Artists on the faculty of Folk College lead workshops, coach student bands, perform concerts and lead jam sessions. Some artists lead 3-hour intensive workshops on Friday: check out Intensives.
Buffalo Rose is a wildly charismatic six-piece modern folk/Americana band from Pittsburgh, PA. They take the singer-songwriter tradition to a new level by crafting original songs which are emotive, meticulously arranged, and inspired by a world of idiosyncratic influences that never let a dull or predictable moment creep in.
The band released their debut album, The Soil and the Seed, in 2018 and established themselves as a vocal, instrumental, and creative force. Since then, Buffalo Rose has dropped two EPs, 2019’s Big Stampede and 2020’s Borrowed and Blue, opened for the Wood Brothers, Mipso, Pokey LaFarge, Tyler Childers, Infamous Stringdusters, and shared a festival stage with the legendary Sam Bush. The band’s upward trajectory continues into 2022 with their latest EP Rabbit, created in collaboration with Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tom Paxton, followed by a new full-length LP scheduled for release later in the year.
Buffalo Rose's lineup of Lucy Clabby (vocals), Margot Jezerc (vocals), Bryce Rabideau (mandolin), Malcolm Inglis (dobro), Jason Rafalak (upright bass), and Shane McLaughlin (guitar, vocals) pushes itself and each other far beyond their perceived limits and blends their diverse and atypical approach to songwriting with the desire to see how unique a song can get and still feel like home. They use powerful vocal harmonies, strong playing, and an original vision to operate at every possible emotional level and put on dynamic live shows that are unforgettable experiences. They go from up and moving to sad and sweet and back again, bringing the entire audience along.
This combination of artistry and enthusiasm makes Buffalo Rose one of the most vital and important groups working today. Rather than play the folk music of the past, the band gleefully combines genres and ideas together to move acoustic music forward to a new, contemporary place without ever losing sight of its roots. Fans of Lake Street Dive, Nickel Creek, and Punch Brothers will find much to like in this crew. Anyone seeking compelling new acoustic music needs to join Buffalo Rose in the future right now.
The Piedmont Blūz Acoustic Duo, comprised of Valerie and Benedict Turner, are ambassadors of Country Blues music, the Piedmont style of fingerpicking, and roots percussion. Their mission is to help bring awareness to these unique aspects of African-American culture, and to the contributions of early blues artists, through performing and teaching. They have been entertaining audiences both domestically and abroad and are much loved wherever they go. As 2018 inductees into the New York Blues Hall of Fame, this husband-and-wife duo feel that "there are stories to tell, people to remember, and things that must be said" so, in addition to tickling your ears with delightful music, they weave a bit of history into the presentation of each song. A Piedmont Blūz concert isn’t just music – it’s an experience as they transport you back to the 1920s and 1930s, the hey-day of acoustic Country Blues music. In addition to performing songs from that time-frame, they introduce each piece with an interesting anecdote about either the composer, the time period, or the song itself.
Valerie Turner is a native New Yorker with southern roots in Virginia and Georgia. She plays finger style Country Blues guitar and specializes in the Piedmont style of fingerpicking. She has taught at major guitar workshops including the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop, Augusta Blues Week, and Blues in the Gorge. An inductee into the New York Blues Hall of Fame, and Co-President of the Mississippi John Hurt Foundation, Valerie is also the author of Piedmont Style Country Blues Guitar Basics, an independently published book acquired by the Library of Congress. Her eclectic repertoire is heavily influenced by the years spent studying with John Cephas (a world-renowned Country Blues musician in the Piedmont style) and Woody Mann (a Juilliard trained student of Rev. Gary Davis). Valerie’s guitar playing is reminiscent of traditional blues greats like Mississippi John Hurt, Etta Baker, and Elizabeth Cotten. Valerie and her husband Benedict perform as the Piedmont Blūz Acoustic Duo and, in addition to a host of domestic venues and festivals, these tradition bearers have traveled as far as Europe and the Middle East to share their music. (Photo - Sidney Danz)
Benedict Turner is a roots percussionist specializing in lap-style washboard. Occasionally, he also chimes in on bones or harp for added accents, and his subtle touches add just the right amount of texture. As a professional Graphic Designer and Sr. Art Director, Benedict curates vintage washboards and bells from around the world, and uses these artifacts to create his unique line of Darlington Washboards which feature detailed carvings and sculpted attachments. Benedict has studied with Washboard Chaz of Louisiana fame, as well as with Newman Taylor Baker of the Ebony Hillbillies. Inspired by these two talented percussionists, Benedict has his own style of washboard playing, which is influenced by the melodic and percussive sounds of the steel drums of his birthplace, Trinidad and Tobago. Benedict and his wife, Valerie Turner, comprise the Piedmont Blūz Acoustic Duo, dedicated performers and preservationists of Piedmont style musical traditions. (Photo - Sidney Danz)
Asheville, North Carolina’s genre hopping songwriters, The Resonant Rogues, have been winning over audiences worldwide with their signature blend of string band music since 2013. Following their musical inspirations from the Appalachian mountains to the Balkans, through Paris by way of New Orleans, their original songs speak to the heart with poetic lyrics, and appeal to the ears with stellar musicianship and arrangement.
“American folk music has always had a populist perspective, a vision of music made by the people, for the people. Asheville, North Carolina roots band The Resonant Rogues know this well, for they’ve traveled the byways and highways of America, even crossed the water to Europe and the Mediterranean with instruments and songs in tow. Anchored by the songwriting duo Sparrow and Keith Smith, the Rogues have shared songs with train-hoppers in New Orleans, busked on the streets of Budapest, learned Turkish Romani dance in Istanbul, and marched in protest in the hills of Appalachia. Throughout, the stories they’ve heard and the people they’ve met have fueled their music, which abounds with influences like Eastern European Romani brass bands, New Orleans street jazz, old-time stringbands, Woody Guthrie anti-fascist folk, French jazz Manouche, and Middle Eastern rhythms. It’s not easy to pull off such a bold combination of genres, but The Resonant Rogues learned this music in person from the people who created it, so they have a tie to each tradition and a working knowledge of what this music means to the ordinary people that make this music every day. It’s a tintype view on the modern world, a cracked image that reflects the past through a prism of the future." –Hearth Music
Sparrow – songwriter, accordion, banjo, and vocals
Sparrow’s passion for movement and sound started early, with much time and energy spent on choir, orchestra, musical theatre, swing dancing, and figure skating. A voracious student, she has immersed herself in an enormous range of performance arts. Sparrow plays old fashioned originals with The Resonant Rogues, and also leads a traditional jazz band called Sparrow and her Wingmen. She also occasionally performs as a solo artist, and released a album of her original music in 2012. Her instruments include accordion, banjo, and fiddle. She has been belly dancing since 2003, teaching and performing in Asheville and around the country. In 2006-2007, Sparrow attended the Circus Center in San Francisco, primarily for acrobatics, and has toured and performed with Asheville’s Runaway Circus.
Keith Josiah Smith – songwriter, guitar, vocals
Smith’s musical journey began with playing drums in punk/rock bands in his early teens. He then developed a passion for songwriting upon learning his first chords on the guitar. In the spring of ’09, at the age of 18, he left home and began traveling around the USA, hopping freight trains, and street performing for a living. In 2010, he traveled to Nashville, TN with hometown friend Jason Dea West and formed Barefoot Surrender with Benjamin Tod (Lost Dog Street Band). In the ensuing years he accompanied many other street bands between the Pacific Northwest and New Orleans, LA. In 2012, he gained a renewed focus on songwriting and studying the guitar, which led him to recording a demo in Seattle, WA. With that new demo in hand, he spent the next 10 days traveling across the country via freight train, visiting musician friends along the way and landing in Asheville, NC, where he serendipitously met a woman named Sparrow who needed a guitarist for her recording session in 3 days. They formed Resonant Rogues in 2013, and Keith’s adventurous spirit is now satisfied with touring around the world with Sparrow.
Violinist Maura Shawn Scanlin and guitarist Conor Hearn unite to form “Rakish.” The pair gets their namesake from the traditional Irish tune Rakish Paddy, an origin that aptly suits the duo and their shared background in traditional Irish and Scottish music. Yet “rakish” itself also suggests something strikingly unconventional in its appearance, and Maura and Conor knowingly embrace this wealth of connotation in their music, drawing on the music they grew up with and performing it with their own slant. In a performance that is something more akin to concert music, Rakish explores tunes and songs from Irish and American folk traditions in a way that reflects their shared interest in and love for chamber and improvised music. Maura Shawn, a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion and a winner of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Competition, wields the technical range of an accomplished classical violinist and the deep sensitivity of a traditional musician. Conor, a native to the Irish music communities of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, makes his home in Boston playing guitar for a number of traditional music acts and bands.
Rakish has performed on Front Row Boston, Brian O’Donovan’s 2020 “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” the Burren Backroom Series, and they can be heard on broadcasts of WGBH’s “A Celtic Sojourn.” They have appeared at esteemed festivals including the Boston Celtic Music Festival, the Bellingham Irish Music Festival, and the Rockport Celtic Music Festival. Rakish is a recipient of the 2019 Iguana Fund Grant generously supported by Club Passim.
Appalasia was formed by Mimi Jong, Jeff Berman, and Sue Powers in Pittsburgh, PA. Together they have created an evocative and ambitious performance language for dulcimer, erhu, banjo, and vocals that combines the influence of their folk-roots with original composition and inspired improvisation.
The individual members of Appalasia each have extensive histories of collaboration, performing, and recording with artists including Andy Statman, Tony Trischka, Pasang Dolma, Alash, Susan Mckeown, Karen Han, Robert Een, Min Xiao Fen, Samir Chatterjee, Linda Thompson, Osei Koranke, Devilish Merry, Arthur Russell and Huang Xiang, to name just a few.
Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist, improvising artist, and composer whose work reflects his global musical vision. A native of New York City who now lives in Pittsburgh, he has developed a genre-extending concept on mountain dulcimer, vibraphone, and percussion, that has allowed him to collaborate across stylistic boundaries with a diverse group of artists from across the globe.
Mimi has a diverse musical background acquired from growing up in Indonesia, being educated in Germany, and immigrating to the United States. Since age eleven, she has been performing on the erhu, an ancient, Chinese, two-string, bowed instrument. By moving beyond tradition and embracing the erhu's versatility, Mimi has performed with jazz, folk and classical musicians, conducted educational workshops, and performed at music festivals.
Sue Powers grew up outside of Pittsburgh in a family with deep roots in the musical landscape of Western Pennsylvania. She has been singing and playing banjo since high school. Both of her parents were sacred singers, and both her grandfather and her great grandfather were fiddle players who performed for local square dances in the Appalachian "old time" tradition.
Folk College's host band, Simple Gifts, is two women (Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon) playing twelve instruments, with styles that range from old time to Celtic to Klezmer and beyond. Karen Hirshon plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar, 6-string banjo, bowed psaltery, doumbek, and spoons. Linda Littleton plays fiddle, hammered dulcimer, banjo, recorders, and bowed psaltery. Simple Gifts members designed Folk College and work with the Huntingdon County Arts Council to make it a reality. They have a strong philosophy that everyone can play music, that music is best when shared, and that above all, music is about communication, not competition.
Henry Koretzky is a mandolinist, guitarist, and singer from Harrisburg, PA, who has performed in a wide variety of styles and groups, from bluegrass with Cornerstone, Sweetwater Reunion, and High Strung; klezmer with The Old World Folk Band; old-time with the duo Rootbound; as well as swing, celtic, contemporary folk, and contradance music. He has taught at Folk College in previous years as part of The Keystone Rebels and as part of a duo with singer-songwriter-guitarist Kevin Neidig, and has also been a staff regular at Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.
Mark Twain said, “When you want genuine music -- music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, go right through you like Brandreth's pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose, -- when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!”
Jay Best has invoked the “glory-beaming banjo” for decades and has explored a wide variety of “genuine music” including old-time, folk, and blues. Jay leads a fiddle-mentoring group at the Confluence Creative Arts Center and performed on and produced the community CD Confluence: Coming Together. He loves playing banjo, guitar, and fiddle with friends and family, but his magnum opus was a recording made with a steel guitar tuned like a banjo and performed with cicadas at twilight.
Shelley Kelley was named “The 2019 Folk Musician of the Year” for The State of Delaware. A versatile musician, she plays hurdy-gurdy, pennywhistle, French chalumeau (clarinet), Irish bodhran, spoons, guitar, percussion instruments, and more. Michele writes original compositions on more recognizable instruments including Guitar, Whistle, Spoons, and more.
The genres are endless and span Americana, Celtic, French, Folk, and Cajun-Zydeco.
Shelley has performed at the Philly Folk Festival, the Hawaiian Scottish Festival, the Cincinnati Celtic Festival, and many solo/duet/trio/band performances at major venues and festivals coast to coast. She has performed concerts with national recording artists including Maggie Sansone, John Spillane, Ken Kolodner, Robin Bullock, and John Skelton. She performs with other musicians who play bagpipes, electric fiddle, viola, mandolin, banjo, harp, keyboards, bass, and drums to round out the sound.
Contact her at www.ShelleyKelleyBand.com
She is an On-Air Radio DJ at WVUD 91.3FM and www.wvud.org since 2000.
Bob Nicholson is a Folk College tradition, making our annual Saturday night contradance truly special. Bob is in demand as a contra and square dance caller who is known for his relaxed teaching style, patience, energy, and ability to make the dance fun!