2012 Performer Bios
Ryan Montbleau Band
Lawrence’s very own Ryan Montbleau Band will be sure to shake things up, and get you moving. In his 10-year career this gifted singer and his limber band have built their catalog the old-fashioned way, by introducing new songs to their live set, then bending and shaping them over dozens of performances before committing a definitive version to the hard drive.
Si Kahn has worked for over 40 years as a civil rights, labor, and community organizer and musician in the Southern United States. His songs of family, community, work, and freedom such as “Aragon Mill”, “Gone, Gonna Rise Again”, and “Wild Rose of the Mountain” have been recorded by over 100 artists.
He is a member of Local 1000 of the American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO; a trustee of the Labor Heritage Foundation; and the official poet laureate of the North Carolina labor movement by unanimous vote of the convention in 1986. Si Kahn is also an accomplished author and musician who incorporates his passion for people’s rights into his songwriting performances and lectures.
Branco/Stamas Big Band
Branco/Stamas Big Band has returned to this year’s festival, representing the Merrimack Valley Musicians Union, AFM Local 300.
Jazz, swing, and ballroom dance are the styles the Branco/Stamas Big Band specializes in, and it’s got the players to deliver. The ensemble (which includes 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxophones, a piano, a guitar, a bass, drums, and a lead vocalist) swings out with its own distinctive sound.
A Besere Velt: Yiddish Community Chorus of Boston Workmen's Circle
A Besere Velt – A Better World – is proud to be a “voice” for justice. This 92-member Yiddish Community Chorus of the Boston Workmen’s Circle weaves the heartache and irrepressible idealism of Yiddish folk music into a vision of justice and humanity for the 21st century. From haunting melodies to workers’ anthems, the songs come alive with multi-layered harmonies.
The repertoire of A Besere Velt grew out of the shtetls, the sweatshops and union meetings, the camps and ghettos. These folk songs make the richness of the Eastern European immigrant experience accessible to a generation of non-Yiddish speakers. They contain the sounds of the history, the culture and the progressive values that have influenced generations.
A Besere Velt Artistic Director Lisa Gallatin has been leading community choruses for over 20 years. For the 2012 Bread & Roses Festival we are very please and honored to have Lisa lead A Besere Velt’s Bread & Roses themed performance.
The Folk Song Society of Greater Boston
The Folk Song Society of Greater Boston is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization of people interested in folk music: its traditional origins and sources and its current expressions. They are dedicated to providing opportunities for everyone to make enjoy, and support this music.
“Bound For Glory”, the name of their performance for this year’s festival, is a musical tribute to legendary American troubadour, songwriter, and political activist, Woody Guthrie.
Bread & Puppet Theater Presents: Possibilitarian Circus
The Bread and Puppet Theater is a politically radical theater ensemble, active since the 1960s, currently based in Glover, Vermont. It has received National Endowment for the Arts grants and numerous awards from the Puppeteers of America and other organizations. Some have heard echoes of the Roman phrase “bread and circuses” or the labor slogan “Bread and Roses.” The theater runs a program where apprentices help produce and act in the performances.
Bread and Puppet Theater will present ‘The Possibilitarian Circus’, a satirical horse and butterfly circus, addressing pertinent national and international issues in a clownish fashion, features rotten ideas, a wild dancing horse, a saxophone ballet, a solemn salute to the world's casualties and much more! Not to mention The Dire Circumstance Jubilation Ensemble pervading a little bit of brass and a lot of noise. Please take note that if some of the circus acts are politically puzzling to adults, accompanying children can usually explain them.
The Raymond Street Klezmer Band
The Raymond Street Klezmer Band's music is based in vocal music of the synagogue and Jewish culture. Since the Middle Ages, Klezmer musicians known as klezmorim traveled all over Europe and performed at weddings and celebrations, and as court musicians. They also played as street performers with Roma musicians. Klezmer music thus includes the influence of Roma or gypsy music.
Jewish immigrants introduced Yiddish music and Eastern European rhythms and circus music into the United States, and soon Klezmer included the influence of jazz and vaudeville. Klezmer music also included labor songs.
We welcome back to the 2012 Festival: New Hampshire's only Klezmer band, the seven-member Raymond Street Klezmer Band. Their previous performances include the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, the Lowell Folk Festivals, and many celebrations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Their music will make you dance!
Raymond Street’s contact information: Ruth Weiner Harris, OManut@aol.com.
Sweet Willie D
As a Deacon who got into the house rockin’ business about eleven years ago, Sweet Willie D is living proof that the art of blues shouting (which requires wailing, rapping, testifying, and bleeding charisma) is still alive and still very hip.
Sweet Willie D has brought the old-fashioned art of blues shouting to New England and led his own band, The Continental Walk to rave reviews throughout the region.
The Italian Serenaders
The Italian Serenaders are a group of versatile vocalists and musicians from the greater MerrimackValley.
This unique and colorful group has, as its prime objective, the presentation and preservation of the ethnic richness of Italian music in several mediums including folk, classical and popular Italian-American selections. The Italian Serenaders have traveled and performed in Italy in the Sorrento and Sicily regions where they were welcomed when singing familiar provincial melodies like "Santa Lucia", "O Marenariello"' and "O Surdato".
Taller Borinqueno is a local Puerto Rican youth dance group from the Lawrence, MA area, directed by Vanessa Espendez. They’re a regular here at the Bread and Roses festival and we welcome them back for our 27th annual festival!
Currently she is performing as Anne Bradstreet, Her Story and Poetry is part of the celebration of Anne Bradstreet’s 400th Birthday celebration in 2012. Anne Bradstreet, a native of Andover, is considered to be the first female published poet in the new world.
Some entertainers are skilled at one particular thing: singing, dancing, acting. They are therefore easy to describe. But Henry Lappen? Let’s see. There’s Henry the Juggler, a man capable of juggling balls, clubs, rings and even torches while on stilts, or on a tightrope. Then, there’s Henry the Bird, performing “Birds in their Habitat,” a funny but also educational look at our feathered friends. Also, there’s Henry as “Lapinsky,” portraying the life of an Eastern European immigrant juggler. Henry Lappen has been teaching and performing juggling for 25 years and has studied at California’s Dell’Arte School. As, perhaps, Yogi Berra might put it: There’s only one Henry Lappen, and the Bread and Roses Labor Day Heritage Festival is indeed lucky to have all of them.
An exciting Bachata band from Lawrence, MA that is sure to get you moving!
O’Shea-Chaplin Irish Dancers
We are one of the longest established Irish dancing schools in the country. Founded by Rita O'Shea-Chaplin in Galway, Ireland 50 years ago. The school has been located in the greater Boston area since the early 1960's. Rita and her instructors teach children and adults of all ages. Our students have won many local, regional and national championships and their ceili and choreography teams have captured many North American titles.
Wool & Grant
Wool & Grant. Ina May Wool and Bev Grant share a bracing blend of voices and guitar styles that open up their songs and invite listeners to share the discovery.
Bev Grant is a veteran of powerful, passionate music with five CDs of her own and an appearance on the Grammy-nominated “Best of Broadside.” She also wrote the anthemic song, “We Were There” which is the title song of a multi-media show about women’s labor history. Bev is director of the Brooklyn Womens’ Chorus, and has used her music as a creative force for community and social change. Ina May Wool, a New England native, has won big applause and recognition for her inventive way with words and melodies and her generous stage presence, singing songs of survival, rebirth and renewal, featuring vocals that are both elegant and edgy. “One of my favorite singer-songwriters,” says WFUV’s John Platt.
Annamaria San Antonio and Friends