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 produces a bimonthly 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. Admission prices are listed for each concert. Please pay at the door – there are no advance sales.

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.

November 10, 2018: Bill Staines

One of the most popular performers to appear at Branford Folk through the decades, Bill was last with us for our 40th anniversary year and returns in November for our 45th year. Bill holds a fond niche in our hearts at Branford Folk because he provided major support in the formative years of the society as it sought to gain a permanent foothold as a venue (which back then offered concerts almost weekly) and boost its audience size. Bill performed here for 18 consecutive years from 1974 to 1991.

Now, well into his fifth decade as a performer, he has rightly gained an international reputation as a gifted songwriter and performer. Singing mostly his own songs, he has become one of the most popular and durable singers on the folk music scene today, performing nearly 200 concerts a year and driving over 65,000 miles annually.

Bill, who hails from New Hampshire, weaves a magical blend of wit and gentle humor into his performances, and as one reviewer wrote, "He has a sense of timing to match the best stand-up comic." His music is a pure slice of Americana, reflecting with the same ease, his feelings about the prairie people of the Midwest or the adventurers of the Yukon. He may even do a yodeling tune or two, having won the National Yodeling Championship in 1975 at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas.

He has recorded 27 albums and there are three published collections of his songwriting which remain in print. His songs have been recorded by scores of artists, including performers as diverse as Nanci Griffith, the Grand Ol' Opry's Grandpa Jones, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem and Mason Williams. Griffin says that Staines has been her hero since 1977, noting "He carries on where Woody left off – carrying on the tradition of stories and characters you wish you knew."

Many of Bill's songs have appeared in grade school music books, church hymnals, and scouting campfire songbooks; he is one of only a few songwriters to have eight songs published in the classic song collection, Rise Up Singing. Composer David Amram recently described Bill as "a modern day Stephen Foster...his songs will be around 100 years from now."

Bill's radio and TV appearances have included Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Mountain Stage" and a host of local programs on PBS and network TV. He continues to drive all those miles each year doing what he loves – bringing music to people. The late Sandy Paton of Folk-Legacy Records once characterized Bill's music so aptly: "Any new song that can live comfortably beside the well-worn songs of folk tradition has a good chance of surviving the test of time. Such, we believe, are the songs of Bill Staines."

Admission: $20 non-members, $17 members, $5 children 12 and under.

Bill Staines

Jerry Bryant

December 8, 2018: Jerry Bryant

Jerry Bryant is well-known along the New England coast as a singer of sea songs. But that's not what you'll hear from him this time around at the Branford Folk Music Society. "I dearly love maritime music," he says, "but there are boatloads of other great songs out there." For this concert Jerry will present some of his favorite non-maritime songs, drawing on his broad repertoire of traditional song, material from the American songbook, and gems from songwriters such a Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and John Prine. With the winter solstice swiftly approaching, expect some seasonal songs as well. Do join us for a different side of Jerry.

Jerry last appeared at Branford Folk in 2011. Join us in welcoming him back.

Admission: $20 non-members, $17 members, $5 children 12 and under.

January 12, 2019: Josée Vachon

Born in Québec and raised in Maine, Josée Vachon has been sharing her Franco-American upbringing for over 25 years through traditional and contemporary folksongs from Québec and Acadia and through her own compositions.

February 16, 2019: James Keelaghan

Called Canada's finest singer-songwriter by American critic Dave Marsh, one of the most respected and lauded music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons. Fusing his insatiable appetite for finding the next unique storyline Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliantly defined craftsmanship and a monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices of not only the Canadian scene, but as a member of the international singer-songwriter community.

March 9, 2019: Joel Mabus

Joel Mabus is a maverick in the folk music world. He defies any easy pigeonhole. By turns, he picks a mountain banjo to accompany an ancient ballad, sings a witty song about modern life, plays a sweet Irish melody on guitar, swings a hot jazz number, and then reaches deep for a soulful expression of values in a troubled world. He tops it all with a fiddle tune or old Carter family song – all skillfully blended into a seamless flow.

April 13, 2019: Battle of the Sexes in Harmony

In a bit of innovative programming (if we do say so), two harmony groups will be gracing our stage on this night: members of the The Connecticut Yankee Chorus, an award-winning a cappella barbershop ensemble, and Village Voices, a New York-based female ensemble that will present Bulgarian village harmonies from the region's women's tradition. Announcement of the concert at our first concert of the year in mid-September elicited "oohs and ahhs" from the audience, so mark your calendars.

May 11, 2019: Too Blue

We close out the society's 2018-19 concert season on a high, lonesome note with the region's own Too Blue. Flatpicking guitarist Betsy Rome and banjoist Joan Harrison flawlessly blend their voices. Mandolin powerhouse Michael Sassano astounds and entertains, while jazz bassist Jamie Doris brings a creative and unique perspective to the band. Together, Too Blue makes exciting bluegrass that swings and entertains.

House Hoot October 26

The October House Hoot will be at 7:30 on Friday, October 26 at Sheldon Campbell's house, 85 Heloise St., Hamden, 06517. The theme (for the first round only, and not enforced, merely encouraged) is 'air, earth, fire, or water'; after that, it's every man and woman for themselves. Second round and beyond--anything goes!

Please come prepared with a couple of songs to sing or to lead the rest of us in singing. Those not prepared or too shy to sing are welcome to enjoy the music. Also, please bring a snack or drinks to share during the break.

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, originally mostly folk songs but these days including many other musical realms including rock, pop, jazz, blues, and sometimes even silly songs! All acoustic instruments and voices are welcome.

Sheldon Campbell

In memory of Stacy Phillips

Previous concerts at the Branford Folk Coffeehouse

Branford Folk Photo Gallery


Branford Folk Coffeehouse performers are often provided overnight accommodations by volunteers in their homes. However, some performers are very sensitive to furry critters, so if you can provide overnight accommodations in a pet-free environment, please let us know, either at a concert or by email at Hosts receive complimentary admission to the show! Thank you!

Wanna be on our Board?

The all-volunteer Board of Directors of the Branford Folk Music Society is looking for new members with a passion for traditional and tradition-based folk music and the skills to help us bring the joy of that music to wider audiences. We are seeking interested people with the time and willingness to take an active role in creating awareness of Branford Folk Music Society events in Connecticut, particularly in the broader shoreline community, and with skills to complement those of members of the current Board. These could include experience in public relations, arts or events coordination (not necessarily in music), outreach or fundraising; or connections with media, historical and cultural organizations in the New Haven area and towns along the shoreline. Anyone interested should contact us at 203-488-7715 or

The Branford Folk Music Society is a member of the Folk Alliance International,
the Arts Council of Greater New Haven and the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce.

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.

Other folk music events in Connecticut and southern New England

Please send event listings to the editor at

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