Edith & Bennett sing worksongs and play old-time dance tunes from Maine and beyond.
Reviving the culture of agriculture, they teach and perform on stage and in the field, putting a new twist on the ancient arts of field hollers, farmer's ballads and barn dances.
Recognized as worksong scholars and musical ambassadors who embody and expand the rich culture of rural american music, they perform internationally for the US State Department as Special Envoys in traditional music.
Edith Gawler grew up in Maine as a member of the legendary Gawler Family Band. She plays fiddle, banjo and upright bass, and belts out songs in a rich sonorous alto. Not long ago, Edith finished her architectural thesis at Syracuse University, which looks to draw on the principles of the local sustainable food movement as a model for a new architecture. When not singing in the fields with Bennett, she works as a junior architect at award-winning G.O. Logic.
Also a native Mainer, Bennett Konesni runs the family farm, Duckback Farm, where they grow and sell gourmet garlic, teas, and culinary herbs. He runs worksongs.org, where he shares his 20 years of worksong research and development.
Bennett is also the co-founder of Sylvester Manor, a 243-acre educational farm on Shelter Island, NY on a piece of land that has been in his family since 1652. His roles there include teaching worksongs to the farm crew and directing the annual fall festival “Plant & Sing”, which brings the community to the farm to complete two week’s worth of garlic shucking and planting in a single morning, all while singing worksongs.
As a student at Middlebury College, Bennett co-founded the student farm, and majored in Music, Anthropology and Environmental Studies, and upon graduation he was awarded a Thomas J Watson fellowship to spend a year studying worksongs on three continents. Though he received his MBA from Antioch University New England in 2009, his passion is still worksongs, music that transforms labor into something between work and play. He envisions a world in which farmers, cooks, and eaters once again sing in fields, kitchens, and at the table.
Bennett has recently toured Mongolia and Ukraine with the string band "Old Grey Goose" as musical ambassadors for the U.S. Department of State.
Together, Edith and Bennett balance their life on Shelter Island with their home in Maine. They perform with several bands, including their Shelter Island-based group, The Sylvester Manor Worksongers, their Maine groups, the Gawler Sisters and Family bands, and their roots-music duo “Edith & Bennett.” For more about us, please feel free to send us an email.
Edith and Bennett recently performed at the Parrish Art Museum to a sold-out crowd, enthusiastically kicking off the new music series, The Lounge. The audience and staff in attendance agreed that it was one of the best nights of music the Parrish has ever experienced, and the dynamism, charm, and talent of Edith and Bennett have made an everlasting imprint. We cannot wait to bring them back for a repeat performance!
- Amy Kirwin, Parrish Art Museum
We started a new winter series at The Parlor Room in Northampton, Massachusetts, called Parlor Sessions. Each Sunday would be a gig followed by an all-comers jam. It was a risky venture: Not every band would like the abrupt switch, in the middle of an evening, from a stage performance to a kitchen party. Someone who knows Edith & Bennett said we should start the series with them because they would get it.
Well, that was good advice. The night came and Edith & Bennett sat unassumingly with their fiddle and guitar on the stage, and proceeded to construct a Great Hall for us in that room -- built it out of their imaginations, their scholarship, their know-how, their far-ranging tunes, their ease with our house band, their sense of place and history, their festivity with each other, the heap of worksongs they brought from cotton fields and coal mines.
There is this expansiveness about the two of them that makes the room bigger and older and sets it somewhere north of here and fills it with wood smoke and firelight. After a while we all sat in a circle with them and played and sang until no one knew what time it was, or even where we were. It was part ceilidh, part campfire, part sing, part field work, part love fest, and, oddly, and due to E&B's curiously beautiful voices, part jazz lounge ...
- Lynne Bertrand, The Parlor Room at Signature Sounds
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