Paul Tyler

After twenty-plus years at the Old Town School, Paul Tyler, a country boy from Indiana, has gradually become a Chicagoan. He plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar in the Fantastic Toe Trippers Orchestra and the Fly Boys, the band behind the WAZO County Warblers. Previously, he did a long stint with the Volo Bogtrotters, one of the foremost old-time string bands of the 1990s. Their CD, "Old Time String Band with Vocal Accompaniment" on Marimac Recordings received great acclaim across North America. Prior performing credits include Lotus Dickey & Friends, an ensemble player in "As You Like It" at the Goodman Theater; "All Jump Up" for Urban Gateways and "The Sugar Hill Serenades" for Young Audiences of Indiana. He has also called old-time square dances in twenty-five states.


Besides teaching fiddle and early country music at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Paul is an folklorist and ethnomusicologist. He is currently a lecturer in anthropology at Chicago State University. His “The Rise of Rural Rhythm” is the lead essay in The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance. He was co-producer and author for Folk Songs of Illinois #2: Fiddlers. (Both publications are available from the University of Illinois Press.) He has worked as a free-lance researcher and documentarian for institutions ranging from Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music to the Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University to the David Adler Cultural Center in Libertyville and the Wyoming Arts Foundation.

Congress of Startlings

Chicago-based Congress of Starlings progressive folk-rock fills the room with fun energy, magical lyrics, stellar harmonies, and challenging reflections on nature, gender, and humanity. Aerin Tedesco and Andrea Bunch have been entertaining midwest and east coast audiences for over a decade at folk, rock and college clubs. 

Matt Brown

Thanks to his banjo-playing father, Matt grew up with old-time music. He studied classical violin with Linda Litwin and Richard Amoroso, and old-time music with Brad Leftwich, Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Ginny Hawker, and Tracy Schwarz. He has appeared at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, has toured as a soloist, with Rhythm in Shoes and Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, and has made guest appearances with Tim O'Brien, Della Mae, Uncle Earl, and with Mike Snider on the Grand Ole Opry. Matt has released five albums, including My Native Home, which features collaborations with Tim O’Brien, Ben Krakauer, Brittany Haas, and Mark Schatz. Matt's latest album, Speed of the Plow, comprises old-time fiddle and guitar duets with Greg Reish. He has taught at The Colorado Suzuki Institute, The Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, The Swannanoa Gathering, and Southern Week at Ashokan, and has taught workshops at Berklee College of Music and Morehead State University.

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