Peter and Mary Alice Amidon's choral arrangements and compositions are rooted in their life-long immersion in the harmonies of Sacred Harp singing, African American spirituals and gospel, pub singing, and other spontaneous group harmony singing, and American and English folks songs. The Amidons lead choral harmony singing workshops at major traditional music festivals, and weekend/week-long choral singing workshops in the United States and the UK.
Peter has been one of the major U.S. leaders of American shape note singing. Mary Alice is a member of, and Peter is Music co-Director of the Guilford (VT) Community Church, UCC Choir and the Hallowell Hospice Choir. The Amidons’ choral arrangements are being sung by hundreds of choirs throughout the United States and the UK.
Mary Cay Brass began her involvement with traditional music at the age of nine when her Croatian neighbors invited her to join a children’s folk dance troupe. Later, while at the University of Minnesota she encountered numerous folk dance groups at the height of the folk revival in the 70’s. After graduating with a degree in ethnomusicology, she won a Fullbright Scholarship to the former Yugoslavia, where she worked with ethnomusicologists in Croatia and Serbia, attended festivals and dance seminars throughout the former Yugoslavia and conducted fieldwork in the singing traditions of the region.
Back in the US, she was introduced to the contra dance musical traditions of New England and began passionately learning everything she could about the piano back up traditions to fiddle tunes as well as learning the tunes on accordion. This led to a move to southern Vermont in 1984 where she became part of a thriving traditional music scene playing regularly for contradances in Greenfield; playing and teaching throughout the country at dances, festivals and camps; and leading international performance tours with Village Harmony.
David Cantieni has been making people dance to his music for more than two decades with his captivating performances on the Irish style wooden flute, Breton bombard, oboe, sax, and pennywhistle. David switched to playing dance music from Bach and Stravinsky (music which he still adores) after developing a passion for traditional New England contra dancing. The love of music and dance infuses all of David’s many activities, which range from performing with the well known bands Swallowtail and Wild Asparagus, to leading a parade of costumed campers at family dance camps. He has been leading workshops and teaching for years; his appearances include Irish Week at Swannanoa Gathering; Northern Week at Ashokan; Heritage Arts Workshops in Elkins, West Virginia; and numerous other music and dance camps around the country.
Andy Davis calls traditional New-England-style contra and square dances. Andy’s specialty is calling for community events welcoming to dancers of all ages and abilities. For over thirty years, Andy taught music and dance in Vermont public schools and summer camps.
He plays accordion and piano for traditional dances. Andy’s repertoire includes jigs, reels, polkas, marches and waltzes that would be part of a lively and joyful evening of community dance. He has composed a variety of dance tunes and songs.
Andy is a founding member of “New England Dancing Masters,” publishers of dance books and recordings for the teaching of New England traditional dance. For 30 years he was part of the group “Nowell Sing We Clear,” a Vermont based group that performed and recorded mid-winter carols and customs.
For many years Andy and his wife Robin were program directors for Country Dance and Song Society “Family Weeks” in West Virginia, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
One of Louisa Engle’s fondest childhood memories is dancing through a long tunnel of clasped hands during a contra dance at her elementary school. She grew up to be a fiddler and fiddle teacher who is passionate about bringing together musicians and dancers of different ages and abilities. She has taught at the Brattleboro Music Center, Maine Fiddle Camp, and Nelson Elementary School, has had numerous private students, and has called and played at family contra dances throughout New England. She has helped run the legendary all-night Brattleboro Dawn Dance for a decade. Her current interests include Maypole dances, claw hammer banjo, family dance calling, and alternate fiddle tunings.
Julia Friend is a singer of pub songs, sea shanties, and ballads. She loves the power and vulnerability of the human voice. An occasional performer at folk festivals, Julia is happiest swapping songs and blending harmonies in dark corners in the wee hours of the night. She co-authored the Country Dance and Song Society's folk singing starter kit, helped launch Youth Traditional Song Weekend, and cheers for singing in all genres. She lives in Brattleboro, VT.
Yann Falquet is a very creative acoustic guitar player located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Also an active player in the Québécois music scene, Yann has explored many styles of music and completed a Bachelor's degree in Jazz. Since then, he has developed a personal guitar style for Québec folk music, inspired by the playing of the accompanists of different cultures (Brittany, Scandinavia, Ireland, North America).
His involvement in the province's traditional music scene has brought Yann to perform on numerous recordings, and to tour regularly throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia with his trio Genticorum.
Lissa Schneckenburger was raised in a small town in Maine and moved to Brattleboro as a young adult. Inspired by her parents' interest in folk music, she began playing fiddle at the age of six. She grew up in the New England contradance scene, developing an extensive repertoire of traditional and original tunes while playing for countless dances, teaching at numerous camps and festivals, and touring with bands such as Halali and Low Lily. Over the last several decades she has made music that showcased everything from traditional New England dance tunes to original songs inspired by her experience as a foster and adoptive parent.
Educator and founding member of The Gaslight Tinkers, Peter Siegel's music is deeply rooted in American traditions yet spans the globe. Over the years he's shared the stage and been mentored by folks like Pete Seeger, Jay Unger and Molly Mason, Utah Phillips, and Noel Paul Stookey. He was a bandmate of bluegrass powerhouse Michael Daves and poet Alicia Jo Rabins in the 90's "New Old Time" band Underbelly, which the Berkshire Eagle called "a supergroup of New England talent". Peter also contributed and recorded on the Grammy award winning Pete Seeger album, "Tomorrow's Children," and has published songs in Sing Out! magazine and the fiddle tune compilation, The Portland Collection.
As as educator, Peter has been teaching in the public schools and writing songs and theatrical productions with children for the last 20 years, as well as being a contributing writer to The George Lucas Foundation site Edutopia on social curriculum and music educational practices. His Symonds School CD Peace Place won a Parents Choice Award in 2012.
Cedar Stanistreet grew up playing both classical violin and traditional fiddle music, and studied violin performance at the Crane School of Music. For the past ten years he has played for contra dances across North America with bands including Nor’easter, Cardinal Direction, Maivish, and Cloud Ten. His spirited, rhythmic playing and clear tone keep dancers on their feet. In between gigs, Cedar can be found at home in Brattleboro, Vermont, growing vegetables, baking bread, and birdwatching. He also repairs violins, violas, and cellos. (Photo credit: David Frantz)
Amanda Witman is a singer, song leader, instrumentalist, and event organizer. Her love of harmony is evident in her singing and playing. She is an advocate for inclusive, community-based music where players and singers at all levels are encouraged and supported. She founded and co-leads the monthly Brattleboro Pub Sing and helps organize the annual Northern Roots Festival. She sings with Vermont-based quartet Big Woods Voices, performing detailed, original art arrangements of poetry and other songs.
Steve Zakon-Anderson has been a caller and organizer for contra dancing for almost 40 years, and in real life has also been a chef at various locations, such as the Dublin (NH) School, Fiddleheads Cafe in Hancock, NH (owned and operated with his wife Bettie) and currently at MacDowell in Peterborough, NH. Steve has fond memories of cooking at the Northern Roots weekend in the past, and River Jam Romp last year, both at GMC, which had a certain charm, but Steve is excited to be at this new location where he and Bettie will offer up meals to inspire much music-making and singing.