2018 Instructors & Performers
Morten Alfred Høirup
Morten Alfred Høirup, of Copenhagen, Denmark, is an exceptional and deeply original guitarist, singer and composer who is well known in the Scandinavian roots music scene and has received numerous Danish Music Awards (equivalent to our "Grammies"), including Folk Album of the Year, Folk Composer of the Year, and Award of Honor. His propulsive swing, precise rhythm, and expressive playing have been heard all over the world in The American Orchestra, the Danish duo Haugaard & Høirup, and Sonnich Lydom & Morten Alfred Høirup, among many others. Morten has also composed much film music, including features on the Discovery channel.
Linda Allen writes and sings the songs that tell of the lives and the work, the hopes and the dreams of people everywhere. Her interest in songwriting has grown out of her love for traditional music as well as her interest in our collective history. Linda has released ten recordings of original music, served as Washington’s Resident Songwriter, has created half dozen multi-media productions, numerous songbooks, founded several folk centers and two Threshold choirs, and has toured extensively over her 40 year career.
Amy Alvey began as a self-taught classical violinist that went rogue after her first encounter with Old Time music in college. Graduating with a degree in violin performance (2011), her studies focused on old time, bluegrass and jazz, studying with Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Matt Glaser, Mark Simos, and John McGann. A scholarship recipient of Blackpot Music Camp (2015) and the Augusta Heritage Center Old Time week (2016), 2017 has been a great year for Amy winning ribbons in Old Time Fiddle at the Surrey County Fiddler's Convention (5th place), Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention (5th place), and the first ever Upper East Tennessee Fiddler's Convention (4th place). In addition to performing across the country with her duo Hoot and Holler, she's taught fiddle workshops in Bellingham, WA, Barcelona, Spain, Fredericksburg, VA and the first annual "Dare to Be Square DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia)".
Jenna Bean Veatch
Jenna Bean Veatch is a multi-disciplinary performing artist and teacher who has been accused of creating “pure, unadulterated, heart-stopping whimsy.” She makes dance-theater shows, stop-action animation, music, written pieces, and delightful objects. Veatch holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Creative Inquiry at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and has received grants from Artist Trust, the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation, and 4Culture. She teaches artmaking classes to artists working in any discipline.
Cellist, Nathan Bontrager, is one of those rare musicians who has seamlessly and beautifully combined his years of rigorous classical music training (Baroque and Renaissance) with American Old Time and Celtic folk music. As a multi-instrumentalist equally at home playing fiddle, clawhammer banjo and guitar, Nathan brings a deep understanding of traditional music and a unique voice to his music. From Pennsylvania, Nathan currently lives in Germany teaching and touring with Hen's Teeth, the UK based Root & Branch, the Bal Folk Trio, Salut! and other experimental, improv and pop music projects.
Bryan Bowers has become a major artist on the traditional music circuit. He has redefined the autoharp and is also well known as a singer-songwriter. Bryan has a dynamic outgoing personality and an uncanny ability to enchant a crowd in practically any situation. His towering six foot four inch frame can be wild and zany on stage while playing a song like `Dixie' and five minutes later he can have the same audience singing `Will The Circle Be Unbroken' in quiet reverence and delight.For nearly three decades, Bryan Bowers has been to the autoharp what Earl Scruggs was to the five-string banjo. He presents instrumental virtuosity combined with warmth, eloquence, expression and professionalism.
Bryan Bowers Trio
The Bryan Bowers Trio was formed on a tour in California when Bryan Bowers, Geoff Goodhue, and Anna Schaad Montgomery got together for a concert and a radio taping of FolkScene, a syndicated radio show that has been on the air for over 40 years. Geoff Goodhue hails from Charleston, and his exquisite vocal harmonies and instrumental virtuosity were a natural match to Bower’s powerful, story-telling ballads and bombastic personality. They hooked up and began playing together several years ago, Goodhue joining on several of Bowers’ tours. Simultaneously, the musical duo of Bowers and Schaad Montgomery evolved; like peanut butter and jelly, Anna Schaad Montgomery’s fiddle/viola worked with Bower’s complex autoharp progressions, giving it just the right mix of acidity to the fat! When these three came together, well, let’s just say it was obvious some new recipe worth repeating and building on had been created.
Flip Breskin is internationally famous as a co-founder of PSGW. A major player in the Northwest folk scene since the 1970s, Flip is an inveterate song catcher. She plays old and new folk songs with great sing-along choruses, songs of compassion, outrageous songs, and sweet solo fingerstyle guitar. Peter Berryman says of Flip, "I'd listen to Flip sing the phone book." And Bob Franke adds, "I never met a songwriter more grounded in musical and moral values than Flip. She cares more about telling the truth than most people you're likely to hear and she does it well: At the same time she's a lot of fun to listen to."
Kat Bula is a Seattle-based fiddler, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist who has been performing and teaching music across a variety of genres for over 20 years. Specializing in improvisation, music theory and jamming skills, she has worked with hundreds of adult and teenage students across the U.S. and Canada via live workshops, online courses and private lessons. As a performer, she has collaborated with bluegrass legends Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum, Kathy Kallick, and Blaine Sprouse, along with cult-folk icon Jason Webley and Celtic-pop group the Clumsy Lovers, to name a few. She holds a BA in Music from Western Washington University.
Ruthie Dornfeld Bio
Seattle fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld's big tone, fierce rhythm, fluid style, and wildly eclectic repertoire have won her popularity among dancers and concert audiences alike. Fluent in a wide range of traditional styles, she has performed and taught for over forty years throughout the U.S. and abroad, from the Manaus Operahouse in the Brazilian Amazon to the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. During a 15 year sojourn in New England, she attended Berklee College of Music, became a renowned dance fiddler, played in the 4-woman stringband The Poodles, and founded The American Cafe Orchestra with Danish guitarist Morten Alfred Høirup. These days you might find Ruthie playing with master guitarist John Miller, in the tango band Tangoheart, with singer/songwriter Cyd Smith, in 3Fiddles 3Traditions, and of course with Margo Murphy & John Roberts or Danish guitarist Morten Alfred Høirup.
Jack Dwyer is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and teacher based in the Pacific Northwest. He appears regularly at various N.W. festivals both under his own name and as sideman to some of the region's most respected musicians. He tours year round, teaches privately, and operates a recording studio in Port Townsend, WA. Formerly a resident of Portland, OR, he taught on faculty at Lewis and Clark College for 7 years.
La Famille Léger
La Famille Léger is an old school family band playing the music of our heritage: the traditional music of Quebec and New Brunswick. Following in the footsteps of the great French-Canadian family bands like La Famille Soucy, La Famille Léger plays the instrumental dance music of French Eastern Canada on fiddle, accordion, guitar, piano and pieds (clogging). Patriarch Louis Léger leads the band on the one-row melodion. Born in Moncton, New Brunswick, Louis grew up speaking French as his first language and discovered folk music as a teenager in the 1960s. He traveled through Europe as "Ludwig Luffelspieler" playing spoons and fiddle in an old-time jugband called "The Stringband". Returning to America, he married and raised a family, working as a school music teacher. His son, Devon, was bitten by the folk music bug and set out to learn Irish fiddling. When Devon discovered his French-Canadian roots through the music of La Bottine Souriante, Louis decided to go back and learn the music he'd heard growing up in New Brunswick. Together, they formed a family band with Devon's mom, Barbara, on guitar and his wife, Dejah, on piano. Barbara discovered the guitar after many years spent enjoying folk music around the home and has taken to it like a fish to water. Dejah comes from a classical piano background of many years and a strong folk background as a singer-songwriter.
I grew up in New York City and have been playing guitar for over 50 years - for the past 20 with The Prozac Mtn. Boys. One of my first teachers was Danny Kalb, the original guitarist for The Blues Project. 1968 was a banner year. I played Town Hall in New York City with Reverend Frederick Douglas Kirkpatrick on a bill with Elaine White, Janey Schram and Herbert Jefferson (think Battlestar Gallactica). I was also part of a folk/rock trio working with Dick Gregory’s 1968 presidential campaign. We barnstormed throughout the city, culminating in a fund raising event in Town Hall. I am now retired from Skagit Valley College where I served as the director of the drama program from 1984-2010. This leaves plenty of time to play with ‘The Boys’ and pursue my other passion, painting. I work out of my home studio, the Samish River Art Studio and currently serve as president of Skagit Artists, a county-wide coalition of artists.
Geoff took up violin at age 5 and went on to graduate from Ohio University in 2004 with a B.F.A. in Percussion Performance. Now living in Jackson, New Hampshire, Geoff sings and picks mandolin with the bluegrass quintet Beg, Steal or Borrow who won the 2017 Podunk Bluegrass Festival band competition. Geoff’s family outfit, The Goodhues Band, was featured at the 2016 Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering. Geoff was the drummer for Athens Ohio’s J.D. Hutchison and Realbilly Jive. The group released You and the World Outside, an album of J.D.’s original material on Howdy Skies Records last September with Tim O’Brien. They performed on Mountain Stage last January.
John Hatton was born into a family of a Hawaiian Steel player, and exposed to a wide spectrum of music covering various styles of guitar playing. He settled on listening and learning Old Time Hillbilly backup guitar. No codified music was injured in the process as this was primarily an aural tradition.
Hen’s Teeth combines the forces of two powerhouse and inventive multi instrumentalists and singers Janie Rothfield (fiddle, clawhammer banjo) and Nathan Bontrager (cello, fiddle, clawhammer banjo, guitar). Together they play a very special brand of traditional and original (many penned by Janie) music from the American old time tradition. Janie and Nathan met in 2014, while jamming for hours at old time festivals and they soon realized that something musically special was happening. Since forming in March 2016, Hen's Teeth has done three tours in Europe as well as shows on the American East and West coast, and recorded their first CD (Off the Cuff and On The Fly)! Not too bad since Janie lives in Philadelphia and Nathan currently lives in Germany! With exciting and beautiful instrumental and tight harmony singing, Hen's Teeth will take you on a musical journey full of soul, power, creativity, improvisation and whimsy.
Hoot and Holler
Hoot and Holler formed in 2013 when Mark Kilianski and Amy Alvey discovered a mutual love of American folk music while delving into Boston's burgeoning acoustic music scene. They spent the better part of 2016 living in their camper van "Irene" and playing shows around the country. Ever inspired by the enduring spirit of traditional Appalachian mountain music, they now call Asheville, North Carolina their home. Their songwriting comes across as simple, honest, and fresh to the ears. Fans of tight duo harmonies will love the tender harmonizing between Amy and Mark that falls in line with masters like Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Both are Berklee College of Music alumni, and one can expect the polished technique of music school training influenced by the grit and drive of musicians like Bill Monroe and Ola Belle Reed.
At the end of a long and winding road, Mark Kilianski has found himself as a Bluegrass flat picker, Old Time rhythm machine, and a singer and writer of songs old and new. Through the twists and turns of his teenage years, Mark explored guitar playing in Heavy Metal, Blues Rock and Jazz settings, culminating with a degree in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music. Shortly thereafter, Mark shed the esoteric, and plot a course on the old straight and narrow road of Folk music. Mark was awarded 4th place in flat picking guitar at the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention (2016). Taking cues from Dock Boggs, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, and Robert Johnson, to mention only a few, Mark adds his own voice to the great lineage of American Folk Music with honesty, originality, and reverence.
Josh Larios co-founded Seattle's "Slower Than Dirt" slow/beginner old-time jam in 2012 with his wife Cam to give beginners of all ages a gentle introduction to jamming. He's played for contra and square dances in and around Seattle, and enjoys learning new tunes from YouTube videos, recordings old and new, and local musicians at jams. An enthusiastic amateur who took up old-time fiddle in his thirties, he believes it's important to promote folk music as something that everyone can participate in, not just consume.
Déjah Léger has been playing Québécois-style guitar for over 10 years, and is well-known in the Québécois traditional music scene. She plays primarily in alternate tunings, including DADGAD and Orkney, with a style ranging from finger-picking tunes to chordal, rhythmic accompaniment in the Canadian style. Basically, if regular folk guitar is like french fries, then Québécois guitar is like french fries with gravy and cheese curds, and is 1000% better.
Devon Léger is a traditional fiddler with Acadian heritage from Eastern Canada. A scholar of the nearly lost fiddle music of Canada's Eastern Maritimes, including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northern Québec, and the Magdalen Islands, he's spent years researching the music and hunting down older sources for the tunes to learn from them directly. He's taught Acadian and French-Canadian fiddling in a wide variety of places and loves to share the music of his family's roots.
Jens is one of the most interesting drummers in the Nordic region. Constantly looking for new sounds and angles. He has a burning interest in folk music in the Nordic region and to act as a sound-playing soloist. His elegant and temperamental accompaniment picks up the best of every song, and therefore he is a highly appreciated percussionist. Jens is also a strong force behind Hagenfesten ArtFlow and the bands SVER and Snakka San & SVER.
Arielle Bess Luckmann
Arielle Bess Luckmann is a Bellingham native who now resides in the Skagit Valley. She teaches both kids and adults fiddle tunes and folk songs in a warm and welcoming style, honed during her many years teaching at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, IL. She is one half of The Scarlet Locomotive, and continually moonlights with bands throughout the region, leading both her voice and fiddle to make music magic.
Margo Murphy & John Roberts with Ruthie Dornfeld
Margo and John revel in warm-hearted vintage country duets from the likes of George and Melba, the Louvin Brothers and Merle Haggard, as well as delighting in the reinvention of classic pop songs. Raised on different shores of Puget Sound, Margo and John each fostered a love for duet harmony singing. John, a longtime member of the Bellingham-based Nooksack Valley Boys, has spent most of his life working on commercial fishing boats, which seems to have put a salty soulfulness in his voice. Margo, well-versed in both country and jazz, has serenaded couples on dance floors in Seattle and wooed audiences with her velvet voice. When their musical paths converged in a festival in the NW woods, the result was magic. Their first album collaboration, The Sea and the Sky, released last Spring and charting on the FOLKDJ list, highlights the inimitable fiddling of Ruthie Dornfeld. They are so pleased she will be joining them here at the Bellingham Folk Festival this year.
Olav Luksengård Mjelva
Olav Luksengård Mjelva comes from Røros in the Sør- Trøndelag region of Norway. He began playing the fiddle at age seven and some years later started playing the Hardanger fiddle. He is a founding member of both the Norwegian – Swedish ensemble SVER, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, a trio specialising in Norwegian, Swedish and Shetland fiddle music and also the Rydvall/Mjelva duo alongside Swedish Nyckelharpa player Erik Rydvall with whom they have received several awards. In addition to this he is also in Copper City Ramblers and several other projects. He has also written music for several documentaries, short movies and theater projects. In 2010 Olav received the prestigious Spelemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy award for his debut solo album, and in 2011 he received the prize as part of the Unni Boksasp Ensemble. In 2013 he was also awarded the title of Norway’s folk musician of the year. Olav is highly sought after as a studio musician and has played on over 40 releases. He is also a widely used instructor and dance musician both in Norway and abroad.
Mjelva/West is a new collaboration between Olav L Mjelva (fiddles) and american vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Eli West (vocals, guitar, bouzouki). They met in different festivals around the world and met in a common interest of musical soundscapes. They´re working on the debut album which will be released in 2018.
Queen's Bluegrass has been performing since the mid 1980's. The founder of the group, Ernest Queen passed away in 2015--we like to say he "has gone on before." Kevin Fazio and Aaron Maas, both longtime Queen's Bluegrass members, had the privilege of spending a good bit of time with Ernie in his final days. One of Ernie's final requests was that we "keep playing the music." Kevin and Aaron (with the much needed and appreciated help from Aaron's wonderful wife, Jen) have honored the request since Ernie's passing. The current lineup for Queen's Bluegrass...Kevin Fazio on banjo, Aaron Maas on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, John Parent on mandolin and fiddle, and Marcel Ardans on lead guitar.
Leif Ingvar Ranøien
Leif Ingvar Ranøien was born in Røros in the middle part of Norway. Leif Ingvar is not quite like other accordionists. Instead of cultivating the traditional accordion music, he has the Norwegian fiddle music as his idol. This gives him a special and personal sound on his instrument. He has several medals from national competitions. Leif Ingvar has also worked as a teacher in several municipal schools of music and performing arts including as a mentor for students at the Ole Bull Academy, The Grieg Academy in Bergen. Leif Ingvar has done a lot of research in the matter of Norwegian folk music, written articles and has a master's degree in folk music at Telemark University College, Rauland. Presently he works as a music archivist in addition to be an active musician in several constellations.
Patti Rathbun is a charter member of the Bellingham Ukulele Orchestra and has played the uke for 10 years. She has a Master of Adult Education degree from Western Washington University and has taught uke to fourth and fifth graders at private schools, adult and youth beginners at the Bellingham Ukulele Group (BUG) and adults at the library’s SkillShare.
Janie Rothfield is an award winning clawhammer banjo player and powerhouse fiddler who has been playing Old Time Music “forever”! Janie got her start playing with older generation fiddlers and banjo players from New England, North Carolina and Quebec and since high school has taught and performed around the world with her brand of traditional and original roots music on fiddle and banjo. She has over 11 recordings (including 3 LP') including her recent projects featuring her original songs and tunes (Out of Thin Air) and with Hen's Teeth (Off the Cuff and On the Fly). Janie is also the found and director of Janie's Jumpstart Music Camps.
Paul Russell is an internationally performing musician, independent music teacher, and workshop leader whose mission & passion is Connecting Hearts with the Musical Arts. Paul serves as Creative Catalyst & Musical Mentor for the dedicated and flourishing music students in his lesson studio, The Musical Mandala. In The Mandala, students develop clarity of artistic vision, confidence in innate creativity, a deeply felt understanding of music fundamentals, fluency in creative expression, and delight in creative communion!
Anna Schaad Montgomery
Anna Schaad Montgomery is a composer, musician, and teacher who plays an active role as an artist in her community with her unique style and original music. She is dedicated to inspiring people to follow their passion, and delights in teaching the secrets of the violin to students young and old. Schaad has released four instrumental albums, including “the Raven Project,” “Songspell,” “the Journey,” and “Dream Within a Dream.” Besides touring and performing original work with her musician buddies, Anna also appears as a featured artist with other entertainers. She has appeared in tandem with David MacVittie in New York, Canada, New Zealand and Australia with the four-time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, playing a variety of electric violins in furious harmony with the Highland Pipes. “Primarily I think of myself as a Northwest recording artist, composer and teacher. I love being an artist and I love creating music that makes people connect with their emotions,” she says. Schaad Montgomery is currently working on her fifth album, and lives and teaches in Ridgecrest, California.
Sarah Schermer is a dancer, teacher, and film maker who loves to sing and play bass. She has taught therapeutic movement, and Pilates for the last 10 years and is deeply committed to helping people move comfortably in their bodies while doing what they love. She is interested in exploring Japanese modern dance and is currently working on her next short film based on an original ballad. Sarah is a certified Pilates instructor, holds a BFA in modern dance performance and choreograph, and plans on being a life-long student of the creative process.
Annie Schermer & Channing Showalter
Annie Schermer and Channing Showalter have been singing together for several years, and enjoy discovering new songs, sounds and ways of listening. They recently returned to Washington State from the mountains of North Carolina where they sang songs and made puppet shows together. They believe singing is everyone's innate ability and right, and strive to participate in, createand revive a culture of singing.
Since moving to Portland, Oregon in 2002, Jamie Stillway has quietly been making her mark in the world of fingerstyle guitar. She has toured nationally and internationally, received an endorsement from Stevens Custom Guitars of Munich, and has become an in-demand instructor; teaching at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival, California Coast Music Camp, and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop. She has self-released 3 albums of original compositions, and her style of playing has brought comparisons to Leo Kottke, Django Reinhardt, Bill Frisell, Rev. Gary Davis and more. Her most recent release is a collection of solo compositions recorded live at Portland's Secret Society Studios. “Cerebral jazz with blues roots and humor. Instrumental guitar at its best.”The Oregonian
SVER play grand Norwegian folk music with relentless energy and seductive spark taking you on a fantastic musical journey guaranteed to excite you. Ranging from the very dreamy to a swinging, pounding and sweaty madness – you are invited to the party, greeted by a welcoming primal force that pulls you into the dance. SVER consists of Olav Luksengård Mjelva (fiddle and hardangerfiddle), Anders Hall (fiddle and viola), Leif Ingvar Ranøien (diatonic accordion), Adam Johansson (guitar) and Jens Linell (Drums and percussion). Olav and Leif Ingvar have played together since 2002. Vidar Berge joined the group in 2007 on guitar and together they released the self titled album “SVER”. In the spring of 2008 Anders and Jens completed the band, and they released “Fruen” in 2010. Vidar quit the band later that year and Adam joined the group. Since 2011 SVER has collaborated with the Swedish dance-hall artist Snakka San.
Eli West is a Seattle-based multi-instrumentalist. With an interest in angular phrasing and non-traditional improvisation within the historic precedents of bluegrass and old-time music, his guitar playing has been called both unique and strong. He has released a solo record in 2016 including duets with Bill Frisell and John Reischman, and three records as half of the new/old-time duo Cahalen Morrison & Eli West. He also collaborates with Ben Winship, Joe Walsh, Norwegian fiddler Olav Mjelva, and others.
Meghan Yates began performing as a solo singer-songwriter in 2002. Her music blurs the line between medicine and art. A self taught musician creating and playing forms of folk music reflective of her ancestry, and the cultural intersections of the world we live in.
Past Instructors & Performers
Elias Alexander - Linda Allen - Marcel Ardans - Danny Barnes - Zach Bauman - Charlie Beck - Laurel Bliss - Pam Borso - Brian Bowers - Flip Breskin - Kat Bula - Devin Champlin - Choroloco - Casey Connor - Sean Connors - Colin Cotter - Clyde Curley - John Daughtrey - Marie Eaton - Erin Esses - Melanie Flink - Foghorn Stringband - Gallus Brothers - Gallowglass - Giant's Causeway - Alicia Guinn - Happy Valley Sluggers - Christy Hays - Lucas Hicks - Tanya Hladik - Coty Hogue - Hoot & Holler - Jim Horbett - Caleb Klauder - Nadine Landry - Josh Larios - Louis Ledford - Jeff Lefferts - The Lil' Smokies - Stephen "Sammy" Lind - The Lowest Pair - Arielle Luckmann - MAC - Nakos Marker - Forrest Marowitz - Ryan McKasson - Norah McLaughlin - John Miller - Geof Morgan - Jacob Navarro - Rosie Newton - Northern Contraband - Ted O'Connell - Carol Olson - Open Door Jubilee Singers - Jan Peters - Chad Petersen - Janet Peterson - Terry Poth - Quickdraw String Band - Rain City Ramblers - Patti Rathbun - The Revelers - George Rezendes - Kim Richey - Rattletrap Ruckus - Jenny Rose - Scarlet Locomotive - Anna Schaad - Cayley Schmid - Richard Scholtz - Mike Schway - The Shadies - Charmaine Slaven - Dorothy Smith - Richie Stearns - Harper Stone - Clea Taylor - Daniel Ullom - Sam Vogt - Reeb Willms - Elaine Woods - Woolly Breeches