The 2016 Headliners
Headliner: Tom Chapin
In a career that spans five decades, 23 albums and three Grammy Awards, Tom Chapin has covered an incredible amount of creative ground. In addition to his work as a recording and performing artist, Chapin has acted on Broadway and worked extensively in films, television and radio.
As a music-maker, Chapin has maintained two long and productive parallel careers — both as a highly respected contemporary folk artist and as a pioneer in the field of children’s music. In the former role, Chapin has established a reputation for insightful, heartfelt song-craft and effortlessly charismatic live performances. In the latter, he continues to engage the hearts, minds and imaginations of young listeners with witty, life-affirming original songs delivered in a sophisticated array of musical styles. In either format, Chapin’s infectious songs, sterling musicianship and personal warmth consistently shine through.
The son of noted jazz drummer and teacher Jim Chapin and the grandson of author-critic Kenneth Burke and portrait painter James Chapin, Tom grew up in a family that encouraged artistic pursuits. He began performing professionally as a teenager in the early 1960s, playing in Greenwich Village folk clubs alongside his siblings Harry and Steve as The Chapin Brothers. In 1971, he began a five-year run as the host of the Emmy- and Peabody award-winning ABC-TV children’s series Make A Wish. Chapin and his songs were also featured in the seminal 1970 documentary film Blue Water, White Death, for which he spent six months sailing the Indian Ocean searching for great white sharks.
Chapin launched his solo recording career with 1976’s Life Is Like That. It was the first of a string of albums that further cemented his reputation as both a gifted storyteller and a natural entertainer — winning him a loyal fan base in the process. He also continued to venture into other creative areas — playing the lead role in the hit Broadway musical Pump Boys and Dinettes, working off-Broadway as musical director of both Cotton Patch Gospel and Harry Chapin: Lies and Legends, and serving as host of TV’s National Geographic Explorer. He’s also written and performed satirical topical songs for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and had a cameo role as the vice presidential candidate in Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Chapin was already firmly established as a performer and recording artist when he first branched out into family music with his 1988 album Family Tree. He’s since released a dozen more family CDs aimed at post-toddler, pre-teen listeners and their parents. Each features original songs addressing such issues as family life, positive self-image and respect for the environment.
In addition to his varied musical and media endeavors, Chapin is also a powerful advocate on behalf of a variety of charitable causes. He is an active board member of WhyHunger (formerly World Hunger Year), the nonprofit organization founded in the 1970s by his older brother, the late singer-songwriter and activist Harry Chapin (who lived in Huntington). Tom Chapin also is active in efforts on behalf of a variety of environmental causes and is an ardent champion of music and the arts in our public schools.
“I’m at that place in my life where I follow what interests me,” says Chapin. “I still love the guitar; I still love to sing; and I still love the thrill of creation: a good song, a good recording, a good concert. I feel blessed to be my own boss — creating my own material and performing for so many different audiences, ages and generations.”
Headliner: Gathering Time
Hillary Foxsong · Stuart Markus · Gerry McKeveny
Folk-rock harmony trio Gathering Time swept the Folk Chart in March, as their new CD Keepsake came in as the #1 album, with the #1 single and five other songs in the top 25, making them the #1 act on the Folk DJ-List. Fans on the Long Island folk scene have known them for years, however, for their astute songwriting, faithful re-creations of 1960s classics and creative interpretations of traditional tunes, as well as their stellar vocal blend.
Voted best band runner-up (and top folk band) in the 2011 Long Island Press readers’ poll, Gathering Time is best described as a rocked up Peter, Paul & Mary or a co-ed CrosbyStills & Nash, with a bit of The Byrds and a jot of Joni Mitchell.
No less an authority than WFUV’s John Platt has written that they are “among the finest performers in the New York metropolitan area, whatever the size of the venue, from a house concert to an outdoor festival,” with “harmonies that can charm the birds out of the trees, strong original songs, and a savvy repertoire of cover songs, ranging from traditional folk to classic rock.”
Originally formed ten years ago this year and adopting the name in late 2007, the trio has been touring for seven years primarily in the northeastern U.S., with occasional forays to the midwest, southeast, and Canada. Their new album, Keepsake, has already received airplay on over 85 stations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and Israel.
Called “one of the best singers of her generation” by Christine Lavin, Mara Levine creates beautiful interpretations of folk songs. Nominated by Ron Olesko (WFDU-FM, Teaneck, NJ) in 2009 for the Suzi Wollenberg Folk DJ Showcase at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference, she was also selected for a coveted juried official showcase at the conference in 2014.
Her second album, Jewels and Harmony, received stellar reviews and was the #1 album on the FOLK DJ Listserv for January 2013. The CD also featured the two top songs and Mara was named the most-played artist for the month. The CD was subsequently #3 on the folk radio airplay chart for 2013 and was named #4 Cover Album of 2013 by Cover Lay Down. Jewels and Harmony features 15 tracks produced with a 1960s folk sensibility, with fresh interpretations, beautiful multi-part harmonies and collaborations with notable artists including Si Kahn, Brother Sun, Pat Wictor, Gathering Time, Joe Jencks, Loretta Hagen, Terry Kitchen and Caroline Cutroneo.
Mara’s debut CD, Mara’s Gems, ranked #52 on the Folk DJ Listserv for 2009. Since then, she has had two #1 songs on the monthly chart — her version of Bob Franke’s ‘Straw Against the Chill,’ with Joe Jencks, and her arrangement of Paul Simon’s ‘Leaves That Are Green,” with Gathering Time.
Mara also performs in duos with Caroline Cutroneo, Terry Kitchen and Stuart Markus and shares bills with Gathering Time. She has appeared on numerous radio programs and performed at various venues and festivals in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illenois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington State.
What he does as a folk musician is a rather difficult question to answer. He plays a superb fingerstyle guitar in idioms ranging from ancient harp tunes to obscure Tin-Pan-Alley compositions. His concertina arrangements of music by anyone from Bach to Berryman’s may be haunting, complex, exciting, but are, above all, musical. A performance might include a song of heart-stopping emotional impact, a Scott Joplin piano rag, an acapella Irish patter song sung to the melody of a mile-a-minute fiddle tune, a rivetting recitation in the style of Robert Service, and some of the most horrible parodies in the English speaking world. More a singer-songfinder than a singer-songwriter, Mike combs the canon of contemporary and traditional songs for little-known gems, puts his unique stamp on them, and brings them to the stage.
Whatever else he does, Mike puts a lie to the notion that folk music is boring. Of course, if you’ve been around the folk scene at all in the Northeast, you’ve probably seen him. He’s that tall guy with the red beard and the leather fisherman’s cap. And when the music starts, he’s in the middle, adding to the chorus and probably knowing all the lyrics. His repertoire is vast and varied. Mike is not only a collector of songs and a master at arranging them, but is also a writer of songs and recitations. He has a keen ear for the best of the best, and this only enhances his own writing. If you’re sick of the endless stream of singer songwriters who write for the market, you will find Mike to be a refreshing alternative. He makes us laugh, cry and think, all the while entertaining us long into any evening of music.
Long Island-based singer-songwriter Kirsten Maxwell has been gaining notice and earning a lot of accolades near and far. Recently named as a finalist in the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Competition, she will showcase her talents at the Kerrville Folk Festival in the Texas Hill Country in late May. Just prior to that, Kirsten has an Official Showcase at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) Conference in North Carolina. Named a winner of the 2016 South Florida Folk Festival Singer-Songwriter Competition during the annual festival in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 16, she also recently showcased her talents at the 2016 Singer-Songwriter Cape May Conference. Last year, the versatile young vocalist, guitarist and songwriter was the first-place winner in a contest sponsored by the Rhode Island Songwriters Association (RISA) and also earned a coveted slot in the Suzi Wollenberg Folk DJ showcase at the 2015 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference held in upstate New York.
Kirsten’s stunningly pure voice has drawn comparisons to the likes of Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell and is evocative of the 1960s folk scene. “I never thought I’d ever hear a voice as angelic and mesmerizing as I did when I first started listening to Joan Baez some 50 years ago, but then I heard the voice, the songs and melodies of Kirsten Maxwell,” says Jon Stein, host of Hootenanny Café on WTBQ-FM in Orange County, NY.
Kirsten, who holds a BA in Creative Writing from SUNY Geneseo, has been exercising her passion and writing skills since composing her first song at age 12. Last year, she independently released her debut album. Entitled Crimson, the CD is Kirsten’s unique look at lost or unrequited love. Each of its 11 songs is a story unto itself that reveals the emotional driftwood of relationships run aground.
Hearing the music of Marci Geller for the first time is akin to reacquainting yourself with an old friend—one who dangles a bevy of mysterious and playful secrets that seem meant only for you through the power and majesty of her performance. There is an ease about her, almost as if you’ve been invited to her home—her musical home. And yet, Geller’s songwriting often captures and surprises even the most casual listener. Whether it is her words, her voice, her melodies, or the way she plays either her piano or her guitar, hers is a passionate experience that stays with you long after the music’s over.
She is on a mission to connect, and on a trajectory that seems unstoppable. Since returning to solo status in 2012, she released the full-length CD Open Book, which reached #33 on the Folk-DJ Charts and was named one of the Top 100 Albums of 2012 on the Roots Music Report: Folk Chart. Her latest release, Square Peg, was successfully funded at a whopping 130% on Kickstarter and further bolstered when the backers started posting “selfies” of themselves with the CD. The #ImASquarePegToo campaign is approaching critical mass and has created a stir on social media.
Credentials include being named an “Editor’s Choice” in 2010 as one of the top songwriters of the last decade by Independent Songwriter Magazine. She has performed on Live! with Regis, Good Day NY and Fox Morning Show, and her music can be heard in soundtracks on MTV, VH-1, PBS, ABC Family, A&E, Discovery Channel, USA Network and others. She also toured for two years as the support act and back-up vocalist for legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s Folk-Renaissance band Blackmore’s Night, where she performed her stirring solo sets for 10,000+ people every night. Having shared the stage with luminaries Christine Lavin, James Maddock and Vance Gilbert, both Maddock and Gilbert made guest appearances on Open Book. Geller’s new album Square Peg features duets with renowned musicians Lori Lieberman and David Buskin, as well as guest appearances from Mya Byrne, Barbara Kessler, Brian Dunne (Hall & Oates), Craig Akin and Jon Preddice (Miles to Dayton).
Marci Geller brings to every performance not only her strong musicianship and vocal excellence—she also fills every venue she plays with the kind of heartfelt truth and soulful introspection that inspires her audiences to seek those same inner qualities within themselves. Combining elements of Jazz, Classical, Americana, Folk and Pop, this is one singer-songwriter who continually defies being categorized into any one easily-defined genre or style. Nearing three remarkable decades of recording and touring, Marci Geller has embraced her diverse and often eclectic sound, and joyfully celebrates the uniqueness of herself and her audience.
Mike Barry is a gifted singer/songwriter, a one man roots/rock army, adept at a variety of musical styles. His music combines rock n’ roll, country, blues, rockabilly, and folk in a distinctive and high-spirited mix. Barry sings in a warm, soulful voice; plays guitar, harmonica, and mandolin deftly; and writes solid Americana songs that combine smart lyrics with memorable pop hooks.
“Unheard of Hits”, his first CD, showcases his talents in all these areas. It contains some of his most popular songs such as the ballad, “If He Only Knew”, the lilting, “Eye to Eye”, “Scared but Strong” ,the pop gems, “Celebrate Love” and “Help Me”, and the country rockers, “She Lied”, “Oh Sasha”, and “Love me Tonight”. ‘Unheard of’ for not much longer, here are 18 songs with great melodies and witty lyrics.
In concert, Barry’s bluesy vocal style, blazing harmonica licks, and quick guitar fingerpicking make for a great show. Originally from upstate New York, Mike is a true journeyman, playing concerts, clubs, and colleges throughout the U.S. northeast and building a following in the N.Y.City area. He’s performed abroad, touring in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Bermuda. He’s often supported major recording acts, and opened for such diverse artists as Dr. John, NRBQ, Joan Osborne, Katie Armiger, John Hiatt, Papa John Creach, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, and members of the Saw Doctors and Waterboys.
Whenever and wherever he plays, Mike Barry delivers his songs with a style filled with heart and soul.