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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 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: 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.


January 13, 2018: Debra Cowan & John Roberts

What a high and joyous note on which to start the New Year! Internationally renowned and respected balladeers Debra Cowan and John Roberts make a return visit to Branford Folk with their ever-expanding sack of songs and ballads.

With their eloquent voices and expert musicianship, John and Debra bring to life songs seldom heard on TV or radio these days. Drawn from both the folk tradition and the work of contemporary songwriters, many of these songs tell of the timeless joys and sorrows of human experience. They offer windows into where we've come from and perhaps where we're headed. Both musicians can also spin a ripping good yarn and whether illuminating, inspiring, or laugh-out-loud funny, their stories convey their love of the songs and the people who've sung them over the years, decades and, in some cases, centuries.

From the minute she begins to sing, Debra grabs her audience and doesn't let go. Her ability to communicate the story within the song is a rare art. It's agreed by music presenters and radio programmers alike that she possesses one of the best voices in folk music today. Her rich nightingale soprano conjures images of stony-grey Celtic castles, green and rolling English landscapes and humorous American scenes as she moves through a repertoire full of traditional balladry with a sprinkling of sea music, contemporary songs and outrageously comic songs.

John is the proverbial "walking encyclopedia" of folk songs and folklore. For over 45 years, John, a British expatriate, has been singing and playing old songs, meaning that many of the songs and tunes in his extensive repertoire can be traced back at least 100 years. He is also considered one of the foremost Anglo concertina players in the English-speaking world and uses the banjo for unique settings in many of the songs he sings. He can give the background of any song he performs, often telling the listener the circumstances from which it might have been written and from whom the song was collected. John and his long-time music partner, Tony Barrand, are often cited as influences and mentors to many listeners, singers and musicians when it comes to traditional folk music of the English-speaking world.

John and Debra's musical partnership began in 2009 with a simple question: "How are you getting to Chacago?" And with that, they decided to team up for a series of small concerts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois before arriving as separately booked artists at the Fox Valley Folklore Society's annual festival. The combination of car-pool and mini-tour was successful enough that they continue to do more performing together both in the U.S. and in 2011, with a successful tour in the United Kingdom. They've recorded one album in 2015, "Ballads Long and Short" on Golden Hind Music that has already become a classic.

John and Debra firmly believe that folk music is not a spectator sport. They can turn any audience into a chorale by patiently teaching sometimes complicated and often tongue-tying choruses, along with familiar songs. Join us on Jan. 13 and we promise that you'll leave the performance smiling and often singing, knowing that, as Debra and John say, the song is the star, and singing is what keeps great songs alive.

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

Debra Cowan and John Roberts

Toby Walker

February 10, 2018: Toby Walker

Toby Walker is a winner of the prestigious International Blues Challenge Award and has been hailed as a finger style guitar virtuoso. If you were with us in 2013 when he made his Branford Folk debut you know exactly what we're talking about.

Toby combines the styles of blues, ragtime, country, bluegrass, rock and old time jazz into his own unique style. Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Airplane says, "Flat out... you have to hear this great musician... I'm blown away". Kaukonen has employed Toby to teach at his internationally famous Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp for more than a decade.

Toby was recognized as a "Master Blues Artist" by the New York Blues Hall of Fame in 2014 and four years previous won the New York Music Award for "Best Instrumental CD," sharing honors on stage with Mariah Carey, Rufus Wainwright and Judy Collins among other award winners. His crowning achievement, however, was winning first place in the International Blues Challenge Award given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.

He has toured America, England, Wales, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and, most recently, Cyprus, and he's been the subject of profiles in The New York Times, the London Sunday Times, on the London BBC and on Sirius-XM radio.

At a young age, Toby's passion for blues, rags, folk, and other traditional American music forms drove him to leave an apartment crammed full of recordings, books and instruments for the Mississippi Delta, Virginia and the Carolinas where he tracked down some of the more obscure – but immensely talented – music makers of an earlier era. He learned directly from Eugene Powell, James "Son" Thomas, Etta Baker and R.L Burnside, among others.

Toby recently released several instructional guitar DVDs for the renowned Homespun Tapes which have been garnering rave reviews and his latest CD release – "Mileage" – has been hailed by critics as a shining success in the genre of traditional blues. Carnegie Hall recently acknowledged his talent and hired him to augment and teach in their "American Roots" program aimed at honor level middle school students.

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

March 10, 2018: Bob Bovee

Since 1971 Bob has traveled the country taking old time music to audiences of all ages at festivals, fairs, concerts, dances, schools, libraries, music camps, radio and TV programs. This is rural music as played in homes, at dances and for earlier entertainments such as minstrel shows and country radio. Along with a repertoire including dance tunes, ballads, cowboy songs, humorous and sentimental numbers, blues and rags, he spices his shows with stories, history and folklore. Bob sings (yodels, too) and plays guitar, harmonica, banjo and autoharp.

April 14, 2018: Matthew Byrne

Matthew Byrne was born into a family of Newfoundland music makers and his repertoire is heavily influenced by his unique musical lineage. This tradition thrives on the song – the weaving of a great story with a beautiful melody – and Matthew's music reminds us how satisfying traditional songs can be when stripped down to these basic elements. His live performance offers tasteful and honest interpretations of folk songs delivered with polished guitar work and powerful vocals. His repertoire transcends time and place with traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic.

May 12, 2018: Ken & Brad Kolodner

The dynamic father-son duo Ken & Brad Kolodner weave together a captivating soundscape on hammered dulcimer, banjo and fiddles pushing the boundaries of the Old-Time tradition into uncharted territory. Regarded as one of the most influential hammered dulcimer players and Old-Time fiddlers in North America, Baltimore's Ken Kolodner has joined forces with his son Brad Kolodner, a rising star in the clawhammer banjo world. Together, they infuse their own brand of driving, innovative, tasteful and unique interpretations of traditional and original fiddle tunes and songs.


Previous concerts at the Branford Folk Coffeehouse

Branford Folk Photo Gallery

Restaurants in Branford

Lodging in Branford

BRANFORD FOLK NEEDS VOLUNTEERS!

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 branfordfolk@gmail.com. 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 branfordfolk@gmail.com.


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.

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

Please send event listings to the editor at bshall@cox.net.


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