Acoustic Cafe 2017-2018 Season

October 21

J. Bird and the Sparrowhawk

J. Bird and the Sparrowhawk, the husband and wife duo of Amy Snedaker and Rich Hamilton, play a mixture of old-timey stringband tunes and their own original songs tinged with soulful Appalachian mountain harmonies. Combining the best elements of bluegrass and traditional acoustic string music, Rich and Amy provide a dynamic and entertaining evening on fiddles, banjo, uke and guitar.







November 18

Mike Agranoff

If you’ve been around the folk scene, you couldn’t miss seeing Mike. Tall, ginger beard, and always around where the music is. He’s been on the scene for many many years, listening to the fine details of what makes this genre of music so special to the soul, so able to make us laugh and cry and think. And lucky for us all, he got serious about having fun at it.

Equally at home in the contemporary and traditional camps of the Folk world, he is a fine musician and storyteller. His prime instrument is the guitar, upon which he shines with intricate fingerstyle arrangements of anything from Tin Pan Alley tunes of the ’20s to fiddle tunes to his own music. He also plays concertina, piano, banjo, or sings acapella. He can be uproariously funny, contempletive, and powerfully emotional in the space of a few minutes. Not so much a singer-songwriter as a “singer-songfinder, Mike takes great delight in discovering the little-known hidden gems, polishing them with his own distinctive style, and bringing them to the light of day where they sparkle. The man will capture your attention, and then your heart.

Not only a performer, Mike is involved in presenting folk music as well. He is one of the prime movers of The Folk Project, New Jersey’s oldest and strongest folk music organization. For over two decades he has been chairman of that organization’s Minstrel Coffeehouse, one of the longest lived and most respected folk venues in the country.


January 20

Folksoul Duo

Fred Simmons and Leslie Vogel began playing music together way back when they attended Bard College. Their musical partnership has endured as well as their marriage, and has produced a steady stream of music via various projects, including but not limited to the two main musical groups that go under the heading of Folksoul Music.

After years of performance the pair is also enjoying playing together just as a duo, drawing on a large repertoire of material of all kinds, spanning folk, oldies, originals, and songs that might not fit into a band set. Blending the trombone with piano, and guitar with accordion, there is plenty of variety and plenty of good rhythms.

In addition, a new project has recently begun, adding daughter Rebecca on fiddle and vocals, and Dan Wheeler on stand-up bass, and for want of a better name, is being called the Folksoul Ensemble. This gives us the freedom to play songs that don’t require drums, and to play for occasions where a lighter sound is wanted.

February 17

Low Lily

Hailing from Vermont, LOW LILY explores the roots and branches of American folk music, creating a unique brand of acoustic music that is rooted yet contemporary. Low Lily– Liz Simmons (vocals, guitar) Flynn Cohen (vocals, guitar, mandolin) and Lissa Schneckenburger (vocals, fiddle)– are masterful players, composers and arrangers with deep relationships to traditional music styles ranging from bluegrass to Irish, Scottish, New England and Old Time Appalachian sounds. Raised in Greenfield, NH, Liz developed a unique vocal, guitar and songwriting style that draws from her childhood raised by folk musicians, and her studies in the folk and ballad traditions of Ireland, Scotland, England and America as well as contemporary folk music. She has toured with Livingston Taylor, 3X Grammy winner Tom Chapin, and Lucy Wainwright Roche, to name a few. Flynn, an Ohio native, holds a degree in Composition from Dartington College (Devon) and an MA from Mills College (CA), and has toured worldwide with numerous notable acts in traditional and contemporary acoustic music, including John Whelan, Cathy Ryan and Ruth Moody. Lissa grew up in Maine as an active member of the folk community, graduated from The New England Conservatory of Music and has performed internationally as a solo artist and with Solas and Childsplay, among others. Together as Low Lily, these still relatively young but well-seasoned musicians bring their considerable strengths, experience and history together to create an undeniably rich and versatile musical palette.

Low Lily was recently voted #1 Most Wanted at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (NY), they have had two #1 songs on international folk radio, and have been nominated for two New England Music Awards.


March 17

Kip Ferguson

Kip Ferguson has been singing professionally for the past 20 years in local coffeehouses, Old Home Days and Scottish festivals all over New England. These include the NH Highland Games, the Milford Pumpkin Festival, the Milford Peach Festival, and Old Home Days in Hollis and Weare, NH. He is known for his commanding stage presence, strong vocals and lively sense of humor. His repertoire includes traditional Celtic and English ballads as well as original folk songs.
Kip has sung with such diverse groups as the Cambridge Christmas Revels, the Boston Festival of Light and Song, and as principal soloist with the Strathspey and Reel Society of NH. Kip has also been a member of several folk groups and more recently as a solo performer. His first solo compact disc, “Kipappella,” will be available at the show. Just finished up a year long residence at McKenzie’s Restaurant every Thursday night in Nashua.

April 21

Hilton Park

A father, a son and a family friend who started writing and performing their music together just for fun, have become the band the Boston Examiner says has “reinvented acoustic”.

Hailing from a small town in rural Southern Maine, award winning Acoustic Roots trio HILTON PARK continue to share their unique blend of timeless tales and soulful “Blood Harmony” with audiences young and old. Hilton Park is finding that in an industry where individual talent often goes unnoticed, family unity and harmony can prevail.

Hilton Park began in the Spring of 2013, as a fun bonding project for father and son Bruce and Conor Hilton. When friends and family started commenting on the ethereal blend of their voices, they decided to record a few songs and find an audience. Adding Gregg Pannier’s piano and voice to the mix, the unique flavor that is Hilton Park took shape. Their first CD, “Greener Grass”, was called “one of the best sounding releases of the year” by Seacoast Online, and led to a 2014 New England Music Award nomination.

Hilton Park is known in the Northeastern U.S. for earthy, emotionally expressive and superbly crafted Americana, Folk & Blues. The Third Half says, “Hilton Park is about as New England as clam chowder and flour biscuits… rootsy folk that imparts an old time feel in brand new songs. A listener would undoubtedly imagine themselves comfortably on an old front porch, right next to this dynamic trio.” Two albums and 3 New England Music Award nominations later (including the win in 2015 for “Best in State: Maine”), Hilton Park continues to weave stories into instantly classic melodies and lyrics that are as unforgettable as the ‘stick in your head’ songs from the peak era of beloved songwriters like Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Band, but with modern insight for today’s audience. Every song tells a story, and there’s a story behind every song.

Bruce, Conor and Gregg also use their award-winning songwriting skills for a side project called “The Songshop”, where they compose and record personalized love songs for couples. These uniquely original songs are commissioned for weddings, anniversaries, Valentine ’s Day, or any other event.

This quote from a live review echoes what folks all over are saying about Hilton Park: “They are the folks next door who just happen to be virtuoso musicians, styling traditional folk/country instruments with fresh and original tunes. But the biggest treat may be the vocal harmonies. Our audience was enthralled. Edge of our seats, truly.”