Contemporary Folk Staff - July 28-August 3, 2013
Janis Ian | www.janisian.com
Nine-time Grammy nominee (and Grammy winner!), Janis Ian wrote her first song at the age of 12, was published at 13, made a record at 14, had a hit at 15, and was a has-been at 16. It’s been all uphill since. She’s the writer of “Jesse,” a song recorded by so many others that few remember Ian wrote it; “Stars”, possibly the best song ever written about the life of a performer, recorded by artists as diverse as Mel Torme and Cher; “Society’s Child,” a song about inter- racial dating that provoked the burning of a radio station and the firing of DJs who played it, and the seminal “At Seventeen”, the 1975 song that brought her five Grammy nominations (the most any solo female artist had ever garnered), and which is now reaching its third generation of listeners. She’s also written short stories, songs for film and television, and her acclaimed autobiography, Society’s Child, published in 2008. A favorite guitarist of the late Chet Atkins, she was also the first female player to have a signature acoustic guitar by a major company (Santa Cruz.) We are delighted to welcome Janis back for her second Swannanoa Gathering.
Livingston Taylor picked up his first guitar at the age of thirteen, beginning a forty-year career that has encompassed performance, songwriting and teaching. Born in Boston and raised in North Carolina, Livingston is the fourth child in a very musical family that includes Alex, James, Kate and Hugh. Livingston recorded his first record at 18 and has continued to create well-crafted, introspective and original songs that have earned him listeners worldwide. From Top-40 hits “I Will Be in Love with You” and “I’ll Come Running,” to “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman” both recorded by his brother James, Livingston’s creative output has continued unabated. He is equally at home with a range of musical genres and has toured with major artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffett and Jethro Tull. A natural performer, his shows are peppered with personal stories, anecdotes and ineffable warmth and a depth of musical knowledge that allows him to slip easily from folk to classic Gershwin or something from the best of Broadway. As a full professor at Berklee College of Music since 1989, Livingston’s Stage Performance classes are some of the most popular at the College, and provided him with the material for his book, Stage Performance.
From the first strum of his 1948 Gibson, through story songs of ex slaves, St. Francis, ruby red dresses, Tinian Island, Dylan Thomas, Taoist parables and drunken roosters you’ll be drawn in, inspired and deeply moved by the music of Joe Crookston. Singer, guitarist, fiddler and a pretty darn good percolating clawhammer banjo player to boot, Joe was chosen as a Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Top 3 “Most Wanted” Emerging Artist. He was a finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, and received a year-long songwriting grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to travel throughout New York State, interview local residents, and write songs based on his experiences. Many of these songs were released on his CD, Able Baker Charlie & Dog, which was awarded “Album of the Year” at the annual conference of Folk Alliance International in Memphis, TN. He has shared festival stages with the likes of Livingston Taylor, The Subdudes, John McCutcheon, Arlo Guthrie, Tim Reynolds, John Gorka, and many others. He now lives in Ithaca, NY, and tours regularly in the US, Ireland and Canada.
If you look up the definition of “wholehearted,” you just might find a photo of Ellis. An award-winning songwriter and performer, she has a way of leaving audiences better than she finds them, with softened edges & opened hearts. Audiences at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Sisters Folk Festival, and Moab Folk Festival have all voted her the “Most Wanted to Return” when she first performed on their stages. A Texan at heart, Ellis grew up outside of Houston until her family relocated to Minnesota at age 16. She quickly joined a rock band, and then started her own record label while in college. Since then, she has recorded and self-released 8 recordings. In 2009, Break The Spell was voted the “Best Female Singer-Songwriter Album” in the international Just Plain Folks awards, and the song “Red Light” was featured in the major motion picture movie The Roommate. Ellis’ latest studio release, Right On Time has won her several songwriting honors. She has been a resident instructor at the Rocky Mountain Song School for the past six years, and twice has been a guest instructor at the Sisters Americana Songwriting Academy.
Red House recording artist Cliff Eberhardt knew by age seven that he was going to be a singer and songwriter. As a child, Cliff taught himself to play guitar, piano, bass and drums. In his teens, Eberhardt was fortunate enough to live close to the Main Point (one of the best folk clubs on the East Coast), where he received an early and impressive tutorial in acoustic music from such artists as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Raitt, and Mississippi John Hurt. A driving force of the Greenwich Village New Folk movement and well-known among his peers, Cliff’s songs have been covered by the likes of Richie Havens, Buffy St. Marie, Erasure, Lucy Kaplansky and the folk superstar band “Cry, Cry, Cry” (Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky). A consummate performer, Cliff engages the audience with funny but true stories tinged with irony, accompanied by an unparalleled guitar style. Cliff has been an acclaimed instructor at many song writing camps, colleges, schools, and workshops, and is currently fulfilling one of his dreams – writing music for the theater. Never one to start small, he was asked to write all of the songs for, and perform in, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, in Washington, DC. We’re pleased to welcome him back for his fifth Swannanoa Gathering.
While on tour in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands sharing his music (and a week before heading north of the Arctic Circle to a children’s home in Greenland) Guy Davis was tagged with the moniker “The Ambassador of the Blues”. It’s fitting, for Guy takes his love of this truly American art form to the four corners of the globe. Whether he’s performing on the main stage in front of 10,000 people at a folk, jazz, or blues festival, or on Late Night With Conan O’Brien or A Prairie Home Companion, or an assembly at a school in the Basque region of northern Spain or an integrated school in South Carolina, Guy gives his all. He’s a blues musician and entertainer in the tradition of Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton, but out of the respect for those who came before him Guy will say that “the only cotton I’ve picked is my underwear up off the floor.” His influences are as broad and varied as his travels, from Blind Willie McTell, Fats Waller, Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal, to Zora Neale Hurston, Garrison Keillor, Ossie (his father) and Laura (his grandmother) Davis. He’s a musician, composer, actor, director, and writer who blends all of his experiences to convey his love of music, receiving accolades and praise for his performance off-Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil, which won the Blues Foundation’s W.C. Handy “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award. He’s also received rave reviews for his most recent appearance on Broadway in Finian’s Rainbow, playing the part originally performed by the legendary Sonny Terry in the 1947 production. Guy has nine acclaimed releases on Red House Records and an AudioPlay collection of his one-man play, The Adventures of Fishy Waters.
Sally Barris is a top Nashville songwriter who has had songs covered by such artists as Kathy Mattea, Martina McBride, and Lee Ann Womack. Her song “Let The Wind Chase You”, recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban, received a Grammy nomination for vocal collaboration in 2009. Film credits include “Honey Suckle Sweet” from the Miramax film, An Unfinished Life, and “Liars Lie” featured in the Tim McGraw-Gwyneth Paltrow film, Country Strong. While her writing credits mightily impress, fans and peers are most captivated by her bright spirit and expressive mountain soprano. Dirty Linen says, “Barris knows how to write lyrics that are as forthright as a stream of clear water and how to support them with melodies that share that quality.” In the last two years, the Minnesota native has performed on Mountain Stage, at the New Bedford Summer Fest and The Kerrville Folk Festival. Sally is currently touring with her new CD, Wilder Girl, and she is also a member of the The Waymores, with Don Henry and Tom Kimmel.
Cosy Sheridan has been called “one of the era’s finest and most thoughtful singer/songwriters.” A winner of both the Kerrville Folk Festival NewFolk Showcase and the Telluride Troubadour Contest, she has played everywhere from Carnegie Hall and The Jerry Lewis Telethon to the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Her songs have appeared in best-selling author Robert Fulghum’s book, Third Wish and in the documentary, Lines Across The Sand. She is a storyteller as well as a songwriter and weaves children’s stories into tales of modern adulthood (The Little Engine That Could talks with Ferdinand The Bull about achievement verses contentment) and her modern renditions of mythology (we meet Hades The Biker) have won her fans and praise from the press. The Cornell Folksong Society wrote, “Sheridan is frank, feisty, sublimely and devilishly funny. She fuses myth with modern culture, Persephone with Botox.” Cosy is a masterful performer who studied guitar with Guy Van Duser and Eric Schoenberg, and voice at the Berklee College of Music. She’s released seven CDs, written a one-woman show entitled The Pomegranate Seed - An Exploration of Appetite, Body-Image and Myth in Modern Culture, and co-founded the Moab Folk Camp with musical partner TR Ritchie. She teaches songwriting and performance at music camps across the country, among them The Puget Sound Guitar Workshop in Washington, and Summer Fishtrap in Oregon as well as several previous years at the Gathering.
A profoundly versatile vocalist and teacher, Siobhán writes and performs songs in folk, blues and adult contemporary pop styles. She is known as a dynamic singer of Chicago & New Orleans style electric blues and has performed many other styles from jazz and big band to r&b and rock; early song to renaissance music, and medieval madrigals in five languages. Truly one of the most popular vocal instructors around, she tours internationally, and is accompanied at Swannanoa by her music partner and husband, songwriter Michael Bowers. Her careful attention to each individual is renowned, and students often return to her workshops, learning new tools each year. She has taught at such programs as WUMB Summer Acoustic Music Week, Kerrville Folk Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Song School, NERFA, Great American Masters Music Industry Workshop, and coached voice at the Summersongs & Wintersongs songwriting retreats. When at home in Alexandria, VA, Siobhán teaches individuals, and coaches vocal performance for recordings. She consistently updates her own credentials through such programs as the international British Voice Association Conference master classes in performance/otolaryngology, and CCM at Shenandoah Conservatory. Awarded a WAMMIE for Best Traditional Folk Vocalist, Siobhán has also been a top-five songwriting finalist in the prestigious Boston Folk Festival Songwriting and (with Michael Bowers) Kerrville New Folk Competitions and Emerging Artist at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
An accomplished guitarist and songwriter, Ray is fluent in a wide range of styles including western swing, folk, blues, country and bluegrass, and has been a long-time fixture at Contemporary Folk Week, as the sideman of choice for open mikes and concerts. A private music teacher since 1971, Ray has also been on staff at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV, the Guitar Intensive at Bar Harbor, ME, Club Passim in Cambridge, MA, and has led workshops for the South East Bluegrass Association in Atlanta, GA. He continues to teach privately at his home studio in Asheville, NC, where he also maintains a guitar repair business. Ray records for Echo Lake Records and is the author of Guitar Tools, a guitar theory manual, featuring his unique method of understanding the guitar.
Contemporary Folk Week Coordinator David Roth is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and enthusiastic instructor who has taken his songs, experience, and expertise to a wide variety of venues in this and other countries full-time over the last twenty five years. His work has found it’s way to Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Kennedy Center, Peter, Paul, & Mary and Kingston Trio concerts, the Kerrville and Falcon Ridge Folk Festivals (top honors at both “Emerging Artist” competitions), NASA’s Goddard Space Center (his song “Rocket Science” sailed on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2009), the Rise Up Singing songbook, and twelve CDs on the Wind River and Stockfisch (Germany) labels. Winner of three “Posi” Awards (celebrating the best in empowering original music), David has also been on many of Christine Lavin’s seminal Rounder Records compilations. The former artist-in-residence at New York’s Omega Institute has also been a songwriting judge at Kerrville, Napa Valley, Tumbleweed, Eventide Arts, and the South Florida Folk Festivals. He’s taught singing, songwriting, and performance at the Augusta Heritage workshops, Common Ground on the Hill, the Woods Dance & Music Camp, WUMB’s Summer Acoustic Music Week, Moab Folk Camp, Rowe Center, Pendle Hill, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Lamb’s Retreat, the National Wellness Institute, and for many other songwriting groups and associations around the country. David is also the creator/host of Cape Cod’s “Full Moon Open Mic” which, for the past 7 years has provided a forum for musicians to connect and be heard while at the same time collecting donations for local non-profits to help neighbors in need.
Sloan Wainwright is a singer and a songwriter of rare power and subtlety, serving up doses of the real and the mysterious in a soaring, soulful contralto that sends critics scrambling for metaphors equal to the thrill: “the aural equivalent of smoky, tantalizing aromas emanating from a soul kitchen;” “[her] thick as molasses voice gets under your skin in all the right ways;” a powerful, earth-mother voice that she pours into unexpectedly sensitive blends of folk, jazz, blues and funk.” Singing with the extended McGarrigle-Wainwright family, Sloan has rocked the house at Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and has released seven memorable records since her self-titled debut in 1994. She brings the same energy to her work as a solo artist, melding the best of pop, folk, jazz, and blues to create a unique, soulful hybrid. Sloan has been playing clubs, concerts and festivals coast to coast for two decades, triggering tears, hoots and hollers with deeply personal lyrics that connect life’s mysterious dots. A born storyteller and poet, Sloan started writing songs when she was 10. “Sitting at the piano and making up songs was my playground— a very safe place, magical and mystical. I surprised myself with what was in my head and how it all fit together.” For the last 16 years, she has been sharing that process with students, spreading the gospel of personal expression and lyrical reinvention. Sloan’s open hearted approach to singing , songwriting and letting loose has made her a treasured presence at a host of prestigious workshops, including The Swannanoa Gathering, Summersongs, Wintersongs, Moab Folk Camp and Richard Thompson’s Frets and Refrains. She’s thrilled to be returning to the Gathering again this summer, to share her love of song and story.