Chris Walz

Nationally acclaimed bluegrass multi-instrumentalist Chris Walz combines a joy of performing with a reverence for America’s musical story. Chris perfected his Scruggs-style banjo playing and guitar flatpicking at a young age as he diligently studied all his musical heroes from Pete Seeger to Mississippi John Hurt to Woody Guthrie to Dave Van Ronk. Whether it is his lightning speed on the banjo’s fretboard, his hard hitting grooves on the guitar or his tender melodic touch on the mandolin, Chris delivers a fulfilling performance. To top it off, Chris is an extraordinary singer, using his rich voice to buoy up a traditional ballad, a unique original composition, or a rousing ‘tear down the house’ bluegrass medley. His many years touring with bluegrass, Grammy nominated Special Consensus, honed his group and solo prowess. A natural born storyteller, Chris has a masterful presence as he weaves his songs and remembrances, one to the next, into a night of music that is not easily forgotten. Chris is a gifted and much sought after teacher at the historic Old Town School of Folk Music and spreads his knowledge and love of music in each community he plays in with well-polished workshops. A rare combination of past and present, Chris is playing music for the future.

Ed Holstein

Ed Holstein has been a stalwart of the Chicago folk music scene for over 40 years. He has written a number of songs including “Jazzman” which have been recorded or performed by the likes of Bette Midler, Bonnie Koloc, Tom Rush, Steve Goodman, and Martin Simpson. He is also a featured performer on the Grammy-winning album Tribute to Steve Goodman. His unique blend of folk songs, blues and humor always entertain. 

In the early days of the Chicago Folk Boom Eddie and his late brother Fred performed at legendary clubs like The Earl Of Old Town and Somebody Else’s Troubles where folks like Goodman, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc & others got their start. The Holstein brothers owned a self named club that featured national touring acts until the late ‘80s.

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.