BRATTLEBORO -- The Northern Roots Traditional Music Festival will take place on Saturday, Jan. 26, at several sites in Brattleboro.
Now in its 6th year, the Brattleboro Music Center’s annual festival brings together local and regional musicians representing the best of various northern musical traditions. This year’s festival features more than 20 musicians and the rich traditions of Ireland, Scotland, England, New England and French Canada.
The annual Northern Roots Festival is a celebrated opportunity for Brattleboro’s vibrant community of traditional musicians to come together to share their music with each other and the community at large. The festival also draws on the richness of talent in the broader region, with players from throughout New England coming to perform, teach and participate in informal sessions.
"Among other traditional styles, this year’s festival will have a strong and exciting Scottish component in the fiddling of Katie McNally, Edinburgh-born Jerry Bell in the family concert, and our own local Scottish piper Dan Houghton," says Festival Director Keith Murphy.
The Northern Roots Festival is a day-long event featuring participatory workshops, performances, pub sessions, a dance band, and a family dance, all of which culminate in an evening performance.
Among the musicians featured in this year’s evening performance and daytime workshops are the Boston-based duo of Scottish fiddler Katie McNally and guitarist Eric McDonald; Connecticut-based traditional singer Ellen Cohn; Massachusetts based New England fiddler David Kaynor; and local Vermont musicians fiddler Laurie Indenbam, accordionist Andy Davis and pianist Arthur Davis.
Also returning for this year’s evening performance is the ever-changing, crowd-pleasing Traddleboro ensemble. With a name reflecting the rich presence of traditional players in Brattleboro, Traddleboro is a shifting conglomeration of local musicians who each year create and perform a set of music specifically for the Northern Roots Festival. This year’s Traddleboro ensemble includes Scottish piper Dan Houghton, singer Charity Houghton, New England fiddler Lissa Schneckenburger and French Canadian guitar, mandolin, piano and foot percussionist Keith Murphy.
Among the other musicians participating in the festival’s daytime activities are the Scottish and Irish, husband-and-wife, storytelling team of Jerry and Nancy Bell; Irish flute and whistle player Dan Restivo; traditional English folk singer Tony Barrand; pianist, accordionist Mary Cay Brass; and Irish & French Canadian fiddler Becky Tracy.
The daytime schedule includes several participation workshops including Scottish Fiddle, Irish Flute & Whistle, and Guitar DADGAD workshops; and for all instruments New England Dance, Scottish, and French Canadian tune workshops; as well as a Dance Band Prep workshop.
David Baker, of Baker Violins, will also be on hand to advise on fiddle care, fitting and maintenance.
Daytime performances include Local Repertoire Favorites, Double Fiddle, Spinning Stories & Wool, and Songs of Trades & Professions.
The Bell family will present a Family Concert that promises to engage the youngest followers of traditional music and their counterparts of all ages. The Family Concert will be followed by a Family Dance, led by Andy Davis and Mary Cay Brass, featuring an exciting dance band that will evolve in a workshop earlier in the afternoon.
This year’s festival showcases youth talent throughout the day and with the BMC’s Celtic youth group in the evening concert. Performing in the daytime Youth Showcase this year are Scottish fiddler Katie Bell, New England fiddler Emma Snope, piper Andrew Dickinson, fiddler Aiden Murphy, whistle player Alden Witman, guitarist Everest Witman and fiddlers Madeleine Stewart and Fiona Shea.
Welcoming all musicians, and rounding out the daytime activities are a slow jam, Irish/Scottish and French Canadian sessions and a pub sing.
The majority of the festival events happen at the New England Youth Theatre. McNeill’s Brewery provides the perfect setting for a rollicking afternoon of jam sessions.
Tickets for the Northern Roots Festival (combination day and evening $35, daytime only $20, evening only $20; youth combination day and evening $15, youth day only $10, youth evening only $10) are available from the Brattleboro Music Center at www.bmcvt.org or 802-257-4523. Advance ticket purchase is recommended; seating for the evening performance is limited.
Admission at 3 p.m. for the Family Concert and Family Dance only, is $5 per person at the door.
On Saturday, during the festival, tickets can be purchased at New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St., with doors opening at 11:30 a.m.