2023 Staff Bios
Gaye Fifer is an accomplished contra & English caller from Pittsburgh, PA. An active dancer herself, Gaye understands the subtleties of making dances particularly satisfying for dancers. Her instructions are clear and concise, as she is a teacher by profession. An easy smile and delightful sense of humor are part of Gaye's relaxed, pleasant style at the microphone. Gaye calls contra and English dances throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is also an enthusiastic advocate and instructor of contra-style waltz. Gaye is currently President of the Board of CDSS.
Wendy Graham Settle
Wendy Graham (Durango, Colorado), self-described “dance maniac,” is thrilled to be back at Cumberland dance week. Her passion for music, song and dance caught fire in 1991 on a Danish-American Exchange (DAE) youth dance tour to Denmark. Today, Wendy leads English and American folk dances and teaches social dance across the country and abroad. She proudly served on the Lloyd Shaw Foundation and Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) boards, and the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award committee. She loves building community and sharing the joy of music, song and dance with people of all ages and abilities.
Tadhg Ó Meachair
A graduate of the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick, Tadhg has established himself as a force in the world of traditional Irish music. An All-Ireland piano title is among the various awards for piano, piano accordion, and accompaniment he has collected along his musical journey. As well as being a founding member of the multi-award-winning bands Goitse and One for the Foxes, he has performed on a variety of stages across four continents to huge crowds and esteemed audiences; from Ireland’s National Concert Hall to Music Crossroads in Zambia, and from the Festival Interceltique de Lorient to a garden party hosted by Uachtarán an hÉireann, the President of Ireland.
Tadhg has not only made a name for himself in terms of his performing career. In recent years, he has recorded on numerous albums and worked with singers and musicians alike, including collaborations with legendary singers Aoife Clancy and Seán Ó Sé. He was also chosen by none other than Dónal Lunny to be the pianist in his ‘Lorg Lunny’ project which was recorded for an eight-episode TV series and culminated in the formation of the band Ciorras. Tadhg has also taught extensively at festivals across Europe and North America and can teach a variety of classes from piano and piano accordion, to accompaniment classes for a range of backing instruments. Having grown up in an Irish-speaking home, and having studied the Irish language to university level, he has even been known to teach a few Irish or ‘Gaelic’ classes. Tadhg is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Indiana University's Folklore and Ethnomusicology Department alongside his performance career.
A Colorado native, Joanna Hyde grew up in a musical family, and has travelled throughout North America and Europe to perform and teach at various workshops, concert venues, and festivals. Beginning with classical music, Joanna quickly expanded her musical exploration to other styles including Irish, Texas swing, bluegrass, and Americana/folk, along with Irish and Cape Breton step dance. She won numerous fiddle contests throughout her youth, and spent many summers attending music festivals and camps, where she learned from a variety of renowned Irish fiddlers. She graduated from Colorado College with a BA in Music, and was recognized with the Music Department’s top performance and academic awards.
In 2011, Joanna was selected as one of ten scholars from across the United States by a panel of distinguished arts professors and professionals to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's Graduate Arts Award. With this generous grant, she moved to Ireland to pursue an MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, graduating in 2014. She also taught for BA and MA music programs during her time in UL (and continues to when possible). Currently, Joanna teaches music, and performs with a variety of projects including the transatlantic trio, One for the Foxes, which was awarded 2021 “Album of the Year” by the ACLSR (American Celtic Listener-Supported Radio) Music Awards. Joanna also composes, arranges, and performs in a duo with her husband, Tadhg Ó Meachair, with whom she recently produced an arts audio documentary called “On the Wireless” for Creative Ireland and Cork County Council.
A founding member of the acclaimed music group Maivish, Matthew Olwell is a performing and teaching artist whose work blends percussive dance, traditional music, and visual media. Matthew began his professional career touring with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, including a run in the original London production of Riverdance. He has been a featured performer and teacher at numerous festivals and camps, including the Dublin Dance Festival, the Augusta Heritage Center, and the Aulnay All Blues Festival in Paris, and for many years co-Directed Good Foot Dance Company with Emily Oleson, where the two created unique pieces of "trad dance theatre." Recent works include CyberTrad, a recording project that blends traditional and original Irish and Breton music with bass and Beatbox, and of which the Irish Echo writes, “Outstanding... Olwell is an artist with a keen vision.” A 2017 graduate of Davis & Elkins College with a degree in Multimedia Performance, Matthew completed an MFA in dance at Temple University in 2020. He currently resides in Virginia where he is an apprentice “fluthier” at Olwell Flutes, studying the craft of wooden flute making with his brother Aaron and father Patrick Olwell.
Emily Oleson is a crossover dance artist interested in framing American Vernacular Dance to include broad ranges of movers and styles, from traditional Appalachian flatfooting to hip hop. She is a co-Artistic Director of Good Foot Dance Company with Matthew Olwell making “trad dance theater.” Emily’s performance highlights include appearing with The Chieftains, Lunasa, Green Fields of Ireland, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Aulney-All-Blues festival in France, Wheatland Music Festival, the Newport Folk Festival with Seeger’s Clogging All-Stars, Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Stage, and a US State Department tour in Russia with The Meaning of Buck Dance, a collaboration with Good Foot, Urban Artistry and Baakari Wilder. Emily received her MFA in Dance at the University of Maryland, is a Certified Movement Analyst, and pioneered the first undergraduate degree devoted to American vernacular dance at Davis & Elkins College. Emily entered Temple University’s Doctoral Program in Dance in Fall 2017, and is currently an Assistant Professor at James Madison University teaching Dance History, Tap, and Modern.
Brian Lindsay has been dancing since he could walk, singing since he could speak, and holding a fiddle to his chin for most of his life. Surrounded by both contra dance and Irish music and dance throughout his childhood, Brian spent much of his youth going to sessions in the NY area and studying with respected Irish fiddle player Brian Conway. An accomplished performer and Mid-Atlantic Irish Fiddle champion by the age of 17, Brian has also found the influences of many other musical styles and traditions make their way into his playing. Starting at a young age, other instruments started to enter his vocabulary, including the banjo, mandolin, guitar, and Irish tin whistle. Brian’s skill as a multi-instrumentalist extends especially to the voice. As an experienced performer of folk songs both new and old, Brian creates unique arrangements and thought provoking harmonies, and delights in the joys of social singing.
Brian grew up going to contra dances all over New England; the rhythm and flow of the dance has set deep in his bones and impels the music he makes. The dynamic, living tradition of contra dance embraces the new and the old, and the creativity in Brian’s playing draws on both a wealth of traditional influence and an enthusiasm for new things. In 2009 Brian found himself at Oberlin College, where he first met his close friend and musical collaborator Alex Sturbaum. Together they formed the band “Gallimaufry“, and toured the midwest and east coast while still returning to northeast Ohio in time for class on Monday morning. Years later, Brian and Alex both moved to the Pacific Northwest, and gave the name “Countercurrent” to their musical partnership, which has now flourished for over a decade. Brian can be found on stage in dozens of different combinations with other musicians, including this year at Cumberland!
Sam is a traditional musician known throughout the United States for his mandolin, banjo, and guitar playing as well as his original music. His compositions have been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered and his playing has been featured on the Thistle & Shamrock, and in two Ken Burns documentaries, Prohibitionand The Dust Bowl.
Sam has recorded with a virtual who’s who of traditional musicians, among them: Garry Harrison, Paul Brown, Eden MacAdam-Somer, Rafe Stefanini, Pete Sutherland, Dirk Powell, Rodney Miller, David Greely, and Rick Good.
Sam is also a master entertainer, and author of The Best of Stuntology (Workman, 2008) which is sold internationally and translated into Finnish and German. As an artist, Sam has for the past 20 years played a role in the resurgent interest in the 19th century entertainment form, the moving panorama, or “crankie show.” www.sambartlett.com/
Jonathan is an avid dance fiddler, pianist, and melodeon player coming to us from Chicago. Drawing from a variety of British Isle-based traditions, he regularly performs for contras, squares, Irish sets, and English country dances. He is also a dancer and musician for both Pullman Morris and Sword and Fox Valley Morris. Being a dancer himself, he brings intricate, energetic and tasteful music to his performances. His current musical endeavors include the Cosmic Otters (founding member), Chicago Reel, and I Am Ireland (a nationally touring show featuring the personality of Paddy Homan). thecosmicotters.com/
Val Mindel is a longtime musician, teacher and workshop leader, known for bringing out the best in singers, whatever their level. In addition to working on the close, buzzy harmony that is a pillar of American old-time, bluegrass and country harmony, she also addresses such indefinables as tone, ornamentation, putting across a lead and more. She teaches regularly at music camps across the US and abroad.
Val is a founding member of the Any Old Time String Band (check out I Bid You Goodnight) and has two CDs with her daughter, old-time country musician Emily Miller: In the Valley and Close to Home. She has just published a book, So You Want to Sing Folk Music, part of the “So You Want To Sing” series for Rowman & Littlefield and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She lives in Elkins, West Virginia.
Eric Schedler plays accordion, piano and banjo for contra, square and English country dancing with Midwest-based bands the Cosmic Otters and Supertrad. With his playing firmly rooted in traditional Irish music, Eric has performed and taught at camps and festivals around the country, and currently serves as program director of the all-ages Cumberland Dance Week, a project of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, of which Eric is also a member of the board of directors. Eric lives in Bloomington, IN with his wife, Katie Zukof, where they run a family dance series, raise their two daughters and operate a brick-oven bakery. thecosmicotters.com
In 1985 Kappy became a member of the first garland team in the USA, Court Square Dancers. She enjoyed her time with the team for 11 years as dancer, teacher and musician. She has taught garland as well as several other English ritual dances (rapper, longsword, border morris) at many camps and schools for children and adults over the years. Kappy has been on staff at Lloyd Shaw sponsored Cumberland and Terpsichore camps for many years and looks forward to returning to Cumberland again this year.
Meg Dedolph plays guitar and drums for the Cosmic Otters and is a dance caller in the Chicago area. She also teaches parent-child music classes for the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Wiggleworms program.
Beth grew up in the folk arts and crafts capital of KY, Berea. Daughter of a woodworker, she loved watching and learning from all the crafts people surrounding her. Now residing in Asheville, NC, Beth has focused on children in folk arts merging her affinity for stories, dance, crafts, and nature. She’s also worked in decorative finishes, embroidery, and as a potter’s assistant. One of Beth’s favorite mediums is needle felting. Loving that wool forms can be simple and playfully shaped they can also continuously change and become intricate and complex. She’s looking forward to watching worlds and characters come to form at the hands of Cumberland’s adult campers. Beth has taught at Christmas Country Dance School, Cumberland Dance Week, and Pinewoods, as well as dance weekends and other workshops. She serves on The Lloyd Shaw Foundation Board of Directors and as Camp Director for Cumberland Dance Week.