Bethany Waickman


Bethany Waickman is a guitarist based out of Portland, Maine. She accompanies some of the country’s finest players, be it at dance halls, pub sessions, or on the concert stage.

Bethany grew up in a musical family in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York state.  She started piano at an early age and played traditional and classical music along with her fiddle- and cello-playing brothers. She discovered DADGAD guitar tuning while attending Meadowlark, a folk music camp in Maine. There she studied with Keith Murphy, a well-known composer, musician, and influential practitioner of DADGAD. The modified tuning offers unique harmonies and rich drones well suited to supporting traditional music and to the driving, rhythmic playing for which Bethany is known. Inspired by the vibrant community of musicians that gathered every summer at Meadowlark, Bethany decided to delve deeper into the music of New England, and made guitar her primary focus.

While attending UMass Amherst, Bethany joined the contra dance band The Hip Bones, and on her summer breaks she worked on the crew at Pinewoods, a dance and music camp in Plymouth, MA. It was there that she started making music with like-minded fiddler Amelia Mason and accordionist Emily Troll. After a few summers of exploring and building repertoire together, they formed the contra dance trio Anadama in 2007. Known for their tight arrangements and propulsive energy, Anadama has been charming dancers across North America ever since.

After college, Bethany spent some time traveling in Ireland, moved to Boston, and signed on as Lissa Schneckenburger’s guitarist. Lissa is a lyrical fiddler known for the lift and drive she incorporates into the traditional dance tunes she grew up playing. Also a skillful singer, she brings new life to old ballads, and takes a special interest in exploring the singing traditions of the Maine lumber camps. Her album Dance features Bethany’s guitar playing and draws from the rich repertoire of New England contra dance tunes. Bethany and Lissa have toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, and Belgium. They are often joined by Jeremiah McLane (accordion), Corey DiMario (double bass), and Stefan Amidon (percussion) for larger festivals.
Bethany moved to Maine in 2013, and shortly thereafter co-founded the trio Fódhla with Nicole Rabata on Irish flute and Ellery Klein on fiddle. The trio brings traditional Irish music to festivals, sessions, and concert series around New England. They will be releasing a 6-track EP in late 2015.

Bethany has also worked with many other artists, including Ari and Mia Friedman, Mark Roberts and Laurel Martin, Ryan McKasson, Jeremiah McLane, Rose Clancy, Ed Pearlman, Katie McNally, Eric McDonald, Tashina Clarridge, Simon Chrisman, Nic Gareiss, Rodney Miller, Dave Langford, Julie Metcalf, Glen Loper, Alden Robinson, and others. In 2014 she toured Germany as a member of The Southgate Band.

Bethany is a mainstay on the New England contra dance circuit, playing in countless combinations of the scene’s myriad musicians.