Beth Amsel
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Beth Amsel

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"Reverie Review"

The New England area has given us quite a few excellent singer-songwriters, and even though she is originally from Colorado, Beth Amsel started attracting attention when she became part of the Boston music scene as part of the "Voices on the Verge" project. On her CD The Reverie, she recruited some of New England's top musicians, including Dave Chalfant and Lorne Entress, best known for their work with the Nields, as well as Katryna Nields, Jim Henry, Stephen Kellogg and Dave Hower. And, while there are quite a few young female singer-songwriters who have a similar sound, Beth has the ability to consistently put out solid music.

Beth's musical influences include a wide range of artists ranging from Led Zeppelin to Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt to Fleetwood Mac. Her music is a very pleasing blend of folk, country, blues and pop. Beth combines a very beautiful voice with some excellent songwriting talents.

The Reverie starts off with a great pop-sounding quirky love song called "Michigan." "End of July" has more of a folk-country flavor and includes some nice harmony vocals by Katryna Nields. "Come Up" and "Swing" have a blues-jazz sound. "Inman's Lament" has a blues melody and is a great example of Beth's intelligent songwriting. "The Chauffeur" is another good example of a catchy melody combined with interesting lyrics. "Hello Baby" has a country-blues sound and includes a duet with Stephen Kellogg.

The Reverie is one of those well-produced CDs that you can listen to and not want to skip any songs. Good songwriting, a beautiful smooth, clear voice and a great group of musicians make it a winner. -

"DIY Review: The Reverie"

Upon first listen, you might be tempted to label Colorado resident Beth Amsel’s music as folk-pop in the style of Dar Williams. You wouldn’t be wrong, but Amsel also has a depth that will surprise you.
The Reverie marks Amsel’s first solo record since her stint as a member of Voices on the Verge along with fellow songstresses Erin McKeown, Rose Polenzani and Jess Klein. The record takes listeners on a journey through many different musical styles. “Michigan” is the poppiest number, bemoaning the trials of long-distance love. On “End of July” Amsel sings of loving someone, “bones and all.” Dreamy harmonies and tambourine join multiple guitars, giving the tune a ‘60s pop flavor, á la the Byrds. “Come Up” has the feel of a ‘30s swing tune. “I think it’s alright if you’ve got the time,” Amsel sings invitingly over the expert guitar work of producer pal Dave Chalfant. There’s even a cover of Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur.” Well done in all, and well worth checking out. - Performing Songwriter Magazine

"Review: The Reverie"

April, 2006
C.D. Di Guardia

In the liner notes, Beth Amsel credits what seems to be a small town's worth of people and the winter of 2004. She describes it as "one of the coldest winters in New England's long and storied chilly history."

The songs on The Reverie are like a nice pair of slippers and hot cup of black tea with milk and sugar after a long walk in the frigid great outdoors.

Although Amsel's first song is titled "Michigan," her heart and her sound clearly belong in New England. Local artists are carving a different type of folk-country song with a particularly regional feel. It's an Olde New England devoid of any mentions of the Red Line, Craigslist, or the Big Dig.

Amsel captures the whole small-town feel with a warm and close performance on each of the songs here. The closeness comes first and foremost from Amsel's earnest vocal delivery. She sounds like the kind of person who will plant both hands on your shoulders and look you straight in the eye, but she also seems liable to bounce off into a soft-shoe routine as she does on tracks such as "Come Up."

The pictures Amsel paints in The Reverie are worthy of hanging up in any drafty oaken hallway in Massachusetts. Beth Amsel's combination of performance, songwriting, and unknown essence radiate a strong and steady light that never blinds - it just warms, even if it was borne of the "coldest winter." (Self-released) - North East Performer Magazine

"Collected Quotes About Beth Amsel"

"'A Thousand Miles' displays an incipient brilliance. Amsel writes art songs. Flowing, melodic and wordy, they are notable for their love of language and richness of imagery. The best, such as 'St. Mark' and 'Little Comfort,' paint precise, moody pictures of places and times."
-The Boston Herald, MA

"What a fantastic voice! One of those female voices I love so much...powerful and full, but well controlled with just the right amount of occasional quaver and vibrato. It's the kind of a voice that gets you all emotional and drippy."
-Christian Bauman, singer-songwriter, author, Camp Hoboken Founding Member

"Beth, for those who haven't heard her, has a voice that could melt ice. Her voice soars and dips and glides effortlessly, reaching into the soul and expressing the emotions we try to keep inside. Her guitar playing, mostly fingerpicking, is superb, and her songs all dive into what makes us human, highly personal, but universal in scope. No one could keep their attention on anything but Beth. It was amazing."
-Jeff Gilson, Lively Lucy's Coffeehouse

"Amsel is known for her clear, emotional tunes, like the thoughtful Come Down."
-The Bi-College News, April 27, 1999

"Amsel has a rich, beautiful voice that simply soars, and her songwriting and guitar work are extraordinary."
-Robert Smith, The Rutland Herald

"Beth has a sense of humor that helps establish an almost instant rapport with her audience and fans."
-Jim Sheeler, Boulder Daily Camera Music Writer

"Her voice, lush and angelic, renders comparison to Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris. Her most recent album, A Thousand Miles, is amazingly powerful and original."
-Paul Kuhn, Cardinal Points, Plattsburgh, NY

"Crossing Patsy Cline with Sarah McLachlan...Amsel is a fabulous singer."
-Wesley Loy, Anchorage Daily News, AK
- Various

"Angelic Amsel"

Show Preview
Steve Hammer

Beth Amsel, one of the most stunning talents on the contemporary folk scene, will make an appearance at the Cath Coffeehouse on Monday, Sept. 20. Amsel is known not only for her angelic voice and accomplished guitar work but also for being one of the most versatile performers in the genre.

Drawing influences from across the musical spectrum — she claims both Led Zeppelin and Willie Nelson as inspiration — Amsel’s music combines country, pop, folk and blues in an endearing way.

Her voice has the consistency of molasses but can hit a higher range with ease. Her songwriting addresses the typical subjects — love lost and found, desire, ambivalence — but does so with an unusual panache and style.

To this writer, she’s reminiscent of a young Ani DiFranco not so much musically but in attitude, strength and exceptional skill. Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, Amsel is beloved in her native New England and has been nominated for a Boston Music Award. Her live show is said to combine her pointed songs with humor verging on the bawdy.

The show will start at 7 p.m. Call Cath at 251-2677 for more information on the show. - NUVO

"Luscious Resonance"

Show Review
Mary Lee Pappas

Beth Amsel
The Cath Coffeehouse
Monday, Sept. 20

Only one person showed up to hear Beth Amsel sing at Cath Coffeehouse the last time she was in town. Monday, Sept. 20, a whopping 60 people of every age and make piled into Cath for her second go-round.

Amsel (standing with guitar in tow) broke into Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” a better-than-Bruce rendition that instantly bewitched the audience. The luscious resonance and range of her voice made this coffee shop show too good to be true. Explaining that prior to running away from Long Island to Colorado at the age of 13, she had previously simply escaped to her closet with her barcolounger and written “Beth and Bruce Forever” in a red heart on the wall. Elegant with an edge, her confidant presence (and wide dark eyes connecting with the attentive audience) only reinforced her rich vocal delivery.

Performing a variety of original works demonstrating the breadth and strength of her voice, every articulated vocal nuance further conveyed the emotion of her lyrics. “Come Down” was riddled with passion sans anything syrupy. Additionally, from her 2001 effort Kindling, she performed “You’re Welcome” and “Lonely Driver” with more depth and polish than the flat recordings and their country-tinged arrangements. The only way to truly enjoy the drama of her voice is live.

The daughter of a surgeon who fled big-haired and heavy eye-lined suburbia, Amsel further embraced her high-pop ’80s musical influences by performing a Duran Duran cut from Rio, “The Chauffeur.” Again, it was so much of an improvement over the original that any semblance of the original was lost to this new version. Some actually thought it was a Shawn Colvin cover.

These two thoughtful and talented singer-songwriter women presented a solid show at the now closed neighborhood “oasis” (as Amsel referred to Cath): “I can’t imagine Indianapolis without it,” she said. - NUVO

"Crescent Moon to host singer-songwriter Amsel"

By: Hilary Stohs-Krause
Posted: 9/27/07

It may seem strange, but singer-songwriter Beth Amsel loves driving through western Nebraska.

"It's that rolling hill country, and you follow the Platte River the whole way, and it's beautiful," she said in a recent interview. "And I also love cows, which sounds ridiculous, but I went to high school on a cattle ranch."

It might also be surprising that this self-professed Great Plains fan spent the first 13 years of her life in Long Island, N.Y.

"It was suburbia, strip malls, tight jeans, black eyeliner, big hair," she said. "I kind of always felt like I was in the wrong place. New York didn't really feel like home."

Amsel, who's playing tonight at 7 at Crescent Moon Coffee, 816 P St., decided at age 13 to move to Colorado, where an older sister lived.

"My parents thought it was great," she said. "I was a very bright, very bored kid, which is just this total recipe for disaster on Long Island."

She attended boarding school in a small town in western Colorado, light-years away from the "cultural sinkhole" of her former home.

About 12 years later, Amsel returned to the East Coast and began singing and performing in earnest.

While living in rural Colorado, with access to little more than public radio, Amsel said she "completely fell out of the pop music landscape. I didn't know anything that was contemporary from about 1985 to 1990. Then there was that kind of bloom of folk music, with Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin and Tracy Chapman ...

"It's basically going to singer-songwriter college, living in New England," she said. "It gave me a wide appreciation for a variety of music."

The youngest by far of five siblings, Amsel was also exposed to contrasting styles of music during her early years.

"Every time my siblings went off to college, they'd leave their album collections behind," she said. "I listened to a lot of mid-century pop standards because of my parents, and had a sister who loved country music and a sister who loved punk music and a sister who loved the Grateful Dead, and a brother who loved jazz."

Despite such a broad range of influences, however, she said her two greatest remain Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty, and it shows.

Following in the vein of Omaha's indie-twang style, Amsel showcases a clear, strong voice, reminiscent of an older Sarah Benck. She delves into several genres, including alternative country, modern jazz, 1960s pop and blues, all with a solid folk background.

Jeff Martinson, co-owner of Crescent Moon, said that while he hadn't heard Amsel's music before they booked her show, it's been playing non-stop in the coffee shop since.

"We've been playing her constantly," he said. "I think it's wonderful. It's some of the freshest writing and one of the more folky, soulful voices that I've heard that come through here, or that I've honestly heard anywhere."

He struggled at first to find comparable artists, saying, "She's definitely better than Jewel."

"If Jo Dee Messina wrote her own music more, it would be similar to that," Martinson said. "There's definitely some country influences there, but without all the twang, and it's not cliched, which is one of the things I really like about it."

Amsel herself said she plays eclectic or industrial folk, blending veins of swing, pop and rhythm and blues.

As an independent artist, she added, genres aren't as important.

"A lot of artists coming out of Omaha are independent, too, and you don't have to be pigeonholed," she said. "One should never confuse commerce with art, but when you're independent and you don't depend on being marketable for your livelihood, you have such incredible freedom." - The Daily Nebraskan

"Folkies capture Cat audience"

By Alec Scott
As Brian Webb and Beth Amsel, two independent singer/songwriters, performed an hour and half's worth of inspired folk-pop tinged original songs and covers in the Cat in the Cream Wednesday night, remnants of the warm, refreshing spring day seemed to creep into the room.

Amsel began her act with a beautiful a cappella rendition of "Hunger." After the first song, Amsel quickly revealed an assured and elegant presence on the stage. She spoke in a contemplative and thoughtful manner about her love of Maggie Simpson, her fellow Colorado tunesmith behind "Hunger," whose CDs she is carrying around the country with her.

Amsel's voice is thick and expressive. When she sang in a breathy manner towards the bottom of her range, the result was both flirtatious and syrupy sweet. Upon picking up the guitar, Amsel's country-tinged poetic folk songs recalled Joni Mitchell and Tom Petty. The first few up-tempo numbers led towards a more ballad-focused mid-show lineup. "Louise," a song about an imprisoned woman, was particularly effective.

"She had no funky folk singer pretentions on stage," junior Ashlynn Manning said. "She was just up there and happy to share her music with us. I was blown away by her flawless vocal quality; it was pure and strong no matter where she took it. Her music was exactly what I needed last night, beautiful."

During the second half of the show, Amsel spoke about the importance of freedom of speech in times of war. Joking about the frighteningly conservative nature of the U.S. government, she pointed out the gastrointestinal connection between elected officials Bush, Dick and "Colon" Powell. The comment sparked laughter and amused moans from the audience.

"I thought she interacted with the audience really comfortably," sophomore Wilson Skinner said. "It didn't seem to faze or bother her that there was such a small crowd, that seems like the mark of a good performer."

Before performing her final number, Amsel talkd about what she calls the "Track 9 Tendency," the habit of singers to write songs instead of resolving issues with people. Then she launched into a blues-folk number featuring interesting guitar picking, that proved to be an evening highlight.

After a minute of applause, Amsel returned to the stage for an encore. Stepping towards the edge of the stage with her guitar, she invited Webb to join her onstage. She played guitar and sang without a microphone. Webb sat on stage playing his guitar filling the room without amplification. Together, they established a uniquely intimate connection with the audience. - The Oberlin Review

"Amsel To Charm Bellows Falls"

By Cassie D. Lavertue
Staff Writer
December 2, 1999
Ask Beth Amsel when she started singing and writing songs and she'll say it was just five years ago, the same time she began playing guitar. Her answer is quite beguiling, since her debut CD, A Thousand Miles, wears its folk badge witha sound like thunder and soft rain, simultaneously ancient and proud after traveling through the sky's sphere's yet gentle and welcomed and soothing to the spirit.

Amsel took up the guitar when a friend exchanged the instrument for some bail money, but he never came back to reclaim it. Amsel acknowledges that she can't even remember his name now, but as far as she-and her regiment of fans-are concerned, he did her a favor. That's when she truly found herself.

Following the demise of a long relationship, Amsel sought out ways to mend her heart and her soul, and she found solace in her guitar.

''I had all this time on my hands to figure out what to do,'' she explained during a recent telephone interview from her Massachusetts home. ''It became such an important comfort, a way to heal.''

Fastening onto the guitar opened up a new world of singing and songwriting for Amsel. Where she had previously only performed to amuse herself and family (she said she was a ''ham'' growing up, bribing anyone, including the UPS man, to watch her display, and said by the age of five had memorized all of her older sister''s Rolling Stones rock albums to her parents' despair), and in various musical plays through high school and college, she soon began playing to packed houses in her native Colorado, where she had lived since moving there from Long Island at age 13. In 1997 Amsel relocated to New England - A potbelly of folk stew - to hone her craft and ''be with other people who were doing what I was doing,'' and she quickly caught the attention of music critics here.

''Amsel possesses a pure voice that flits easily from Joni Mitchell to duskier Dar Williams...a voice that seems destined for something big,'' wrote Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant when A Thousand Miles was released in tape form in 1997.

''Beth...has a voice that could melt ice. Her voice coas and dips and glides effortlessly, reaching into the soul and expressing emotions we try to keep inside,'' said Jeff Gilson of Lively Lucy's Coffeehouse in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Though Amsel, 28, has only been on the music circuit for a short time, her voice - and her lyrics - convince the listener that a much older Amsel has taken the long road home, and was joined by some of folk's more well known artists along the way. One writer compared her voice to that of Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris - an analogy that Amsel appreciates, but doesn't necessarily agree with. She calls Harris the ''grand dame of female singers.''

''It's difficult to describe your own voice,'' she responded when asked to characterize her own sound. ''Sometimes people base opinions on whatever they are listening to at the time...that writer asked me a lot about Emmylou and was listening to her Wrecking Ball album. So I am flattered with the comparison.''

Amsel said when she first arrived in the Northeast, she was overwhelmed with her life choice and went into self-examination mode questioning whether she was doing the right thing. Now she has no doubt that she made the right decision.

''I think about this a lot, about finding your passion and pursuing it...and I do think 'take your passion and make it your career,' ''explained Amsel. ''If something moves me enough to sing about it and the audience gets makes me feel as if I've done my job realy well.''

The integral piece of the puzzle, says Amsel, is making sure that the message she is sending is postmarked to her audiences. If not, and the connection is not made, then she says she wouldn't stay in the business. She calls it a ''circular process.''

''I feel like I am a conduit between the range of emotions and people,'' said Amsel, adding that for her, there are distinct variances between performing and songwriting. ''A performance is relaying emotions and giving it to the audience. Songwriting has always been a mysterious beast for me; it's a personal, private thing for me. Performing is taking the private and bringing it to the public, '' she said.

Amsel was reassured of her conviction these last few months, when a serious car accident in Spetember derailed her fall touring schedule. Before that, she had been slowing down a bit on her travels during the spring and summer months. So when she finally got back on stage opening for Greg Brown at the Bellows Falls Town Hall in November, Amsel was forced to sit through the entire set because of her neck and head injuries, but she was relieved to be back in her element.

''It's a funny thing,'' remarked Amsel, whose laugh is as infectious and melodic as her candescent singing voice, ''it's made me committed to what I do. It's reminded me that I really love, love to play,'' she said emphatically. ''It's a rare opportunity to stand still and re-evaluate.''

Fortunately, Amsel won't be standing still in the near future. She said she plans to make a recording with the foursome ''Voices on the Verge,'' a touring roadshow she performs with, this spring, and is set to release a second solo album next summer. Amsel said this next record is made of different stuff than A Thousand Miles.

''The first CD was about traveling life...the material I'm writing now explores love more,''she said, adding with a peal of laughter that 'all my songs aren't all about driving anymore.'' - Eagle Times, New Hampshire

"Valley Kids Are Alright"

Folk Music/Daniel Gewertz
Friday, June 9, 2000

Amsel's album ``A Thousand Miles’’ displays an incipient brilliance. First off, there’s
the Amsel voice. It’s simply one of the most beautiful on today’s folk scene.

Amsel writes art songs. Flowing, melodic and wordy, they are notable for their love of language and richness of imagery. The best, such as ``St. Mark’’ and ``Little Comfort,’’ paint precise, moody pictures of places and times. That poetic, musical world is a rich, seductive one. - The Boston Herald


•2007, Fly Away (CD), limited edition five song EP
•2005, The Reverie (CD)
•2005, Tsunami Relief Project (CD), contributed “How It Comes to This” from Kindling
•2002, Kindling (CD)
•2001, Live in Philadelphia w/ Voices on the Verge (CD), Rykodisc
•1999, A Thousand Miles (CD)
•1999, Means to This End featured on Fresh Tracks Sampler (CD)
•1998, Saint Mark lead cut on WWUH: Folks Next Door 7 (CD)
•1997, A Thousand Miles (tape only)
•1996, Live performance of “Saint Mark” featured on Live From Acoustic Coffeehouse (CD)

Dar Williams
Antigone Rising
Tom Rush
Catie Curtis
Richard Shindell
Lucy Kaplansky
Erica Wheeler
Louise Taylor
Greg Brown
Lynn Miles
Kelly Joe Phelps
Susan Werner
Peter Mulvey
Katryna and Nerissa Nields
Cliff Eberhardt

Mountain Stage
World Cafe
Acoustic Cafe

WFUV, The Bronx, NY
WAMC, Albany, NY
WFMT, Chicago, IL
WDET, Detroit, MI
WJFF-FM, Liberty, NY
WUMB-FM, Boston, MA
WPSU-FM, Universtiy Park, PA
WNEC-FM, Henniker, NH
WNCW-FM, Spindale, NC
WUFT-FM, Gainesville, FL
WRSI-FM, Greenfield, MA
WUMF-FM, Farmington, ME
KASU-FM, Jonesboro, AK
KANU-FM, Lawrence, KS
WKSU-FM, Keene, NH
WMUA-FM, Amherst, MA
WVPR-FM, Colchester, VT
WHCL-FM, Clinton, NY
KOPN-FM, Columbia, MO
WCUW-FM, Worcester, MA
WEVO-FM, Concord, NH
WSPN-FM, Saratoga Springs, NY
KZSC-FM, Santa Cruz, CA
WFCR-FM, Amherst, MA
KLCC-FM, Eugene, OR

Women Who Wrock (



What's a writer to do when wounds heal, grief passes, and navel gazing gets old? The Reverie, Beth Amsel's current independent release, is a step forward into such decidedly un-maudlin musical territory. With diverse and irreverent influences spanning classic rock, mid-century pop standards, and early 70's blues influenced country, Beth has created a genre bending album on the morning side of a long night.

Produced and engineered by Dave Chalfant (Erin McKeown, Stephen Kellogg, The Nields), the multi-instrumentalist and bass player from folk rock favorite The Nields, The Reverie was born from cross pollination, impromptu collaboration, and very late night inspiration. Built around the centerpiece of Dave and Beth's work over the course of 2004, The Reverie includes stellar participation from some of New England's favorite players (Katryna Nields, Lorne Entress, Dave Hower, Jim Henry) and includes Foundations Records/Universal recording artists Stephen Kellogg and Keith Karlson. "The record is testament to the central role music has played in my life, both as a language and as a great source of comfort. It's a reminder of a time when the vinyl LP was divine," declares Beth.

The Reverie is Beth's first solo studio recording following the Boston Music Award nominated Voices on the Verge project (the touring roadshow of Amsel, Rose Polenzani, Erin McKeown and Jess Klein). This dynamic foursome, with their delicate harmonies, unexpected instrumentations, tight arrangements, and unpredictable, raucous stage antics, have been heard by millions on NPR’s Morning Edition and on numerous nationally syndicated radio programs such as E-Town, Mountain Stage, and World Cafe. In 2002, Voices made their national television debut on the CBS Early Show in support of their October 2001 Rykodisc debut release, Live in Philadelphia. Recorded in front of an intimate audience at legendary Indre Studio in Philadelphia, LIP sold 20,000 copies within six months of its release and over 65,000 copies to date. A three month, coast to coast, 70 date tour, including such venues as The Bottom Line in NYC, The Tractor Tavern in Seattle, The Gothic Theatre in Denver, Shuba’s in Chicago, and the Somerville Theatre in MA was a sell out triumph.

To hear Beth sing is to experience a stunning, commanding power. Daniel Gewertz of the Boston Herald calls Beth’s voice, “simply one of the most beautiful on today's folk scene.”

Her first full-length recording, 1997’s A Thousand Miles – initially released only on cassette – garnered the word of mouth that fills the folk-music chat rooms of the internet. In spring of 1999, demand for A Thousand Miles led to its release on compact disc (its sales resulted in three pressings in its first year). In 1999, more than three dozen non-com radio stations added it to their rotation and within six months, selections off A Thousand Miles could be found on more than 30 internet radio sites (as well as Napster). In February 2000, A Thousand Miles was nominated for a 2000 Boston Music Award for Best Debut Folk/Acoustic Album.

Kindling, the Chalfant produced follow up to A Thousand Miles, is a musical ride through love and loss, want and desire, grief and change as seen from the driver’s seat of a runaway car. Even as an independent release, it has sold over 6,000 copies to date and can be found on iPods from the Netherlands to Australia.

At a rebellious thirteen, Beth fled what she calls “the black eyelined, hair sprayed depths of suburban Long Island” for a small ranching town on the Western Slope of Colorado, whose sere landscape and sharp mountains felt more like home than subdivisions and strip malls. In Colorado, Beth says, “I became intimately acquainted with potato peelers, wheels of barbed wire and my voice.”

It was there, too, that she began keeping journals, noting snippets of conversation, eavesdropping on lives glimpsed in bus stations, diners and dark bars.

When she was twenty, Beth was jarred in the middle of the night by a phone call from the Boulder jail. An acquaintance was in the slammer and needed someone to pay his bail. Beth paid the hundred dollars and accepted, as collateral, his guitar. “I don’t play guitar,” she told him. “You won’t have it long enough to learn,” he promised. Two years later, the repayment never made, Beth cracked the case for the first time and met her muse.

Living alone through a particularly bitter Colorado winter in 1994 gave Beth the time she needed to learn the instrument, to set her thoughts into song, and to begin to hone her craft to the sharp edge it holds today. Within a year she had amassed a devoted, almost fanatical, following among acoustic music aficionados in Colorado. And when in 1997 she moved to the vibrant singer/songwriter scene of the Northeast, she was ready to bring her music to a larger audience.

Since then, the word has spread quickly. Sold out shows at clubs like Cambridge’s fabled Club Passim, appearances on an increas