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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
The award-winning and versatile Appalachian-indie-folk-country-fusion singer-songwriter, performance artist, and multi-generational arts program designer Ash Devine is based the Blue Ridge Mountains of Blacksburg, VA and Asheville, North Carolina. Devine, who is considered by some as one of the last ‘folk troubadours’ is also known for her unique finger-style ukulele and guitar sound, and for her participation in humanitarian efforts through music, education, and the arts.
In addition to producing several albums of original music, Ash has performed and studied along side Nobel peace prize nominee Patch Adams M.D., Heritage award winning ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams, Grammy award nominee and folklorist David Holt, and a number of other renowned folklorists and internationally acclaimed musicians. Her versatile Appalachian folk revival-fusion sound is bursting with stylistic variety, relatable story, and historical facts. Her music is influenced in style by Traditional Appalachian, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Jean Richie, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Maybelle Carter, Leslie Riddle, Ani Difranco, Kate Wolfe, Bob Dylan, and reggae/world music influences such as the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, and west African traditional music.
In 2015 Ash Devine starred as the legendary Maybelle Carter and musically directed the play Esley: The Life and Music of Leslie Riddle. From 2016-2019 Ash Devine studied Appalachian traditional folk songs from the Western, NC area with Smithsonian Folkways Award winning ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams. In 2018, Devine was invited to perform with a group of WNC Appalachian song carriers at the Library of Congress at the American Folk Life Center in Washington, DC. Ash is award winning, in 2013 her original music was selected for 1st place at the Twin Rivers Media Festival in Asheville, NC, in 2008 she won 1st place for Brown Bag Songwriter’s Competition in Asheville, NC, and in 2001 Devine was awarded best composition for an original song at Roanoke, VA’s downtown Music Lab.
Devine performs all original concerts, blended traditional/contemporary/original variety style concerts, a one woman show about the legendary Carter Family and the influences and origins of the music they played, and Devine performs personalized therapeutic and formal concerts for the care setting.
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.
Drums, Bass, Guitar, Vocal, basic Piano-Keys (if zero on-the-fly sight reading is needed). Great for last minute work, best if reference recording available. Can be music director to assemble backing group for performance, film, tv, or recording. Can consult for tv, film, to ensure actors can credibly portray musicians. Willing to travel if travel cost covered from Seattle, WA.
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.
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.