Pete Kennedy is best known as the guitar-intensive half of folk-rock duo The Kennedys, but his experience spans a wide cross-section of American music. He toured the US and Europe extensively with Nanci Griffith, and he played an important role in the making of her Grammy-winning CD, “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” sharing lead guitar duties with Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke. He also toured for a year with Mary Chapin Carpenter; has played with the National Symphony and numerous Broadway road companies including “Cats” and “Evita”; and was a house musician at legendary roots music club the Birchmere. He studied with classical guitarist Larry Snitzler and Jazz legends Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, and Charlie Byrd – so Pete is uniquely able to answer just about any question you might have about making the most of your love and enthusiasm for the guitar.
(Intermediate) The one simple exercise that will do the most to improve your playing. Triads: One bit of theory that will get you playing up and down the guitar neck. Modes: They’re a lot simpler than you think, and they will open up your solo ideas. Harmonics: Your guitar has a wider range than you think! Cool Chords: Pete shows some of the voicings that George Gershwin and Ray Charles used to kick the blues to the next level
Pete has a lifetime of experience backing singer-songwriters on the road and in the studio. His early travels with Mary-Chapin Carpenter led to a steady gig as a member of Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra. He can be heard playing the opening guitar solo on Nanci’s Grammy-winning CD,”Other Voices, Other Rooms”, and his work with Nanci involved backing her numerous songwriter colleagues, including Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt as they would show up to collaborate with Nanci on a song or two. Each singer had their own artistic approach, and for Pete the challenge was always to “zone in” on that and play in a way that would frame their lyrics and bring out what they wanted to communicate to the listener. That education was invaluable when he joined forces with fellow Blue Moon orchestra alumnus Maura Boudreau and they became the married Kennedys. Each song on their dozen CDs started as a guitar arrangement, and that is how they are performed live. Pete is thankful to the many mentors who taught him to play with taste and imagination, and he looks forward to mentoring aspiring singer songwriters in developing their own guitar arrangements. This will be a “master class” format, which means that it will be driven by the students’ own performances. Play a song, and Pete will help you get the maximum depth and breadth from your guitar part.
Alan Thornhill’s unpretentious nature could be misleading. You might think upon meeting him that he’s simply the modest legendary finish carpenter from the artist colony of Ojai, CA. That myth evaporates when he picks up a guitar and beautiful hands reveal what they were born to do. Long recognized as a notably brilliant player (winner of the prestigious Telluride Fingerstyle Guitar Championship), his distinctive sound has been featured on numerous recordings (Kate Wolfe, Chris Hillman, Hoyt Axton, The Rincon Ramblers). While his melodic playing captivates audiences of all ages, from concert halls to festival stages, it is simply a stunning accompaniment to what is called by many “one of the most beautiful voices ever heard.”
This award-winning songwriter (American Song Festival, Mavric Music Awards) has been well-covered by artists such as Kenny Loggins, The Desert Rose Band, The Cache Valley Drifters, Chris Hillman, Michael Parks and Jim Messina.
His place among the best was confirmed with the release of his solo album, Sittin’ Out the Rain, a spectacular showcase of Alan’s definitive songwriting, guitar playing, and vocal flair. The album, recorded in Nashville and produced by Pat Flynn (New Grass Revival) has quickly become a fan favorite and won the 2008 Mavric Music Awards’ Album of the Year.
Alan’s latest release is Guitarpenter’s Dream, an album of eleven original instrumental pieces. Recorded at home, this record has captured the warmth and melodies of his unique guitar style, as well as an occasional crackle of the fireplace, and the warmth of the 1928 stone house where it was recorded. Guitarpenters Dream was nominated for 2008 Mavric Music Awards Instrumental Album of the Year.
Jill Knight’s soulful sound is unmistakable. India Arie once said, “I love great voices and when I heard Jill sing it stopped me in my tracks, and I had to listen.” She later asked Knight to be her opening act.
Knight has been a finalist at many songwriting competitions, including the Telluride Troubadour competition; the National Academy of Songwriters “Songwriter of the Year” competition; and Billboard Magazine’s “Best Unsigned Band” contest. She has also toured and shared stages with other notable songwriters including India Arie, Shawn Colvin, David Wilcox, Michael Hedges, Phoebe Snow, Richard Thompson, Little Feat, and many others.
Nicola writes lots of songs. She plays guitar, ukulele and fiddle. She is a life learner and a joy facilitator, cultivating and sharing her process through music and workshops and coaching. Inspired by nature, acts of kindness, and a growing appreciation of life’s twists and turns, her intention is to grow in aliveness and inspire those around her to do the same.
There’s 5 CDs and presently a ukulele-inspired CD in the hopper. 3 CDs are original material; The last two are songs based on the poetry of Hafiz–an amazing 14th century Sufi poet (similar style to Rumi)- as translated by Daniel Ladinsky. She shares her creative flow with others teaching songwriting at the local college and doing workshops on creative flow and writing around the country.
Besides doing her solo shows and teaching, Nicola also plays in an ol’ timey girl-grass band called the Honeysuckle Possums: herself plus Susan Reeves, Lisa Macker, Ruth Alpert and Rebbecca Troone. They make a rowdy, genuine noise of foot-stomping glee. Three songwriters w/ three-part harmonies, fiddles, ukulele, banjo, mandolin (plus the usual guitar and base) and an o’l timey clogger…yep, they have fun.
Pat Wictor took a convoluted path to folk music, winding his way through rock, heavy metal, and jazz. He started with guitar, shifted to bass, moved to saxophone, and then quit music entirely before a return in 1993, a time when he also began composing songs. By 2001, he left a teaching career to pursue music full time and does so in the broadest way possible. An adept improviser and accompanist, he is sought after as a collaborator, sideman and session musician, with numerous recording credits to date. His monthly e-mail column, “A Few Choice Words,” is read by thousands of subscribers. He is a music educator of note, teaching workshops on writing, interpreting, and rearranging songs, on slide guitar and other guitar techniques, and various topics of music history.
His performances–part fireside chat, part meditation on matters earthly and transcendent–feature his originals. In addition to his own tunes, he is quick to offer up a newly-discovered lyric from another performer, or a fresh arrangement of a traditional song, delighting in introducing his audience to innovative material. With flowing red hair and zen-like calm, Pat embraces his audience with the sincerity of his music and the clarity of his voice, inviting them in.
Pat views his life and his music as a journey, populated with an ever-shifting landscape of people, places and emotions. It is a journey he is eager to share with others, knowing that it is the experiences along the way, not the arrival, that initiate the most profound changes.
Pat’s fifth CD, Heaven Is So High…And I’m So Far Down, was released in July ’06, and received nationwide airplay on folk and specialty radio programs. His previous CD, Waiting for the Water, also received wide radio play, reaching #4 on the FolkDJ charts in February 2005, and remaining on the charts for months afterward.
Beth Fitchet Wood is a singer, guitarist, composer and producer. Her main influences are in the folk, pop, musical theatre, jazz and rock ‘n roll genres. She was in the Southern California band, Honk in the early seventies, who released three albums and toured nationally with Loggins and Messina, Chicago and the Beach Boys. After Honk, Beth played in just about every conceivable musical format, in most kinds of venues. She also toured the world as a background vocalist and assistant producer.
In the 1980s, Beth recorded and co-produced two children’s albums with her co-Honk members Will Brady and Steve Wood, her husband. These were recently re-released on her CD entitled “Autumn To May.” She also recorded an album with her girls group, The Girls in 1988 entitled “That’s What Dreams are For.”
During the 1990’s, she recorded an album with her guys group Zero Ted entitled “Sacred Cow,” and her album “Silos,” featuring 8 original songs, has the same cast of characters. She most recently recorded a CD of pop tunes and Honk favorites entitled “Angel On My Shoulder,” with unique instrumentation. The basic tracks for that CD were recorded in Slovenia, with a string/accordion band! Beth will take just about any excuse to sing, and has been given many wonderful opportunities to do that, singing background on hundreds of albums, IMAX soundtracks and commercials.
Since the turn of the millennium, Beth has accompanied her husband Steve on his worldwide production adventures for Sony Classical, striving to make herself useful at concerts he produced at the Colosseum in Rome, and Central Park in New York (with their son Nate!), and has been fortunate to assist at recording sessions with some of the best new tenors of our time. In 2005, she was production assistant for Steve’s Greek IMAX soundtrack, “Greece – Secrets Of The Past,” which featured 5 of the biggest Greek recording stars. She also co-wrote the title track for the IMAX film, “Hurricane On The Bayou.”
Then she comes home to Laguna Beach, teaches music to her students, runs her Tuesday Night Songwriter’s Showcase, plays live with her group The Girls and occasionally does concerts with her old pals in Honk.
It has been suggested that I write a more thorough bio, ala the modern blog idea, so here goes: I was born in Port Washington New York and moved to Phoenix Arizona when I was 2. I grew up there, and as my parents embraced the heat and the horses and the desert, so did I. My mother and father loved music and were aspiring actors in musical comedy, so that was my first main musical influence, along with Burl Ives, the Sons of the Pioneers, Harry Belafonte and Mary Martin. In fact, they were my first heroes, along with Betty Crocker. I always sang, and first appeared on stage when I was 3, singing “Somebody Bad Stole De Wedding Bell – a,” a fine song.
A lot of stuff happened in between, and when I was 14 I first heard the Beatles on the car radio riding to school with my brother Philip. Though I had always been pathologically shy, this event knocked me out so fiercely I burst into P.E. shouting about it. Life changing! At barely 15, I went to a party and my friend Jan let me try out her Gibson, properly tuned, and I fell onto a road I never fell back out of. Then, Mary Ann Jones lent me her Bob Dylan “Freewheelin'” album, and after thinking how weird and bad his voice sounded on “Blowin’ In The Wind,” that next song started, which was “Girl From The North Country,” and I sobbed on the floor for the rest of the time. I don’t know why I knew how good it was. Luck.
I met some other musicians in Phoenix, Doug Haywood and Jeff Gilkinson, and we decided to work together and take Hollywood by storm. Doug was (is) a wonderful songwriter, guitarist, singer and bass player, and Jeff had (has) a strange conglomeration of talents, including playing telepathic harmonica, banjo and ripping cello. After a brief practice session in Washington, we all moved to Hollywood and started playing the various Hoot Nights.
That was 1969, and Monday nights at the Troubadour were magic. About the first four or five Mondays, I first heard Jackson Browne, Longbranch and Pennywhistle (Glenn Fry and J.D. Souther), Carla and Lisa Bonoff, Penny Nichols, then Judee Sill and Tom Waits. Incredible to come across that music without warning. I’d stumbled into the motherlode. Our band played several times on Mondays, and thus developed a passing acquaintance with those people, which resulted in Doug landing a twenty-year gig with Jackson Browne. I simply had to learn his songs, and since the only way to do that in those days was to memorize like crazy and get busy with the bar napkins, that’s what I did. I’d play those wonderful songs for anyone who would listen, including the folks at Criterion Music, a publishing house in Hollywood. They agreed that Jackson Browne’s songs were very special but they didn’t think his voice was so great, so they asked if I would sing some demos of his songs for them to shop. The Criterion folks thought the songs needed a little fleshing out musically too, so it was suggested that I team up with this new band to accompany me. The band was Honk.
Strangely enough, I’d met Honk a few months before at a Hoot night at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. I’d seen that Jackson Browne had gotten a gig there, so I thought I’d try my luck too. It was another Monday night thing and Honk had just formed, and there were some other brand new acts, namely Cheech and Chong, and the Ice House Blues Band. Honk played fascinating music: “My Analyst,” by Lambert Hendricks and Ross, and some crazy original music, written by them and also by Mark Turnbull. They were extremely cute, especially the keyboard player. Woody. Surfer dude with long hair.
Both Honk and I got the gig, for the same night. It was a strange pairing of acts: me, a skinny curly haired shy, introverted folksinger; and Honk, a ripping rock and roll band with jazz roots and the happiest, most energetic attitude I’d ever come across. Somehow it worked very well.
Anne Hills has become one of the better known voices of the contemporary folk music scene, receiving awards and recognition for her live performances (2009 Bound for Glory live radio show favorite- Ithaca, NY), her unique solo and collaborative recording projects (2001 WAMMIE for duet CD with Tom Paxton, Under American Skies), and her overall artistry and benefit work (2002 Kate Wolf Award, Carole Robertson Award & Kerrville Female Vocalist of the Year 1997). Her song “Follow That Road” was the title cut of the Martha’s Vineyard Songwriter Retreat and has enchanted audiences for over a decade.
Whether she is singing her own song, the words of 6 year old Opal Whiteley, or the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley; accompanied with her guitar, banjo, or simply a Tibetan bell, she puts her whole heart and soul into the moment. So, even if you haven’t become familiar with her voice (featured often on XM/Sirius Folk Radio, The Midnight Special & many other folk shows) you won’t want to miss a chance to hear her songs and stories in person. She’s just begun touring more extensively, winning over audiences with her warm, lively and humorous performances.
Beneath the radar of the corporate music world there
are gems to be found. Greg Greenway is a multi-faceted one. A rare combination of instrumental expertise, a soulful and moving singer, powerful poet, and sparkling entertainer, Greenway is one of those difficult-to-categorize performers who have found a home in the modern acoustic genre. Originally from Richmond, VA, he moved to Boston for
its rich Folk Music tradition and has become one of its most unique and superlative emissaries. Put simply, he is one of the finest entertainers you’ll ever see.
Musically, he draws inspiration from all over the map–gospel, rock, blues, Jazz, and world music. But his center is in the singer/songwriter tradition that traces it roots all the way back to the social awareness of Woody Guthrie. His central appeal is that it all comes through the singular lens of Greenway’s humanity and his easy affinity for the audience.
He has been described as “one of the strongest, and finest voices in folk music.” The Boston Globe wrote, “Confessional one moment, rambunctiously disarming the next, few modern folk singers can own a coffeehouse stage as completely as Greenway.” Another reviewer perhaps described it best, “A profoundly rich poet and musician. Folk Music is too narrow a description.” And he has legendary energy. His visit to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis yielded his own composition that rises powerfully into U2′s Pride/In the Name of Love. It is a hair raising, riveting anthem that embodies Greenway’s passion and his gift for framing social issues. It is a show stopping event, couched in a presentation of high spirited give and take of such good humor that audiences unfailingly walk away uplifted.
From the end of 2010 to the present, Greenway has been one third of one of the most successful Folk trios in North America, Brother Sun. With Joe Jencks and Pat Wictor, Greenway has, as Brother Sun, produced two CDs, Brother Sun, and Some Part of the Truth. The former remained on the Folk DJ charts for a year and a half, while the later, debuting in March of this year has spent two months at number one.
Kim and Reggie Harris are two vibrant, superbly talented and engaging performers whose captivating stage presence has inspired audiences around the world for over 25 years. As singers, songwriters, storytellers, educators, historical interpreters and cultural advocates, they have used their remarkable voices and their unique talents to bring new insights to the entertainment and educational spectrum.
Born in Philadelphia, a city rich in musical and cultural heritage, Kim and Reggie were both exposed to a wide range of composers and musical genres. Their training, nurtured in their individual homes and enhanced in their churches and schools, enriched their musical vocabulary. It was the start of what has evolved into the ” Bach to Rock” musical approach (with the strongest elements being Folk, Gospel and Jazz) that is so prevalent in their music. They met, by chance, at a summer camp in 1974. While attending Temple University, they honed their performance skills in the clubs and coffeehouses around Philadelphia.
In 1980, Kim and Reggie “hit the road,” touring universities, art centers, schools and other concert venues. Their strong material (both original and otherwise) and complex harmonies, combined with their stunning voices and informed stage patter, has won them accolades and fans that has them in constant demand. They average over 275 performances each year!
They have been featured in performance at the Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Institute, The International Children’s Festival in Canada,The Wang Center, The Pike’s Peak Center, various festivals in the United States, Canada and Italy and a host of universities, schools, churches and performing venues.
They have proven themselves to be exceptional people who can entertain audiences of all ages and backgrounds. They continue to distinguish themselves as artists of integrity who show respect for their craft and their audiences by working to expand their skills and build on their knowledge base.
Kim and Reggie are presenters in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Touring workshop program providing teacher training and arts events that encourage the use of the arts in the classroom.
They are featured artists in Silver Burdett and Ginn’s “World of Music”, a leading educational music series; they have, in collaboration with Chatham Hill Games, produced the “Underground Railroad Activity Set” (a video, game and teaching guide) for use by teachers and parents and they continue to be sought after presenters on the subjects of the Underground Railroad, the Modern Civil Rights Movement and African American Music of Social Change.
Over the course of their career they have opened for and performed with a diverse array of artists including Jay Leno, Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, Tom Paxton, Micheal Keaton, The Indigo Girls, Janis Ian, and many others.
Kim and Reggie have recorded 5 CDs on the Appleseed Recordings label, one CD for Folk Era; contributed tracks to each of Appleseed’s Pete Seeger releases and are also featured (with other leading Folk and Acoustic artists) on a growing number of compilation and tribute CDs.
Kim has most recently earned a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary and, when not touring, Reggie coaches girls varsity basketball.