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Bio

Through his performances, his teaching, and his recordings, Ed Sweeney honors people and their history by presenting music that entertains as well as educates. He uses his musical expertise, breadth of knowledge, and wonderful sense of humor to help listeners come to understand the motivations, stories, and culture that have made us what we are today.

Ed has studied with and performed alongside many of the top professionals in the field of traditional music, and his work has earned accolades throughout the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe. Reviewers call him “a master of unpretentiousness” and “delightfully fresh.”

He newest CD, Passing Through, joins six previous solo recordings, including Inside Fezziwig’s, which USA Today called “the best Christmas release of its kind.” Some of Ed’s music can be heard in Disneyland Paris and in the Ken Burns documentary Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony.

Ed performs a wide-ranging repertoire of mostly traditional music, some ragtime and blues on 6- and 12-string guitar, 5-string banjo, and fretless banjo. The style of guitar he plays is called finger-style, which is performed on steel strings. His style of banjo playing is known as frailing, clawhammer or old-timey banjo. and fretless banjo are two uniquely traditional American instruments. Ed performs on a longneck 5-string banjo that was custom made for him. The fretless banjo also was custom made of parts manufactured around 1910.

Ed has released a number of recordings under a variety of labels, including his own. Ed’s recordings include

  • The Times They Are Something Like They Used to Be (Old Harbour Records; out of print)
  • Scratching the Surface (Kicking Mule Records; out of print)
  • Inside Fezziwig’s (also released as Dickens Christmas)(Kicking Mule Records; out of print)
  • Its Christmas Time In The City (Kicking Mule Records; out of print)
  • American Sampler (North Star Records; out of print)
  • Common Prayer (Reflections by Intersound; out of print)
  • Traditions (SoundWorks Unlimited; out of print)
  • Passing Through (Ed Sweeney Music)
  • What Lies Ahead (Ed Sweeney Music)

Ed has recorded as a a guest artist with others musicians including being a member of the New England Christmastide Players.  Ed has been a guest/featured artist on:

  • Atomic Love – Katzberg & Snyder
  • New England Christmastide
  • New England Christmastide II
  • Steeple on the Common