For almost 40 years, Ed Sweeney has performed nationally and internationally in schools, clubs, tea houses, at festivals, house concerts, theatres — almost any venue imaginable. Ed’s concerts and recordings have earned accolades throughout the United States, Canada, parts of Europe and parts of Asia. Reviewers call him “a master of unpretentiousness” and “delightfully fresh.”
Ed performs a wide-ranging repertoire (traditional, blues, old-timey, ragtime, Christmas, Beatles, Bach, O’Carolan…) on 6- and 12-string guitar, 5-string banjo, and fretless banjo. He primarily plays finger-style guitar; his style of 5 string banjo playing is clawhammer, frailing, or old-timey.
Ed is constantly exploring and building new avenues and partnerships for learning and sharing the music of many peoples.
His latest CD, Commonplaces, is with Mary Lee Partington as Partington & Sweeney. The critically acclaimed Commonplaces tells stories of immigrants, farmers and factory workers during 19th and 20th century America.
Ed’s previous recording is What Lies Ahead with Pipa master Yang Wei and other members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. What Lies Ahead represents a musical collaboration where Eastern and Western traditions meet.
Other recordings are instrumental. Passing Through is an instrumental Americana recording of American music from the Revolutionary War to World War I. Ed has recorded instrumental Christmas CDs, including Inside Fezziwig’s, which USA Today called “the best folk Christmas release of the year.”
Ed’s music can be heard on television soundtracks, as background music in Disneyland Paris, and in the Ken Burns documentary Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony. Ed has been featured on NPR and other radio networks.
Today you might watch Ed in a solo concert of eclectic songs and styles. Or you might watch him perform with Yang Wei as they mix Eastern and Western Traditional music. Perhaps you’ll watch him and Mary King combine the songs of Stephen Foster with the wit of Mark Twain. Or maybe you’ll listen as Mary Lee Partington and Ed, as Partington & Sweeney, weave a musical story of immigrants and their traditions as they moved west.
Ed Sweeney honors people and their history by presenting music that entertains as well as educates. Through his musical expertise, breadth of knowledge, and wonderful sense of humor, Ed helps listeners come to understand the motivations, stories, and culture that have made us who and what we are today.
Rhode Island College
“Sweeney is obviously an old hand at making an audience feel good inside. Midway through the performance, it began to appear that in these "obscure songs" Sweeney had found a counter balance to the insidious effects of monoculture and computerization”
— Rhode Island College
Eel River Music Camp
“Ed Sweeney has a remarkable gift of gab, and the ability to pick gems from the songpile. When he appeared here he was an instant success.”