Chehalis Talent Lineup for 2023 (2024 Talent TBA)


From dance floors to concert halls, the Syncopaths bring a fresh,
contemporary spin to tunes and songs rooted in the Scottish, Irish, and
American folk traditions. Evolving through their contradance origins,
they are creating a “chamber folk” sound, characterized by the
compelling rhythmic interplay of fiddle and mandolin, rich vocals, and
unexpected colors and rhythms of the piano and bodhrån. The
exuberant joy they derive from the music and each other is palpable
and contagious.


Founded in 2002 as a backup band for bluegrass fiddler Richard Greene, the Syncopaths stepped out on their own shortly thereafter to rave reviews from audiences who delighted in the band’s improvisational and playful style.

At the heart of the band’s sound are the twin engines of Ryan McKasson’s dynamic Scottish-based fiddling, and the understated-but-monster picking of mandolinist Ashley Hoyer. Jeffrey Spero provides wonderfully inventive and surprising piano accompaniment, anchored by the driving power of Christa Burch’s inventive bodhrån. Christa also lends her singular voice as lead singer – warm, supple, expressive, and intimate – to the band’s songs.

Each member of the band is also an accomplished tunesmith, with recordings of original compositions on each of the band’s CDs. All in all, the Syncopaths
are equally at home with pulsing, high-energy dance tunes, and beautiful,
contemplative songs. They ably stretch melodic boundaries while keeping a
steady, compelling, danceable beat.


Countercurrent is an acoustic folk music duo based in Olympia, Washington, composed of Alex Sturbaum and Brian Lindsay. They have achieved nationwide acclaim for their high-energy style, which draws on deep traditional roots from Ireland and North America while incorporating new influences to create a sound that is at once unique and timeless.

Alex’s driving guitar and gifted songwriting, Brian’s lyrical fiddle and rock-solid foot percussion, and the duo’s lively interplay, tight vocal harmonies, and unstoppable groove make a Countercurrent performance an event unlike any other. Wherever they go, the question remains the same: “How does that
much sound come out of just two people?”


Countercurrent met at Oberlin College in 2009 and have been performing at concerts, festivals, and dance events ever since. As concert performers, they have played at such venues as Club
Passim in Cambridge, MA, and the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, CA. As dance musicians, they have regularly been the closing band for Northwest Folklife Festival, and have played for contra dance festivals and events all over the country.

Brian and Alex are highly collaborative musicians; in addition to Countercurrent, they have toured in other bands (including One Dollar Whiskey, Gallimaufry, and the Iona Fyfe Trio). They are also accomplished studio musicians, having recorded and produced over a dozen well-regarded albums of folk music over the last decade, including two Countercurrent albums: Exchange in 2018, and Not So, But Far Otherwise (to be released soon).

Will Mentor

Will Mentor

Will Mentor is a contra and square dance caller from Northern Vermont known for his clear teaching, upbeat wit, and relaxed stage presence.

He loves to choreograph evenings with a variety of dances and tempos that at times surprise and always delight, all the while keeping intact his guiding principle as a caller: "It's about the dancers!”

Koren Wake

Koren Wake

Koren Wake has only been calling contra dances since 2022, but she has been dancing, loving, and obsessing about contra since she was a child.

Originally from New England, she spent decades analyzing the art and flow of contra and developing a deep understanding of the dance before she finally picked up a microphone in Seattle, where she is now based. She has already shared stages with some of the hottest bands in the Pacific Northwest, and has quickly proven that's exactly where she belongs. She loves nothing more than to help dancers discover the patterns and connections of well-crafted choreography.

Koren's primary goal as a caller is to combine exquisite dance selection with clear and accessible teaching in order to bring dancers of all skill levels together on the floor.

Koren also plays fiddle and viol for English and contra dances.