Erica Brown Shipman • Fiddles, Guitar, Vocals
Erica developed an interest in music at an early age. At the age of seven, she was competing in fiddle contests with kids twice her age. At age nine, she was traveling throughout New England, Canada, and even Louisiana with the Maine French Fiddlers. Erica also performed as a special guest with Mac McHale And The Old-Time Radio Gang for five years. Currently, she has her own bluegrass band, Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection, which performs all over New England. Erica is also a member of The Stowaways, Darlin’ Corey and The Record Family Band.
Erica was a member of the Bates College “Fighting Bobcats” Orchestra for five years and was a member of the Maine All-State Music Festival for two years. She has competed in and won numerous fiddle contests throughout New England and Canada. In 2003 she was awarded Junior Female Entertainer Of The Year by the Maine Country Music Association and in 2006 she received the Harold Carter Memorial Award from the Down East Country Music Association. Erica has helped bring music into several elementary schools by holding workshops and personally performing. She has a strong desire to share her knowledge with anyone who has an interest in music and the fiddle. Erica Brown was a recipient of a 2006 Maine Arts Commission Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award and was recognized as a Master Artist by the Maine Arts Commission that same year.
Her talent for combining the precision of classical music with the spontaneity of country and bluegrass fiddle makes for a fun-filled performance every time she plays.
Performance highlights include opening for Grammy award winning country music superstar Dwight Yoakam, as well as Grammy award winning bluegrass performer Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.
Matt Shipman • Guitar, Banjo, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Vocals
Calling Maine his home for many years, Matt is no stranger to the performance circuit throughout New England and afar. Having studied and played traditional music for many years, Matt is also a songwriter. His main instruments are guitar, mandolin, bouzouki and clawhammer banjo. Matt can be heard playing with Darlin’ Corey, Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection, High Range, and in various Irish music ensembles and sessions. Matt has put out 2 of his own recordings as well as with High Range and Erica Brown and most recently “When Evening Falls” with Erica and Matt’s duo Darlin’ Corey.
Hanz Araki • Flutes, Whistles, Bodhrán, Vocals
Considered one of the most talented Irish musicians in America today, flautist, whistle player, singer, and Juno Award-winner Hanz Araki has been lauded by publications and audiences alike. Three decades of musical exploration into Irish, Scottish, Japanese, and American traditions has yielded his distinct style described by Fatea Magazine as “achingly beautiful.”
As the sixth generation of his family to bear the title Araki Kodo, Hanz (short for Hanzaburo, his great-great grandfather’s name) spent his formative years mastering the Japanese end-blown bamboo flute. Discovering and relishing the melodic and mechanical similarities between shakuhachi and Irish whistle, Hanz applied his natural capacity and boundless curiosity to his Irish heritage. Taking advantage of the rich Irish music scene in Seattle, where he spent his youth, Hanz quickly became known for his exquisite instrumental work on both Irish whistle and flute and a haunting singing voice that was born to tell tales.
“Hanz Araki is a master of his art – of that there is no doubt. His stunning musicianship and mind-spinning delivery of traditional tunes is a pure exhilaration for the ears. Combining an unprecedented feel for the Japanese shakuhachi flute with an unerring ability as an interpreter of Celtic music, Araki has carved out a rock-solid status. Fashioned through a heritage of Irish and Japanese parental influence, education, and personal dedication, his musical influences combine the disciplines and traditions of both cultures to create the virtuoso we hear today.” (Folkwords)
Over the years, Hanz has released 11 albums, including 2014’s critically acclaimed Foreign Shore. Festival appearances include the Austin Celtic Festival, the Maine Celtic Celebration, the Missoula Celtic Festival, KVMR Grass Valley Celtic Festival, Milwaukee Irish Festival, Bumbershoot, Celtic Connections, and over 20 years of performances at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Hanz has also been invited to perform with the Seattle Symphony, at the Gates Estate, and for the Japanese Consul General.
Colleen Raney • Guitar, Bodhrán, Vocals
Vocalist Colleen Raney has been referred to as “among the best in her genre,” (Irish Music Magazine) and “one of America’s best traditional singers” (Tradconnect). This comes as little surprise given her dedication to the craft of performing and preserving the vibrant song tradition of Ireland. Raney is compelled by the beauty of traditional Irish songs and has committed herself to honoring the music not just with her voice, but in her tireless research of the origins, history, and story behind each piece before singing a single note. Her ability to convey this love of Irish music makes every performance a captivating experience, no matter the setting. Raney sings with an enchanting yet unaffected style allowing the listener to enjoy her selection of songs whether they are familiar or more obscure.
Born into a family where Irish music and dance were part of the fabric of everyday life, learning songs from her older siblings was very much a part of Raney’s formative years. Colleen began her musical career with her oldest brother Mark, who studied with legendary singer and song collector Joe Heaney. After attaining her MFA in Acting from the University of Washington, and working as a professional actor for a decade, Colleen dove back into the traditional music world with her first album Linnet in 2008. Her 2013 release Here This is Home is without question one of the finest works in recent years and has earned praise from publications worldwide.
Colleen has toured extensively, both at home and abroad, and spent two months in 2017 singing for Irish-American supergroup Solas on their farewell tour. Other highlights have included The KVMR Grass Valley Celtic Festival, Maine Celtic Celebration, Winston-Salem Celtic Festival, Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, and Seattle’s respected Northwest Folklife Festival, where she was a regular performer from 1980 to 2013. Her music can be heard on radio from Italy, to Ireland, to New York, to Hawaii, to Japan and all parts in between.