Friends join forces for folk music concert

May 08, 2019
From left, Andy Wallace, John Roberts and Dick Swain.

BELFAST — Longtime friends John Roberts, Dick Swain and Andy Wallace, three nationally-known traditional musicians, all turn 75 in May, and are celebrating with a shared concert. The public is invited Sunday, May 19, at 3 p.m. to the Belfast Ecovillage Common House, 25 Village Rd.

Suggested donation for the concert is $15 to $20. For more information, contact Dick Swain at TradSong@mail.com.

John Roberts is a native of Worcestershire, England with Welsh parents. Fifty years ago, he and fellow Brit Tony Barrand met as graduate students at Cornell. Over the next forty-odd years, the two toured nationally and internationally and made a couple dozen recordings, notably including Peter Bellamy's settings of the poems of Rudyard Kipling. With two other friends, they created Nowell Sing We Clear, a Yuletide seasonal revelry that ran for forty years and produced six best-selling recordings. Today Roberts continues to perform and record, both solo, with longtime partner Lisa Preston, and with Debra Cowan. Roberts is an accomplished player of the banjo and concertina, and a superb singer whose rich baritone and bass voice is heard on dozens of recordings.

Dick Swain has a deep knowledge of the traditional music of New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes, and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. Accompanying himself on guitar, banjo, English concertina and button accordion, he has performed at the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, the Maine Maritime Museum, the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, and at many other festivals, house concerts and coffee houses across the U.S. and Canada. The late Maine folklorist Edward "Sandy" Ives said it well: “Dick Swain … sings the old come-all-ye’s the way they should be sung.” Swain’s settings of poems have been recorded by Gordon Bok, Cindy Kallet, Bob Walser, Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman, and others. Swain lives in Belfast.

Andy Wallace first came to Maine as a member of the original singing crew of Pete Seeger's Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Built in South Bristol, the sloop sailed from Damariscotta exactly 50 years ago. Following a stint as musician-in residence at the World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan in 1970, Wallace became Program Director of the National Folk Festival, the nation’s oldest traditional multicultural event, beginning a relationship with the National Council for the Traditional Arts that continues to this day. Over the years, Wallace has performed at hundreds of festivals and concerts, toured Latin America, and recorded with Pete Seeger, Helen Schneyer, Jonathan Eberhart and Bob Walser, among others. He now makes his home in Thomaston.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Christine Dunkle can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 108; or arts@villagesoup.com.

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