Congratulations to Thomas Johnston and Deirdre Forrest, the folk duo known as Beannacht, for winning best new act at the Jersey Acoustic Music Awards in Asbury Park over the weekend!

The music scene has always been super competitive, those bar band jousts eventually launching the legendary careers of Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny.

The group also won second place for best female singer (robbed!) and best band or duo (robbedx2!).

“Even though it’s certainly competitive around here, the musicians we’ve met in this scene have been so encouraging and the venues we play at keep asking us back. We’re always striving to be better, but we think we’re on a roll. A year ago, we were looking for places to play and now, places are looking for us,” said Johnston.

The duo is planning on a summer release for their debut album.

“Once we get St. Patrick’s Day season out of the way, we can go back into the studio and quickly finish it up,” Johnston says.

I’ve tagged along with them on a series of gigs, me reading from my book and them playing to make a “rock and read” event. I’ve marveled on the sidelines as Beannacht weaves engaging originals like “Into the Mystic” and “Raglan Road.”
To contact the group, check out