2023 Northern Roots Performers
The following wonderful musicians will be sharing their music with us in this year’s Festival events.
Alex Cumming is a traditional Singer, Accordionist, Pianist and dance caller hailing from Somerset, England, now living in Brattleboro VT, USA. He performs songs and tunes from around the United Kingdom and America with a great depth of knowledge of the tradition. Alex has made his mark on the folk scene with his rhythmic dance-able accordion style, strong voice and his fun and engaging stage presence. You can find Alex performing with bands Bellwether and The Teacups around the US and UK, and may even catch him up in the Upper Valley of NH/VT as Music Director for Revels North.
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 generally cheers for singing in all genres. She lives in Brattleboro, where she hums incessantly.
Trained in classical violin for the first decade and a half of her life, Mary Lauren Fraser studied violin as an instrument intensively. Since moving from the classical music world into traditional music, she has traveled to many places with rich fiddle traditions, immersing in the tunes and styles of Ireland, Scotland, Appalachia, Quebec and New England. With the Suzuki Violin Teacher certificate, and many years of experience teaching at Maine Fiddle Camp, Pinewoods Camps, and festivals, Mary is a skilled teacher for all ages and abilities. Mostly performing solo, she has collaborated with other musicians and artists in New England in a wide range of creative and performance projects. Some recent projects include researching and learning old traditional ballads of New England, from the Helen Hartness Flanders collection, and starting a new music, song and dance camp in southern Vermont called The Riverjam Romp. Mary plays for dances, weddings, house concerts, funerals, parties, re-enactment events and more.
Max Newman has developed a reputation as a favorite amongst dance musicians and dancers across North America. His versatile accompaniment is sought after for its musicality, its danceability, and grounding in traditional styles. With a keen interest in New England music and dance, Max has graced many a dance hall playing with luminaries of the style, most prominently in his group the Stringrays with Rodney Miller and Stuart Kenney. As a community member, Max has been involved with a number of next generational and multi-generational events and is currently co-directing CDSS's American Week at Pinewoods. His playing has been featured in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Max is appreciated for his warm, generous teaching style.
Nathan Gourley and Laura Feddersen are an Irish fiddle duo hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. Their playing is steeped in lifelong study of the Irish musical tradition, and is at same time colored by their American roots. The pair have developed a unique style of twin fiddling, sometimes playing in taut unison, sometimes exploring chordal harmonies and rhythmic and melodic variations. This year they released Brightly or Darkly, a follow-up to their 2014 recording with Brian Miller, Life is All Checkered. They each perform and teach regularly both at home in Boston and at festivals throughout the US and Ireland.
Sally Newton grew up singing and dancing with her family in Jamaica, Vermont. In high school she began to play guitar with the family band, the Turkey Mountain Window Smashers, for square and contra dances. She learned to call from her father and, over the years, developed her driving guitar style, backing up fiddlers from New England, Southern Old TIme and Quebecois traditions.
Since 1975, Fred Breunig has played, called, danced, and sang in Windham County’s traditional English and American music and dance scene. He moved to the area to collaborate with Tony Barrand, John Roberts and others on Nowell Sing We Clear, Marlboro Morris & Sword, Green Mountain Mummers, and a number of other projects — many still active today.
Andy Davis calls traditional New England style contra and square dances and plays accordion and piano for traditional dance. Andy’s specialty is calling community events inclusive of dancers of all ages and abilities. For over thirty years Andy has taught music and dance in Vermont public schools, summer camps – and at weddings, parties
and community gatherings. Andy also 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.”
Keith Murphy. Founder and artistic director of Northern Roots, Keith has been leading traditional music programs at the BMC with his wife Becky Tracy since the early 2000s. He is a multi-instrumentalist and traditional singer shaped by his upbringing in Newfoundland. Keith sang with Tony Barrand for many years, focusing on the repertoires of two singing families – the Atwoods from Dover, VT and the Grover Family from Nova Scotia and later, Maine.
Amanda Witman is an enthusiastic singer, song leader, and community music organizer with a constitutional love of harmony. She sings with a cappella quartet Big Woods Voices and helped create the new RiverJam Romp music and dance camp. Amanda co-founded the Brattleboro Pub Sing with Tony Barrand in 2011.