The Band

Photo of 2013 Mother Folkers

2013 Mother Folkers – Outer row: Deborah Schmit-Lobis, Elena Klaver, Eileen
Niehouse, Bonnie Phipps, Rebecca Leonard, Liz Barnez, Carla Sciaky, Pamela Robinson
Inner row: Suzy Nelson (with dog), Ellen Audley, Julie Hoest, Mary Stribling
Not pictured: Angie DeFrancis-Cox, Bonnie Carol
See more band pictures in an archive in a story about Kathi DeFrancis

The 2014 Mother Folkers:

The Mother Folkers performances include recent members, guests and previous members who are dropping back in for a year or two. Founding Mother Folkers are indicated below by a bullet. For additional information, including recordings, books, upcoming performances, and news, please visit our individual websites.

Angie DeFrancis-Cox – Vocals

Angie is a second-generation Mother Folker (“MoFo”). As a Daughter Folker, she's affectionately titled a “DoFo”. Angie is an expressive, soulful singer, and a radiant performer. She is a daughter of the late Kathi DeFrancis, one of the founding Mother Folkers. She has lived her entire life around music. Angie has also fallen asleep at practice more than any other Mother Folker, sleeping anywhere she could while the band was creating songs. She is also the mother of third generation MoFo roadie, Phoenix Cox. Thus the moniker "Mo Do Fo."

Bonnie Carol – Hammered dulcimer, marimba, conga, percussion, and vocals 

Bonnie Carol sings and plays hammered and fretted dulcimers as well as African marimba, bodhrán, folk drums, and hand percussion. A performance is likely to encompass traditional music from North and South America, the British Isles, Caribbean rhythms, and even Tex-Mex tunes, all fitting together in that exuberant whole we call World Music. In addition to her solo concerts, Bonnie can be found playing in an African marimba ensemble, a Celtic ensemble, and a square dance band.

She has produced, recorded, and distributed half a dozen recordings of her music. She put her knowledge of traditional music, dulcimers, and African marimbas into the dozen books she has authored. Most of the dulcimer contests across the nation have seen Bonnie win or place. Each summer Bonnie produces the Moons and Tunes River trips where all the participants are invited to bring instruments for a multi-day wilderness jam session, hike and river trip. Get on Bonnie's email list if you're interested to join in the fun.

Bonnie Phipps – Autoharps and vocals

Bonnie Phipps has made her living through music since the 1980s. She has recorded and performed with The Colorado Folk Ensemble, which featured intricate arrangements with autoharp, cello, violin, and guitar. Pete Wernick (of Hot Rize fame) described the group’s sound as “Old Time New Age Chamber Music” — a blend of traditional, classical, and jazz elements. The ensemble toured for Columbia Artists Management doing community concerts around the Western states. They also played at many prestigious folk venues, including the Hudson River Revival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Kerrville Folk Festival, Winfield Folk Festival, and Old Songs Festival.

Phipps has written articles on the autoharp for Frets magazine, and two books. She won Autoharp Championships at both Winfield Folk Festival and Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering. Bonnie has been a featured performer and workshop leader from the U.S. to New Zealand to England.

Carla Sciaky – Violin, guitar, vocals, songwriting, and arranging

Carla grew up playing classical music and listening to her parents' records (remember those?) of such greats as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, and Gordon Bok. By the time she got her first guitar at age 14, she already played piano, violin, and recorder. She performed, recorded, and toured with her band Propinquity in the early '70s, moved on to renaissance and medieval chamber music in college, after which she embarked on a decades long solo folk/songwriting career.

She has recordings out on her own Propinquity label as well as Green Linnet and Alcazar! Records, now mostly available at iTunes and Amazon. In recent years she has returned to her classical roots, studying and teaching violin, piano, and recorder, and performing with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, as well as occasional pick-up folk gigs.

Deborah Schmit-Lobis – Piano, accordion, vocals, composing, and arranging


Pianist Deborah Schmit-Lobis has performed with just about every major classical organization in the Denver area although she loves and plays just about every style of music. She’s toured nationally and internationally with such artists as Andrea Bocelli, played the accordion with Luciano Pavarotti in his last Denver concert, and has performed with James Galway, Eileen Ivers and the Paul Winter Consort in conjunction with the Colorado Symphony. She’s also toured with the 70’s band Edison Lighthouse and the Boys from Beatlemania. She’s often seen playing or conducting at the Denver Center Theater, most recently having performed the production of Quilters.

As a composer and arranger she’s worked with dance and theater companies such as Colorado Ballet, David Taylor Dance Theater and Speaking of Dance and the chamber music ensemble Suonare. She's the principal pianist with the Central City Opera Ensemble and has traveled all over the world with the Colorado Children’s Chorale.

She plays locally with Windy Peak and the members of the Mother Folkers. She has several CDs available and her music has been featured on radio stations across the country. She has a new Solstice CD out called When the Sun Turns North. She is from North Dakota where the winters are long and the accordions are plentiful.

Eileen Niehouse – Guitar, humor, vocals, and songwriting

“Mad Grace” CD available at:

Eileen Niehouse is a founding member of the Mother Folkers and also the person who thought of the name. She would like it made clear that the other 'Fos agreed to it. Her involvement in Irish music continues, and she has recently retired from the City of Denver. Her main focus now is showing and training Bull Terriers. (You’re nobody 'til some bully loves you…)

Elena (Ellen) Klaver – Banjo, guitar, conga, doumbek, snare, vocals, and songwriting


Elena (Ellen) Klaver is a singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has been in many bands over the years, from the Mother Folkers to Tzotzollin, an Aztec a capella group. Some of her songs have been recorded by others, and she has just released a CD of original songs. She also calls old time dances, contributes music and energy to peace, justice, and environmental efforts, and enjoys combining music with professional interpreting in Colorado and throughout the Americas.

Ellen Audley – Mandolin, octave mandolin, bouzouki, and guitars

Ellen loves to play and teach music. Her specialty is musical accompaniment. She teaches electric and acoustic guitar and mandolin and also works at Colorado State University. She’s been a public radio deejay off and on since 1977. She loves all kinds of music, especially R&B, Brazilian choro and African electric guitar styles. She was inspired by the Mofos as a teenager, was a student of Eileen’s in 1969, and met Vicki at the first Telluride Bluegrass Festival. She was married to the very musical Doug (R.I.P.), and has two adult children.

Julie Hoest – Guitar, vocals, songwriting

Julie Hoest has been playing folk and blues around Colorado and nationally since the mid '80s. Originally from Long Island, New York, she feels lucky to have grown up in a musical family and to have been exposed to such musical talents such as Mississippi John Hurt, Django Reinhardt, Bruce Cockburn, and Joni Mitchell to name a few.

Julie lives in northern Colorado with her husband and their four-legged kids.

She has recently released a new album, “Never Far,” available on her iTunes, CD Baby and her website.

Kathi DeFrancis – Piano, guitar, vocals, songwriting

Kathi fondly remembered the first Mother Folkers show at the Denver Folklore Center Concert Hall. They thought they’d have maybe 75 people. She ducked out to secure some liquid refreshment at the corner liquor store and was stunned to see a line of people going around the block. Two or three more shows were added to accommodate the people turned away, and the MoFos had momentum that would last for decades.

She came out of retirement for the 2010 show! Kathi was a professional musician, playing piano and writing songs for forty years. She was the proud mother of two and grandmother of three.

Interview with Kathi

Liz Barnez – Guitar, cajón, doumbek, drums, percussion, vocals, and songwriting

What I know for sure: Growing up in New Orleans with two older sisters and three older brothers I learned these two things, maybe more: 1) If you want to eat, don’t be late for dinner; 2) there is so much great music, and so little time. I love music; I love to listen to it, dance with it, create it, and play it. With friends, preferably.

Mary Stribling – Bass, emcee, songwriting, and composing

Bassist, singer and songwriter Mary Stribling performs and records with her band Combo Amazo. She also plays blues and jazz with ace guitarist Neil Haverstick and played electric bass on his blues CD, “Way Down by the Mississippi” which received a four star review in the prestigious jazz magazine, “Downbeat.”

When not playing low frequencies, Mary enjoys taking care of her 40,000 plus “pet” honeybees that reside in hives in her backyard.

Pamela Robinson – Saxophone family, guitar, percussion, vocals, and songwriting

CDs at: Kiva Records

Pamela is an energetic, upbeat, amusing, exuberant, and gifted musician. She is a talented singer, songwriter, and recording artist. She also plays Native American flute, penny whistle, and piano. Her two most recent CDs are “A Call to Prayer” and “Shifting Turtle”.

Pamela has a beautiful way of bringing a group of people into a heart-centered space, the heart to heart connection is innate for her. Pamela has devoted her life to music, spending the last 14 years focusing on spiritual music and awakening. She is currently the musical director at Whole Life Center for Spiritual Living. P.S. If you want to know the details of my musical career, you can take me to lunch!

Rebecca Leonard (“Rebop”) – Diatonic and Chromatic Harmonicas, and vocals

Rebecca performed in Detroit blues clubs before relocating to Denver. She became very active in the Denver music scene where she continued to play blues; and added rock, country, and reggae music to her repertoire. She was a co-founder of Sunday Ladies (country rock) and Cat Ragu (Denver's premiere reggae band).

Rebecca joined The Mother Folkers in 1994. Rebecca taught harmonica at Swallow Hill Music Association, demonstrating and promoting versatility and due respect for the instrument; proclaiming “The harmonica is not a toy!” On a serious note, she now plays at memorial and graveside services — Rebecca plans to die laughing.

Suzy Nelson – Vocals

Suzy Nelson is a full-time voice over artist, heard nationwide on television stations specializing as a promo voice. Suzy still performs with the band Moments Notice. She loves to spend time with family, including playing with grandson Berlin and jeeping with husband Paul.

Vicki Taylor – Piano, fiddle, guitar, vocals, and songwriting

Vicki Taylor is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. She has graced the Colorado music scene for many years, as a fiddler, guitarist, and pianist. Her interests are blues, jazz and New Orleans style piano. Vicki has spent many years on the stage and almost forty years as a music teacher most recently at the Swallow Hill Music Association.

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