Traditional Song Week Staff - July 3-9, 2016



Tim O'Brien | www.timobrien.net

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally with famed Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize, which went on to win numerous IBMA awards. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song “Walk The Way The Wind Blows,” and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Tim has released 14 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old-time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earl, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin, and produced records for Yonder Mountain Stringband, David Bromberg, Laurie Lewis and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke. Notable releases include the bluegrass Dylan covers of Red On Blonde, the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of The Crossing, and the Grammy-winning folk of Fiddler’s Green. His newest CD, 2015’s Pompadour, includes a banjo-driven version of James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing.” O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius last year. Tim was an instructor here in our second year, and we are very pleased to welcome him back.

Ranger Doug | www.ridersinthesky.com

Guitarist Ranger Doug, “Governor of the Great State of Rhythm” and “Idol of American Youth” is best known as the lead singer with Riders in the Sky, the multiple Grammy-winning cowboy quartet and members of the Grand Ole Opry, the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame, the Country Music Foundation’s Walkway of Stars, and the Walk of Western Stars. While remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have themselves become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit, and all along encouraging buckaroos and buckarettes to live life “The Cowboy Way!” A yodeler of breathtaking technique, Ranger Doug is also an award-winning Western music songwriter in his own right – and a distinguished music historian whose 2002 Vanderbilt University Press book, Singing in the Saddle, was the first comprehensive look at the singing cowboy phenomenon that swept the country in the 1930s. In 2006, Ranger Doug’s Classic Cowboy Corral debuted on XM Satellite Radio, still heard weekly on SiriusXM Channel 56. During thirty-six years with the Riders, he has chalked up over 6600 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall, and from the White House and county fairs to the Hollywood Bowl.

Robin & Linda Williams | www.robinandlinda.com

Robin and Linda Williams are like your next-door neighbors – assuming your neighbors are the salt-of-the-earth and top-flight performers to boot. You feel right at home with Robin and Linda, and their music stays with you like an old friend. For over forty years they have crisscrossed the continent (and beyond), performing the tunes they love – a distinctive blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country music. But their chops don’t stop at singing. They are also first-class instrumentalists and superb songwriters, their songs having been recorded by some of the greats in country and Americana music including names like Emmylou Harris, Tom T. Hall, George Hamilton IV, Tim & Mollie O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea and The Seldom Scene. A snapshot of career highlights include 23 recordings, appearances on The Grand Old Opry, Austin City Limits, Music City Tonight, Mountain Stage and a 40 year association with the iconic radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, including a 20 year stint and two CDs with The Hopeful Gospel Quartet, and a Robert Altman-directed movie.

Len Graham | www.storyandsong.com

County Antrim’s Len Graham has been a full-time professional traditional singer since 1982. After he won the All-Ireland Traditional Singing competion in 1971, his passion for the songs of his native Ulster began to grow with his reputation. Len sought out and recorded older singers, and published a book, Here I Am Amongst You, on the songs, dance music and traditions of Joe Holmes. He was a founding member of the group Skylark, with whom he toured extensively for ten years and recorded four albums. In 1993, he released his book and field recording collection, It’s Of My Rambles. Over the years, Len has collaborated and worked with numerous musicians, poets and storytellers. His association with the late John Campbell brought storytelling and song to a world audience, and their work together over twenty years made a significant contribution toward creating a deeper cross-community understanding of shared cultural traditions during many years of conflict in the north of Ireland. Len has recorded numerous albums, performed at many Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, and appeared on many radio and television programs. In 1992, he received the Seán O’Boyle Cultural Traditions Award in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer. In 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for “Traditional Singer Of the Year.” In 2008, he was awarded “Keeper of the Tradition” from the Tommy Makem Festival of Traditional Song and the US Irish Music Award in the “Sean-Nós Singing” category, and in 2011 he was awarded the Gradam na mBard CCÉ (CCÉ Bardic Award) at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

Julee Glaub Weems | www.juleeglaub.com

Julee Glaub, the Coordinator of Traditional Song Week, is a North Carolina native who studied literature and music at Wake Forest University before following her longstanding interest in Irish culture to work with the poor in Dublin. For nearly seven years, she continued her work in Dublin while sitting at the feet of master players and singers, absorbing all she could. She credits the combination of material from older singers and from the Traditional Music Archive, and her experiences in working with poor and working people in Dublin as the major inspirations for her ballad singing. Upon returning home, she became involved in the Irish music scene here in the states and has become recognized as a leading interpreter of Irish songs in America. She lived in the northeast for seven years in order to be closer to the heartbeat of Irish music in America in the major Irish-American enclaves in Boston and New York, and performed with the band Séad (Brian Conway, Brendan Dolan, and Jerry O’Sullivan) with whom she still performs from time to time, as well as with Pete Sutherland, Dáithí Sproule, and Tony Ellis. Her latest solo release, Blue Waltz, explores her interest in the connections between Irish and Appalachian song and has been featured on NPR’s Thistle and Shamrock. Now based in Durham, NC, she and her husband, Mark Weems, tour as a duo called Little Windows, which blends Irish, Appalachian, and old-time gospel with a focus on tight harmonies in unaccompanied singing. Julee has been on staff at the Irish Arts Week in N.Y., Alaska Fiddle Camp, Schloss Mittersill Arts Conference in Austria, the Swannanoa Gathering’s Celtic Week, Camp Little Windows and various camps and festivals throughout the US. Julee’s approach to music goes beyond its entertainment aspect to focus on the spiritual and emotional wealth that traditional music has to offer to the world. For her, Traditional Song Week is a long-awaited dream come true.

Cathy Jordan | www.dervish.ie

Cathy’s had a busy touring schedule for the past 25 years with traditional Irish powerhouse Dervish, Americana group The Unwanted, as well as numerous solo performances around the world. She was born in Scramogue, Co. Roscommon, the youngest of seven children and her love for traditional singing and music in general was instilled at a young age. She began singing publicly at all kind of Feiseanna and concerts as a child, performed at a wide range of functions from christenings to weddings as she grew up and played in numerous bands throughout the midlands, eventually being selected as The Longford Leader’s “Entertainer of the Year” in 1985. A self-taught bodhran, bouzouki, bones and guitar player as well as a singer/songwriter with a very distinctive voice, in 1991, Cathy joined Sligo based traditional group Dervish, sparking off a musical journey which has spanned more than two decades. During that time Cathy has been the front woman and bodhran player with the group and has led them through thousands of concerts in hundreds of cities in nearly 40 countries. In 2000, Cathy had the honor of singing with the National Concert Orchestra as part of a show called Waves composed by Charlie Lennon and conducted by Prionnsias O Duinn.

Mark Weems | www.littlewindows.net

Mark Weems is a multi-instrumental music teacher and professional performer of traditional music. He hails from Alabama, but currently lives in Durham, N.C. A well-known figure on the North Carolina traditional country and old-time scene, he has been singing and studying the nuances of all types of country music for twenty-five years as a veteran of the The Stillhouse Bottom Band, and his own honky-tonk band, the Cave Dwellers. Sing Out! magazine recently called him “an exceptionally talented interpreter of old-time vocal and instrumental tunes” and “a gifted composer of timeless music.” Since 2005, he has toured with his wife, Julee Glaub, as the duo Little Windows, which performs a mix of Irish, Old-Time, Country, and Gospel. In 2009, he created the North Carolina School of Traditional Music, which facilitates the local dissemination of the Celtic, Piedmont, and Appalachian musical traditions of the state. In 2013, he co-founded the Old Jonny Booker Band which re-creates Early American music popular between 1820 and 1865 on period instruments and in period dress. His music has been heard at Merlefest and highlighted on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock, and The State of Things. He has performed with former Bluegrass Boy Tony Ellis, Daithi Sproule (Altan), Pete Sutherland (Metamora), Alice Gerrard (Hazel and Alice), and Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky)

Matt Watroba | www.mattwatroba.com

There are few that can boast a first-name-basis relationship with almost all of the major folk musicians on the North American continent, as well as a comprehensive grasp of the folk music genre both past and present. One who can is teacher, writer and performer, Matt Watroba. His love of folk, roots and traditional music led him to his position as the host of the Folks Like Us program on Detroit Public Radio, a position he held for over 22 years. In 2007, he partnered with Sing Out! magazine to create the Sing Out! Radio Magazine, an hour-long syndicated radio show heard across the country and on XM Satellite Radio. He was awarded “Best Overall Folk Performer” by the Detroit Music Awards for the year 2000, and his long list of credits include the prestigious Ann Arbor Folk Festival, The Old Songs Festival, the New Jersey Folk Weekend, Louisville’s Kentucky Music Weekend, The Fox Valley Festival and hundreds of school and community presentations throughout the Great Lakes Region. He has interviewed and performed with hundreds of performers including Pete Seeger, Odetta, Charlie Louvin, and Jean Ritchie. In addition, Matt’s musical partnership with the Rev. Robert Jones has created one of the most sought-after and unique educational experiences available today.

Kathy Bullock | www.drkwb.com

Dr. Kathy Bullock is a professor of music at Berea College, Berea, Kentucky where she has worked for the past twenty-three years. She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Music Theory from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and a B.A. in Music from Brandeis University, MA. She teaches Music Theory, African-American Music, Ethnomusicology, General Studies courses, directs the Black Music Ensemble, (an eighty-voice choir that specializes in performance of African-American sacred music) and has designed and completed new study abroad programs for Berea College students traveling to Zimbabwe, Ghana and Jamaica. She gives numerous presentations, performances, lectures and workshops on such subjects as “Singing in the Spirit,” “From Negro Spirituals to Jamaican Revival Songs,” “African-American Sacred Music” and “African-American and Appalachian Musical Connections.” She also conducts workshops and other music programs in gospel music and gospel piano at schools, camps, churches and civic organizations in the United States, Europe and Africa. www.drkwb.com

Josh Goforth

Josh learned to play fiddle from legendary fiddlers Gordon and Arvil Freeman in his native Madison County, NC. A highly accomplished oldtime, bluegrass, and swing musician, he attended East Tennessee State University to study music education, and to be a part of ETSU’s famous Bluegrass & Country Music Program. His fiddling was featured in the movie Songcatcher, both onscreen and on the soundtrack, and he has toured extensively with a variety of ensembles, including the ETSU bluegrass band, with David Holt and Laura Boosinger, and with several bluegrass bands including Appalachian Trail, the Josh Goforth Trio, and Josh Goforth and the New Direction. He has shared stages with Ricky Skaggs, Bryan Sutton, The Yonder Mountain String Band, Open Road, and The Steep Canyon Rangers, performed throughout the US, Europe, and in Japan. In 2000, 2003, and 2005, he was named Fiddler of the Festival at Fiddler’s Grove and, after winning his third title, was designated “Master Fiddler” and retired from that competition. He was nominated for a Grammy for his 2009 release with David Holt, entitled Cutting Loose.

Dáithí Sproule | www.daithisproule.com

Dáithí Sproule is a native of Derry in the north of Ireland, a renowned traditional singer in both Irish and English, and one of the world’s premier guitarists in the Irish tradition. He’s widely credited with pioneering the use of DADGAD tuning in the accompaniment of Irish music, a style now used around the world. He’s worked with many of the greats in Irish music, and is a member of the famed Donegal group, Altan, as well as the U.S.-based trios Fingal and Trian. He also also performs with Liz Carroll, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, James Kelly, and several Minnesota-based musicians including Laura MacKenzie, Paddy O’Brien, Peter Ostroushko, Jode and Kate Dowling, and Dean Magraw. The Rough Guide to Irish Music called him “a seminal figure in Irish music.” Dáithí has also taught Old Irish, Celtic mythology and Irish music at several universities and is the author of a volume of short stories in Irish and several academic articles on early Irish poetry and legend.


Sheila Kay Adams | www.sheilakayadams.com
Ballad singer, banjo player, writer and storyteller, Sheila comes from a small mountain community in Madison County, North Carolina. For seven generations, her family has maintained the tradition of passing down the English, Scottish and Irish ballads that came over with her ancestors in the late 1700s. She learned the ballads from her relatives, primarily from her great-aunt Dellie Chandler Norton. A perennial favorite at Asheville’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, Sheila has performed and taught at many major festivals and workshops throughout the country, the UK, and in 2011, performed at the Celtic Colors International Festival in Nova Scotia. In 2013, she was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship – the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. She has been a featured performer in the Southern Arts Federation’s Sisters of the South tour, the National Folk Festival, the North Carolina Folklife Festival, the Kent State Folk Festival, the San Diego Folk Heritage Festival, and the Folkmasters series on National Public Radio. She served as the ballad-singing coach for the feature film, Songcatcher, and her novel, My Old True Love, published in 2004 by Algonquin Books was a finalist for the Southeastern Booksellers Association’s Book of the Year Award.

David Roth | www. revrobertjones.com

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-eight 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 albums, 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 and Rise Again songbooks, and thirteen CDs on the Wind River and Stockfisch (Germany) labels. Winner of four Positive Music 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 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, The Swannanoa Gathering, Moab Folk Camp, Rowe Center, Pendle Hill, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, SummerSongs, Lamb’s Retreat, the National Wellness Institute, and for many other songwriting groups and associations around the country. David is also Director of the Cape Cod Songwriters Retreat, leads musical tours to Ireland, and is creator/host of the Cape’s “Full Moon Open Mic” which for the past 10 years has provided a forum for musicians to connect and be heard while at the same time collecting donations ($13,000 to date) for local non-profits to help neighbors in need. www.davidrothmusic.com

Tim May | www.jonpickow.com

Flatpicking guitarist Tim May has been working in the Nashville area for over 20 years as a sideman, session player, band member and performer. He has toured with Patty Loveless and John Cowan, and regularly performs with Mike Snider on the Grand Ole Opry. Tim was the solo guitarist on Charlie Daniels’ recording of “I’ll Fly Away,” which was nominated for the Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammy in 2005, the same year he was session leader on the critically acclaimed recording that featured bluegrass treatments of the music of the Moody Blues, entitled Moody Bluegrass. He later played on the followup recording Moody Bluegrass II, as well. The Nashville Scene selected Tim as Best Instrumentalist in their 2012 Reader’s Choice Poll. He is co-author of the eight-volume book/CD course, Flatpicking Essentials, The Flatpicker’s Guide to Old-Time Music and The Flatpicker’s Guide to Irish Music. www.timmaymusic.net

Alan Reid

Born in Glasgow, Alan Reid has been taking Scottish folk music all over the world since 1975. Invited to join the fledgling Battlefield Band in 1969 by Brian McNeill, he recorded almost 30 albums with this hard-working and enduring band, garnering a respected reputation for his original keyboard work and his singing. With encouragement from band mates, he began writing in the 1980s, and from 1990 was the band’s principal songwriter, writing songs often noted for their storytelling element while being grounded in Scots history. His first songbook, Martyrs, Rogues and Worthies, was published in 2001, and in 2009 he was nominated as Composer of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards. Alan also contributed to Linn Records’ mammoth CD series recording the complete songs of Robert Burns. In 2010 Alan left the ‘Batties,’ to concentrate on his duo with guitarist/singer Rob van Sante. He wrote all the music for the duo’s most recent album, The Adventures of John Paul Jones, a dramatic presentation of which was performed at the 2012 Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival (near Jones’ birth place) and at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival. The duo also developed a show that tells Jones’ story through narration, songs and a slide show. 2014 saw his music featured in the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of the musical The Glasgow Girls while his singing and speaking talents were utilised in The Life and Times of Scrooge, the solo album of Finnish rock star Tuomas Holopainen of the metal band Nightwish. The latest Reid/van Sante CD Rough Diamonds was also released in late 2014.

Melissa Hyman

Children’s Program coordinator Melissa Hyman has been involved with kids and music throughout her working life. She traveled for years with bands on the folk circuit, working full-time as a touring and recording artist, cellist, singer and songwriter. When not on the road she gives private cello lessons, and teaches music on the pediatric unit at Mission Hospital in Asheville as the Music Fellow for Arts for Life (www.aflnc.org), a non-profit that provides art and music activities to patients at North Carolina’s children’s hospitals. Melissa has taught music at Evergreen Community Charter School and Rainbow Community School in Asheville, and coordinated children’s programming at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) conference in Montreat, NC. In 2010 she was the music teacher for our Children’s Program, and it was ‘love at first Gathering.’ In 2014, Melissa took on the role of Children’s Program Coordinator, and now she looks forward to many more unforgettable summers in Swannanoa. She feels right at home in this world of messy games, silly songs, amazing crafts and fast friendships.