What began with the recognition that northern New England, Québec and Canada’s Maritime Provinces share a lively cultural heritage from the Old World, specifically Ireland, Scotland and France, has become central Vermont’s top late summer event. The 26th annual New World Festival in Randolph on Sunday, Sept. 2, has once again created an exceptionally strong line up of talent that make this a do not miss festival. This year’s headliners are Irish singer and guitarist John Doyle and Quebec’s Le Vent du Nord. Doyle is an exceptional singer with a unique guitar style. He came to prominence with the Irish band Solas. His driving, left-handed guitar style became a standard among Irish guitar players. After leaving Solas, Doyle established himself as a must have accompanist with fiddler Liz Carrol. He has performed and toured with bands in the folk, Celtic and bluegrass worlds. He was music director for Joan Baez, and guitarist for Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Linda Thompson, Kate Rusby, Cathie Ryan, and Cherish the Ladies. Doyle has appeared on soundtracks for feature films, composed film music, and performed on countless recordings for a range of notable artists. He has been a featured regular for many years in the hugely popular BBC Scotland “Transatlantic Sessions” regularly broadcast in Ireland and at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival, performing with Americana greats Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Sara Watkins, Kathy Mattea, and many others. Doyle is not unfamiliar to Vermont audiences as he has appeared at the New World Festival before and in concert in Barre and Cabot. Le Vent du Nord is a Quebec-based quartet that is a driving force in progressive folk. These Francophone musicians have, since 2002, become compelling ambassadors for Quebecois music, winning critical acclaim across Europe, Oceania and America. The band has won several prestigious awards, including a Grand Prix du Disque Charles Cros, two Junos (Canada’s Grammy), a Félix at ADISQ, a Canadian Folk Music Award, and “Artist of the Year” at the North American Folk Alliance Annual Gala. They’ve collaborated and performed with a diverse range of artists including: Harry Manx, Väsen, Dervish, The Chieftains, Breton musical pioneer Yann-Fañch Kemener, Québecois roots legend and master storyteller Michel Faubert, the Scottish folk band Breabach, singer Julie Fowlis, and the trans-Mediterranean ensemble Constantinople. Featuring button accordion, guitar and fiddle, the band’s sound is defined by the hurdy-gurdy, which adds an earthy, rough-hewn flavor to even the most buoyant dance tunes. Their music is joyful and dynamic as they expand the bounds of traditional Quebecois dance music. Other festival performers include cellist Natalie Haas with her husband guitarist Yann Falquet,making their first festival appearance. Hass is best known for her tours with Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. Falquet has performed here with the French Canadian power trio Genticorum. Also on the schedule for the first time is The Outside Track, winner of “Best Group” in both the Live Ireland awards and the Tradition in Review awards. With members from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton, this quintet blends fiddle, accordion, harp, guitar, flute, whistle, step-dance and vocals into a powerful stage act. A really unique act is Musique à bouches featuring five male voices and a cappella arrangements accompanied by rhythmical foot tapping. Connla returns after wowing fans last summer. The band hails from Northern Ireland and boasts strong traditional roots as well as influences from across the globe. The young Boston-based band Night Tree has made several visits to Vermont recently and is building a diverse fan base. Their music is rooted in original works spanning the Celtic world. The sextet creates original music that borrows from the Swedish, Jewish and American folk traditions. The band that seems to embody the longevity of the festival, the Scottish trio Cantrip, returns. Dan Houghton (bagpipes, flute, whistles, guitar, bouzouki, vocals), Jon Bews (fiddle and vocals), and Eric McDonald (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals) continue to build on their instrumental expertise and crowd pleasing stage presence. Vermonter Owen Marshall will debut with his band Copley Street. The lineup includes Boston-based Uilleann piper Joey Abarta, fiddler Nathan Gourley, sean-nós dancer Jackie O'Riley, and Marshall on bouzouki, in this traditional Irish music quartet. Vermont native Eric Wright, cellist with The Fretless, a band that became an instant audience favorite several years back, joins Cape Breton fiddler Mairi Rankin in a duo. Wright is the Celtic/old time cello, guitar and banjo teacher at many music camps while Rankin is a member of the hugely influential Rankin Family, legends on the Canadian music scene. She plays fiddle, sings and also step-dances. This duo should attract a large audience. Also popular during the day long festival are the dance, family, and sessions tents. The biggest outdoor venue is the dance tent where, during the day and evening, various kinds of dances, from called contras to freestyle are accompanied by the festival’s bands. Especially popular is the sessions tent, where musicians get together informally to play with others who share their specialty. The family tent is dedicated to activities for children and families. Three afternoon workshops will enhance the experience for musicians: Presented in partnership with The Summit School, Sarah Isberg will teach intermediate and advanced fiddle players Swedish dance tunes with a focus on bowing techniques and harmonies; Joanne Garton will lead a Scottish fiddle workshop; and Dana and Sue Robinson will offer an old-time fiddle and banjo workshop. Admission is free to festival patrons. The New World Festival has been designated a “Time-Honored Top Ten Event” by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. And it certainly is.   New World Festival Chandler Center of the Arts presents the 26th annual New World Festival noon to 11 p.m. in and around Chandler Music Hall, 71-73 Main St. in Randolph. Tickets are $44 ($31 after 6 p.m.), 12 and younger free; for tickets, schedule or information, call 802-728-6464, or go online to www.newworldfestival.com.

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