Brendan Taaffe Random photos of Brendan Taaffe


"Your mbira playing is beautiful!"   —Pete Seeger

Photo of Brendan Taaffe in concert

Deeply versed in Irish and American traditions, it is on the mbira that Brendan Taaffe has found a truly distinctive voice, blending old-time ballads with traditional Zimbabwean rhythms. The ripple of the mbira, an instrument over a thousand years old, and Taaffe's lush tenor casts old songs in a new light, creating "the kind of hushed, lonely warmth you experience sitting by a fire in a drafty house."

A multi-instrumentalist on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mbira, Brendan has toured with many different groups, including nationally acclaimed dance band Magic Foot and the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble Northern Harmony. In addition to performing solo, he currently directs The Bright Wings Chorus, a vocal ensemble, and is the frontman of The New Line, a band that blends mbira with banjo, electric guitar, and percussion, creating a bridge between American and African traditions.

Originally from Minnesota, Brendan now lives in Brattleboro, Vermont and tours regularly throughout the U.S. and Europe.

"In the tradition of Abigail Washburn's Sparrow Quartet or, more famously, Paul Simon's landmark album Graceland, Brendan Taaffe is a savvy composer who brings disparate musical cultures together with enlightening results. His new record with his band the New Line, Canít Hold the Wheel, is an absorbing mixture of American and African musical styles, presented through a collection of reimagined Americana classics."
— Dan Bolles, Seven Days


A crankie is a scrolling illustration, wrapped up inside a wooden box and then hand-cranked so that it moves across a viewing screen. They used to be called 'moving panoramas' back in the day and are complete magic. I make my crankies with cut paper and incorporate them into my solo shows.

When The World Comes to An End

A traditional camp meeting song performed by The Bright Wings Chorus. Crankie art done as a group project with Village Harmony Teen Session III, 2013. Artwork by Julia Placier, Claudia Zatta, Jocelyn Kurtze, Sunny Lawrence, Anna Peel, and Brendan Taaffe.

All I Ask is a Tall Ship

Original waltz and artwork by Brendan Taaffe, based on the poem 'Sea Fever' by John Masefield.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

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