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 holds monthly "House Hoots" at members' homes, open to all for informal singing and playing, and produces a monthly 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. Unless otherwise specified, admission is $15 for non-members, $12 for members, and $5 for children 12 and under.

Admission policy for this season's great folk shows: Pay at the door. Thanks!

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:
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.



December 12, 2015: Lissa Schneckenburger and Bethany Waickman

Are you ready for a night of dynamic fiddling and melodious singing from New Englander Lissa Schneckenburger, accompanied by the inventive stylings of guitarist Bethany Waickman? It will be a holiday treat. A snowstorm cancelled this duo's Branford Folk Music Society debut last February, but we're thrilled that Lissa and Bethany were able to work with us to secure this December appearance.

The traditional music of New England can be as warm and comforting as a winter fire or as potent and exhilarating as a summer thunderstorm. Lissa is a master of both moods, a winsome, sweet-voiced singer who brings new life to old ballads and a skillful fiddler who captures the driving rhythm and carefree joy of dance tunes old and new. Raised in a small town in Maine, Lissa grew up with music. She began playing fiddle at the age of six, inspired by her mother's interest in folk music and a family friend who was a professional violinist. Soon she was studying with influential Maine fiddler Greg Boardman and sitting in with the Maine Country Dance Orchestra. By the time she reached high school she was playing concerts on her own, specializing in the sprightly New England dance tunes that combine influences from the British Isles and Quebec with homegrown twists that have been evolving since Colonial days.

Another of her major influences was the diverse musical community that she found at fiddle camps, where she had a chance to play with and learn from a wide variety of musicians including noted Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. She graduated in 2001 from the New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in contemporary improvisation, and since then has been performing around the U.S. and internationally for a growing audience of enthusiastic listeners.

Early in her professional career, Lissa began closely studying the roots of the Downeast traditional music that she first heard as a young girl. The study resulted in a pair of albums dedicated to reintroducing some wonderful but largely forgotten songs and tunes from New England that she uncovered through archival research. "Song" contains ten timeless ballads that go back as far as the 18th century that she set to carefully crafted modern arrangements, while "Dance" features fiddle tunes.

Lissa has also performed with several ensembles, including Childsplay and Halali.

For this concert, Lissa will be joined by longtime accompanist guitarist Bethany Waickman, who is well known in contradance, square dance and Irish music circles. Bethany, who is Maine-based, also plays with the groups Firefly and Anadama.

January 16, 2016: Fiesta del Norte (Note: This is a 3rd Saturday)

What an exciting way to open the New Year! Fiesta del Norte is an exciting and versatile Connecticut-based Mariachi band that performs traditional Mexican folk and popular music on authentic instruments. The ensemble dresses in customary charro outfits and weaves together songs, translations, storytelling, joyful gritos and cultural insights. Their repertoire spans from the mariachis of Jalisco, nortenas of Chihuahua, the harp music of Vera Cruz and the marimba music of Chiapas. Fiesta del Norte takes their music and cultural message across the state at festivals, schools, libraries, town greens, and senior facilities and it’s a true pleasure for the Branford Folk Music Society to present them in concert.

The group is led by Dave Giardina, an award recipient of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. He received his B.A. degree from St. Anselm College and also studied at Longy School of Music. Although his musical roots extend to the 1960s folk-rock culture, Dave studied classical guitar with Sharon Isbin and Philip Defremery, jazz with Sal Salvador and Bob Kobus and flamenco with Mario Escudero and Paco Pena (Spain). He also played in master classes for John Williams, Manuel Barrueco, Ben Verdery, Abel Carlevaro, and Oscar Ghiglia. He has been teaching for many years on the faculties of Trinity and St. Joseph colleges and Manchester Community College, as well as privately. His compositions are featured on two releases by the CT Classical Guitar Society, of which he is a founding member. His latest release, Fiesta Grande, features music of Mexico.

Fiesta del Norte


February 13, 2016: Notorious

With their music lauded as “sparkling” and “exhilarating”, the dynamic musical duo known as Notorious will make a long overdue return visit to the society coffeehouse. Eden MacAdam-Somer and Larry Unger, who comprise Notorious, bring together traditional and contemporary acoustic music from around the world, creating an upbeat, swinging sound that is sure to get the audience on their feet. With Eden on fiddle and vocals and Larry on guitar and banjo, their music is full of rhythmic drive and melodic candor. Their show is always new and exciting, presenting a panoply of music from traditional American and Celtic fiddle tunes to jazz, blues, and the duo's original compositions.

At home in the worlds of both classical and popular music, Eden is one of the most exciting and versatile young violinists performing today. She has been a featured soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras, jazz and swing ensembles, bluegrass and DAWG music bands and American folk groups. She’s also well versed in the music of other cultures, including Irish music, Gypsy music, Sephardic music, and European music from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. She has been a guest artist at the Aspen and Beijing international music festivals, a featured soloist at the Texas and Wimberly Jazz Festivals, performer at the Texas and St. Louis Renaissance fairs, and has appeared on numerous recordings in folk, rock, jazz, and classical genres.

Larry Unger has been a full time musician since 1984 and has presented a diverse range of musical performances at dances, festivals, and concerts across the United States, Canada, France, Scotland, Denmark, and Sweden. He has played guitar, banjo, and bass with many top contra dance bands, including Reckless Abandon, Uncle Gizmo, Big Table, and the Reckless Ramblers, and has accompanied such fiddlers as Judy Hyman, Elke Baker, Rodney Miller, Alasdair Fraser, Matt Glaser, Ralph Blizard, and Lissa Schneckenburger, who appeared at Branford last month.

He’s talented and comfortable in a wide variety of music, including fingerstyle blues and slide guitar, rags, and old time banjo tunes as well as melodies played on a handful of unusual instruments including banjo-guitar, fretless banjo, and piano-harp. Larry's original waltzes and fiddle tunes have been played and recorded by a myriad of musicians around the world. He has a great breadth of understanding of traditional music to complement his considerable technical proficiency and enjoys telling stories about the origins of his music and the people who taught him.

March 12, 2016: John Kirk and Trish Miller

Determined, as they aptly put it, “to changing the world one tune at a time,” John Kirk and Trish Miller have toured as a duo since 1988 around the globe, from the Grand Canyon to Barbados, from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Academy of Culture in St. Petersburg, Russia, playing music and singing in concerts, festivals, and schools, and calling contra and square dances. This will be their Branford Folk Music Society debut as a duo so come expecting a toe-tapping experience and even the urge to get up and dance.

Hailing from the Saratoga, N.Y. region, John and Trish draw on the local lore of the Northeastern woodlands for much of their music. A love of traditional tunes and witty songs are presented with brilliant arrangements using fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and warm, clear vocals. Humorous storytelling and original and poetic pieces make their shows delightful entertainment for all ages.

John Kirk’s lyric voice, good sense of humor and versatile instrumental skills have earned him widespread recognition in folk and traditional music circles. On fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, keyboard and ukulele, he demonstrates a vast knowledge of musical traditions. He is on the music faculty at Bennington College in Vermont and Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. Working as a teaching artist in public school music and dance residences has been an important part of his career. John has performed with notable artists such as Pete Seeger, Tom Chapin, Kate Wolf, John Sebastian, Jay Ungar, Walt Michael & Company, the Vanaver Caravan, and the Burns Sisters and appeared on our own coffeehouse stage a few years back with Chris Koldeway. In addition to his group, Quickstep, John continues touring with the Susquehanna String Band. The Dixie Chicks recorded his song, “Long Roads” and John has worked for many years in recording studios as a musician and producer. He has been known to do some fancy quick steppin’ and teaches and calls dances.

Trish Miller, John’s spouse, plays guitar, banjo, dances and sings traditional and original music. She teaches banjo at Skidmore College and is also a member of Quickstep. Trish is a dance caller and country dance choreographer. She has a diverse repertoire of circle, square, contra and mixer dances. As a member of the Green Grass Cloggers, from Asheville, N.C., Trish learned ensemble footwork and toured extensively. Her rhythmic stepping style is rooted in the Southern mountains with a mix of traditional clogging and more modern percussive steps. Performance highlights include SAMW in New Hampshire, Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks, the Old Songs Festival and the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.

John and Trish

April 9, 2016 Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters

Grammy Award Winning Dobro and fiddle player Stacy Phillips makes another return visit to the Branford Folk Music Society Coffeehouse, this time with some of the finest bluegrass musicians to be found in the Northeast. Rumor has it, at this early date, that the “characters” for this rollicking night of music will include fiddle phenom Kenny Kosek.

Stacy is an internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and a longtime fixture of the Connecticut folk music scene. He has performed with the top acoustic musicians all over the world. He was one of the featured artists on the 1994 Grammy and International Bluegrass Music Association award-winning album, “The Great Dobro Sessions.” However, he is equally known for being the author of more than 25 books and DVDs dealing with various aspects of violin and resonator guitar playing and is a regular contributor to several music magazines including Guitar Player, Sing Out! and Strings.

Stacy is a popular performer at our coffeehouse and performed here in the recent past with guitarist Paul Howard, a longtime musical partner, and with Irish master fiddler Joe Gerhard.

May 14, 2016: Dave Littlefield

The BFMS concert season will close in May with Dave Littlefield, a Mystic Seaport chanteyman and a member of the highly-regarded sea music quartet, Forebitter. Bring your voice because there no doubt will be plenty of choruses to be sung during this night of sublime music. Dave is a mandolin and guitar wizard, an outstanding songwriter of the Northeast coast, and a fine interpreter of the songs of the late Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers.

Previous concerts at the Branford Folk Coffeehouse

Branford Folk Photo Gallery

Restaurants in Branford

Lodging in Branford

Volunteers Needed!

The Branford Folk Music Society is looking for a volunteer to manage the signs that we put up at the church for each concert. This includes storing the signs at your home, bringing them to each concert and setting them up. If you are interested or would like more information, please let us know at a concert or by email at

New Board Members Sought

The Board of Directors is currently accepting nominations to fill at large positions on the Board.

  • Qualifications: enjoyment of traditional folk music and desire to see it continue in Branford. Skills in particular areas such as finances, grant writing, small business administration, etc. are welcome but not required. Must become a member of BFMS if not already a member.
  • Responsibilities: attend about eight board meetings a year, attend and help at most of the nine concerts of the season (September through May).
  • Benefits: free attendance when you help out at a concert, decision making contribution to the programming and other issues of the society, opportunity to get to know some wonderful people who are musicians.

Click here for the application form.

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: at
Nonprofit Bulletin at

Other folk music events in Connecticut and southern New England

Branford Folk Music Society
P.O. Box 441
Branford, CT 06405