public Library, Burlington Public Library, folk clubs, and at private corporate events for Tourism Ireland, Corus Entertainment, Enterprise Ireland, Maple Leaf Foods, and Discover Halifax. Alana & Leigh have a self-titled CD.
Alana first started playing at the age of 8 under the tutelage of Cape Breton fiddler Sandy MacIntyre. She studied privately with All-Ireland Fiddle Champion Maeve Donnelly over a period of two years, and also studied the North-East Scottish fiddle style with Paul Anderson, whose teaching lineage goes back directly to Niel Gow and the Golden Age of Scottish fiddle music.
Alana has augmented her playing style with private lessons from Irish fiddlers Kevin Burke, Liz Carroll, Tony DeMarco and Patrick Ourceau. In 2008 Alana became the first Canadian to be accepted to the auditioned Meitheal School of Irish Traditional Music in Limerick, Ireland with Paul O’Shaughnessy of Altan as one of her instructors. She has also studied fiddle at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts in St. Ann’s, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
“A quartet the likes of which I haven’t seen since… Coope, Boyes and Simpson, the Watersons, or The Voice Squad. Just absolutely phenomenal!” -BBC Traveling Folk
Windborne combines bold and innovative harmonies, styles from a variety of cultures with traditions of harmony singing, and a vocal blend that comes from longtime friendship and years of singing together. They also carry on the alliance of folk music and social activism, breathing new life into songs of change from the past that still ring true in modern times.
“The best musical discovery of the year…Stunningly powerful vocal harmony… Windborne sets a new bar for folk harmony singing today” -Brian O’Donovan, WGBH-NPR
Hear Windborne in action:
Song of the Lower Classes – a protest song from the Chartists in England in the 1840s, a grassroots movement for voting rights
Stabat Mater (Corsica) live in Mont-Saint-Michel – a traditional setting of the Stabat Mater text from southern Corsica. A clip of this video went viral on TikTok in 2021, getting over 2 million views!
The Song of Hard Times – Windborne’s arrangement and expansion of a song from the 1930s, found in the archives at the Library of Congress
Instagram / TikTok: @WindborneSingers
MORE ABOUT WINDBORNE:
Internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble Windborne is a group of vocal chameleons who specialize in close harmony singing, shifting effortlessly between drastically different styles of traditional music within the same concert. Their musical knowledge spans many cultures, but they remain deeply rooted in American folk singing traditions – a typical concert program includes music ranging from American labor anthems and English ballads to ancient Corsican polyphony and traditional Quebecois tunes.
Hailed as “the most exciting vocal group in a generation,” Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig, and Jeremy Carter-Gordon share a vibrant energy onstage – their connection to each other and to the music clearly evident. They educate as they entertain, telling stories about the music and explaining the characteristics and stylistic elements of the traditions in which they sing.
But there’s another, crucial dimension to Windborne. They are adherents to folk music’s longtime association with social activism, in particular its ties to the labor and civil rights movements and others that champion the poor, the working class, and the disenfranchised. Breathing new life into old songs, they seek out music from movements over the past 400 years and sing them for the struggles of today’s world. They believe deeply in the power of music to change hearts.
In addition to performing in New England and around the world, Windborne has taught workshops in schools, community centers, singing camps, and universities. Seasoned teachers and song-leaders, they delight groups young and old with enthusiastic, clear, and nuanced instruction for musicians of all levels of experience. Singers not only learn the notes of a song, but also work on the varied vocal styles, language pronunciation, and gain an understanding of the song in its original cultural context.
In 2014, Windborne was one of 10 groups selected by American Music Abroad and the US Department of State to tour as cultural ambassadors through music. They traveled to Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola, touring with internationally known artists, performing at sold-out national theaters, and collaborating with traditional musicians in each country. They also taught music and dance workshops to schoolchildren, English-language learners, dance schools, choirs, and music conservatories.
Robb Johannes (he/him/his) is currently currently channeling his 4-octave countertenor voice, composition, songwriting, multi-instrumental (guitar, bass, keyboards, lap steel, percussion), and multi-media (filmmaking, visual art, graphic design) skills into the newly-formed ensemble, a question of when (www.aquestionofwhen.com). Tagged as an “anonymous multi-media artistic collaboration between members of previously-established acts,” a question of when is in the process of producing its debut LP and accompanying visual immersions with funding support from the Ontario Arts Council.
Prior to a question of when, Robb fronted the Toronto/Vancouver rock band Paint (www.paintband.com) for over ten years. Over the course of four albums, two feature films, and over 300 performances from Pacific to Atlantic, Paint came to be referred to as “Picture perfect” (102.1 The Edge), “Best live act in the city” (Musica Mas), “One of the top acts of the year” (The Toronto Star), and “Intelligent people making incredible music” (The Examiner), bedazzling audiences with their multisensory stage show while delivering insightful social commentary through their music, art, and relationship with its dedicated fanbase; “rockstars with a sincere change-the-world-with-heart attitude… the next U2?” (Midnight Matinee).
While primarily focused on original compositions and contributing to the advancement of the art form for the past two decades, Robb has also used his voice for creative and ambitious tributes to Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Doors, The Tragically Hip, and The Who. He has also delivered keynote addresses about his work in the social justice sector, including published works about his experiences with mental health in the arts.
Touring folk music performer specializing in community singing and song leading. I also do a variety of educational programs–as a solo and with the amazing Robert Jones.