Elixir blends driving fiddle and guitar with the rich texture and rhythmic excitement of a full horn section, deftly weaving brassy riffs and daring solos in and out of traditional Irish, French Canadian and New England tunes. Elegant melodies evolve into raucous dixieland horn riffs; transcendent harmonies, playful improvisations, and rock, swing and reggae-inspired rhythms weave in and out of traditional and original Irish, French Canadian and New England tunes.
Elixir plays for dances, festivals, camps, weddings and other events, with a repertoire that includes music for contra, square, English Country, and swing dancing; waltzing; couples dancing; and concert programs.
Occasionally Elixir includes Brian Bender on trombone instead of our original resident caller and trombonist Nils Fredland.
Anna Patton plays clarinet with great verve, clarity, and harmonic whim, drawing on a richly eclectic musical background of jazz, classical, traditional, and world music. Based in Brattleboro, VT, she performs full time for dances and concerts, composes and arranges music, and teaches ear training and swing harmony singing. Besides Elixir, Anna’s current projects include playing dance music with bands such as The Figments, string-band and vocal swing with Housetop, Brazillian and gypsy jazz gigs with The Will Patton Ensemble, and improvisatory Balkan/ African/ South American influenced originals with the As Yet Quintet. Her solo album, Isadore’s Breakfast – featuring her work on clarinet and vocals along with many of Vermont’s finest musicians – is a mix of French-influenced swing and fiddle tunes.
Fiddler Ethan Hazzard-Watkins performs traditional and original music with driving energy, passion, and grace. His fiery, lyrical fiddling fuses elements of Irish, French Canadian, and New England styles, along with influences from Swing, Blues, and Classical music. Based in Brattleboro, VT, Ethan tours extensively throughout the US and beyond, playing for Contra and English dances and at festivals and dance camps. Besides Elixir, Ethan plays with several other combinations, is an avid composer of fiddle tunes, and maintains a freelance web and graphic design business.
Trumpeter Jesse Readlynn mixes keen musicality, skillful and accurate technical playing, and a clear and vibrant tone to create beautiful music in a variety of genres. Beginning as a young child Jesse has pursued an ever-deepening study of classical trumpet performance, attending Kinhaven School of Music, Ithaca College School of Music, and the University of Massachusetts, where he completed a Masters of Music in May of 2007. Besides playing with Elixir, Jesse has wide ranging experience performing in solo recitals, for weddings, as a member of chamber ensembles, and in large orchestra and band settings. He is also a talented teacher, offering lessons tailored to the needs of trumpeters of all ages and levels of experience.
guitar & foot percussion
Owen Morrison’s fiercely rhythmic guitar playing has thrilled dancers across the country. Owen draws on his background in traditional music and his training in classical and jazz guitar to create a uniquely danceable style. In high demand as a rhythm player, he is also a master flat-picker, a solid mandolinist and an innovative composer. Owen has toured with Airdance, Night Watch, The Figments, House Red and The Morrison Brothers Band.
Brian Bender has formerly played with the contra dance bands Big Bandemonium and Fiddle Hill. Brian has formerly performed with O.J. Ekemode and the Nigerian All-Stars, Kotoja (African World-Beat), Ibrahima Camera, Black Rebels (African Reggae), La Perfecta (Salsa/Merengue), Marka Music (Latin/Andean fusion) and the Berkshire Bateria Escola de Samba (Brazilian). Based in Shutesbury, MA he currently performs with the The Pangeans (World Beat), the Wholesale Klezmer Band, the Yiddishkeit Klezmer Ensemble, Little Shop of Horas (Klezmer-World fusion), the Gumbo Jumbo Dixieland Band, The Brian Bender Jazz Group, Lunar Carnival and numerous other groups.
Brian is a graduate of New England Conservatory. He has performed in the Cape Verde Islands (West Africa), Egypt, Israel, Alaska, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the United Kingdom and throughout the United States. He has performed at Carnegie Hall as well as the Presidential Inauguration of Bill Clinton.
Nils Fredland has been calling dances with admirable skill and infectious energy since 2000. Respected for his expertise as a teacher and caller, sensitive leadership, and generosity, Nils is one of the busiest and most sought-after callers in the business. He draws on a large and varied repertoire of dances, presenting material from centuries-old "chestnuts" to cutting-edge contemporary choreography.
Nils is also known for breathing new life into traditional singing squares, and he has co-authored two books on the topic with master callers. Nils studied classical trombone at Indiana University, and has played his horn in ensembles ranging from symphony orchestras to ska bands. In Elixir Nils brings together his myriad talents in one thrilling package. Nils also works as the American Dance Publications Coordinator at the Country Dance and Song Society.