Episode 56: Chris Stone

A very special live episode taped at Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp. Chris Stone is an Australian fiddler/violinist, composer and co-artistic director of the Stringmania camp, along with Alasdair Fraser. In this conversation Neil and Chris delve into the modern world of traditional music and the questions facing young musicians looking to find their voice in a globally connected world. Chris shares his insights from the fiddling community in Australia and his work to make the fiddle camp community more diverse and inclusive by giving a platform to indigenous voices and other minorities.

Music: And That’s Ok (Chris Stone) and A Song for All Seasons (Oliver Schroer)

Chris’ group The String Contingent: https://www.thestringcontingent.com/

The Stringmania camp: https://www.stringmaniacamp.com


Episode 55: Flynn Cohen

Flynn Cohen has toured the world with major Irish music acts and been a mainstay in the Irish and Bluegrass music scenes of New England. In many ways his path is a classic example of a folk musician growing up in the wake of the folk revival. In other ways it is a study in contradictions. In this episode Flynn shares his path discovering acoustic music through Led Zeppelin, Irish music while studying in America and Bluegrass while studying in England. 

Flynn’s Website: www.flynncohen.net

Flynn's new Irish Backup Guitar course on Peghead Nation: https://pegheadnation.com/string-school/courses/irish-backup-guitar/

Flynn’s band Low Lily: www.lowlily.com/

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Episode 54: Jim Malcolm

One of Scotland's top folk singers, Jim Malcolm is well known for both his original folk songs and his interpretations of great traditional Scots songs. He and Neil sat down backstage before a show in Boston to talk about his journey from aspiring rock star to being a key member of legendary folk band Old Blind Dogs to arrive finally at his solo show, which features his voice, musicality and humor front and center. 

For more on Jim: www.jimmalcolm.com

Music in this episode is two songs by Jim: "The Road to New York" and "Lochanside" (based on the bagpipe tune by the same name)

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Episode 53: Mary Jane Lamond

One of the biggest names in Gaelic song today, Mary Jane Lamond can just as easily be found at a small Gaelic community event on Cape Breton, at an academic conference in Scotland or thrilling an audience of thousands at a folk festival somewhere around the world. She sat down with Neil to talk about her unconventional journey and her thoughts on practicing a traditional art in the 21st century. 





Music: The Blue Mountains Lullaby (Jeff MacDonald and Brian O hEadhra) and a medley of traditional Puirt a Beul

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Episode 52: Ruthie Dornfeld

Ruthie Dornfeld's fiddling has been a huge influence on dance musicians in New England and her native Northwest and her work with Scandinavian musicians over the years has seen her tour overseas extensively. Neil caught up with her at her home in Seattle to talk about her musical journey from her first experiences with the fiddle to current creative projects in the US, Denmark and Finland. Along the way she talks about following her ear to all kinds of musical projects like writing an album of music for the medieval fiddle and more. 

Ruthie’s Website: ruthiedornfeld.com

3 Fiddlers 3 Traditions: www.3fiddlers3traditions.com

American Cafe Orchestra: www.facebook.com/americancafeorchestra

Ruthie’s Album of Original Music for the Medieval Vielle: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/ruthiedornfeld2

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Episode 51: Bruce Molsky

A legend of American Old-Time music, Bruce Molsky shares his story and philosophy towards playing traditional folk music with reverence, respect, and personal expression. He talks about his story falling head over heels for American folk music and names some of his heroes and mentors in the Round Peak style that is one of the roots of his sound. 

Bruce’s list of musical mentors/models from Round Peak: The Camp Creek Boys, Tommy Jarrell, Paul Sutphin, Verlen Clifton, Earnest and Scotty East, Max Snow

Bruce’s website: www.brucemolsky.com

Molsky’s Mountain Drifters: www.mountaindrifters.com

Social media links:




Photo by  Knut Utler

Photo by Knut Utler

Episode 50: Roger Tallroth

There's no better way to reach our 50th episode than with the third and final member of Väsen, legendary 12-string guitarist Roger Tallroth. Roger has developed his own style, sound and tuning for playing Swedish music on the 12-string guitar and has composed some of the most popular melodies played by fiddlers around the world, including Josephine's Waltz. He chats with Neil about how the limitations of acoustic traditional music can inspire more creativity and about his own journey with folk music, beginning midsummer’s day, 1979 at 2:15pm.

More info on Roger: http://tallroth.se/ and https://vasen.se

Video from Väsen’s collaboration with Snarky Puppy as part of their “family dinner” series:

photo by Mia Marin

photo by Mia Marin

Episode 49: Susan Watts

Susan Watts is a brilliant trumpeter and singer who is also a fourth generation Klezmer musician and daughter of a legendary drummer who broke the paved the way for women in music. Neil caught up with Susan at her home in Philadelphia to chat about growing up in such a musical household, finding her voice on the trumpet and her ongoing work to promote women in Klezmer and female musicians in general. 

Music in this episode: Der Freiling Zeisinke (Sweet Spring) off of her album Hartsklap (which can be ordered and downloaded at store.cdbaby.com/cd/susanwatts) and Shalom Aleichem, a traditional song that welcomes in Shabbat with a melody written in 1918 by Rabbi Israel Goldfarb. 

More information on Susan at her website: www.susanwattsonline.com

Info on Susan’s Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer project: folkloreproject.org/klezmer/project

Susan playing 3 tunes with her mother, Elaine Hoffman-Watts on the drums:

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Episode 48: Mikael Marin

The middle voice of Väsen, Mikael Marin brings a breadth of influences and musical influences to bear in his countermelodies and textures on the 5-string viola. In this wide ranging conversation he discusses the history of "second voice" playing in Swedish music, his own development as a classical and traditional musician and how a being passionate about your own specific culture and tradition can be common ground for connecting to traditional artists and cultures around the world.

Music: opening piece is Knust Av Sorgens Hammer (crushed by the hammer of grief) and the closing piece is a Polonesse sourced from historical archives.

More info: www.vasen.se 

Album on extra low instruments: Sorpesoll

Online archive discussed: www.smus.se


Bonus Episode: 2018 Retrospective

Neil looks back on some of the great music created in the TradCafe episodes that came out in 2018 while looking forward to the next year of episodes.  This episode features Allison DeGroot (Ep. 44), Don Roy (Ep. 34), Soo Yeon Lyuh (Ep. 45), Kevin Henderson (Ep. 37), Hadith Bani-Adam (Ep. 26), Brittany Haas (Ep. 41), Andrea Beaton (Ep. 36) and a short preview of the music from Mikael Marin's upcoming episode.

Episode 47: Steve Baughman

Orkney tuning, clawhammer guitar, zen banjo and everything in between. Steve Baughman is a master musician, entertainer and creative personality who is one of the most engaging performers you'll ever meet. In this episode, taped live at the Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, Steve tells Neil about exploring his love of music while travelling the world as the son of American expats and how all that time alone with his instrument has led him to develop his unique and beautiful musical style and technique. 

Music: Rock the Cradle John (opening) and Leitrim Queen (closing)

Steve's website: www.celticguitar.com

Steve’s duo recordings with Robin Bullock:



Other clawhammer guitar: Jody Stecher

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Episode 46: Olov Johansson

Olov Johansson is perhaps the best known Nyckelharpa player in the world today. As one third of the Swedish power-trio Väsen he has toured the world as an ambassador for Nordic folk music for several decades now. He sat down with Neil to share his journey exploring traditional melodies and fresh collaborations all while building a unique and influential musical identity. 

Olov's website: olovjohansson.se

Väsen: vasen.se

Olov’s teacher: Curt Tallroth

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Olov’s Nyckelharpa sitting on the couch while we set up for his interview.

Olov’s Nyckelharpa sitting on the couch while we set up for his interview.

Episode 45: Soo Yeon Lyuh

A pioneering artist on the South Korean Haegeum, Soo Yeon Lyuh has been bringing improvisation back to a traditional instrument which hasn't done it in generations. Neil chats with her about her journey starting in Western Classical music, transitioning to the traditional music of her home and then bringing that tradition into the Western world collaborating with the Kronos quartet and teaching/studying improvisation at Mills College in Oakland, CA. 

More on Soo Yeon: www.sooyeonlyuh.com

Soo Yeon’s work with the Kronos Quartet: https://kronosquartet.org/fifty-for-the-future/composers/soo-yeon-lyuh1

John Iver (clarinet player in closing improvisation): www.johniversmusic,com

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Episode 44: Allison de Groot (live)

In this episode, recorded in front of a live audience at the Sierra Fiddle Camp, clawhammer banjoist Allison de Groot shares her story of delving deep into the Appalachian Banjo tradition while growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She talks about working with luminaries like Bruce Molsky and Tatiana Hargreaves and talks about her work researching the playing of great woman banjo players from the past. 

The opening tune is "Wabash Blues" from the playing of Virginian banjo player Hobart Smith but originally entered the tradition from the playing of an enslaved African musician. The set of tunes at the end starts with "Frederick's Jig" written by Allison and finishes with "Buffalo Gals" a classic traditional tune. 

For more about Allison check out her website: www.allisondegroot.com

Molsky's Mountain Drifters: www.mountaindrifters.com


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Episode 43: Ward MacDonald

A major figure in the traditional music scene of Prince Edward Island, Ward MacDonald sat down with Neil in the midst of preparing for his CD release at the Festival of Small Halls. Their conversation is wide ranging, darting between Ward's personal musical journey and the wider role of traditional arts in the modern world. 

Closing waltz in this episode: "Sweet Dreams Eloise" by Ward MacDonald for his baby daughter. 

Contact Ward MacDonald: celticsomething {at} gmail.com

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Episode 42: Olav Mjelva

A great player of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and the standard fiddle styles of his native Røros, Norway, Olav Mjelva is the third and final member of Nordic Fiddlers Bloc to be featured on the show and the third member of Sver (out of five). He takes Neil along for his journey through Norwegian traditional music and beyond as one of the finest composers of traditional Scandinavian music today.

Tunes on this episode: Opening is "The Doctor" by Olav Mjelva, Closing is a traditional tune from Røros. More resources, links and info at www.tradcafe.org/blog-1


  • Video of Hallingdans:
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Episode 41: Brittany Haas

A legend of American fiddling already at a young age, Brittany Haas chats with Neil about her musical journey, from touring with Darol Anger at the age of 13 to breaking new ground in the neo-Bluegrass band Crooked Still to playing regularly with Chris Thile on his NPR show "Live From Here" (formerly Prairie Home Companion). This episode also features Brittany's answers to listener questions submitted through Patreon.

Music: opening tune is Calum Finlay and closing tune is Booth Shot Lincoln.

Brittany's website: www.brittanyhaas.com

Hawktail's website: www.hawktailmusic.com


Episode 40: Anders Hall

The Swedish third of the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Anders Hall sits down with Neil to talk about getting all of his gigs as a result of late night parties, living on the farm where his family has lived as far back as anyone can trace, and the intricacies and history of the Polska. 

Music in this episode: The opening is Troll Kärrings Låten, Anders writes of this tune: "A march after Toss-Abraham, from Järvsö Hälsingland. Toss-Abraham lived in the mountain behind our farm. We have one of his fiddles left after him. My Grandpa remembered him. He died in the beginning of 1920. My mother and father had this as a wedding march when they went in to the church."   The closing music is a Polska after Jonny Schönning, from Skog in Hälsingland.

Anders page on the Nordic Fiddlers' Bloc website: http://www.thenordicfiddlersbloc.com/bio/anders/

Sver: http://www.sverfolk.com/en/

Anders Facebook.jpg

Episode 39: Laurel Martin

A great teacher and performer of Irish fiddle in the Boston area, Laurel Martin talks about her journey from taking up the instrument for the first time in her 20's and studying with the great Seamus Connolly under a master/apprentice grant to becoming a teacher herself, and taking on the "master" role in passing on and sustaining the tradition. 

Laurel's Website: www.laurelmartin.com

Musicians Laurel talks about: Seamus Connolly, Michael Coleman, Paddy Canny, Paddy Fahey (a.k.a. Paddy Fahy)

Laurel Martin.jpg

Episode 38b: Doug Protsik (part 2)

In the second part of the Doug Protsik episode, Neil and Doug discuss the power of music to transcend cultural and political differences as Doug shares his experiences playing traditional music in central Asia, eastern Europe, the middle east and Africa including leading a silent movie performance in Tajikistan. Doug also shares the story of Maine Fiddle Camp and what he has done to build it into a powerhouse of traditional arts in Maine. 

Music in this episode: Opening is "Ida (sweet as apple cider)" Closing is "The Tajik Two-Step" [by Doug Protsik when Old Grey Goose went to Tajikistan]

Old Grey Goose: http://www.oldgreygoose.org

Maine Fiddle Camp: http://www.mainefiddlecamp.org/

Check out these videos of Old Grey Goose's travels:

Tajikistan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG3epNYnXnc

Central Asia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYOjj9MVLqk

Trinidad and Cuba: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcOZeGZbLeE

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