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 produces a bimonthly 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. Admission prices are listed for each concert. Please pay at the door – there are no advance sales.

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.

Walt Michael

October 13, 2018: Walt Michael & Co.

Considered to be a virtuoso of tremendous influence in the revival of the hammered dulcimer, Walt Michael's wide repertoire ranges from old-time Southern Appalachian, to Celtic, to breath-taking original compositions. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist he has recorded fourteen albums and instructional videos, appeared at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the UK. Walt will be accompanied by the incredible twin fiddling of Evan Stover and Frank Orsini, as well as the impeccable bass playing of Tom Wetmore. Seamless four part vocals additionally distinguish this ensemble from other bands.

Admission: $20 non-members, $17 members, $5 children 12 and under.

November 10, 2018: Bill Staines

One of the most popular performers to appear at Branford Folk through the decades, Bill was last with us for our 40th anniversary year and returns in November for our 45th year. Bill has always had hold on a fond niche in our hearts at Branford Folk because he provided major support in the formative years of the society as it sought to gain a permanent foothold as a venue (which back then offered concerts almost weekly) and boost its audience size. Bill performed here for 18 consecutive years from 1974 to 1991.

Now, well into his fifth decade as a performer, Bill has rightly gained an international reputation as a gifted songwriter and performer. Singing mostly his own songs, he has become one of the most popular and durable singers on the folk music scene today, performing nearly 200 concerts a year and driving over 65,000 miles annually.

Bill, who hails from New Hampshire, weaves a magical blend of wit and gentle humor into his performances, and as one reviewer wrote, "He has a sense of timing to match the best stand-up comic." His music is a pure slice of Americana, reflecting with the same ease, his feelings about the prairie people of the Midwest or the adventurers of the Yukon. He may even do a yodeling tune or two, having won the National Yodeling Championship in 1975 at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas.

He has recorded 27 albums and there are three published collections of his songwriting which remain in print. His songs have been recorded by scores of artists, including performers as diverse as Nanci Griffith, the Grand Ol' Opry's Grandpa Jones, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Mason Williams. Griffin says that Staines has been her hero since 1977, noting "He carries on where Woody left off – carrying on the tradition of stories and characters you wish you knew."

Many of Bill's songs have appeared in grade school music books, church hymnals, and scouting campfire songbooks; he is one of only a few songwriters to have eight songs published in the classic song collection, Rise Up Singing. Composer David Amram recently described Bill as "a modern day Stephen Foster...his songs will be around 100 years from now."

Bill's radio and TV appearances have included Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Mountain Stage" and a host of local programs on PBS and network TV. He continues to drive all those miles each year doing what he loves – bringing music to people. The late Sandy Paton of Folk-Legacy Records once characterized Bill's music so aptly: "Any new song that can live comfortably beside the well-worn songs of folk tradition has a good chance of surviving the test of time. Such, we believe, are the songs of Bill Staines."

Admission: $20 non-members, $17 members, $5 children 12 and under.

Bill Staines

December 8, 2018: Jerry Bryant

Jerry Bryant is a native of the State of Maine who for the last 30 years has performed folk music all over the United States. Performing on guitar, concertina, banjo, melodeon and other acoustic instruments, his repertoire includes hundreds of traditional and contemporary folk songs, with a particular interest in the music of sailors. Help us welcome him back to Branford Folk.

January 12, 2019: Josée Vachon

Born in Québec and raised in Maine, Josée Vachon has been sharing her Franco-American upbringing for over 25 years through traditional and contemporary folksongs from Québec and Acadia and through her own compositions.

February 16, 2019: James Keelaghan

James Keelaghan has been aptly characterized as Canada's finest singer-songwriter by American critic Dave Marsh, one of the most respected and lauded music journalists of the last 50 years. Indeed, Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons. Fusing his insatiable appetite for finding the next unique storyline Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliantly defined craftsmanship and a monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices of not only the Canadian scene, but as a member of the international singer-songwriter community.

March 9, 2019: Joel Mabus

Joel Mabus is a maverick in the folk music world. He defies any easy pigeonhole. By turns, he picks a mountain banjo to accompany an ancient ballad, sings a witty song about modern life, plays a sweet Irish melody on guitar, swings a hot jazz number, and then reaches deep for a soulful expression of values in a troubled world. He tops it all with a fiddle tune or old Carter family song – all skillfully blended into a seamless flow.

April 13, 2019: Battle of the Sexes in Harmony

Two harmony groups will be gracing our stage this night. The Connecticut Yankee Chorus, an all male group singing Barbershop a cappella arrangements and Village Voices presenting Bulgarian village harmonies from the women's tradition.

The Connecticut Yankee Chorus is one of Connecticut's premier men's barbershop choruses, and judged the 2018 Northeast Division "Best Small Chorus". Their membership of amateur singers come from Old Lyme to West Hartford. The Connecticut Yankee chorus and quartets have sung in many communities for over 70 years.

Barbershop a cappella arrangements feature tenor, lead, bass and baritone voice parts with the melody sung by the lead within the harmony parts. With selections from the Great American Songbook, including patriotic, and inspirational songs presented by their quartets and chorus there is entertainment for the entire family in each performance.

The extraordinary music of Bulgaria is renowned for its remarkable vocal techniques, intricate ornamentation, uneven rhythms, and, of course, exceptional harmonies. Learned during a lifetime of field research and study with master folk performers of traditional Bulgarian song, Village Voices presents a magnificent side of this vocal repertoire that is unfortunately no longer commonly heard. These dedicated artists sing the complex two-voiced songs of the Pirin, Shope, and Velingrad regions of Bulgaria that feature dissonant drone harmonies juxtaposed against exquisitely beautiful and lushly embellished melodies, as they were sung for centuries by village women. Though somewhat similar in structure, the diaphonic songs of these three regions are stylistically different, which Village Voices conveys with impressive authenticity, skill, and heart.

These songs were sung as women worked in the fields, gathered in the evenings to spin, embroider, and weave, and marked rites of passage and calendar folk rituals, and by women and men who sat around a community table to pass the long winter nights. Singers used this uniquely beautiful artistic form to express their hopes and dreams as well as their fears and sorrows, and songs reference exceptional historical events, heartfelt expressions of both true and unrequited love, and fantastical and supernatural creatures who controlled the lives of young girls, as well as snapshots of daily life in the village.

May 11, 2019: Too Blue

We close out the society's 2018-19 concert season on a high, lonesome note with the region's own Too Blue. Flatpicking guitarist Betsy Rome and banjoist Joan Harrison flawlessly blend their voices. Mandolin powerhouse Michael Sassano astounds and entertains, while jazz bassist Jamie Doris brings a creative and unique perspective to the band. Together, Too Blue makes exciting bluegrass that swings and entertains.

House Hoot September 21st

The September 2018 House Hoot will be at 7:30 on Friday, September 21st, at Bennet Lovett-Graff's house. The theme (for the first round only, and not enforced, merely encouraged) is "Get the Message": From love letters to notes passed in class, telegrams to phone calls, faxes to emails – doesn't matter how it comes, whether we're talking pigeons or billboards, looking for songs that touch on the ways we give and get the message. Second round and beyond--anything goes!

Please come prepared with a couple of songs to sing or to lead the rest of us in singing. Those not prepared or too shy to sing are welcome to enjoy the music. Also, please bring a snack or drinks to share during the break.

Bennet lives at 352 West Rock Avenue, New Haven. Located at the corner of West Rock Avenue and Whalley Avenue. Best to Google for directions. Local restaurants within walking distance. Also bring a snack or drink(s) to share.

The House Hoot, loosely associated with the Branford Folk Music Society, has been going since the 1950s. It's an opportunity to get together and Sing Good Songs, originally mostly folk songs but these days including many other musical realms including rock, pop, jazz, blues, and sometimes even silly songs! All acoustic instruments and voices are welcome.

Sheldon Campbell

In memory of Stacy Phillips

Previous concerts at the Branford Folk Coffeehouse

Branford Folk Photo Gallery


Branford Folk Coffeehouse performers are often provided overnight accommodations by volunteers in their homes. However, some performers are very sensitive to furry critters, so if you can provide overnight accommodations in a pet-free environment, please let us know, either at a concert or by email at Hosts receive complimentary admission to the show! Thank you!

Wanna be on our Board?

The all-volunteer Board of Directors of the Branford Folk Music Society is looking for new members with a passion for traditional and tradition-based folk music and the skills to help us bring the joy of that music to wider audiences. We are seeking interested people with the time and willingness to take an active role in creating awareness of Branford Folk Music Society events in Connecticut, particularly in the broader shoreline community, and with skills to complement those of members of the current Board. These could include experience in public relations, arts or events coordination (not necessarily in music), outreach or fundraising; or connections with media, historical and cultural organizations in the New Haven area and towns along the shoreline. Anyone interested should contact us at 203-488-7715 or

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.

Other folk music events in Connecticut and southern New England

Please send event listings to the editor at

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