Donna Hébert’s fierce fiddle rhythms and Max Cohen’s impeccable groove guitar create an orchestra of sound. “Only two people. Can you believe it?!” said dance caller Louie Cromartie on-mic at a Glen Echo MD contradance. Max and Donna love using the music to tell a story but if they can make you dance, that’s a bonus!
Donna’s immersion in music started at home, where she sang and performed with her mother. Donna founded seminal dance and folk bands in her twenties and thirties, winning industry and arts council awards, including recognition in 2009 by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for “outstanding artistic achievement.” For the past fifteen years, she’s blended her fiddling with Max’s sparkling guitar and original songs. Their joint composition, Raven’s Wing, written in memory of Donna’s father, is now in the Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music at the Boston College library:
I LOVE your CD. It is GREAT – wonderful music played with much feeling of style and tradition! And that ‘Raven’s Wing’ you and Max have written is gorgeous – really a winner!” Séamus Connolly, Irish fiddler, National Heritage Fellow
Max’s natural humility belies a staggering talent. He tastefully morphs from style to genre, from lead to backup, from acoustic to electric, from deep and meaningful . . . to utterly hilarious. Donna says, “You couldn’t ask for a better co-conspirator!” Max also performs with folksinger Priscilla Herdman, who says:
He’s an exceptional accompanist. Max uses his guitar to cradle the singer with tenderness and strength.”
From their duo, Donna and Max expand into other musical identities. Celtic group Mist Covered Mountains adds Donna’s daughter, singer and bassist Molly Hebert-Wilson. The Mist band are staff musicians at Old Songs and Philly Folk Fests, where they also coach kids in The Great Groove Band for main-stage performances. In 2016, Max and Donna began working with singer-songwriter Lui Collins and poet Jane Yolen to create The Infinite Dark a show and later a CD based on Yolen’s otherworldly poetry. After a first listen, WAMC DJ Wanda Adams Fischer said it was “Just gorgeous!”
Max and Donna’s Orange on Blue instrumental CD is available online, as is their CD with Mist Covered Mountains, This Distant Shore. Donna’s In Full Bloom features Raven’s Wing and ten other tracks of French-Canadian music with Max and co-producer Pascal Gemme and André Brunet, Rachel Aucoin, and Sabin Jacques.
Recent performances with the duo and Mist Covered Mountains include Trad-Mad Camp at Pinewoods, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Old Songs Festival (NY), Philadelphia Folk Festival (PA), Blackstone River Theatre (RI), La Grande Rencontre, Mémoires et Racines, and more.
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Two armless straight-back chairs, a small table
Two vocal mics (matched) with booms
One guitar mic with boom + Guitar DI (Max uses both mic and DI in mix)
XLR out to Donna for her Bartlett omni clip-on fiddle mic
2 monitor speakers, separate mixes preferred