Sunday, March 4, 2012

The New England Folk Festival Comes to Somerville

Showcase concert to feature NEFFA artists Lynn Noel, Corvus, Wear My Letter and Marylou Ferrante

Somerville - Although the New England Folk Festival has been around since 1944 and in April will present its 68th annual edition in Mansfield, “NEFFA” (the “a” stands for “association”) is not necessarilyto the general populace, a household word. To increase public awareness, and to entice new patrons to the festival, the non-profit educational and cultural organization, whose mission is “to encourage, sponsor, and preserve high standards of performance of the folk arts and traditions in New England and elsewhere” will present in Somerville a pre-festival “showcase” concert featuring a representative sample of four distinct music genres that are typically found at the festival.

“The festival is well known to and attended by those already connected with folk arts, and NEFFA produces a weekly contradance series at the Scout House in Concord. But at our 2011 retreat and subsequent meetings, the board of directors decided that more could be done to bring folk music to the community,” said Jeff Boudreau, who serves on the NEFFA board.

The New England Folk Festival has many components: folk arts and crafts; folk music, including concerts, workshops, and jams; International Dance Performance in traditional costumes; Ritual Dance Performances; and participatory dancing, including International line dance, Couple dance, and Contra/Sqaure dancing and other traditional dance forms. When NEFFA says “folk” it means “folk”. “The general public often confuses “contemporary” singer-songwriter music with folk music, NEFFA presents the real deal, the kind of music and dance that has been handed down from generation to generation. The showcase will present an opportunity to experience a taste of what NEFFA has to offer.

“Using the roster of some 400+ artists who will be performing April 20-22 in Mansfield, we selected four distinct musical genres to present at the showcase,” The four acts, all residents of the Commonwealth, are Lynn Noel - solo voice/group sing, Marylou Ferrante - pre-war blues, Wear My Letter - old-time music and Corvus  Celtic. “With a deep talent pool, it was very difficult to select just a few performers for the showcase. We hope that this concert becomes a tradition each year, so that we can feature different performers.

The NEFFA Showcase will be presented at Unity, 6 William Street (near Davis Square), Somerville, MA. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for NEFFA members. The 68th annual New England Folk Festival will be presented April 20-22 at the Mansfield, MA Junior and Senior High Schools. Membership, showcase and festival information and tickets are available at  Information is available by calling the NEFFA office, (617) 299-1590.

In addition to his duties as a NEFFA director, Boudreau also hosts a folk music program on community radio WCUW in Worcester (91.3fm, NEFFA showcase and festival specials will air on Tuesday, March 20, Tuesday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 17th. Watch the NEFFA and WCUW websites for more information.


Genre: Celtic
Biography: Corvus is a trio of Boston-area musicians who play traditional Irish tunes and songs on a somewhat unlikely but quite pleasing combination of instruments. Emily Peterson (concertina, flute) has been a self-taught concertina player since 1996, learning Irish tunes in sessions while moving around the US for school and her day job in optical physics. Steve Levy (tenor banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, lead vocals) fell in love with Irish music during the 1970s and went on to study with eminent Boston-area musicians such as Peter Maguire, John McGann, Matt Heaton, and the late Tony Cuffe. Sean Smith (guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, lead vocals) began playing traditional Irish, Scottish and English music as a teenager, and since then has appeared, solo or in various collaborations, at various coffeehouses, festivals and other venues around Massachusetts and New England.

Genre: Solo voice/group sing
Biography: Noel celebrates a sense of place in song and story through bluewater and whitewater music. She captures the spirit and joie de vivre of the voyageurs, the raw energy of working chanteys from the days of sail, the exploits of adventurous women from Vikings and pirates to industrial mill girls, and the magic of the seasonal round in ritual dance and drama.

Genre: Pre-war blues
Biography: Ferrante was described by music critic and writer, Daniel Gewertz, in the Boston Herald, as the Bay State's finest female acoustic blues interpreter. Performing pre-war blues from the 1920's & 30's, she covers major artists from the delta to east coast Piedmont style players such as Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Blind Boy Fuller and Memphis Minnie along with mandolin players such as Yank Rachell. Her passionate expression of these old songs comes from a love of the music and the arrangements themselves, as well as what she says is an appreciation for "the history of these folks and the difficult circumstances they endured." Marylou has honed her craft listening to the old recordings and learning from some of the great blues players today such as Paul Rishell, Guy Davis, Robert Jones and mandolin great Rich Del Grosso. Marylou has taught at The Cellar Studio, Salem MA.

"Marylou is a killer. I have watched her grow, and now she's taking over. Blues lovers look out!" ~GUY DAVIS

"Marylou has the soul of a blues woman." ~Detroit's Blues Man ROBERT JONES

Genre: Old-time
Biography: Wear My Letter is comprised of musicians Justin Nawn and Bronwyn Bird. Natives of Doylestown PA, they are now Boston based, adding their unique sound to the city's diverse music scene. As multi-instrumentalists they hit the stage with an arsenal of instruments, including the nyckleharpa (swedish keyed-fiddle), mandolin, accordion and guitar. Justin's background in Rock/Pop music is combined with Bronwyn's love of early Jazz and traditional folk from Scandinavia and Appalachia, creating a fresh and original style that all audiences can enjoy!

NEFFA Showcase Concert Featuring Lynn Noel, Corvus, Wear My Letter and Marylou Ferrante
Friday, March 23 – 8:00pm
Unity Somerville, 6 William Street (corner College Ave, just north of Davis Square), Somerville
$15, $10 NEFFA members (join at or at the concert).
Lynn Noel - Solo voice/group sing -
NEFFA Info/tickets -
Concert website -
Facebook event -

Dinner and a Show 

Concert patrons can save 10% when they bring proof of concert reservation to The House of Tibet Kitchen, 235 Holland Street, Somerville - 617-629-7567.

Patrons who make a dinner reservation and show proof of concert attendance (printed confirmation) will be entitled to 10% off their dinner bill.  Tax and tip not included.
To receive the discount, make a reservation and identify yourself as attending the NEFFA showcase.
More information about the Showcase and tickets here. 

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