w/ Bettman & Halpin
Featured Artist #1
Robbie Fulks is a singer, recording artist, instrumentalist, composer, and songwriter. His most recent release, 2017's Upland Stories, earned year's-best recognition from NPR and Rolling Stone among many others, as well as two Grammy® nominations, for folk album and American roots song ("Alabama At Night").
Fulks was born in York, Pennsylvania, and grew up in a half-dozen small towns in southeast Pennsylvania, the North Carolina Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge area of Virginia. He learned guitar from his dad, banjo from Earl Scruggs and John Hartford records, and fiddle (long since laid down in disgrace) on his own. He attended Columbia College in New York City in 1980 and dropped out in 1982 to focus on the Greenwich Village songwriter scene and other ill-advised pursuits.
In 1983 he moved to Chicago and joined Greg Cahill's Special Consensus Bluegrass Band. He taught music at Old Town School of Folk Music from 1984 to 1996, and worked as a staff songwriter on Music Row in Nashville from 1993 to 1998. His early solo work -- Country Love Songs (1996) and South Mouth (1997) -- helped define the "alternative country" movement of the 1990s. His music from the last several years hews mainly to acoustic instrumentation; it returns him in part to his earlier bluegrass days, and extends the boundaries of that tradition with old-time rambles and sparely orchestrated reflections on love, the slings of time, and the troubles of common people.
Radio: multiple appearances on WSM's "Grand Ole Opry"; PRI's "Whadd'ya Know"; NPR's "Fresh Air," "Mountain Stage," and "World Cafe"; and the syndicated "Acoustic Cafe" and "Laura Ingraham Show." TV: PBS's Austin City Limits; NBC's Today, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Later with Carson Daly, and 30 Rock. From 2004 to 2008 he hosted an hourlong performance/interview program for XM satellite radio, "Robbie's Secret Country." Artists who have covered his songs include Sam Bush, Kelly Hogan, Andrew Bird, Mollie O'Brien, Rosie Flores, John Cowan, and Old 97s.
Robbie's writing on music and life have appeared in GQ, Blender, the Chicago Reader, DaCapo Press's Best Music Writing anthologies for 2001 and 2004, Amplified: Fiction from Leading Alt-Country, Indie Rock, Blues and Folk Musicians, and A Guitar and A Pen: Stories by Country Music's Greatest Songwriters. As an instrumentalist, he has accompanied the Irish fiddle master Liz Carroll, the distinguished jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, and the New Orleans pianist Dr. John. As a producer his credits include Touch My Heart: A Tribute to Johnny Paycheck (Sugar Hill, 2004) and Big Thinkin' by Dallas Wayne (Hightone, 2000). Theatrical credits include "Woody Guthrie's American Song" and Harry Chapin's "Cottonpatch Gospel." He served twice as judge for the Winfield National Flatpicking Guitar competition. He tours yearlong with various configurations.
Besides country and bluegrass music, Robbie is fiercely fond of Charles Mingus, P.G. Wodehouse, quantum mechanics, his wife Donna, comedy in almost all forms, cooking, swimming laps, the past, Arthur Schopenhauer, Universal horror movies, his grandson and even his sons, coastal towns in the off-season, and rye whiskey, though in nothing like that order.
Featured Artist #2
Stephanie Bettman & Luke Halpin
Bettman & Halpin play original Folk/Americana. Their concerts combine high-energy upbeat bluegrass/roots inspired compositions, beautiful ballads with soaring vocals and heartfelt lyrics, and groovy feel-good songs that audiences will be singing in their heads for weeks thereafter. Interspersed between these songs and instrumentals, they tell stories. They have become as known for their storytelling and playful banter as well as for their hooky whole-hearted songwriting and instrumental wizardry. They have been touring as a duo since 2008, and incorporating a trio and quartet since 2013.
Bettman & Halpin have a well-earned reputation for hypnotizing performances filled with irresistible lyrics, transcendent harmonies and roof-raising instrumentals. They have twice been a featured act at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS along with musical heroes Byron Berline, Michael Martin Murphy w/ Pat Flynn, and Tommy Emmanuel. They can also be found performing at various arts centers throughout the US and abroad. Their music creates a fully acoustic, delightfully eclectic sound far greater than the sum of its parts: taking the listener from up-tempo down home fiddlin', to soulful sorrowful ballads, to super hooky folk/pop with catchy melodies and lyrics that will stick with you long after the concert is over.