Colman’s Well in Concert
Wednesday July 2
Nelson Town Hall
Unique and enthralling, Colman’s Well moves from sweet to strident and from Ireland to Appalachia, touching heart and soul with their vocal blend.
Colman’s Well is Nils Fredland, Rachel Gordon, and Brendan Taaffe. Bringing together their love of harmony, they sing an eclectic blend of (mostly) a cappella songs, ranging from the Stanley Brothers and the Sacred Harp to Fiona Apple and Monkey Puzzle (though, admittedly, they lean more towards the front half of that equation). The three first sang together in Ireland last summer as part of a Turtle Dove Harmony camp, performing a Doc Watson number in front of a sold-out crowd in Westport, Co. Mayo and have since gone from strength to strength, pulling on material from the bluegrass canon, the stark power of shape note music, and contemporary folk to deliver songs with verve and delight. Reveling in tight, unaccompanied harmony, the trio does bring some instrumentation into play, with Brendan on guitar, mbira and ukulele, Nils on trombone, and everybody on various forms of percussion.
Enticing biographical sketches:
Nils has traveled a diverse road to Colman’s Well. Starting off as a boy soprano, he entered college as a low bass. Nils’s deep voice and openness have landed him in a wild range of ensembles: barbershop quartets and early music groups at Indiana University; award-winning a cappella group Monkey Puzzle, at the forefront of the thriving original music scene in Bloomington in the 1990’s; Malcom Dalglish’s olites, which recorded two BMG released CD’s; hot ska band Johnny Socko; and Northern Harmony.
Rachel’s musical pursuits have taken her from musical theater stages in Illinois to choral venues in Ireland. Passionate about singing her whole life, Rachel grew up in Normal (yes, really), Illinois in a home full of music, and has been a member of several a cappella groups, including the all-female Sirens at Macalester College and Treble in New York City. Rachel moved to southern Vermont in 2007 after falling in love with western New England’s wealth of beautiful vistas and musical opportunities, and is currently learning to play the fiddle and upright bass in addition to singing with Colman’s Well and several community groups.
Brendan was raised on a steady diet of Pete Seeger and Irish music and was brought to his first shape note sing by his grandmother. The sounds that burst out in that old New England town hall still ring in his ears, and his high tenor and striking compositions have seen him sing with Northern Harmony roughout Europe, teach with Village Harmony, and perform with a number of smaller groups. Brendan is the founder of Turtle Dove Harmony, an organization that brings adults together to sing, and a co- director of the Franklin County Hospice Singers.