The New Moon means new music.

The Haverhill coffeehouse’s 32nd season opens this Saturday night with two Massachusetts acts, newcomer Sway followed by returning headliner Don White.

White’s homespun humor and songs have transported listeners for decades. His tales and songs draw on family life in his native Lynn, stories culled from the kitchen table, the living room and behind slammed doors.

White’s local color draws fans from all over. 

Earlier this month, he played the Timpanagos Storytelling Festival in Utah. He performs regularly in Michigan, where he has a dedicated following. 

His latest album was recorded live in August at The Guthrie Center in Great Barrington.

More than a few of his songs are about home. Coming home, being home or leaving home.

Here’s a few lines from “Psycho Mom and Dad,” a song on the album “The Best of Don White”:

“When Ma tripped over my toy transformer, that pushed her over the edge

And that’s when we knew, she’s turning into, psycho Mom again

She’s screaming ‘I’m fed up, finished, I’m through. Had it up to here with all of you

I’m running away, I’m leaving today. I’m going to join the carnival.”

Sway’s career is just underway. The 24-year-old raps and plays electronic beats and acoustic guitar.

His real name is Jay Casey. He grew up in Boxford and later lived in Ipswich. As a senior at the University of Connecticut, he got the hip-hop bug.

White and Sway have their feet in the past, present and — perhaps — the future of folk.

Sway’s songwriting caught White’s ear at a music outreach program in Lynn.

White said that Sway understands the musical traditions that precede him. 

He and other young performers with broad appeal are a possible bridge to the future of folk music.

“He’s still a rapper, but your mom likes him,” White said.

Sway writes songs that seek connections with people, the places where lives intersect. Songs that both affirm and recognize life is like a heart beat, with ups and downs, he said.

Here are lines from a Sway song:

“I got some stamps in my passport

I know that you want some too

I can’t afford all that right now

But trust me that we’ll get some soon.”

Carol Allen, who books the music at the New Moon, said that Sway and White set the tone for the whole season, a season that includes engaging storytellers and young vibrant acts.

Allen is always looking to vary the ethnic, geographic, racial and gender diversity of the New Moon’s folk offerings. 

“From the beginning, our mission was to expand the notion of folk music as much as possible,” she said. 

Female performers this year include acclaimed Virginia songwriter and guitarist Crys Matthews and Haverhill’s spoken word artist Kat Everett in March.

Each year, Allen learns of new acts while attending regional folk alliance conventions such as the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance, being held this year from Nov. 7-10 in Stamford, Connecticut.

This season’s New Moon lineup gives a bit more attention to younger acts and people of color.

“We are trying to spread out and take a few risks, and see what happens,” Allen said. 

The rest of the New Moon performance schedule for 2019-20 includes well-known folk performers and up-and-comers, solo acts and duos (even a double bill of duos in January — Joshua Garcia and Sophie Buskin and Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt), as well as national and local acts.



What: Don White with opener Sway

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: New Moon Coffeehouse, Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill, 16 Ashland St.

How much: $20 for adults, $10 for ages 18 and under. Free for Haverhill High students with valid school ID.

More information: 978-459-5134 or


Upcoming shows

Oct. 19: Tommy Sands with opener Stefilia’s Stone

Nov. 16: The Bombadils with opener Frederik Schuetze

Jan. 18: Double duo night with Joshua Garcia and Sophie Buskin and Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt

Feb. 15: Rev. Robert Jones with opener Eric Kilburn

March 21: Crys Matthews with opener Kat Everett

April 18: Suzie Vinnick and Danielle Miraglia

May 16: The Nields with opener Ed Felker

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