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.”
Kyla Tilley is a Canadian prog-folk singer-songwriter known for her emotionally turbulent live performances, her gymnastic guitar playing, and her fabulous shoe collection.
Using whatever words she likes, Kyla constructs tales true and tall of fantastic exploits, mundane tasks, and moderate misadventure which she delivers with a mix of vocal fusillades, chaotic finger-picking, and kaleidoscopic rhythms.
Twelve such songs can be found on Kyla’s sophomore album Bloom & Grow. A mercurial collection of songs about personal growth, self-acceptance, and the obstacles that get in the way of an individual’s desire to leave something of themselves for the ages.
Kyla lives in a small town in Newfoundland and Labrador where you will find her strolling on the beach, hiking in the woods, and broadcasting glimpses into her songwriting sessions live on Twitch, where her stalwart followers are encouraged to heckle, cheer, and distract, as Kyla wrestles words, cajoles melodies, and hammers out guitar parts.
Kyla’s endeavours over the years have ranged from country to metal with many digressions in-between. She appeared in the documentary “Water Street” with country/folk band Bareback; performed at the Sound Symposium with experimental music group Sound Circus; had a song recorded by Canadian Idol finalist Jenny Gear; played art galleries and events as a solo classical guitarist and with the bass and guitar duo Cat’s Paw; performed with violinist Ed Hudson in folk duo Tea & Bread, which melded Kyla’s original material with Ed’s love of British folk song. She’s composed cat-walk music and provided guitar solos for comedian and fashion diva Cara Winsor-Hehir, and is one half of progressive death metal duo Molt. As Mistress Pandemonium, she was the riff-generating half of Newfoundland heavy metal band Endearing Perversion. She spent a decade singing a mixture of folk and classical music in Montreal’s La Chorale Harmonia community choir including 2 stints on the board.
Kyla Tilley singer-songwriter began releasing music in 2018 with Whimseys, a 5 song EP of some of her more whimsical numbers performed simply with guitar and voice, and Loose Summer, a mostly instrumental composition for a fashion show featuring 5 short episodes of airy guitar, flute, bottles and found percussion. These were followed in the summer of 2019 with New Shoes, Kyla’s first full length album, then Vagarys in 2020, another 5 song EP of odder fare, this time with bass and drums thrown into the mix.
“…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
“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.
Erin McKeown is a musician, writer, and producer known internationally for her prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries. Her brash and clever electric guitar playing is something to see. Her singing voice is truly unique —clear, cool, and collected. Over the last 20 years, she has performed around the world, released 11 full length albums, and written for film, television, and theater, all the while refining her distinctive and challenging mix of American musical forms.
Her first musical, Miss You Like Hell, written with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in 2018. It was nominated for 5 Drama Desk Awards, including Best Lyrics, Best Music and Best Orchestrations, and The Wall Street Journal named it Best Musical of 2018.
Leading her own band, she has performed at Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and the Newport Folk Festivals. A familiar presence on NPR and the BBC, McKeown’s songs have also appeared in numerous commercials and television shows.
While a student at Brown University, Erin was a resident artist at Providence, RI’s revolutionary community arts organization AS220. A 2011-2012 fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center For Internet & Society, she is also the recipient of a 2016 writing fellowship from The Studios of Key West and a 2018 residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. McKeown is currently a 2020-21 Professor of the Practice at Brown University.
Her latest album KISS OFF KISS is out now.
I am a singer-songwriter who has been actively touring Western Canada for 5 years. Prior to my most recent release, I attended several conference and showcase opportunities (Folk Alliance International 2016, 2017, 2019; AmericanaFest 2015, 2018; BreakOut West 2017, 2018) to promote and engage local and international industry for the release. After releasing my sophomore album, “Driving In The Dark”, international interest and touring opportunities continue to present themselves. I play 1-2 local shows in my home city of Calgary per year, if any and focus the entirety of my live show strategy around touring new markets, specifically targeting the UK and USA Americana scenes as this is where my music has been charting based off of radio play demographics. With recent bookings at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, several tour dates with Sarah Shook and other US plays, we are hunting for a US agent to continue touring and making an impact across borders.
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.
Liv Cazzola is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, educator, and avid collaborator. Though based in Guelph Ontario, Liv is typically seen performing in Tragedy Ann or The Lifers, in North America and Europe. She sings to seek understanding, question the current, relish in the goodness, and create necessary change.
I, Kevin Neal, am a pedal steel guitarist and dobro player currently living in Toronto, Ontario.