|It resonated throughout the guitar community when Vicki Genfan’s percussive “slap-tap” technique won her the title of Guitar Superstar at the 2008 Guitar Player Magazine competition. Jim Fusilli of the Wall Street Journal commented, "It's a stunning victory, a barrier shattered. Guitar Player is a male-dominated domain -- a tribute to speed, power, volume and gear. Ms. Genfan plays an acoustic guitar without effects." The resulting publicity made her a Youtube phenom with 20,000+ hits of the competition and more than 65,000+ on other videos.
And the hits just keep on coming. Vicki’s songwriting talents have been recognized with awards from Billboard, New Song and the Nashville Songwriter’s Association. In 2008, the Vicki Genfan model guitar was unveiled by Luna Guitars to enthusiastic reviews. (“I lost count of how many people came up to rave about how great it sounded” ~ Gayla Paul, PremierGuitar). Working with Truefire Studios, she released her first instructional video, 3-D Acoustic Guitar in 2009. She continues to both teach and tour in the US and internationally at the Soave (Italy) Guitar Festival, Swannanoa Gathering (NC) , Boothbay Harbor Opera House and Godfrey Daniels.
Armed with a guitar, 29 alternate tunings and an engaging stage presence, Vicki is re-defining “plays like a girl” as a compliment of the highest order.
“I understand completely why the audience applauds and whistles so wildly...this is fiery, living music.”
Long before there was a computer on every desk, Seamus was providing "interactive entertainment"
to delighted audiences from one end of the country to another. He is quick with a quip and likes
nothing better than to discover someone in the audience who is similarly inclined. He makes it all
seem so effortless that it is easy to miss that he is a superb instrumentalist with an apparently
infinite repertoire. The depth of his musicality allows him to tailor his show to the audience
before him, whether it be children, families or adults.
Originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, he sings the music of his native land with emotion born of knowing its history firsthand. But he is far from simply a singer of Celtic songs. Fast-paced humor is very much a part of what Seamus does, whether he's telling a series of rapid-fire jokes or launching into a lyrical parody. He will segue seamlessly from an Irish ballad about a dying town to a rollicking reel and then move into American music, equally at home with folk, pop, country or traditional. Throughout it all, he is having such a grand time that you can't help but want to join in.
|". . .a wonderfully entertaining Irishman with a happy-to-see-you smile that could light up the sky. . .a captivating performance. " ~ Anchorage Times|
Every generation has a few acts with performers so confident in their chosen field that they are able to personify the genre. In Irish folk music today, that act is the Makem and Spain Brothers. This New Hampshire-based group combines Tommy Makem's three sons, Rory, Conor and Shane, with the Spain boys, Liam & Mickey, to create an Irish powerhouse which both honors tradition and forges forward.
The Makem Brothers were born in Drogheda, County Louth, close to Dublin. They continue the lineage of their father, Tommy Makem, the modern Bard of Armagh. Now considered an icon, he helped to bring Irish music out of the corner and into the international spotlight. The Spain Brothers, too, learned Irish songs at their father’s knee. Mickey’s rich, baritone voice and Liam’s mastery of stringed instruments quickly found a home when the Makems and Spains realized the potential power of their combined talents.
This band of brothers have honed their craft over 15 years of international performances playing before millions of people on stages, national PBS specials and popular Irish talk shows. With a host of instruments and five male vocals, their precise three-part harmonies blend perfectly into what many have described as a wall of sound. The Makem and Spain Brothers are at their best onstage where their talent and enthusiasm draw their audience into the fun.
"The lads put on a fabulous show! They proved to be powerful performers,
Toby Walker is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist, who is also adept at ragtime
and bottleneck. His mastery of the art was recognized in Memphis in 2002, when he won the
International Blues Challenge Award. He is a skilled singer and songwriter, drawing inspiration
from traditional and contemporary blues, folk, ragtime, and country. His passion for the music drove him to leave an apartment crammed full of recordings,
books and instruments to wander around the Mississippi Delta, Virginia and the Carolinas
tracking down some of the more obscure - but immensely talented - music makers of an earlier era. He spent time and swapped tunes with Eugene Powell, James Son Thomas, Etta Baker, and R.L Burnside. He draws on these travels to tell the humorous and heartwarming tales of learning the blues at the
feet of these old time musicians. You can catch some of the flavor of these stories on his
website in the Visit the South section. His fifth CD, Plays Well with Others,
came out in 2006.
Toby has been eagerly received in concert halls, festivals, coffeehouses throughout the U.S. , England and France. Having educated himself in the genre, he loves sharing his knowledge with others and performs extensively in libraries and schools. He teaches at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio. In 2006, Carnegie Hall has hired him to augment and teach in their "American Roots" program aimed at honor level middle school students. This one-of-a-kind series demonstrates the history of blues music and how it tells the story of African Americans as they migrated from the south into the north.
"Now you play them blues real good. I want you to carry them on for me. "
~ Eugene Powell, Mississippi blues musician
|Think Yin and Yang, opposites attract and all those men trying to get in touch with their feminine side - each an example of how we seek out and embrace our oppositional counterparts for completeness. Toby Walker and Pat Wictor's Blues at the Crossroads: Saints and Sinners celebrates the varied, often contradictory, faces of the Blues. Toby's forte is the more traditional Blues sound: a low-down, earthy growl about people coping with hard times and bad choices. Pat finds inspiration in both Blues and Gospel where redemption is within reach for all. On stage, the contrast is just as great. Pat, tall and lean with a cascade of red hair, blends wry humor and a generosity of spirit as he welcomes people to his world. Toby is more compact with an infectious laugh and a sense of coiled energy on stage as he narrates his musical odyssey.|
The contrast stops there. Both are superb instrumentalists. Toby roamed the southern states
seeking out the more obscure - but immensely talented - musicians who helped create the sound
he loves. From them, he learned to both respect the tradition and carry it forward, adding his
own flair. Pat took a circuitous route to acoustic music, moving through rock, heavy metal and
jazz. His instrument selection was just as adventurous, starting with guitar, moving to bass,
on to saxophone before finding slide guitar. Both men bring a level of expertise to the stage
that allows them to improvise fearlessly. Both pull their audiences in with their own pleasure
in sharing the music and their fierce dedication to their craft.
Musicians know that the elements of a good show are the same as a good relationship: similar enough to be compatible, different enough to be intriguing. This is a good show.