Prior to Pete and Maura’s first meeting at a song swap in Austin, Pete was well established as an award-winning singer-songwriter in his hometown, Washington, D.C., and Maura was a top hand on the Austin scene. Over the course of a dozen duo CDs, they have graciously folded their talent and inspiration into the confluent sound and vision of the Kennedys duo. The Kennedys’ music has been described as uplifting, empowering and encouraging.
“…I wasn’t expecting them to be such fun, so effervescent and so enthusiastic. Their songs are as upbeat as they are in real life. They have a shared love for certain great artists from the 50s and the 60s and these artists inhabit their music, inspiring their work and encouraging their creativity.” – Spencer Leigh, Country Music People 2014
Loretta Hagen is a New Jersey-based singer-songwriter, whose musical career spans two decades. Weaving folk, country, rock and blues, she writes songs with strong, catchy melodies and passionate poignant lyrics, and delivers them with her rich alto voice. Loretta will be joined by husband/guitarist Gary Hagen and djembe player Linda Lambiase.
“Loretta has spent some time in Nashville, and it shows in her polished songwriting and smooth vocals. Add some tasty guitar licks from her husband Gary, and you have the recipe for musical magic.” – Kevin Coughlin, Morristowngreen.com
Modern-folk duo Friction Farm is a husband and wife team of traveling troubadours. Aidan Quinn and Christine Stay combine storytelling, social commentary and humor to create songs of everyday life, local heroes, and quirky observations. From ballads to anthems each song is filled with harmony and hope.
“Aidan and Christine command any stage they’re on. Their appreciable force is gently delivered with keen lyrics and beautiful melodies, with a hint of humor to mitigate the seriousness of some of their material.” – David Engels, Emerald Concerts
The string and vocal trio Low Lily explores the roots and branches of American folk music with traditional influences and modern inspiration that weaves together a unique brand of acoustic music. Liz Simmons (vocals and guitar) Flynn Cohen (vocals, guitar, and mandolin) and Lissa Schneckenburger (vocals and fiddle) are masterful players with deep relationships to traditional music styles ranging from bluegrass, to Irish, Scottish, New England, and Old Time Appalachian sounds. When you combine this with stellar composition skills and inventive arrangements you get music that is rooted yet contemporary.
“Exuberant yet sensitive… exceptional and refreshing” – No Depression
Simple Gifts and The Acoustic Brew welcome you to the release of Simple Gifts’ 7th and newest CD, Journeys: Music of Many Lands. Combining tradition with innovation, Simple Gifts creates some of the finest arrangements in folk music today: swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance, spoons show up in an Irish reel, and a blues lick introduces a Klezmer melody. Drawing on an impressive variety of ethnic folk styles, this award-winning duo plays everything from lively Irish jigs and down-home American reels to hard-driving Klezmer frailachs and haunting Gypsy melodies, spicing the mix with the distinctive rhythms of Balkan dance music, the lush sounds of Scandinavian twin fiddling, and original compositions written in a traditional style.
“Few musicians can match the warmly personal stage presence Simple Gifts possesses. Their performances are noted for the infectious enthusiasm and sprinkling of good humor that come through.” —Jennifer O’Callaghan, Celtic Classic Festival, Bethlehem PA.
If you like harmony, this show is for you! The Early Mays (Emily Pinkerton, Ellen Gozion, and Rachel Eddy) are known for their flawless three-part harmonies that come to life when performing songs in an old-time style.
They burst on to the scene with a #2 debut on the National Folk-DJ charts: an eponymous album where fiddle, banjo and guitar are the backdrop to heart-melting three part vocal harmonies. Most recently, they took home the blue ribbon in the Neo-Traditional Band Competition at Clifftop 2016 (The Appalachian String Band Music Festival).
There is an unsurpassed magic that springs from entwined and entrancing vocal harmonies. The Early Mays love the camaraderie of the studio, the road, and rehearsals, and you can feel the gratitude radiate from whatever stage they are on. You’ll never leave a show without carrying a little bit of that warmth away with you.
“As local folk music goes, The Early Mays are a bit of a supergroup… Together, they literally make beautiful music — a play on the Appalachian folk all three are steeped in, with close vocal harmonies, and guitar, banjo and fiddle work.” – Andy Mulkerin, Pittsburgh City Paper
Maeve Gilchrist is bringing a harp to Acoustic Brew — and we don’t mean a harmonica. Gilchrist has taken the Celtic harp to new levels and She’s performed with internationally renowned orchestras traditional Irish folk groups, and contemporary settings.
You may remember Keith Murphy as part of a trio with Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block that performed on our stage in fall 2015, with Nightingale (spring 1998) or Assembly (spring 2003) . His direct and intimate style of traditional singing in English and French infuses old ballads and songs with a powerful immediacy while his rhythmic and percussive finger style of guitar playing brings new shape and color to his songs.
Together, the duo will be playing lots of tightly knotted tunes and singing a lot of harmonies, hopefully breathing some new life into old, substantial material.
“If there’s a soundtrack to a fine summer, this is it. If there’s a musician who can bask in tradition yet immerse herself musically in the multicoloured experience of life, it’s Gilchrist.” – Siobhan Long, Irish Times
Ramblin’ Dan Stevens was born and raised right here in central Pennsylvania. Although he’s logged more than 100,000 miles as a traveling bluesman, he’s never forgotten where his musical journey began.
Stevens’s music and his life are inspired by Mississippi John Hurt, and Woody Guthrie, and Dave Van Ronk just to name a few. He’s been a full-time musician since 1991 and surrounds himself with vintage and custom instruments acquired in his many travels. Usually packing three guitars, any given performance may find him choosing to play a 1950’s Sears Silvertone, a 1931 National Steel, a retro lime green Resophonic, and more.
His original songs remain true to the traditional forces which powerfully shaped his early musical development and prompt listeners to praise the authenticity of his approach. In live shows, Dan often pauses between songs, offering historical trivia or relating incidents from his personal experience.
“This troubadour of acoustic blues has the knack for capturing the essence of the blues. Dan Stevens will no doubt join the ranks of Paul Rishell and Keb’ Mo with strong cuts that convey authenticity.” – Blues Rag, Baltimore Blues Society
Hailing from the beautiful Mountain State of West Virginia, The Hillbilly Gypsies have been making and performing their own brand of old time bluegrass and original mountain music for well over a decade! Formed in 2001 from a chance meeting at the now infamous Wednesday night old time jam in Morgantown, WV; The Hillbilly Gypsies have been pickin’ n’ grinnin’ and entertaining their loyal fans ever since.
The band is best known for their high-energy live performances and have become a crowd favorite at major festivals, fairs and concert venues all across the mid-Atlantic region and abroad. They perform in the old fashioned style, playing around a single vintage ribbon microphone. This “Old Timey” approach adds an authentic high-energy barn party atmosphere to their show. Watching the whole band work around the mic is like taking a trip back in time. It’ll sure make you want to get up and dance!
…and don’t let the flash of their lively stage performance and choreography fool ya, these folks are all highly skilled musicians and seasoned entertainers! Their lightning fast award-winning picking skills and musical arrangements mixed with natural comedic wit and high lonesome mountain vocal harmonies are sure to catch your ear right away. Combine that with a knack for original songwriting and a strong passion for old time and traditional music and this makes for an all-around authentic and exciting musical experience that you won’t soon forget. One listen and you’ll know that you are getting the real deal! The Gypsies are more than a band; they are a tight knit family, mindful of tradition but bold explorers of new and authentic styles of acoustic music and entertainment!
“If you ever get the chance, see the Hillbilly Gypsies live. You’ll want to hear them, too, of course, but you’ll be in for a real treat when you watch them. They are masters of the single microphone style, with the awards to prove it. It’s mountain ballet at its finest.” – David Morris, Bluegrass Today
Mustard’s Retreat (David Tamulevich and Michael Hough), met in Ann Arbor, MI in 1974, as short order cooks, both on hiatus from their studies at the University of Michigan. Discovering a mutual interest in music/writing and performing, they put together 3 songs one day after work, and took them to the legendary Ark coffeehouse’s open mike night. They were a hit, and, on the spot, were invited back to do a 45 minute set 2 weeks later.
Within a year and a half they had both quit the restaurant and were doing music full time. 40 years later, they have 12 highly acclaimed recordings of their own, plus 3 more CDs with their songwriting collective, The Yellow Room Gang. Mustard’s Retreat has performed more than 4,000 shows over those years, traveled more than 1 million miles and in doing so, have earned a dedicated and loyal following, many of whom have been coming to hear them since the 1970s.
“They are so warm and friendly and giving on stage, completely in touch with their audience. There are no barriers at all, and you just love to watch that and be part of it.” – Tom Paxton