The STEP Fiddlers are a group of fine young fiddle players, ranging in age from seven to 16, drawn mostly from the students of the Suzuki Talent Education Program (STEP) in St. John’s. They are directed by Christina Smith, who founded the group in 1982 to give young Newfoundlanders an opportunity to learn their own traditional music. The STEP Fiddlers have been featured performers at local concerts, festivals and events, have played for local, national and international audiences and have brought Newfoundland music to Ontario, England, and Northern Ireland. Over the years the group has released two CDs: “Galing for a Storm” and “Fiddling in the Fog.”
Maria Cherwick is certainly one of the busiest musicians in town! A highly trained classical violinist, she is also an accomplished fiddler who fearlessly (well mostly) tackles jazz, traditional styles and bluegrass with a skill and musicality that has made her one of the most sought after side musicians in St. John’s.
In fact, in addition to a slew of awards and nominations with her trad thrash punk outfit the Kubasonics, Maria was awarded the MusicNL Side Musician of the Year for 2018.
Aside from all that, she has performed from Victoria to St. John’s, as well as throughout Ukraine as a folk musician. She has played with a number of ensembles, in styles ranging from Celtic, to Old Time, to Eastern European thrash polka. In addition, she also studies, performs, and has a passion for improvisation and jazz. Maria can be seen frequently performing fiddle music in and around St. John’s with the Kubasonics, the Old Contemporaries, Strong Harbor Strings, the Newfoundland Symphony and many others.
Since the release of Stories and Strangers in 2009, Dave Penny has became known as a composer of songs that are truly unique to Newfoundland and Labrador, with topical references, wacky plots, and clever turns of phrase which comes from a lifelong fascination of comic ballads of Newfoundland and the British Isles. With his engaging stage personality, and a style that is entirely his own, he has been a key figure in resurgence in popularity of Newfoundland comic songs.
Dave’s 2017 recording—All Turned Around—has been nominated for a 2017 MusicNL award for Traditional Artist of the Year and a 2017 Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year. The album has given him the opportunity to travel around the province and parts of Canada, including the Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario.
In 2020, Dave released his most recent recording–Chip Wagon Ahead. Along with completing and releasing this record, Dave continues to add to his repertoire and perform via online festivals, concerts, and videos during the COVID-19 setbacks.
Andrea Monro is getting older, and while she always secretly believed she was of the perfect temperament to withstand the solitary days of life during a pandemic, the past seven months have proven her sorely wrong. Livestream, living room, or well spaced concert halls, she will happily be there, because she really misses sharing music. A singer songwriter, Andrea also plays banjo and sings in “Flower Hill” with Sherry Ryan and Maria Cherwick, who are amazing (really, ask anyone). She writes songs and stories and most of her thoughts (on her therapists advice), and lives with her two boys, bearded dragon, and 5 quail in St. John’s Newfoundland.
For the past 30 years, Jean Hewson (guitar & vocals) and Christina Smith (fiddle and cello) have been performing the traditional songs, ballads, and dance tunes of Newfoundland and Labrador for audiences in North America and the UK. They learned their repertoire directly from the older generation of musicians and singers around the Island.
Their CDS Like Ducks! and August Gale (Borealis) have received multiple nominations and awards, and in 2010, they were honoured by the Goderich Celtic Festival in Ontario, receiving the Tradition Bearer Award for their ongoing contribution to the traditional folk culture of Canada.
A native of Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland, Jim Payne is a leading performer, collector and producer of Newfoundland traditional music. He is also one of the province’s most prolific songwriters, as well as being a singer of traditional songs, a storyteller, writer, actor, and instructor and caller of traditional Newfoundland set and square dances. He has directed, composed and performed music for some of the most popular theatre productions of the past three decades, as well as creating soundtracks for plays, documentaries and videos. He has performed extensively on radio and television in Canada and abroad, in feature films, and has toured throughout North America, Europe, Japan and Australia.