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Branford Folk Music Society

The Branford Folk Music Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Service Code section 501(c)(3). The Society sponsors the Branford Folk Coffeehouse, a monthly folk music concert series, September through May, at the First Congregational Church, on the green in Branford, Connecticut.

The group also holds monthly "House Hoots" at members' homes, open to all for informal singing and playing, and produces a monthly newsletter with schedules and information on concerts and folk performers in Connecticut and the region. Branford Folk Music Society members receive a copy of the newsletter in the mail, as well as discounts in admission to our coffeehouse concerts. Become a member of the Branford Folk Music Society. Facebook members: Look us up on Facebook.

Branford Folk Coffeehouse

The Branford Folk Coffeehouse is in the auditorium of the First Congregational Church of Branford, 1009 Main Street, Branford, CT. Wheelchair accessible. Concerts begin at 8:00 P.M. Unless otherwise specified, admission is $15 for nonmembers, $12 for members, and $5 for children 12 and under.

Admission policy for this season's great folk shows: Pay at the door. Thanks!

Directions: Take I-95 Cedar Street exit #54, go south on Cedar Street to the end (crossing Route 1), turn left on Main Street. The Congregational Church is the brick church on the green (on the right). For more information, call 203-488-7715. Email: branfordfolk@gmail.com
If parking immediately next to the Church and the Green is full, there is additional parking nearby.

Please contact us if you are interested in helping the coffeehouse as a volunteer. In particular, refreshment donations will be welcomed.

If you are wondering if a concert will be held on an evening when the weather is bad, please call 203-488-7715. (There is no one at the church who can give out concert information.) Also, cancellations will be posted on WTNH Channel 8.

November 8, 2014: The Honey Dewdrops

A severe snowstorm last December cancelled the Branford debut of the Virginia-based Honey Dewdrops but we worked quickly to make sure they graced our stage as part of our 40th Anniversary Celebration. There is a high lonesome quality to the way the voices of Laura Wortman and her spouse Kagey Parrish blend that is familiar, yet the mixture is unique. Their music covers the ground between hand-crafted folk songs, Appalachian fiddle tunes, and a cappella spirituals.

The musical career of Laura and Kagey has been on an upward curve since they captured the "Prairie Home Companion" Talent Contest in 2008, besting five other groups in the finals of the national radio show competition hosted by Garrison Keillor. Up to that time, Kagey and Laura were teachers who performed music on the side but who desired to ultimately make music a full-time occupation. "Winning the contest really inspired us to keep on going and writing at the time," Kagey says. A year later, they recorded their first CD, let their teaching contracts expire and they hit the road performing.

Since then they've crisscrossed America with their blend of new Americana and traditional folk music, building up loyal audiences along the way. They create inspired songs that are rooted in the experience and lives of people. The songs they write shine with energy and emotion through intimate performances with a handful of acoustic instruments and tightly layered harmonies. In fact, their song "One Kind Word" is covered by the San Francisco Bay area band Front Country on their brand new album, "Sake of Sound." On stage, the Honey Dewdrops focus on dynamically blending the sounds of instruments and voices by singing and playing into a single microphone.

Today this duet is in the vanguard of a new generation of young performers bringing contemporary folk into the American mainstream. The Honey Dewdrops have recorded three albums and are now gathering material for a fourth. Their latest offering, "Silver Lining", ranked fourth in 2012 in folk music radio play monitored by FolkDJ. It's no wonder that Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine said this about the duo: "Their talent is such that it's quite possible that a new band recording in the year 2020 might cite The Honey Dewdrops as a prime influence."

Honey Dewdrops

Pete Rushefsky

December 13, 2014: Pete Rushefsky & The Ternovka Ensemble

Join us on Dec. 13 for a special Hanukkah concert and dance party with internationally renowned klezmer musician and composer Pete Rushefsky and his Ternovka Ensemble. In addition, Branford Folk's own renowned dance leader (and president) Willa Horowitz will teach dance steps at the end of the concert, turning the event into a rollicking party.

Pete Rushefsky is recognized as a leading performer of the tsimbl (cimbalom), the traditional hammered dulcimer of klezmer music. Rushefsky and bandmates will provide a musical tour of the shtetls and cities of Eastern Europe that formed klezmer's wellspring and trace its evolution to the New World.

A resident of New York City, Rushefsky is currently touring with violinist Itzhak Perlman in a program/recording titled "Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul", featuring the leading cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, as well as klezmer revival legends Hankus Netsky and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.

He serves as executive director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York City, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and nurturing the performing arts traditions of the city's immigrant communities. He has been featured on PBS's Great Performances, National Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered and American Routes, as well as Radio One France.

A popular instructor at Yiddish folk arts camps internationally, Rushefsky authored a pioneering instructional book on adapting the American 5-string banjo for klezmer, and an upcoming book on klezmer performance for hammered dulcimer. He is a well-known lecturer on klezmer and other traditional music with a number of published articles to his credit.

He regularly concertizes and records with many of the leading contemporary performers of Yiddish music, including clarinetist Joel Rubin, violinists Steven Greenman, Lisa Gutkin, Jake Shulman-Ment and Alicia Svigals, flutist Adrianne Greenbaum and vocalists Michael Alpert, Ethel Raim and Rebecca Kaplan.

January 10, 2015: Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts

Multi-instrumentalists Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts will be making their Branford Folk Music Society debut with this concert after being "snowed out" of a scheduled debut last February. For Branford listeners it will be a musically warming treat in the midst of winter because both are master musicians. Karen performs mainly on the hammered dulcimer and her husband Paul on harp guitar, 10-string cittern, mandolin, and musette accordion.

Known as KAPO, they started playing as a duo featuring Celtic, Belgian and French music with the critically-acclaimed recording "Celtic Café" on the Maggie's Music label.

Karen Ashbrook built her first dulcimer in 1976 as a high school project. For five years she lived overseas in pursuit of Irish music and learned her craft in the pubs of England and Ireland, while taking time to travel in Europe and Asia. She subsequently wrote the first book for intermediate/advanced dulcimer playing in the United States, "Playing the Hammered Dulcimer in the Irish Tradition," which was published by Oak Publications.

Karen plays a wide variety of musical styles including Appalachian, Belgian, English, classical and Jewish. She teaches at numerous festivals and music camps around America, and is now central in bringing instruction to the revival of hakkebord (the Flemish hammered dulcimer) in Belgium! With her delicate touch, trademark shimmering lilt and ear for authentic ornamentation, Karen is considered one of the finest Irish hammered dulcimer players. Add her wooden flute and pennywhistle playing, and you have the consummate Irish musician. Irish music reviewer John O'Regan calls her recordings "Celtic music for the mind and body."

Based in the Washington, D.C., area, Karen teaches and performs Celtic, contra dance, and Jewish music and works teaching Irish music and culture to children. She has several recordings both solo and with the group Ceoltoiri, on the Maggie's Music label. Performance highlights include RTE 1-Irish National Television, the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic, and playing at the White House for President Bill Clinton.

Belgian-born Paul Oorts is also a multi-instrumentalist and is very active in the world of English, Contra, and Vintage dances in the Washington-Baltimore area. With the group Goldcrest he has performed at dance events all over the United States and on tour in Scotland. He also plays with Trio con Brio, Tympanon, Ensemble Carillon and the Rigatoni Brothers.

As a teacher or staff musician, he has been on faculty at the Augusta Heritage Center (WV), the Swannanoa Gathering (NC), Common Ground on the Hill (MD), Kentucky Music Week, Pinewoods (MA), Timber Ridge (WV), Hill County Acoustic Music Camp (TX), and the Volksmuziekstage in Gooik (Belgium).

During the academic year, Dr. Oorts teaches Italian and French at the Peabody Institute and Loyola University in Baltimore.

February 14, 2015: Lissa Schneckenburger and Bethany Waickman

March 14, 2015: Beppe Gambetta and Rushad Eggleston

April 18, 2015: Gordon Bok

May 9, 2015: John Roberts and ...


House Hoot October 26

The October Hoot will be 4:00 PM Sunday, October 26th, at Barbara and Bjorn Ljungstrom's in New Haven. The theme (for the first round only, and not enforced, merely encouraged) is a song in another language or about another country; after that, it's every man and woman for themselves. Also bring a snack or drink(s) to share.

The address is 122 Court St., Unit #13, New Haven. Directions: Trumbull St. Exit, turn left on Orange St., pass Elm St., turn onto Court St. next left, 122 is center of block, on the right. Access is from keypad Dobay #13 to come in door. Elevator on left, second floor, #13. Street parking on Sundays in New Haven is free, or there are parking lots on Court, State and Orange.

The House Hoot, loosely associated with the Branford Folk Music Society, has been going since the 1950s. It’s an opportunity to get together and Sing Good Songs, mostly folk but occasionally wandering into other musical realms. All acoustic instruments and voices are welcome.

Sheldon Campbell


Previous concerts at the Branford Folk Coffeehouse

Branford Folk Photo Gallery

Restaurants in Branford

Lodging in Branford

Volunteers Needed!

The Branford Folk Music Society is looking for a volunteer to manage the signs that we put up at the church for each concert. This includes storing the signs at your home, bringing them to each concert and setting them up. If you are interested or would like more information, please let us know at a concert or by email at branfordfolk@gmail.com.

New Board Members Sought

The Board of Directors is currently accepting nominations to fill at large positions on the Board.

  • Qualifications: enjoyment of traditional folk music and desire to see it continue in Branford. Skills in particular areas such as finances, grant writing, small business administration, etc. are welcome but not required. Must become a member of BFMS if not already a member.
  • Responsibilities: attend about eight board meetings a year, attend and help at most of the nine concerts of the season (September through May).
  • Benefits: free attendance when you help out at a concert, decision making contribution to the programming and other issues of the society, opportunity to get to know some wonderful people who are musicians.

Click here for the application form.


The Branford Folk Music Society is a member of the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance,
and the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

The Branford Folk Music Society primarily books "traditional" and/or "traditions based" acoustic music, rooted in the Anglo-Celtic and/or American folk genres, and other traditional forms, such as Cajun, French Canadian, Klezmer, etc. We are also open to booking "traditions based" performers who write their own material provided their music demonstrates a knowledge and respect for these long established traditions.

The Branford Folk Music Society posts monthly concert listings on the following web sites and blogs:

americantowns.com at http://www.branford.americantowns.com/
Nonprofit Bulletin at http://www.nhbulletin.blogspot.com/


Other folk music events in Connecticut and southern New England


Branford Folk Music Society
P.O. Box 441
Branford, CT 06405
http://folknotes.org/branfordfolk/