BON DÉBARRAS Concert (to have been held March 3, 2019) CANCELLED because of snow.

Susquehanna Folk Music Society audiences have been treated to some fantastic concerts by artists from Quebec in recent years (think Le Vent du Nord, the Yves Lambert Trio, Genticorum, and Le Bruit court cans la ville) but what we haven’t seen much of is the wonderful step-dancing that Quebec is known for. You’ll get a chance to check out amazing PERCUSSIVE DANCE AND BODY PERCUSSION this coming Saturday evening, March 3rd when Bon Débarras comes to Harrisburg!

Bon Débarras is an exciting trio from Quebec that brings together a fusion of Quebecois folk music, traditional step-dancing and global influences for a show that is full of fun and inventive energy. On guitar, banjo, violin, and harmonica, the trio opens a door to their recollections of America and their music is at the intersection of various traditions. Bon Débarras’ energy taps into the rhythms of today and ventures boldly on the multi-faceted road to tomorrow’s dreams, in an atmosphere that transcends boundaries and ages.

For this tour only Bon Débarras will be traveling with Alexis Chartrand, a fiery young fiddler from Montreal. As the son of Pierre Chartrand, Quebec’s most celebrated tap dancer, Alexis has been immersed in the tradition since he was very young. He and is well known for his energetic accompaniment of step-dancing and social dances. Susquehanna Folk is excited to welcome Bon Débarras to Harrisburg!

IF YOU GO: Bon Débarras appears on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 7:30 PM at Appalachian Brewing Company located at 50 N. Cameron St, Harrisburg, PA 17101. This is a sit-down concert in a listening room environment. Tickets are $24 General Admission or $10 for students and can be purchased at the door, by calling 800-838-3006 or online at

We had a chance to speak to band member Jean-François Dumas about the band’s music and their upcoming concert in Harrisburg.


FOLKMAMA: What will people experience when they come to a Bon Débarras concert? What is your music like?

JEAN-FRANÇOIS : They can expect lots of joy and energy and fun!  We play a lot of dance music and sing songs in French, and there is body percussion and step dancing too. We compose our own music but our inspiration comes from the old tunes that have their origins in the music that the Irish, Scottish, and French settlers brought to Quebec. So audiences will hear singing, guitar, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and some other surprises too!

We think of our music as a voyage across North America with stops along the way in Appalachia, Louisiana, Mississippi and other places so our music has overtones of Cajun, rock, blues, country music , and even rap. Plus Montreal is a very cosmopolitan city, so we are influenced by the Latin and African music that we hear around us.

FOLKMAMA: What does the band’s name Bon Débarras  mean?

JEAN-FRANÇOIS:  Bon Débarras has two meanings, really. One is ‘good riddance’ and good riddance is getting rid of sorrow, anger and all negative energy. We let it go when we play music.

Also in French, débarras is a place to keep old stuff you don’t want to get rid of. Our band is like a storage closet where we can go and find traditional influences and inspiration.”

FOLKMAMA: I’ve seen your band twice, and I’ve come away both times thinking about the band’s wonderful use of rhythm. There is rhythm and pulse in everything that you do. Can you speak about that?

JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Well, I’ve always loved drums so for me rhythm has always been very important. I use rhythm when I play with my hands or tap with my feet. Just about every song has rhythmic foot tapping, which is something very different that we do in Quebec which adds a lot of energy to the music. Dominic is a percussive dancer, and a lot of what he does uses syncopated rhythm. And all of us add body music. Another thing that Quebec is known for its mouth reels, which adds a lot of rhythm to the music too.

FOLKMAMA: Can you tell me about the players in the band?

JEAN-FRANÇOIS: I mentioned Dominic Desrochers. He and I have been the core of the band since we first started playing together about 10 years ago, mostly in kitchens which is where a lot of Quebecois music starts! He plays regular guitar and then a small guitar from Cuba called a Tres and sings. And getting back to rhythm, Dominic’s step dancing is very powerful and rhythmic and adds a very exciting dimension to what we do. He is very respected for his dancing by a lot of groups including La Bottine Souriante and Cirque du Soleil. And I play banjo, harmonica, accordion, and a little guitar and do foot tapping while I’m playing. I grew up in a musical family and have traveled a lot in the United-States, Latin America and Europe to learn about other peoples’ folk traditions and colors. So we’ve been the core with other musicians playing bass, accordion, or fiddle.

Just very recently the fiddler Véronique Plasse joined the band, but she was not able to join us on this tour, so we have Alexis Chartrand. Alexis is a young fiddler who grew up in the tradition since his father Pierre Chartrand is a very famous Quebecois Tap Dancer. He has been accompanied dancers since he was very young, and when we first got together to prepare for the tour he learned our show in no time! He’s a very good singer too, and we are very excited to be working with him.

FOLKMAMA: Does Bon Débarras’ tour frequently and if so where do you generally tour?

JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It’s funny, but it seems that most of our touring is outside of Quebec. We tour all over Canada, the US, France, and the UK. The current tour that we’re on will take us to Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Harrisburg before heading off to Scotland for the Shetland Folk Festival. We’re really looking forward to being in Harrisburg and hope to see you there.




Tėada, from Sligo, Ireland to appear March 18th in Harrisburg (tunes, music + dancing)

“One of the most exciting traditional groups to emerge in recent years” Irish World

Coming from Sligo, Ireland the band Tėada (the word means “strings” in the Irish language) has achieved worldwide acclaim for its ability to stay true to the timeless, expressive force of traditional tunes inherited from previous generations of great Irish musicians.

Midstaters can experience Tėada in a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, March 18, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., at Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. The five-piece band expands to seven for this event with champion step-dancer Samantha Harvey and legendary singer and musician Séamus (SHAY-mus) Begley.

Tickets are available at

Téada first appeared in 2001 on Irish television, led by County Sligo fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada. Though still in their teens, the young musicians were driven by the timeless, expressive force of music inherited from previous generations.

The band was quickly cheered for “keeping the traditional flag flying at full mast” (The Irish Times). “A fresh force in Irish music” said Earle Hitchner in the Irish Echo, and Irish Music Magazine described them as “the strings that bind…a young band with a deeply authentic sound [at] the cutting edge of the next generation.”

“We try to capture some of the rawness and individuality of the solo artist tradition, within the dynamic of a full band,” says Mac Diarmada.

The original quartet is now often a septet with Seamus Begley, the elder statesmen of the group. From a famous musical family in County Kerry, named 2013’s Traditional Singer of the Year (Irish TV TG4), Begley brings a deep trove of songs as well as fiery accordion playing and wit.

Téada’s most recent release, In Spite of the Storm (Gael Linn, 2013), follows a string of acclaimed albums on the Green Linnet and Compass labels, and the first to feature Begley. “One of the outstanding releases in recent memory,” raved Daniel Neely in The Irish Echo. “Another typically thoughtful and thought-provoking excursion from a band still hungry for tunes– and, belatedly, for songs,” added Siobhan Long in The Irish Times.

The American tour is supported in part by Culture Ireland, a branch of the Irish government promoting Irish arts worldwide. For more information on the band visit their website at

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available online at or by calling toll-free (800) 838-3006.

To listen/watch Teada visit these sites:


In Spite of the Storm:


Song with Seamus Begley

April Verch and Joe Newberry, December 7th, in Harrisburg!

April Verch and Joe Newberry, both respected folk music performers in their own right, will come together for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be held in The Gallery at Appalachian Brewing Company located at the 50 N. Cameron Street in Harrisburg.

Expect to enjoy some music of the season along with songs, fiddle tunes, and lively step dancing!

With all the success that each of them they have had, Verch and Newberry have never forgotten the roots of their music, the connection to members of an audience, on the dance floor, to the community sparked by a good song. Their collaboration is fueled by their kindred passion for bringing people together to celebrate traditional music.

Verch grew up listening to her dad’s country band play for dances in Canada’s Ottawa Valley. She started step-dancing at age three and fiddling at age six, and decided early-on that she wanted to be a professional musician. Joe Newberry is a Missouri native who has played music most of his life and a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at

We recently had a chance to talk to both Joe and April about the traditions that each of them loves, and how their music intersects.


FOLKMAMA: Can you each tell me a bit about your early years and the folk music that you grew up with?

APRIL: I grew up in the Ottawa Valley in Northeastern Ontario, and I learned the style of fiddle playing and step dancing from that area. One of my best influences, especially in my early career, was my dad. He played old classic country music and he used to listen to the Wheeling, West Virginia radio. He was a big fan of that style.

It was really cool to find out that Joe had sort of a similar experience. My dad grew up listening to music from the states, and where Joe was in Missouri, people were listening to the radio from Canada!

JOE: I grew up in the Ozarks and then later moved to Central Missouri. Folks there liked to joke that they only things separating Missouri from Canada was a barbed wire fence! So like April said, fiddlers in central Missouri would listen to those late night clear channel broadcasts. So the tunes that we played in Missouri were really are a lot like Canadian tunes.

I think it’s because the settlement patterns in Central Missouri and the Ottawa Valley were so similar. We both had some Scots Irish, German and French immigration.

FOLKMAMA: I hadn’t realized that so many different groups settled in your area April.

APRIL: When I was growing up learning these traditions I was always told about the lumber camps, logging was the main industry when the area was settled. And the first immigrants brought the stories, and music, and dance from their homelands. The first settlers primarily working in the lumber camps were Irish, Scottish, French, German, and Polish.

FOLKMAMA: So I’d like to hear a little more about the Ottawa Valley style of dancing. The Rose Lehrman Arts Center just had Cherish the Ladies and they had three dancers performing with them. Two of the dancers were Irish step dancers, but the third was the Ottawa Valley fiddler and step dancer Julie Fitzgerald. And right away I could see a big difference between her dancing and the two Irish step dancers. She was much looser, more fluid. So maybe you could describe the Ottawa Style dancing a little bit to us.

APRIL: Usually when people just see me step dancing it reminds them of Irish step dancing or maybe tap or clogging. It was a wonderful opportunity that you had to see Irish step dancing and Ottawa Valley dancing side-by-side because the differences are subtle and difficult to describe.

And really the Ottawa Valley style has changed so much. There are a lot of contests in Ontario for the style so people are always looking for new influences and new steps to bring in. I feel like what Julie does is different then what even I grew up with. She’s younger than I am, so she probably has a lot more tap influence. When I first started touring and left home, more and more tap was coming in at that time. So it’s continuing to evolve really quickly.

FOLKMAMA: What kind of reaction are you getting to your performances together, especially those audience members that have never seen you as a duo?

JOE: We have gotten a really strong response so far, right from the first show that we did together in October, 2016. It’s funny. People came up to us at that first show and said, “Where’s your CD?” And so we went into the studio a month and a half later and recorded our first CD. And as you do during holiday time for stocking stuffers, we will have them available.

FOLKMAMA: I see both of you as being very dynamic performers, visually, as well as in other ways. I’m thinking part of it is just the chemistry as well as the music.

JOE: April and I both work with other folks. She has the great April Verch Band and I play with Mike Compton and also with some of the original members of the Red Clay Ramblers. We have a mutual friend, and she kept saying to me,” Boy you sure would play great with April.” And Janet was saying the same thing to April. In the meantime people heard about it and we actually got a few dates before we even got started! And so it’s like, “Well OK, here it is! We better step to it.”

FOLK MAMA: I saw your clips from Celtic Colors, which were fabulous. Is that the biggest festival that you’ve done together or have you done a string of them?

APRIL: Gosh, it does seem that we’ve done a lot in the short time that we have been together. Celtic Colors was one of our first performances together. I think we had only played a handful of shows before then. We have played a bunch of theaters and listening rooms and some other festivals and we’ve got  a lot of things coming up overseas next year and so I think that’s part of what we like about it is the variety of different venues and audiences that we are able to connect with.

FOLK MAMA: What should people expect to hear when they see you?

JOE: The thing that strikes us and the thing that strikes our audiences is that we are having a ball! And when you start from that point it just goes on from there. In our holiday show especially. Folks will hear original songs that April and I have both written–we both like telling an old story a new way. We love writing about this time of year.

FOLKMAMA: How much holiday music will you play and how much of your standard repertoire?

APRIL: It will depend a little on the night, how we are feeling and how the audience is responding. As Joe said there is a blend of vocals and of instrumentals and the dancing and so sometimes even though a fiddle tune is called “Christmas Eve” it’s still a fiddle tune. Adding some holiday songs just makes sense to us. It’s something that we grew up with this time of year.