Hopeful Romantics

(background information)

Mary Ellen Wessels was born and raised in Michigan. Her love of folk music stems from her musical family. She is a guitarist, plays recorders, mountain dulcimer, bodhran, dumbek and other instruments. But her best and most unforgettable instrument is her voice. Mary Ellen reaches out and spellbinds her listeners with the passion, spirit and genuine emotion she pours into her music. Interpreting songs from a wide variety of songwriters, her voice has been compared to Sally Rogers, Sandy Denny, Claudia Schmidt and Holly Near.

Mary Ellen began studying voice at age 15 and her first years in College were as a vocal early music major. Now she teaches voice lessons privately and gives workshops across the country on a variety of vocal and performance subjects. Fred Small said:"Big voice, big heart, Mary Ellen Wessels is a pleasure to hear."

Born in Connecticut of musical parents, Ed Stauff grew up in a house full of musical instruments, all of which he eventually learned how to play. His earliest musical influences included the Kingston Trio and the organ music of Bach. Following the classical muse, he studied pipe organ through high school and while attending Yale University. After moving to New Hampshire, he encountered the radio folk shows of greater Boston, and was instantly hooked. As director of a variety of singing groups, he has arranged numerous folk songs, both traditional and contemporary.

Edís primary instrument remains the keyboard, whether itís a grand piano, a MIDI synthesizer, or a 3-manual pipe organ. His expressive piano style has been compared to Elton John and George Winston. Through the magic of MIDI, he performs studio-quality arrangements live on stage. He also plays recorders, guitar, banjo, and hammered dulcimer.

Mary Ellen and Ed met a music convention in 1995, and the following year she moved to New Hampshire to marry him. The result is a formidable musical duo that has delighted audiences from coast to coast, as well as in Canada and England. They have performed at the New England Folk Festival and have opened for The Short Sisters, Fred Small, Kallett Epstein & Ciccone, and Lucy Kaplansky. Mary Ferguson of Simple Gifts CoffeeHouse says: "Ed is awesome on the keyboards. Mary Ellenís voice and instruments of guitar and percussion add a touch of magic that is always pleasing."


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