A hybrid player of classical violin and contemporary fiddle, Sarah-Hadley Yakir brings a rich sound and distinctive style to traditional music. After touring extensively internationally as a classical violinist, she was introduced to contra dancing in 2018 and frankly, the rest is history. She plays primarily with her band River Road.
Jacob Chen is a public school music educator, dancer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Norman, Oklahoma. He draws his rhythmic and harmonic ideas from intimately listening to bandmates and collaborators while carefully observing the energy and mood of the dance floor. When he’s not in the classroom or playing music, Jacob enjoys writing tunes, playing board games, baking various breads, and scouting the next piece of colorful fabric to wear.
Michael Sokolovsky is a contra dance guitar player. Michael hails from New England where he was exposed to folk music through family friends early in life. After studying music in college, he discovered contra dancing and has been dancing and playing since. When not playing for a local dance around New England or with Uncle Farmer, Michael co-hosts and produces the Queer Jewish comedy podcast, “Xai, How Are You” and works on his homestead in Western MA.
Heidi Wilson’s passion is to share songs in service to community and the wild world; songs that celebrate the seasons, bring groups together, offer thanks, muster courage, and make room for healing and grieving. She is drawn to the potent and surprising journey of deep-listening and emergent music making. She has also been exploring the traditional music of her Swedish ancestors and loves to share old songs of the forests and fields.
Annie Fain is a native of the crafts and music/dance community of Brasstown, NC and is former Music & Dance Coordinator at the John C. Campbell Folk School. She teaches a variety of classes including book arts, clawhammer banjo, and several styles of dance: Appalachian clogging, English waltz clog, Northwest Morris, and Bal Folk (learned when she married into a French family). Annie Fain plays banjo and banjo uke for the all-woman string band,
River ‘Rainbowface’ Abel has been calling contra dances since 2013, and contra dancing since 2009. They have called for experienced and inexperienced dancers, as far south as Florida, and as far north as Massachusetts. They enjoy facilitating a sense of connection and community at each event that they participate in, and hopes that you will give them shout outs to let them know whether or not they are succeeding at that goal.
Ben Schreiber is a contra dance fiddler and tune writer who started with the Suzuki method at an early age, and has since shifted into the world of folk music. A Midwest native, Ben was exposed to many styles of folk music early on, which have all influenced and shaped his style of playing. Ben currently lives in St. Louis, MO, but was previously located in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he established his first regularly touring contra dance band,
Rachel Fifer was first introduced to contra dancing when her father dropped her on her head as a particularly wild neighbor swung him off balance. Gaye Fifer leapt dramatically off the stage, only to discover that baby Rachel was unharmed, yet would have a lifetime connection to contra dancing. Rachel has since sampled every dance and music style she could. She is fascinated by the history of our creative communities and the ways that we honor our roots by continuing to both remember our past and move towards intentional progress.
Gaye Fifer has been calling at dance weekends/weeks for many years. Her pleasant style and graceful teaching put dancers at ease and set the stage for a great dance experience. She now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. and travels whenever there is a safe opportunity to do so. Gaye is currently President of CDSS and has a passionate interest in supporting dance community leaders and organizers.
Karen Axelrod’s piano playing combines expressiveness, energy, lyricism and power. She is equally at home with styles ranging from traditional folk melodies to passionate tangos to old world French musette waltzes to English Country dance tunes and much more. She left behind classical music over 40 years ago, and has happily settled into her musical home….somewhere between folk, classical and improvisation. Her playing is soulful yet touched with humor and whimsy.
When she is not playing concerts,