The Vox Hunters @ Branford Folk Coffeehouse

Branford Folk Music Society (First Congregational Church of Branford), 1009 Main Street, Branford, Connecticut

The Branford Folk Music Society kicks off its 46th year of concerts by presenting the Vox Hunters (Armand Aromin and Benedict Gagliardi), traditional singers and multi-instrumentalists from the neighboring state of Rhode Island who have generated a great deal of "buzz" in the traditional music community with their fresh approach to the music.

Simply put, Armand and Benedict have researched and tweaked and injected new life into old material as well as writing tunes and songs of their own in the traditional and folk idioms.

The Vox Hunters are seekers and singers of old songs and cultivators of local (in this case, Rhode Island) music, accompanying their singing with a variety of instruments including fiddle, guitar, concertina, melodeon, harmonica and percussive step dancing. Armand and Benedict offer an all-natural connection to the living tradition of folk music – and they do it with aplomb and great senses of humor on stage.

Their three mantras are "Sing Local", "Sing Often", and "Roger Williams for President". They practice what they preach. They perform local in Rhode Island at pub sings, Irish and Old-Time sessions, and at coffeehouses. They sing often throughout the Northeast at renowned gatherings such as the Mystic Sea Music Festival, the Old Songs Festival in New York State, the Portsmouth Maritime Festival and the TradMad fall gathering in Massachusetts. As for their third mantra, we'll have to wait and see what 2020 brings.

The duo has recorded one self-released album of mostly traditional material and, most important, they have compiled and published "The Ocean State Songster: A Sampling of Old Songs, Broadside Ballads, & Folk Tunes From and About Rhode Island & Providence Plantations."

"The idea for the Songster was spurred by our desire to have a repertoire of old music from our own locality," explains Armand. "When we attend various festivals and singing weekends in and around New England, we often hear folks introducing a song or tune with, 'I learned this song from my mother back in Vermont, who learned it from an elderly woman down the road, who learned it from her mother who...' or 'This is an old logging song that lumbermen used to sing in Minnesota.' Thanks to the digital age, we've since found that researching your own local music isn't terribly difficult once you know what to look for."

Funded in part by the Rhode Island Council for the Arts, Armand and Benedict turned to digital resources, local libraries, and the Library of Congress. The songs they uncovered trace their roots back to the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the Dorr Rebellion, and ad jingles from the late 19th century. They tell of shipwrecks and murder, but more to the point, they tell what life was like in Rhode Island in a way that history books can't.

Join us on opening night when the Vox Hunters perform some of this New England history in their debut appearance at the Branford Folk Music Society.

Admission: $20 non-members, $17 members, $5 children 12 and under.