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 non-members, $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:
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.

September 12, 2015: Jay Ungar and Molly Mason

It is with great excitement and anticipation that the Branford Folk Music Society kicks off its 2015-16 concert series with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, a duo that exemplifies the heart and soul of American folk and acoustic music. Jay and Molly achieved international fame when their performance of Jay's composition "Ashokan Farewell" became the musical hallmark of Ken Burns' acclaimed PBS documentary The Civil War. Their work on the series' soundtrack won a Grammy and "Ashokan Farewell" was nominated for an Emmy. The evocative and haunting lament, originally inspired by the couple's Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps in New York's Catskill Mountains, has been heard by tens of millions of people and is now considered an American folk "classic", played by folk fiddlers as well as classical musicians around the world.

However, Jay and Molly take their music far beyond soundtracks for documentaries. The couple draws on a wide range of musical styles and traditions, including Appalachian, bluegrass, Cajun, Canadian, Celtic, Scandinavian and jazz. In recent years, they've also stretched their music to a new orchestral fusion of classical and folk music.

Their musical resume is lengthy. In addition to a steady flow of albums and their continuing work on documentaries and films, they are frequent guests on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion", NPR's "All Things Considered", PBS's "Great Performances" and the BBC's "Transatlantic Sessions." They've produced several musical specials for Public Radio International and have performed at the White House for two sitting presidents.

Mixing consummate musicianship, incomparable warmth and wit and a deep respect for and knowledge of the music they play, Jay and Molly offer audiences an evening of music not easily forgotten and a concert experience that appeals to all ages. Join us for this special night as Branford Folk begins its 42nd season of music making.

Admission for Jay and Molly will be $20 for the general public, $15 for BFMS members and $5 for children age 12 and under. The society is not taking reservations for the concert; simply pay at the door.

Jay and Molly

Brian and Jeff

October 10, 2015: Brian Peters and Jeff Davis

England's Brian Peters and America's Jeff Davis have both graced the stage of the Branford Folk Music Society coffeehouse in the past and now they return together for Sharp's Appalachian Harvest, a special multimedia show devoted to the astounding collection of folk songs and music gathered by Cecil Sharp and his collaborator Maud Karpeles in the Southern Appalachians over three summers in 1916, 1917 and 1918. The two English folklorists ventured into the heart of the mountains to seek out old British ballads still being sung in remote mountain settlements, and their haul of over 1,600 pieces is one of the greatest folk song collections ever made.

In their presentation, Jeff and Brian, two respected performers and researchers of traditional folk song and music, sing and play some of the musical highlights of Sharp's Harvest, accompanied by readings from his diaries describing vividly the hardships and triumphs of song collecting, and a display of his terrific photographs of the singers and of mountain life. The music chosen ranges from old ballads to American breakdowns, dance tunes, children's songs and gospel.

Brian and Jeff have been performing together on both sides of the Atlantic on and off for 16 years. Although Brian's music is essentially English folk, while Jeff's is often categorized as American old-time, the two share a love for old songs in general, and the folk music of one another's countries, so that they work together intuitively as a duo. To Brian's multi-instrumental skills on concertina, melodeon and guitar are added Jeff's mighty talents on fiddle, banjo, mandocello and guitar, while their voices blend beautifully in harmony.

Brian and Jeff have performed together at venues such as the venerable Old Songs Festival in New York State, the Mystic Seaport Festival, the Champlain Valley Festival, the Lunenburg Folk Festival in Nova Scotia, the Cecil Sharp House in London and the Bromyard, Derby, Fylde, Warwick and Whitby Folk Festivals in the U.K. They presented Sharp's Appalachian Harvest in July at the American Folklife Center in Washington, D.C. and during a tour of United Kingdom venues in May.

As a solo performer, Jeff Davis possesses a towering reputation for performing traditional songs and music with a rare touch of authenticity. Jeff's admirers range from England's Copper Family to Tim O'Brien of American bluegrass fame. He also has a following amongst the British old-time music community. Likewise, Brian Peters is one of the world's leading solo performers of English songs and music. He is well-known for seeking out unusual traditional repertoire. His presentation on the Child Ballads, "Songs of Trial and Triumph" has been critically acclaimed.

November 14, 2015: To be announced

December 12, 2015: Lissa Schneckenburger and Bethany Waickman

Are you ready for a night of dynamic fiddling and melodious singing from New Englander Lissa Schneckenburger, accompanied by the inventive stylings of guitarist Bethany Waickman? It will be a holiday treat. A snowstorm cancelled this duo's Branford Folk Music Society debut last February, but we're thrilled that Lissa and Bethany were able to work with us to secure this December appearance.

The traditional music of New England can be as warm and comforting as a winter fire or as potent and exhilarating as a summer thunderstorm. Lissa is a master of both moods, a winsome, sweet-voiced singer who brings new life to old ballads and a skillful fiddler who captures the driving rhythm and carefree joy of dance tunes old and new. Raised in a small town in Maine, Lissa grew up with music. She began playing fiddle at the age of six, inspired by her mother's interest in folk music and a family friend who was a professional violinist. Soon she was studying with influential Maine fiddler Greg Boardman and sitting in with the Maine Country Dance Orchestra. By the time she reached high school she was playing concerts on her own, specializing in the sprightly New England dance tunes that combine influences from the British Isles and Quebec with homegrown twists that have been evolving since Colonial days.

Another of her major influences was the diverse musical community that she found at fiddle camps, where she had a chance to play with and learn from a wide variety of musicians including noted Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. She graduated in 2001 from the New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in contemporary improvisation, and since then has been performing around the U.S. and internationally for a growing audience of enthusiastic listeners.

Early in her professional career, Lissa began closely studying the roots of the Downeast traditional music that she first heard as a young girl. The study resulted in a pair of albums dedicated to reintroducing some wonderful but largely forgotten songs and tunes from New England that she uncovered through archival research. "Song" contains ten timeless ballads that go back as far as the 18th century that she set to carefully crafted modern arrangements, while "Dance" features fiddle tunes.

Lissa has also performed with several ensembles, including Childsplay and Halali.

For this concert, Lissa will be joined by longtime accompanist guitarist Bethany Waickman, who is well known in contradance, square dance and Irish music circles. Bethany, who is Maine-based, also plays with the groups Firefly and Anadama.



January 16, 2016: Fiesta del Norte (This is a 3rd Saturday)

Fiesta del Norte is an exciting versatile Mariachi band that plays music of Mexico and other Latin American countries. Dressed in traditional "charro" outfits, our repertoire spans from the Mariachis of Jalisco, Nortenas of Chihuahua, harp music of† Vera Cruz, and marimba music of Chiapas.

Feb. 13, 2016: Notorious

Lauded as "sparkling" and "exhilarating", If you haven't heard them yet, it won't take you four beats to realize that this isn't just any ordinary folk band. Sweet vocals and virtuosic fiddling coupled with driving rhythm and snappy guitar solos make for a thrilling musical experience in genres that span many continents.

March 12, 2016: John Kirk and Trish Miller

Since 1988, John Kirk and Trish Miller have toured as a duo throughout the world playing music and singing in concerts, festivals, and schools, and calling contra and square dances. Many of their music selections are rooted in the local lore of the northeast woodlands. A love of traditional tunes and witty songs are presented with brilliant arrangements using fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and warm clear vocals. Humorous, story telling, original and poetic pieces make their shows delightful entertainment for all ages.

April 9, 2016 Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters

A bluegrass band featuring some of the best acoustic musicians in Southern New England on banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, guitar and bass.† Rumor has it that he will be joined this night by Kenny Kosek on fiddle.

May 14, 2016: To be announced

TradMad Folk Camp

Co-sponsored by Branford Folk Music Society Coffeehouse. Discounted registrations for Branford Folk members. Scholarships available too!

WHEN? Saturday 29 August – Friday 4 September 2015

WHERE? At Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth MA

WHAT? Workshops, dances, concerts, one-shots, camper concerts, jamming, singing, swimming in two lovely ponds, relaxing, learning, and generally having fun.

More specifically (subject to staff availability, phases of the moon, etc.):

  • We'll start each day with warm-ups for singers and for dancers
  • "If you don't pick it or squeeze it, it will never get better" – Beginner to advanced classes in banjo, concertina, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, recorder, ukulele
  • Dancing: Advanced English and American; Ritual dances (Morris, Rapper, Sword, Molly, Garland); plus evening dance parties for all
  • Singarounds
  • Ballads
  • Jams of various varieties – old time, bluegrass, Celtic
  • Jug band
  • Blues
  • Duckie Flash Mob Swim
  • . . . and more. Lots more.

What else do you want? Let us know!

WHO? Singers, pickers, and dancers who love traditional music and dance.

Here is our final staff list.

This event is being put together by a bunch of associated organizations, including Branford Folk Music Society; CD*NY (Country Dance * New York); FMSNY (Folk Music Society of New York); FSSGB (Folk Song Society of Greater Boston); FSGW (Folklore Society of Greater Washington); Golden Link Folk Singing Society; and others, with help and advice from CDSS (Country Dance & Song Society) and the folks at Youth Traditional Song Weekend.

WHY? Because we are mad about traditional music and dance of all flavors

HOW MUCH? The fee covers all events, lodging, and meals from dinner on Saturday through breakfast on Friday.
Members of associated organizations – $725 per adult
Non-members – $775 per adult
Some scholarships and work scholarships will be available – contact us if you are interested.

We're busy working to get this event organized. To ask questions, make suggestions, or be added to our email list, send us an email.

House Hoot September 11

Itís time to Hoot again.

The September House Hoot will be at 7:30 on Friday, September 11, at my house, 85 Heloise St., Hamden, 06517. The theme (for the first round only, and not enforced, merely encouraged) is Any Song with a Good Singalong Chorus; after that, itís every man and woman for themselves. Also bring a snack or drink(s) to share; if youíre a beer fan, please bring your own, I donít know anything about beer and itíd be a big mistake to count on me for that.

For a wonder, weíre actually more-or-less organized and have tentative dates a few months ahead. In October, weíre planning for the afternoon of Sunday, October 18th; November weíre back to Friday night the 13th. Set aside the dates.

The House Hoot, loosely associated with the Branford Folk Music Society, has been going since the 1950s. Itís 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

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: at
Nonprofit Bulletin at

Other folk music events in Connecticut and southern New England

Branford Folk Music Society
P.O. Box 441
Branford, CT 06405