Get to know our instructors for the Winter semester!
All of the instructors at Passim come from an array of different cultures and backgrounds, each with their own musical interpretations, unique skills, and a genuine readiness to encourage their students to actively grow in their craft. Our roster of instructors includes both locally and nationally recognized performing musicians, accomplished music educators, and industry professionals.
Chris Bloniarz is a Boston based multi-instrumentalist and freelance producer/engineer.
Bloniarz graduated Berklee College of Music in 2015 with a degree in Music Production & Engineering. With his two main bands Honeysuckle and Grey Season, Bloniarz has played several major festivals such as Newport Folk Festival, Bonnaroo, SXSW, Boston Calling and most recently Lollapalooza. Bloniarz has also performed as a guest musician with artists like Box of Birds, Mother Moses, Annie Brobst, Jason Anderson, and many more.
Nathaniel Braddock is the leader of the internationally touring Occidental Brothers Dance Band Int'l and a ten-year faculty member of Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. He has performed extensively with African artists and with American and Australian indie rock bands. His instrumental solo guitar and mandolin sets feature the crossroads of African roots music and American primitive guitar, with original compositions that extend into modern harmonies and complex rhythms with the complexity of chamber music. Braddock created and curated the monthly Sydney Folk Guitar School and Hoot Night after moving to Sydney, Australia in 2014-5, and has recently relocated to Boston, Massachusetts.
Eleanor Buckland is a songwriter, singer, and fiddler, but not always in that order. As a 4th generation performing musician, Eleanor has been singing melodies since before she could talk. So it seems only natural that she would eventually fall in love with writing songs. Growing up in Maine in a musical family, her passion for songwriting and performing grew out of an influence of traditional fiddle, country & bluegrass music. Now residing in Boston, MA, she has immersed herself in the thriving folk/roots music community as she brings light and joy to stages such as Club Passim & Lizard Lounge. She’s had the honor of performing with Matt Glaser, Bruce Molsky, Rose Cousins, Laura Cortese & Dietrich Strause. Her most exciting and recent musical endeavor is Lula Wiles, her band with fellow Mainers, Isa Burke and Mali Obomsawin. What started as jamming at parties and around campfires has become a project of electric musical chemistry from their shared affinity for grooving and the craft of both songwriting and performing. http://www.lulawiles.com/
Hailing from the vast suburbs of Houston Texas, Dan Bui currently makes his home in Cambridge, MA where he plays the mandolin in a variety of Boston and New England bands. After several formative years of classical piano and violin lessons, Dan was introduced to the mandolin by seeing Sam Bush play on PBS, and he became obsessed with getting and playing one. Many years later, and he is a now a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where he studied with acoustic luminaries like John McGann, Darol Anger, Joe Walsh, and Jason Anick. In addition to a busy schedule of performing, Dan also freelances as an audio engineer in Boston, and has recorded and mixed projects featuring some of the area's top young acoustic musicians; his latest project being the Twisted Pine EP.
Isa Burke is a fiddler, singer, guitarist, and songwriter raised in Maine and based in Boston’s thriving roots music scene. As the daughter of folk musicians Susie Burke and David Surette, Isa has spent her life grounded in songs. She performs primarily as co-frontwoman of the acoustic trio Lula Wiles, but has also been seen onstage with artists such as Darol Anger, Rose Cousins, Laura Cortese, Caitlin Canty, and Della Mae. She is soulful, evocative, and versatile as a vocalist and instrumentalist. Proficient in a variety of styles that combine tradition with a distinctly modern sensibility, Isa’s devotion to good songs above all else is what drives her musicianship. Isa has taught workshops in old-time and bluegrass music, fiddle, singing, and songwriting at Maine Fiddle Camp, Miles of Music House Camp, and the Passim School of Music, and has performed at festivals and venues such as Club Passim, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Freshgrass Festival, Ossipee Valley Music Festival, and the Sinclair. http://www.lulawiles.com/
Allison de Groot combines love and passion for old-time music, technical skill and a creative approach to the banjo forming her own sound – unique and full of personality. Although firmly rooted in old-time and traditional music, she has shown her ability to collaborate and create outside this genre, pushing the boundaries of the clawhammer banjo. Allison has toured all over the world with various groups, performing at venues such as Trafalgar Square in London, Newport Folk Festival, Stockholm Folk Festival and mainstage slots at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Tønder Festival in Denmark and Vancouver Folk Festival. She has performed with Oh My Darling, Bruce Molsky, The Goodbye Girls, Tony Trishka, Mandolin Orange and Molly Tuttle & John Mailander, to name a few. In 2012, Allison was awarded the Slaight Family Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. where she went through the American Roots Program on clawhammer banjo. She is involved in both the American and Canadian music scenes, and splits her time between Boston, MA and Winnipeg, MB. www.allisondegroot.com
Janet Feld teaches private lessons and offers video lesson programs to people of all ages. She teaches guitar and songwriting at The Passim School of Music and general music at St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester and JCC Grossman Camp in Westwood. Her mission is to help people experience the fact that you don’t have to be from the “special talented people” planet in order to learn how to play a musical instrument. Janet is also an award winning performing songwriter, appearing at folk festivals and coffeehouses from coast to coast throughout a nearly three decade career. Follow Janet's blog here.
Jenna is from Lakewood, New York and is a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music. While studying, she was selected to receive the Fletcher Bright Award & and The American Roots Music - two awards given annually to one outstanding string player. She performs in a duo with Scottish harpist, Mairi Chaimbeul, with Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards, Darol Anger & The Furies, and has performed & collaboated with Hamish Napier, Bruce Molsky, Matt Glaser, Kimberely Fraser, Phil Cunningham, and as a soloist at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops.
Annie Raines was born in 1969 near Boston, MA. She picked up the blues harp at 17 and made her stage debut at the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge. Enthralled by the recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson, she became a fixture at Boston area blues jams. She started out playing the New England club circuit with local bands, and traveled to Chicago where she met and played with many of her musical idols including Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, and James Cotton. She paired up with country blues guitar master Paul Rishell in 1992, and together they have earned loyal fans around the globe. They have released seven albums together, including 'Moving To The Country', the W.C. Handy Award winner for “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year,” and have performed on diverse radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and PBS’s Arthur. They have performed and recorded with Susan Tedeschi, John Sebastian, Pinetop Perkins, and Rory Block. Annie has been teaching harmonica for almost 25 years, and recently released her first instructional video, Blues Harmonica Blueprint (Truefire, 2012).
Originally from Mexico City, Rosa Elena Rivera studied at the Escuela Nacional de Música UNAM. In 2000 she came to Boston, Massachusetts to study at the New England Conservatory. She graduated in 2003 with two Masters Degrees: Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy. She has performed in many solo recitals, small and large ensembles and several productions with different theater companies. Some of her performance experience includes performances with her group "Scura Pasión", The Revels and In Good Company. As a teacher she has worked in both private and public schools systems, conducted ensembles ranging from vocal ensembles, large children choirs, musical plays and recorder consort. Throughout all this years she has kept a voice studio.
Avi Salloway is a musician, activist, educator, and community leader based in Cambridge, MA. He grew up learning music directly from American folk legends, Pete and John Seeger, and from and early age, was exposed to music’s power to bring people together. Salloway is the bandleader and principle songwriter for Billy Wylder. He spent the past three years touring worldwide with Bombino, the Tuareg guitar virtuoso from Niger, Africa. Prior to Billy Wylder and Bombino, he co-lead the band, Hey Mama/Avi & Celia with Celia Woodsmith of Della Mae. http://www.billywylder.com/
Rachel Sumner is an award winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in Boston. Co-founder of bluegrass band Twisted Pine and pan-folk trio Sumner & Moss, Rachel has proven herself to be a fixture in the regional roots scene. She has performed on the main stages of major festivals like Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Celtic Connections in Scotland, Green River Festival, and FreshGrass Festival and has had the honor of performing with folk luminaries like Peter Rowan. She is currently working on releasing her original songs with Sumner & Moss and writing for Twisted Pine's upcoming full length album.
Mariel Vandersteel is a musician, educator, graphic designer and visual artist currently living in Boston, Massachusetts. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, Mariel has established herself as a folk musician of multiple styles, recorded her first solo album, Hickory, lived in Norway while studying the hardingfele, toured Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India, Bangladesh and has performed across North America multiple times while touring with Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Her interest in world culture and hand crafted folk art along with obsessing over the process of watching Hickory's artwork come to life, has led to an interest in graphic design and she has worked with several New England area musicians on CD design, posters and other promotional material. Mariel has performed and taught nationally and internationally with Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers, The Three Irish Tenors, Emma Beaton, Annalivia, Putnam Smith and participated in the Savannah Music Festival’s first Acoustic Music Seminar working with artists Zakir Hussein, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall, Tony Trischka, and Chris Thile. Mariel is either currently teaching violin lessons privately and at the Club Passim School of Music, performing locally, hugging dogs or finding something creative to explore. www.marielvandersteel.com