Lissa Schneckenburger Trio at Agawam

Event Summary

2008 November 15 (Saturday)
Private house concert at the Captain Charles Leonard House, 663 Main Street, Agawam, Massachusetts
The Lissa Schneckenburger Trio, featuring traditional New England fiddle tunes and folk songs, with some original and contemporary music thrown in.
$14.00 by advance reservation via e-mail to Meg Sullivan at
or by phone at +1 (413) 789-9267; $18.00 at the door

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
(Posted 2008 November 18)

This past Saturday, I attended the concert given by the Lissa Schneckenburger Trio at the Captain Charles Leonard House in Agawam (Massachusetts). I had previously heard a good deal about Lissa’s fiery fiddle and was curious to hear her perform. At this evening’s concert, she was joined by Dan Gurney on button accordion and Owen Marshall on guitar (and once on octave mandolin), though her web site says that she

[…] tours primarily with a trio consisting of Corey DiMario on double bass, and a revolving carousel of guitarists including Keith Murphy, Dave Cory, and Matt Heaton. For festivals and larger performances the band is sometimes augmented by Stefan Amidon on percussion.

The first selection was a set of traditional Irish tunes; I was immediately taken with Dan’s brilliant button accordion playing—I have a weakness for accordions of any variety, having first fallen in love with the instrument as used in French musette music and having only later discovered it in Irish and Scottish traditional music. Lissa’s fiddle was indeed fiery and Owen’s guitar nicely complemented the other two. The second selection was The Dear Companion, an Appalachian ballad; the accordion and guitar accompaniment for the sung verses was appropriately muted and outstanding, but the lively playing of the first number resumed between the verses of the song. The third number was The Fair Maid by the Sea Shore, to which Lissa set the words to her own music. Then it was back to another fine Irish tunes set, which had all of our toes tapping. The Jam on Gerry’s Rock, a logging camp ballad learnt from a Machias (Maine) singer, followed. Dan and Owen then did a set of fine tunes without Lissa, including Lucy Farr’s barn dance. With Lissa back on stage, they next played Naomi’s Waltz, a slow, sad tune Owen wrote after a less-than-successful festival he attended in Belgium. The first half closed out with another Maine woods ballad, Lumberman in Town.

The second half resumed with a great blast of Irish tunes. Then Lissa sang The Old Beggar Man, a British ballad from Maine; for the first time this evening, she played backing fiddle as she sang. Next came a jig set, starting with The Bottle of Brandy and continuing with two other tunes whose names I didn’t get, the last of which Lissa learnt in Glasgow. Alone on stage, Lissa then sang The Logger’s Boast, accompanying herself on fiddle as she sang; for this number, which sounded to me like a French-Canadian tune, she used a different fiddle in a different tuning. With Dan and Owen back on stage, they then gave us yet another British ballad from Maine, this time the gory Little Musgrove and Lady Barnwell. Then it was on to Richard Thompson’s Waltzing’s for Dreamers. A trio of tunes, starting with Lady Walpole’s Reel and continuing with two others whose names I didn’t get, closed the show. The encore was a song whose name I also didn’t get.

I really enjoyed the tune sets the three played; they were lively and of the toe-tapping kind. I am not much for sung music, but the material was fresh and new to me—these are certainly not songs I hear every day!—and the accompaniments and instrumental inter-verse interludes were excellent. Lissa, who is originally from Maine, has clearly chosen to promote the music of Maine in her work (many of these songs also appear on her latest CD, Song). Still, I’d much rather have heard many more of their pure instrumental sets; although I tend to be a Scottish traditional music bigot, I do enjoy hearing Irish music from time to time, especially when played as well as this was. Lissa’s fiery fiddle, Dan’s superb accordion, and Owen’s fine guitar make for a fine sounding Irish ensemble I have no hesitation in recommending.

As always, thanks to Meg and Dan Sullivan, who have continued their series of Celtic music house concerts with distinction. Their musical tastes are clearly wider than mine, but it is very nice to be exposed to something different every now and again, especially when it is so well done.


Meg Sullivan opens the concert

Dan Gurney on button accordion

Dan Sullivan works the sound board

Lissa Scheckenburger on fiddle
accompanied by Dan Gurney on button accordion
and Owen Marshall on guitar

Lissa Scheckenburger on fiddle
accompanied by Dan Gurney on button accordion
and Owen Marshall on guitar

Lissa Scheckenburger singing and playing backing violin