Folk Gathering's host band is two women (Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon) playing twelve instruments, performing styles that range from old time to Celtic to Klezmer and beyond. 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 the concertina ventures far beyond styles considered traditional for that instrument. Based in the hills of central Pennsylvania, Simple Gifts switches with ease among two violins, concertina, mandolin, banjolin, recorders, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle, guitar, piano, and percussion.
Changeling presents the fire and stark beauty of the Celtic traditions with (in the words of one fan) "the power of ten in a package of two." They travel from concert halls to dance halls, delighting fans and winning friends with their tunes, songs and stories.
Deborah Clark Colón's (fiddle, viola) skill and emotional depth have earned her national recognition in Irish and Scottish circles for her fiddling on blistering reels, playful jigs and heartbreaking airs. She has been recording and performing professionally for over ten years, from Chicago and New York to the Bahamas. Her tremendous energy and presence in the music keep her in demand as a performer, studio musician and teacher. Deborah contributed outrageous fiddling to the three new tracks on Gaelic Storm's Billboard World-Music Charting Album (#2!) Special Reserve, adding her to the list of traditional Irish fiddlers to record on Nashville's Music Row.
Deborah is a prolific composer of tunes, including "Blue Ash," "The Thirtieth Year," and the notorious "Pizza Reel" on Changeling's latest album, The Hidden World.
Changeling guitarist and singer Karl Clark Colón (guitar, vocals, odd stories) is the perfect Celt: a delicate cross between a scholarly monk and a professional wrestler. One moment he's quietly hunched over his guitar, eyes closed, creating intimate soundscapes to highlight a lament or slow air, but in the blink of an eye he's stamping, shouting and leaping from the rafters in the spirit of a reel. His songs, stories and humor welcome and enthrall a crowd, helping them to discover that traditional music is best enjoyed among friends.
Henry Koretzky is a mandolinist/ guitarist/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.
The Fiddling Thomsons are an award winning multi-instrumentalist father and son team residing in New Hampshire, with 12 years of duo performance experience on twin fiddles, banjos, guitar, accordion, irish flute, pennywhistle, and percussion instruments.
They have performed internationally at venues including the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival, and the Bath Folk Festival in England, and at New England venues including the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire; Massachusetts Maritime Academy; and Fenway Park. Ryan played keyboard for years with Boston based ceili bands - Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and Ceol Tradsiunta na hEireann.
Ryan has won the Northeastern USA trophy at the National Fiddle Contest, banjo awards from California to Massachusetts, and a Boston Music Awards nomination for his accordion playing. Brennish has variously placed third through first at several local fiddle contests and a first place band award at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia. Together the Thomsons won a Twin Fiddling Award at the Lowell National Park Banjo and Fiddle Contest. More info is available at http://captainfiddle.com/thomsonsband.html
Diana Wagner is an acoustic musician and folksinger who collects and preserves folk music. Diana plays acoustic and classical guitar, mountain dulcimer, a bit of banjo and diddley-bow. She also plays multiple percussion hand instruments. Folk audiences know that her show-opening trademark is to begin without any instruments and an a capella mountain song or ballad. Whether singing Civil War songs, blues, Irish love ballads, or indie folk from contemporary backroads, Diana is committed to telling the personal stories and sharing the histories of the lives preserved in song. Diana is also a classical guitarist with a variety of musical interests. In addition, she directs the Maryland site of Guitars in the Classroom, an innovative program that brings guitars and music integration to classroom teachers across the country.
Kelly e. Parker is founder and artistic director of ABAFASI. Her life’s roles include: sistah, mother, grandmother, drummer, drum-maker, student, teacher, social worker, composer, craftswoman, wordsmith, jewelry-maker, and welder. Kelly’s first drumming experience occurred in 1994, and it recharged her life, since then drumming has been the soundtrack of her path. The drum is in her walk, talk, hair, children and spirit. Her travel to Africa in 2005 affirmed the influence that West African drumming has had on all genres of music. That influence has informed her rhythmic expressions.
Richard has been exploring the harmonica from the inside out for over 30 years. He has performed with Taj Mahal, Maria Muldaur, Bo Diddley, Susan Werner, and many others. His studio work includes award winning films, TV, radio, and theatre soundtracks, and other projects. As a soloist, he combines his fluid and highly developed rack playing with soulful vocals, guitar, and intricate solo harp flights. Richard’s music is American roots - ranging from rural and urban blues, fiddle tunes, swing, country, gospel, to early rock and roll. He has three solo releases - “Steppin Out”, The Joliet Sessions”, and his most recent collection titled “Celtic Instrumentals”. You can also follow Richard on his blog
Scott Elkins is currently living in Lancaster PA, and is a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist. Most of his experience has been in a church setting, leading large groups, playing and singing in bands, etc. Formally of the WV based duo, Blue Willow, Scott has developed a love for old songs and old sounds. He has dabbled in songwriting, winning the Blair County Songwriter of the Year 2010. Scott is known for his high, powerful solos and harmonies, and while he is currently performing solo, he is hoping to join a band in his new town. Scott came to Folk College as a student several years ago, and now joins us for the first time on the faculty.
As a pianist, Judy is at home in many styles of music including jazz, classical and contra. She plays English Country Dance music with the band Kestrel, and Irish music with Patrick Clifford. Some years ago her experience at Folk College prompted her to take up the piano accordion. Much easier to haul around than a Steinway, that instrument has opened the door to many rich musical possibilities and ensembles. As a bandleader, Judy often can be found conducting large groups of musicians who have never rehearsed together, including at the Mt. Airy Contra Dance and the Northeast Squeeze-In, in addition to the Folk College Contra Dance Band. Her teaching is focused on helping musicians find simple, and perhaps unexpected, ways to improve and enjoy their playing. She explores ideas about achieving mastery, both as a musician and a martial artist, in her blog, Kotsu Kotsu.
Betsy Gamble is a fiddler, and a piper with the Nittany Highland Pipe Band. She began fiddling for contras and squares at Earlham College, played miscellaneous 19th century instruments with musicians at the Genesee Country Village near Rochester, NY, the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, Old Songs Festival and Pinewoods Camp. She has been singing shape-note music from the Sacred Harp since she met people doing research on it in Ann Arbor in the 1970s and currently sings regularly at the State College Sacred Harp monthly singings. She has also been playing traditional Irish and Scots fiddle music since joining a ceilidh band in the Washington DC area in the 1970s and has recently joined the State College area band Callanish.
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.
Based in Syracuse, NY, 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!
See Heritage Musicians for more information on her story and on past award recipients.