James Stephens is known both for his work as a performer and as a producer/recording engineer. He plays a multitude of stringed instruments with an emphasis on fiddling.
He has an abiding interest in various traditional styles.
James has performed with many Ottawa area singer/songwriters such as Lynn Miles,
Ian Tamblyn, Melwood Cutlery, Terry Tufts and renowned melodic banjo player Ken Perlman.
James is also a former member of Texas Swing group, The Black Donnellys, and neo-traditional Celtic group and Six Mile Bridge.
Currently, he performs with The Brian Pickell Band, Finest Kind, Eh?! (with Anne Lederman & Emilyn Stam), Alise Marlane, Tom Lip and Peach Jam (contradance band with Duncan Gillis and Paul Hawtin)
Ann Downey is a singer and multi-instrumentalist with wide musical tastes, just like the horizon of her native southwestern US. With an affinity for wacky songs, yodeling and extra vocal harmonies, she counts herself lucky to have laughed, sung, played, recorded and toured with a wealth of exceptional musicians including Finest Kind, Sneezy Waters, the Old Sod Band, Tony Turner and Pat Moore & the Vinyl Frontier. Ann has been on the faculty of the Augusta Heritage Center, a traditional music camp in Elkins, West Virginia, and currently enjoys teaching clawhammer banjo at Alcorn Music Studios in Ottawa. In the Sweet Potatoes, she plays one of her first loves, old-time rhythm guitar.
James Keith has been playing music on something or another pretty much all his life. While touring with AC?DC (an AC/DC cover band), James was given a cassette of old time Appalachian mountain music called "High Altitude" which changed his life. As James puts it, "that cassette changed my life". A newcomer to the Ottawa music scene, James is delighted to be playing fiddle and mandolin with The Sweet Potatoes. As James puts it, "When I got the call from Bonnie to join "The Taters", I said, "Well, Heck Yeah!"
Mary Gick was a teen aged, finger picking guitar player in a folk music cover duo in suburban Montreal when she first fell in love with clawhammer banjo at the Mariposa Folk Festival. She began playing banjo in 1976 while a psychology graduate student in Ann Arbor hanging around the Ark Coffeehouse. Mary has been a member of community contra dance bands in Ann Arbor, Dayton and Toronto. She has also performed and recorded with Michael Jerome Browne, Frank Cassidy and James Stephens, Russell Levia, and Jennifer Noxon. Currently a psychology professor at Carleton University, she plays banjo with the Sweet Potatoes, the Ottawa community contra dance band and her husband, Chris White.
Michael Ball has been playing fiddle in Ottawa area since he moved to Ottawa in early 1996. He started a duo with his partner Jody Benjamin called Ball And Chain. They have released six CDs of Country & Western and Cajun and original roots dance music, to date, and continue to be active on the local music scene. Their 5th release was titled Louisiana Lovebug and was co-produced with Dirk Powell at Cypress House Studios in Parks, Louisiana. Michael also plays fiddle and bass with other Ottawa area bands including Zydeco Loco(rock & roll), and The Dusty Drifters (Bluegrass).
Bonnie Kumer gave up her dancing disco career when she discovered old-time music.
She's passionate about sharing her tunes with anyone who will listen.....children, seniors, even a polar bear.
The Sweet Potatoes is her latest string band commitment - a gathering of good musicians playing great music.