2013 Bios

WAMFEST Founder and Curator David Daniel
daviddanielWAMFEST would not exist without the creativity, energy, and enthusiasm of its creator, David Daniel.  In addition to curating and running this annual festival, Daniel is also the director of  Fairleigh Dickinson’s undergraduate Creative Writing Program.  His book of poems, Seven-Star Bird (Graywolf Press) led Harold Bloom to call him “an authentic heir to Hart Crane” and won the Larry Levis Prize for the best first or second book of the year.  Many of the poems from his forthcoming collection, Ornaments and Other Assorted Love Songs, have been featured in The American Poetry Review, where he’s a regular contributor.  His poems and essays have recently appeared in A Field Guide to Prose PoetryThe Poetics of American Song Lyrics, The Library of America’s Anthology of American Religious Poetry, Connotation Press, APR, and Memorius. Daniel was also poetry editor of Ploughshares for more than a decade while teaching at Emerson College.
WAMFEST Artist-in-Residence Wesley Stace
Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding is the living embodiment of WAMFEST, a man truly dedicated to his own expression of words and music and to supporting the greater artistic communities in general.  His dual identity as a novelist and singer/songwriter has served him well; his impressively large song library successfully combines folk, rock, American roots, and a little country while his last novel, the titillating murder mystery Charles Jessold, Considered a Murderer, was enthusiastically and positively reviewed by The New York Times and NPR. A born performer, Stace’s monthly variety show Cabinet of Wonders (held at City Winery in Manhattan) combines music, comedy, and readings by topnotch artists like Eugene Mirman, Andrew Bird, Mary Gaitskill, Ted Leo, and Gary Shteyngart.  Stace will be hosting each WAMFEST event in addition to performing alongside many of our visiting artists. Learn more about Harding’s “life’s project” of “putting music and literature together in new ways” at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Monday, October 28th – The Origins:  A Conversation and Performance with Five-String Banjo Player Tony TrischkaBlue Highway’s Guitarist Tim Stafford, and Old-Time Bluegrass Mandolin Player Jesse McReynolds Accompanied by Banjo Player Steve Thomas, Co-Hosted by Carol Beaugard of WFDU and Artist-in-Residence Wesley Stace
Tony Trischka, a 2012 United States Artists Friends Fellow, is one of the most influential banjo players in the roots music world. In his 40 plus years as a consummate banjo artist, his stylings have inspired generations of bluegrass and acoustic musicians.  His technical and conceptual advances opened the way for such players as Bela Fleck and Alison Brown and his recordings with them and others from the Allman Brothers to Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Pete Seeger are part of every banjo-lovers musical reference.  Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular (Rounder) won several IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Awards including Banjo Player of the Year and was nominated for a Grammy Award.  Territory (Smithsonian/Folkways) was named Best Americana Album at the Independent Music Awards.  He recently produced Steve Martin’s Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), which features performances by Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks.  Tony is the musical director of the documentary Give Me the Banjo, which aired on PBS and has been released on DVD.  As one of the instrument’s top teachers, he has created numerous instructional books, DVDs, CDs and the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo that is the online banjo home for students from around the world. Tony continued to broaden the reach and influence of the banjo as performer and Music Director for the 2012 Shakespeare in the Park, NYC performances of “As You Like It”.  Co-commissioned by Portland Ovations, Tony has just premiered the multi-media production of Tony Trischka: The Banjo Project, detailing the history of the instrument and the influences on his music.  He is currently at work on his latest album for Rounder Records, Great Big World.

timstaffordTim Stafford’s distinctive guitar style, vocals, songwriting and arranging contributions are an integral part of the Blue Highway sound. A Kingsport, TN native, Tim helped found the band Dusty Miller (1990 SPBGMA International Bluegrass Band champions) and, early on, was a key player in Alison Krauss & Union Station when it was named IBMA Entertainer of the Year in 1991. Leaving Krauss’s band in May 1992 to spend more time with his infant son Daniel, Tim won a Grammy in 1993 for his work on AKUS’s Every Time You Say Goodbye (Rounder 1992), which was also named IBMA Album of the Year (1993). In 1994, Tim organized Blue Highway, whose first project, It’s a Long, Long Road, spent six months at the top of the Bluegrass Unlimited charts and won IBMA’s Album of the Year Award (1996). Tim’s songwriting talent is reflected throughout Blue Highway ‘s repertoire and in recordings by artists such as Ronnie Bowman, Claire Lynch, Mountain Heart, Dan Tyminski, the Lonesome River Band, Larry Sparks, The Infamous Stringdusters, Kenny and Amanda Smith and Alecia Nugent. “Through the Window of a Train”, co-written by Tim and Steve Gulley and recorded by Blue Highway, won IBMA’s Song of the Year award in 2008. “Born With A Hammer in my Hand,” co-written with Shawn Lane, was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2000 IBMA Awards.  Tim’s work as a producer is also highly acclaimed, winning an IBMA Album of the Year award in 2007 for The Infamous Stringdusters’ Fork In The Road (Sugar Hill 2007) (Tim Stafford & The Infamous Stringdusters, producers), and an IBMA Instrumental Recording of the Year award as producer and performer on Knee-Deep in Bluegrass: The Acutab Sessions. Tim’s other projects include Down Around Bowmantown (co-producer) for ETSU’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, listed on the Library of Congress American Folklife Center’s Selected List of American Folk Music Recordings for 1989; Endless Line (FGM Records 2004), Tim’s critically-acclaimed solo record; and Flatpicking Guitar Fundamentals instructional video (Flatpicking Guitar Magazine 2001). His Blue Highway solos have been published in a transcription book (Acutab Publications 1998). Tim has played on records by Willie Nelson, Jesse McReynolds, Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Raybon, Kenny Chesney, Tony Trischka, Michelle Shocked, Larry Sparks and many others. Composite Acoustic Guitars will be releasing a Tim Stafford signature model instrument this summer.

jessemcreynoldsJesse Lester McReynolds (born July 9, 1929, in Coeburn, Virginia) is an American bluegrass musician. He is known for his innovative crosspicking and split-string styles of mandolin playing, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964. He is a multiple Grammy nominee and award winner.  McReynolds, along with his late brother Jim McReynolds, formed the bluegrass band Jim and Jesse in 1947.

In 1993, McReynolds was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor. In 1997, he and his brother were presented with the highest honor in the United States for folk and traditional arts, the National Heritage Fellowship Award.

McReynolds plays between 60 and 70 shows each year. He regularly releases albums, both of bluegrass music and of other genres. His recording Bending the Rules received a nomination for “Best Instrumental Recording of the Year” from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2005. 2010 marked his 63rd anniversary in music, with a birthday festival in his honor on July 9 & 10 at his Pick Inn Music Park in Gallatin, Tennessee.

In 2010, McReynolds completed Jesse McReynolds & Friends ~ a Tribute to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter due to be released on Woodstock Records on October 5, 2010. The tribute to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead band features the guitar and vocal work of David Nelson of New Riders of the Purple Sage, Stu Allen of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and Garcia’s longtime friend Sandy Rothman on banjo along with other musicians. The record includes 12 of the songs of Garcia & Hunter. Not all of the songs are bluegrass arrangements, but are arranged on a song by song basis as to what McReynolds felt best for the song.  Also included on this project is a song written by Robert Hunter and McReynolds, called “Day by Day.”

For over twenty years, Steven Thomas has been a professional musician touring and working with the biggest artists in Bluegrass and Country music.

“Dad sang and played fiddle and mandolin in a little Gospel band with some folks from church. The preacher’s wife, Flo Doyle, sang; the choir director, a nice lady named Mona Spickard sang and played bass, and one of Dad’s closest friends, Paul Kidd, sang and played guitar. It wasn’t long before Paul’s son, Monte, who had become my best friend, and I horned our way in. Monte on the snare drum and me on the guitar.” Game on!

One of Steve’s early influences on the fiddle was a championship fiddle player from North Carolina-Tommy Red Maulbuff.

“Man could he make that thing talk. He had beautiful tone.  He was a real showman. Tommy was the man who turned me on to Kenny Baker. (21 years the fiddle player for Bill Monroe) He gave me an album of fiddle tunes by Kenny Baker and Joe Green called “High Country” and I still have it.”

Steve went on to play in the Roanoke Youth Symphony. Through his high school years, he played with some of the best bands in and around the Roanoke area, including the East Virginia Grass and The New Grass Revue. He won Best Mandolin player at the Virginia State Championship in 1981. He also won the Grand American Fiddle Championship in Chilhowie, VA. that year. In 1982, he won Best Fiddler at Galax, VA. and Best Fiddler at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN. He hooked up with Tim Austin to form the  Lonesome River Band.

In 1982, Steve enrolled at Virginia Western Community College, but the bug proved too strong, and he left after just three semesters to play the fiddle for Del McCoury. The next year found him and his new wife, Janet in Nashville, TN., where he played on the Grand Ole Opry with Jim & Jesse and The Virginia Boys. He went on to record and play with The Lost and Found, The Whites, The Osborne Brothers, Aaron Tippin, Barbara Mandrell, Brooks and Dunn, LeeAnn Womack, Kenny Chesney, John Michael Montgomery, Ronnie Bowman, and Lorrie Morgan. More recently he’s been working in the studio recording and producing music by The Crow Brothers, Larry Cordle, and Jesse Mc Reynolds.

Steve has now joined us here at Eagle Canyon Music, to have a little fun as a producer and make some more music memories.

carolbCarol Beaugard has been the host of Lonesome Pine RFD since 1985, mixing traditional and contemporary bluegrass and featuring a special hour dedicated to bluegrass gospel called “The Hour in the Light.” Listeners hear a mix of contemporary bluegrass and progressive string music, as well as live in-studio performances and interviews.

Carol’s professional broadcast credits include on-air work with WGBH-FM (Boston), WMCA-AM (NYC), Jukebox Radio, WMTR-AM, WCTC-AM and WVNJ-AM (NJ). Her radio work has been profiled in “Bluegrass Unlimited” and “Bluegrass Now” magazines.
Outside of the station, Carol worked as an emcee at Lincoln Center, The Bottom Line, Carnegie Hall, The Emelin Theater, The Pines and The Windgap, Gettysburg, Delaware Valley and Peaceful Valley Bluegrass Festivals. She was the emcee for John Duffey’s last live concert appearance at the John Harms Center for the Arts in Englewood, NJ, just three days before his untimely passing.
Carol also fronts her own bluegrass/Americana band “Blue Express” and makes frequent appearances at venues and festivals throughout the region. In addition, she is an actress and has been seen on stage throughout the northeast in musicals, comedies and dramas in dinner theaters, summer stock and off-off Broadway productions, as well as local community theater.

Tuesday, October 29th – A Part of History:  Matewan Screening and Discussion with Producer Maggie Renzi and Production Designer Nora Chavooshian
maggierenziMaggie Renzi has been John Sayles’ creative partner since 1978 and has produce nearly all of his movies. She has also acted in many of them. Renzi and Sayles were students together at Williams College in the early 1970s, and have been together since 1973.

Before becoming a full time producer, Renzi worked as a bookstore clerk, a pediatric receptionist, a substitute teacher, a casting assistant, a talent agent’s assistant, and for two years as a salad chef in Southern California. She began her acting career as a child at the Williamstown Theater Festival where she continued to perform into her twenties. Renzi began her professional association with Sayles when she played a leading role in his first film, The Return of the Secaucus Seven, where she was also Unit Manager and Assistant Editor.

For John Sayles, Maggie Renzi has produced LiannaThe Brother from Another PlanetMatewanCity of HopePassion FishThe Secret of Roan InishLone StarMen With Guns,LimboSunshine StateSilver CityHoneydripper, and Amigo.

In addition to mastering the highly specialized craft of producing thematically ambitious films on small budgets, under often adverse conditions, Renzi has made key creative contributions to many of Sayles’ films-suggesting that Louisiana was the perfect location for Passion Fish, for example, and discovering the novel by Rosalie K. Fry that Sayles adapted as The Secret of Roan Inish.

Since her linchpin performance as Kate, who hosts the weekend gathering in The Return of the Secaucus Seven, Maggie Renzi has also played featured roles in many of the movies she has produced. She is especially memorable as Sheila the friendly neighbor in Lianna, as the social worker Noreen in The Brother From Another Planet, as the Italian immigrant wife Rosaria in Matewan, and as the American tourist glued to her guidebook in Men With Guns. She also appeared in Jonathan Demme’s film Swing Shift (1984) and in Key Exchange(1985).

“It’s pretty interesting to have a record of yourself aging on film.” Renzi says. “In Secaucus Seven I was 28 years old and I weighed 118 pounds. By the time I saw myself in Passion FishI thought, ‘I think I’m gonna wait until I’m a genuine old lady before I go in front of a camera again.’ Also, I really like producing. It’s where I am most fully myself at work, more than I am as an actress.”

In 2000 Renzi produced, in partnership with Sarah Green and Martha Griffin, Karyn Kusama’s acclaimed debut feature Girlfight. The film went on to win several international festival awards (including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance) and the Independent Spirit award as Best First Feature. The film’s star, Michelle Rodriguez, also won critical acclaim and several awards for her performance as a young Latina pursuing a boxing career. Co-Executive Produced by Sayles and Jonathan Sehring of IFC Films, Girlfight featured Jaime Tirelli (Hector in The Brother From Another Planet) as the heroine’s show-me trainer.

Most recently, Renzi was an Executive Producer with Sayles on the Alejandro Springall movie, entitled Morirse esta en Hebreo or My Mexican Shivah.

Nora Chavooshian studied sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute.

After graduating the Art Institute in 1974, she moved to Los Angeles. While continuing her artistry as a sculptor, she worked as an award-winning stage designer, designing sculptural sets. She progressed into the area of film production design, designing several films for director John Sayles, sculptural set pieces for director Martin Scorsese, videos for Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, as well as many other films and videos. In this capacity Chavooshian designed and engineered massive sets such as turn of the century city streets, period baseball stadiums, and large scale sculptural set pieces.

In 1988 Chavooshian decided to turn more of her attention to her sculpture, left the West Coast for the East Coast where she works today as a sculptor, theatrical set designer and teacher. She teaches Production Design in the Film Dept. at Montclair State University.  She has exhibited her sculpture extensively throughout the United States and is in private and public collections in both the U.S. and Europe.

Tuesday, October 29th – The Politics of Coal: Award-Winning Journalist Bob Hennelly Interviews Environmental Advocate Joe Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates
joelovettJoe Lovett, executive director and founder of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, has been a catalyst for focusing local and national attention on the devastation caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School Of Law in 1995 and served as a law clerk to the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.  He has served as a lawyer in many precedent-setting cases against polluters and the agencies that purport to regulate them. Lovett has been presented with several significant awards for his work on behalf of the environment and citizens of central Appalachia.

BobHennelleyBob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, he has always had a keen interest in the role of immigration in the evolution of the United States historically. Before coming to WNYC he was national affairs correspondent for Pacifica Network News. His written work has appeared in the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Chrisitian Science Monitor, the Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and dozens of other magazines and newspapers. He has acted as a consultant/reporter for “60 Minutes” and been featured on C-Span’s “America and the Courts” as well as on C-Span’s “Washington Roundtable.” He went to Ramapo College in New Jersey and also worked there as an adjunct teaching environmental journalism, a course he originated. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and three daughters.

Tuesday, October 29th – The Folk Song:  A Conversation and Performance with Heralded Folk Singer Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III won a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (he also received two previous Grammy nominations for I’m Alright, 1985, and More Love Songs, 1986), along with Best Album of 2009 per NPR’s Ken Tucker (Fresh Air & Entertainment Weekly magazine).  High Wide & Handsome was named among the year’s best per Village Voice, No Depression, FolkWax and fRoots.”Mr. Wainwright has proved to be far and away the most candid diarist among the singer-songwriters who… brought confessional poetry into popular song…  Mr. Wainwright wrings more human truth out of his contradiction than any other songwriter of his generation.” – New York Times, Stephen HoldenWainwright’s songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Mose Allison, Big Star, Freakwater, Norma Waterson, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright.  Film acting credits include: Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (for which he also recorded the soundtrack) and The 40 Year Old Virgin; Christopher Guest’s For Your Consideration; Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown; Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator; Tim Burton’s Big Fish; 28 Days alongside Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen and Steve Buscemi; Jacknife alongside Robert De Niro and Ed Harris; Neil Simon’s The Slugger’s Wife.

Television acting credits include: Parks and Recreation (w/ Amy Poehler); Undeclared (w/ Seth Rogen & writer/producer Judd Apatow); Grounded for Life; Ally McBeal; The T.V. Show (w/ Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Billy Crystal) where he played keyboard with the early Spinal Tap, which made it’s first appearance on this program; a recurring role on M*A*S*H and a role as the original musician/sidekick on The David Letterman Show.

Wednesday, October 30th – Two Voices: A Conversation and Performance with Distinguished Poet C.D. Wright and Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter Roseanne Cash
One of America’s most compelling and idiosyncratic poets, C.D. Wright “belongs to a school of exactly one” (NY Times). Born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, she is a radically restless writer, a composer of hybrid works such as Deepstep Come Shining and distilled lyric collections such as Tremble. Every title takes her further inside her subjects and extends the means and measure of her reach. Wright is concerned with a density of language, setting up a chain reaction using the least amount of verbal material.She has published a dozen collections, most recently, One With Others, winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, The Lenore Marshall Award, and finalist for the National Book Award. Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon, 2008) won the 2009 International Griffin Prize for Poetry. In 2007, Like Something Flying Backwards, New and Selected Poems was published in England. Her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana was awarded the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize; and a text edition was also released in 2007. Steal Away was on the international shortlist of the Griffin Trust Award. String Light won the 1992 Poetry Center Book Award.Wright is a recipient of a Macarthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, the Robert Creeley Award, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the Israel J. Kapstein Professor at Brown University and lives outside of Providence with her husband, poet Forrest Gander.

roseannecashRosanne Cash keeps her head down and shows up for work.  She has recorded eleven No. 1 singles, blurring the genres of country, rock, roots, and pop. She has received one grammy and twelve grammy nominations, among other awards and accolades, including an honorary doctorate from Memphis College of Art. A prolific writer, she has authored Bodies of Water (Hyperion, 1996), Penelope Jane: A Fairy’s Tale (Harper-Collins, 2006), edited the book Songs Without Rhyme (Hyperion, 2001), and recently penned her memoir Composed (Viking, 2010). Rosanne’s prose and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Oxford-American, New York Magazine, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and various other publications. Her last record album, The List, won the Americana Music award for Best Album of the year and was a critical and commercial success.She is currently writing an album of songs about Southern people, places and themes with her longtime life partner and musical collaborator, John Leventhal. She lives in New York City.

Wednesday, October 30th – Songs and Stories and All That Jazz: A Conversation and Performance with Singers Tomi Lunsford and David Olney
tomilunsfordTomi Lunsford is a singer and songwriter with deep family musical roots living in Nashville, Tennessee who thrives outside the margins of the typical Nashville sound. Her voice is incomparable. Noted rock critic Greil Marcus has referred to it as “stunning” in Esquire; Robert K. Oermann in the Tennessean has written that “Lunford’s offbeat style is evident in just one listen. Imagine a bluegrass/mountain soprano who slides in and out of notes like jazz divas Billie Holiday and Carmen McRae and somehow slips into the blues phrasing of Alberta Hunger or Memphis Minnie… At one moment you’d call it folk, at another it’s jazz, and around another corner, it’s country.”

Her album High Ground, released on Veracity Records out of Munich in 1997, received high praise and critical acclaim. It was selected as one of the ten top records of that year by Berlin TIP Magazine, interestingly enough between efforts by Jesus Jones and Janet Jackson.

Bill Friskics-Warren declared in No Depression that High Ground  “sometimes recalls the solo albums of Hazel Dickens, it just as often evokes the magnificent jazz and blues-inflected recordings of the early-‘70s Bay Area combo Joy of Cooking. He also stated in the Nashville Scene that Lunsford “uses her liquid soprano to convey meanings beyond the ones contained in her lyrics.”

Lunsford comes by it all naturally — possessing a rich musical heritage. Her great uncle, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, is a renowned folklorist and started the Mounain Dance & Folk festival in 1928 — the longest running folk festival in the Southeast, in Asheville, N.C.  He also penned the world-famous “Old Mountain Dew.”

Her father, Jim Lunsford, was a well recognized songwriter and fiddle player who played and recorded with Roy Acuff, Reno and Smiley, Jim and Jessie, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson and many other classic performers. His songs have been recorded by Charlie Pride, Ronnie Milsap, The Cox Family, and others. Tomi, along with her father and two sisters, Nancy and Teresa, made up the popular group The Lunsfords, until Jim’s death in 1978.

Lunsford has had several bands over the years out of Nashville, and has performed and recorded with the likes of Porter Wagoner, David Olney, Tom House, Amelia White, Steve Runkle, David Ball, Walter Hyatt, Delbert McClinton, Hank Williams III, Champ Hood and countless others. Recently, she has put music to, and recorded songs from the Maggie Valley Trilogy, a collection of three books for young readers out on Viking Press.

Today, she continues to write, perform, and do session work. Her song publishing company, Seedbank Publishing, is administered by BMG. For booking information, send queries to seedbankpublishing@gmail.com.

DavidOlney1PHOTObyPaulNeedhamSMALLNashville-based touring and recording artist David Olney closed out the Summer with a cross-country tour from Boise to Little Rock, having kicked off the season on a California co-bill tour with Anne McCue. That was preceded by a triumphant debut tour of Australia in March, followed by a new album release tour in Scandinavia. During this recent touring, Mr. Olney’s “Postcard From Mexico” song was prominently used in the ABC-TV “Nashville” show. In addition to always being on the road, David broadcasts every Tuesday on his website via YouTube with his “You Never Know” video shorts where he plays a song and shares the story behind it. One of the early pioneers of what has become known as Americana music, David Olney has released more than 20 albums over four decades, including six live recordings and is often likened to Tom Waits, Johnny Cash and Randy Newman. His intelligent compositions have been recorded by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Del McCoury, Steve Earle, Lonnie Brooks, Tim O’Brien, and many more. Mr. Olney has also become well-known for his live performances packed with such intensity it leaves audiences with a truly memorable experience.

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