2017 Featured Performers & Tutors
Old Blind Dogs
Jonny Hardie, Aaron Jones,
Ali Hutton, Donald Hay
Since forming in the early 1990s, Old Blind Dogs have stood on the cutting edge of Scotland’s roots revival. The band has developed its own trademark style with an energetic mix of songs and tunes. Dynamic percussion, polished vocals, soaring fiddle, and stirring pipes fuel the delicately phrased melodies and traditional songs.
The Dogs, one of Scotland’s most highly touted traditional folk bands, are not known for shying away from change. A strong, shared musical vision has allowed the group to ride out inevitable line-up changes. The Dogs popularity has never dimmed though and the current foursome of Jonny Hardie (fiddle, vocals), Aaron Jones (bouzouki, guitar, vocals), Ali Hutton (Border pipes, whistles, vocals) and Donald Hay (percussion, vocals) have proven more than capable of carrying on the tradition of the band that the Montreal Gazette called …”a Scots neo-traditional super group with a bracingly modern musical attack.”
The Dogs have released 13 albums and have won numerous awards including the prestigious title of Folk Band of the Year at the 2004 and 2007 Scots Trad Music Awards. Their latest CD, Room With A View, is their first studio album in six years.
“The skill, talent, and verve with which they played belied their laddishness and the crowd responded with thunderous applause. Folk is the new rock and roll.” – Evening News
“The Old Blind Dogs play with a compelling energy and intoxicating rhythm; players and audience seem to share a wild ecstasy of emotion.” – The Scotsman
“Old Blind Dogs have mastered the tricky art of innovating within a musical tradition while faithfully revealing its essence.” – Acoustic Guitar
Old Blind Dogs
Jonny Hardie co-founded Old Blind Dogs in 1929, or thereabouts. Since the band began they have recorded 13 studio albums and two live albums. Over the years, Jonny has been involved in many other musical collaborations. He has performed with/arranged or produced over 50 CDs in his career (so far) recording and performing with artists as diverse as Kylie Minogue and The Chieftains with Ry Cooder. Jonny is currently working with fellow Aberdonians Simon Gall (in Clype) and Jenny Sturgeon. He is also musical director and writer for Dogstar Theatre Company and teaches fiddle at Aberdeen City Music School.
Bouzouki, Vocals, Guitar
Aaron Jones is one of the most sought after accompanists on the traditional music scene today. He continues to tour worldwide and record with many of the biggest names in traditional music including Kate Rusby, Siobhan Miller, Emily Smith, Robyn Stapleton, and many more. As well as being an official accompanist for the BBC Young Traditional Scottish Musician of the Year Awards for 10 years, Aaron was voted ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ in a public vote at the 2005 Scots Trad Music Awards. He is a passionate member of the Live Performance Committee of the UK Musicians Union, a committed Evertonian, and a very proud Dad.
“Aaron Jones was the heart of the band, providing the guitar, bouzouki, and lead vocals. The ballads were marvellously done.”
– Roger Lilly, State Cultural Center Theater, West Virginia
“The bouzouki playing is mighty.” – Jamie McMenemy
Bouzouki, Vocals, Guitar
Pipes, Whistle, Guitar
Ali, from Methven in Perthshire, was inspired at the age of seven to take up the bagpipes and rose through the ranks of the world famous Vale of Atholl Pipe Band. There he was taught – alongside Ross Ainslie – by the late, great Gordon Duncan. He has since gone on to become a successful multi-instrumentalist on the Scottish music scene. Ali has performed and worked alongside some of the most respected musicians and bands on the scene, such as Capercaillie, Dougie Maclean, Carlos Nunez, Deaf Shepherd, Clueless, Steve Forman, Salsa Celtica, and Shooglenifty to name a few.
During his apprentice years as a professional musician, he was a member of the multi award winning bands Brolum and Back of the Moon, touring with them for several years across Europe and North America. Back of the Moon went on to win ‘Scottish Folk Band of the Year’ at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards in 2005 and was also nominated for Album of the Year. Ali has produced some of the most well received Scottish Folk albums in recent years. In 2007 he co-produced Maeve Mackinnon’s award winning album, Don’t Sing Love Songs, which was chosen for performance in the ‘Classic Albums’ series at Celtic Connections in 2008. In 2015 he was nominated for ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards, the same year in which Treacherous Orchestra won Album of the Year co-produced by Ali. Ali is currently a member of Treacherous Orchestra, Old Blind Dogs, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson band, and the new duo, cleverly named, Ross and Ali.
Pipes, Whistle, Guitar
Donald Hay is a drummer/percussionist with an exceptional ability to play with power, empathy, delicacy, and drama. Coming from the fiddle-led rock’n’roll explosion Mystery Juice, over the last 20 years he has become one of the most highly sought after percussionists on the Scottish and English folk scenes. He’s appeared on recordings by Sting, Eliza Carthy (including her Mercury Award nominated Anglicana), Kate Rusby, Martin Carthy, Kathryn Tickell, Gordon Duncan, The Battlefield Band, and The Nuala Kennedy Band. As well as Old Blind Dogs, he is currently performing with The Nuala Kennedy Band and harpist Mary Macmaster. He has also done live session work for Shooglenifty and has appeared on the highly successful TV show and Celtic Connections concert ‘The Transatlantic Sessions’ performing with Joan Osbourne, Jerry Douglas, Donal Lunny, Ali Bain, and Phil Cunningham.
The Screaming Orphans
Joan Diver ~ Drums, Vocals
Angela Diver ~ Bass, Violin, Vocals
Gráinne Diver ~ Guitar, Vocals
Marie Thérèse Diver ~ Keys, Accordion, Vocals
The Screaming Orphans are four sisters with the good fortune to have been raised in the magical seaside village of Bundoran in County Donegal, Ireland.
Given the great tradition of music in Irish homes – especially in the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas which have produced the likes of Clannad, Enya, and Mairead, Micheal and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill – it comes as no surprise that the girls come from a distinguished musical family and have been singing and playing traditional Irish music from very young ages.
As teenagers, the sisters started their own pop rock band and first gigs were local surf festivals at Bundoran playing covers. They began writing their own music and travelling to Dublin to play the singer/songwriter clubs including Whelans. Soon, the band signed with London-based Blue Mountain Music publishing company founded by Chris Blackwell of Island Music.
At a St. Brigid’s day concert in Kildare, the band shared the stage with truly great Irish artists like Christy Moore, Liam O’Maonlai, and Sinead O’Connor. Something sparked between Sinead and the sisters that day and as a result, the sisters performed as O’Connor’s back-up singers and opening act for her Gospel Oak Tour. The tour took the band to Europe, the US, and Canada, and they appeared on David Letterman and other TV shows as part of Sinead’s show and as a band in their own right.
The following year the band toured with world music star, Babba Maal, singing at his homecoming concert in Dakar, Senegal, and contributing vocals to his album Nomad Soul. They have also recorded with Peter Gabriel and were backing vocalists on the Joni Mitchell track “Magdalene Laundries” for the Chieftains Tears of Stone album.
A year later, the sisters signed with Warner UK (WEA) and recorded their debut album in Normandy with the legendary Mike Hedges, who has been producer for the likes of Siouxie and the Banshees, U2, Manic Street Preachers, Texas, and Travis.
While firmly rooted in traditional Irish music, the Screaming Orphans draw on a diverse set of influences ranging from Simon and Garfunkel and the The Bangles to The McNulty Family, with a strong focus on melody-driven songs with pop and rock strains. The sisters have a musical breadth which belies their youth and inspires them to explore new and exciting song writing and performance concepts.
And if you’re wondering about their name… In their own words,
“A friend of Joan’s came up with it one night and we loved the name because we were going out on the road on our own and we were leaving behind our Mam who had been our lead singer for years and our Da who was our manager/sound engineer, and so we became “orphans.” The “screaming” bit is what usually occurs when surrounded by family, and we are known to hit certain high notes that could be interpreted as scream-like. That and our secondary school was once an orphanage, so there you have it.”
The Screaming Orphans
Paddy Keenan was born in Trim, Co. Meath, to John Keenan, Sr. of Westmeath and the former Mary Bravender of Co. Cavan. The Keenans were a Travelling family steeped in traditional music; both Paddy’s father and grandfather were uilleann pipers. Paddy himself took up the pipes at the age of 10, played his first major concert at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre at 14, and played with the rest of his family in a group called The Pavees.
At 17, having fallen in love with the blues, Paddy left Ireland for England and Europe, where he played blues and rock. Returning to Ireland after a few years, he began playing around Dublin with singer/keyboardist Triona Ni Dhomhnaill and singer/guitarist Micheal O Dhomhnaill. Fiddler Paddy Glackin joined the three, followed by flute player Matt Mollov, accordion player Tony MacMahon, and guitarist Donal Lunny. The loosely-knit band began calling itself “Seachtar,” the Irish word for “seven.”
After Seachtar decided to turn professional, the band experienced a number of personnel changes, with Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples replacing Paddy Glackin, and Kevin Burke eventually replacing Peoples. The band wanted a new name.
Micheal O’ Dhomhnaill had recently returned from Scotland, where he happened across a photograph taken in the 1890s of a group of tattered musicians. “The Bothy Band,” it was titled, in reference to the migrant Irish laborers who worked in England and Scotland and were housed in stone huts known as “bothies.” Micheal suggested this name for the band and thus was born one of the most influential bands in the history of Irish music, The Bothy Band.
The Bothy Band forever changed the face of Irish traditional music, merging a driving rhythm section with traditional Irish tunes in ways that had never been heard before.
Those fortunate enough to have seen the band live have never forgotten the impression they made — one reviewer likened the experience to “being in a jet when it suddenly whipped into full throttle along the runway.” Paddy was one of the band’s founding members, and his virtuosity on the pipes combined with the ferocity of his playing made him, in the opinion of many, its driving force. Bothy Band-mate Donal Lunny once described Paddy as “the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes”; more recently, due to his genius for improvisation and counter-melody, he has been compared to jazz great John Coltrane.
Paddy’s flowing, open-fingered style of playing can be traced directly from the style of such great Travelling pipers as Johnny Doran; both Paddy’s father and grandfather played in the same style. Although often compared to Doran, Paddy was 19 or 20 when he first heard a tape of Doran’s playing; his own style is a direct result of his father’s tutelage and influence.
Paddy’s style has continued to mature in the intervening years since the break-up of The Bothy Band as he has pursued a solo career. He is in demand as a guest artist for prestigious Celtic festivals and weekends, concerts, benefits, and tionols (piping festivals) around the US, and in Canada and Ireland. Notable among these are Gaelic Roots I and II (Boston College); Eigse na Laoi at University College, Cork; the Washington Irish Folk Festival at Wolf Trap; the Stonehill College Festival in Boston; and the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s Irish Music and Dance Festival.
Dubbed ‘the Paganini of the uilleann pipes,’ Paddy is certainly one of the most brilliant musicians of his generation. He can rightfully claim his place alongside such open-style legends as pipers John Cash and Johnny Doran.
“In Irish music there are legends and legends and then there’s Paddy Keenan.” – John O’Regan, Rock’n Reel
“A lyrical player of emotional electricity.” – The Washington Post
Kevin Burke’s fiddle playing has been at the forefront of traditional music for over 30 years. Whether solo or accompanied, on record or in concert, Burke is an immensely engaging performer. He has been established as a first class musician ever since his work in the early 1970s (with such renowned performers as Arlo Guthrie, Christy Moore, and The Bothy Band and with his far-reaching solo album, “If the Cap Fits”). During his long musical career Kevin has earned international acclaim in both Europe and America as a solo performer, a teacher, and as a member of some of folk music’s foremost groups including Celtic Fiddle Festival and Patrick Street. He is a featured member of Grammy winner Tim O’Brien’s wonderful crossover band, The Crossing.
The National Endowment for the Arts acknowledged Kevin’s contribution to music awarding him a National Heritage Fellowship, the USA’s highest honor for excellence in the folk and traditional arts. In Ireland he was given the prestigious Gradam Ceoil award acknowledging him as a master of the tradition.
Although Kevin has spent much of his life playing in a group context, he has never lost his love for solo fiddle music – the “naked fiddle” as he himself sometimes puts it. This is certainly evident in his live solo release, “In Concert,” a performance of mostly unaccompanied traditional pieces.
“Lyric, fluid and precisely as tricky as he needs to be…probably the greatest Irish fiddler living.” – The Village Voice
“Burke is blessed with a silky touch on the bow that effortlessly moves from one note to the next, creating an aural experience unlike any other in Irish traditional music today.” – Irish Echo
“Burke imparts a rhythmic intensity that is remarkably powerful…a superior instrumentalist in any idiom…impressively virtuosic.” – The New York Times
*LiveIreland’s 2017 New Group of the Year*
Sister-brother duo, The Hydes, have recently released an imaginative, fresh, and enthralling take on folk and roots music with their debut album Green & Blue, weaving creatively and decisively through an eclectic musical landscape of Irish, American folk, bluegrass, and beyond. They merge these acoustic styles to create textured instrumentals and rich vocal harmonies in a way that speaks unmistakably of roots in Colorado and Ireland, as well as visits to places in between. Guesting with them on this debut are a host of noted Irish musicians including Tadhg Ó Meachair (piano/piano accordion) and Colm Phelan (bodhrán) of Goitse, Alan Reid (banjo) of Arum, and Christina Dolphin (flute), as well as American bluegrass/jazz/folk bassist Eric Thorin.
From gigs in Nashville to Ireland, sold-out shows at home in Colorado and the Western USA, and most recently Iceland, The Hydes continue to expand their collective, exploratory musical scope. Joanna (fiddle, vocals) and Iain (guitar, mandolin, vocals) grew up in a musical family, traveling the USA to share their music at festivals, house concerts, workshops, and various concert venues from their primary school days onward. Their focus on Irish music first came by way of scholarships to the Augusta Heritage Center’s “Irish Week,” where they studied with James Kelly, Liz Carroll, and Antoin MacGabhann, as well as the late Jerry Holland of Cape Breton, who left an especially indelible mark as he stayed with them on multiple occasions and played many late-night sitting-room sessions in their Colorado home.
“This is a magical duo to watch” – LiveIreland.com
“Iain and Joanna are big talents. Big… Joanna’s fiddle work can be blazing, but is always beautifully controlled and tasteful. She is a fiddle star already…[Iain’s] guitar is VERY current, hip, fab chords and runs—but all very tasteful and intuitively grasping how to support the fireworks being brought by the fiddle…” – Irish Music Magazine
In 2011, Joanna Hyde was selected as one of 10 scholars from across the USA by a panel of renowned arts professors and professionals to receive the Jack Kent Cook Foundation’s Graduate Arts Award. With this generous scholarship, she moved to Ireland to undertake the University of Limerick’s MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance, where she had the opportunity to study with Irish fiddle greats Tommy Peoples, Siobhan Peoples, Martin Hayes, John Carty, Eileen O’Brien, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, and many more. Into her second year there, Joanna began to teach at UL’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWAMD) and sang in an a cappella ensemble with IWAMD teacher Róisín Ní Ghallóglaigh and IWAMD Director Sandra Joyce. During her three years in Ireland, Joanna had the opportunity to perform for former US Ambassador to Ireland Daniel Rooney on RTÉ Radio as part of their Culture Night. She also played for various cultural events in Dublin Castle and revelled in the richness of the session scene around Limerick and Clare.
Iain Hyde has composed, performed, and taught music across the USA. He is highly accomplished on violin/fiddle, having studied classical and various folk styles for a number of years, winning many contests along the way including a place in the top of five of his age division at the National Old-time Fiddler’s Contest. In playing music with Joanna, Iain began to explore a variety of other instruments as well, first finding a love for guitar and later mandolin. Iain’s eclectic guitar voicings stem from studying finger-style blues, Texas swing, and Irish styles. In addition to studying with blues guitarist Mary Flower, he spent a number of summers studying swing and Irish guitar at the Augusta Heritage Festival with noted Irish guitarist Zan McLeod. Paired with his spark for boundless musical exploration, Iain’s versatility as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, and his creativity as a songwriter expand the range of possibilities for the sister-brother duo, The Hydes. Such is illustrated on Green & Blue, which features two originals written by Iain himself, as well as two originals co-written with Joanna.
Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Tadhg O'Meachair (Goitse)
“…gleefully virtuosic…” – Songlines
Tadhg O Meachair, a recent graduate of the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick, has established himself as a force in the world of traditional Irish music. A recent All-Ireland piano title win is among the various awards for piano, piano accordion, and accompaniment that have cemented this fact in the minds of the traditional music community. As well as extensive tours of the US and Europe with Goitse (gwl-tcha), he has performed on a variety of stages around the world to huge crowds and esteemed audiences; from Ireland’s National Concert Hall to Music Crossroads in Zambia and from the infamous Festival Interceltique de Lorient to a garden party hosted by Uachtarán an hÉireann, the President of Ireland.
Tadhg has not only made a name for himself in terms of his performing career. In recent years, he has recorded on many albums and worked with singers and musicians alike, including collaborations with legendary singers Aoife Clancy and Seán Ó Sé. He was also chosen by none other than Dónal Lunny to be the pianist in his ‘Lorg Lunny’ project which was recorded for an eight-episode TV series and culminated in the formation of the band Ciorras.
Tadhg has taught extensively at festivals across Europe and can teach a variety of classes from piano and piano accordion, to accompaniment classes for a range of accompaniment instruments. Having grown up in an Irish-speaking home, and having studied the Irish language to University level, he has even been known to teach a few Irish or ‘Gaelic’ classes.
Tadhg O Meachair is one of the busiest individual musicians in Europe today.”
– Niall Keegan, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance
Tadhg O’Meachair (Goitse)
Máirtín de Cógáin
Máirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling bodhrán player extraordinaire who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs in his native Ireland and all over the US, and between and beyond, too! An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of any collection of people, as large as a concert hall or as small as a porch.
Máirtín learned his singing from many famous Irishmen such as Séamus Mac Mathúna, Danni Maichi Ua Súilleabháin, and Ciarán Dwyer. Storytelling has been in his family for generations. Máirtín’s talents are boundless, having garnered recognition as a storyteller (winning two All-Ireland’s), singer (front man for the Fuchsia Band), dancer, and actor (most notably in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley). A fluent speaker of Irish Gaelic and gifted teacher of Cork’s folk dances, Máirtín makes friends wherever he goes. In a very short time, Máirtín, the Fuchsia Band, and the ‘Project’ have made themselves regulars at some of the most prestigious Irish festivals in the US. Máirtín’s hour-long DVD From Cork with Love, featuring himself and fellow Cork musicians and set in his home county, is beautifully conceived – truly an amazing accomplishment. On the night of a full moon, it is rumored de Cógáin stands at the cross roads playing to the wind. www.mairtinmusic.com
Máirtín de Cógáin
Robbie O’Connell is a beloved singer in his native Ireland and here in America where he eventually settled after touring in the States with his uncles, the Clancy Brothers.
He is also known as a songwriter of vision, awareness and maturity. Robbie was born in Waterford, Ireland, and grew up in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, where his parents had a small hotel. He began to play guitar and sing at age 13 and soon became a regular performer at the hotel’s weekly folk concerts. He spent a year touring the folk clubs in England before enrolling at University College Dublin where he studied Literature and Philosophy. During school vacations Robbie worked as an Irish entertainer in the US. A nephew of the Clancy Brothers, he began touring with his uncles in 1977 and recorded three albums with them.
With the release in 1982 of his first solo album, Close to the Bone, Robbie emerged as an artist of major stature. Soon after, he began touring extensively with Mick Moloney and Jimmy Keane, and also with Eileen Ivers and Seamus Egan in the Green Fields of America. In 1985, the trio’s first album, There Were Roses, was released. Robbie also participated in The Festival of Mountain Music and Dance on a five-nation tour of Latin America. In 1987, the trio followed up their very successful first release with the album, Kilkelly, the title track of which was voted “Best Album Track of the Year” in Ireland.
Robbie has taught songwriting at the Augusta Heritage Arts Workshop in Elkins, West Virginia, Gaelic Roots Week at Boston College, Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Swannanoa Gathering, and at the Summer Acoustic Music Week in Boston. His album of original compositions, Love of the Land, was voted the No. 1 acoustic album of 1989 by WUMB in Boston. In 1991, he won a prestigious Boston Music Award as Outstanding Celtic Act and was also featured in the highly acclaimed TV series Bringing It All Back Home. In 1992 he performed at Carnegie Hall with the Clancy Brothers and was also seen by an estimated 500 million people worldwide on the telecast of a live tribute to Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden, a performance that Rolling Stone magazine described as “breathtaking.”
Never Learned to Dance, his 1993 album of original songs, was critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1994 he headlined a celebration of Boston based Irish Music at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Older But No Wiser, his last CD with the Clancy Brothers was released on Vanguard in 1995, followed in 1997 by the Clancy, O’Connell & Clancy CD and in 1998 by The Wild and WastefulOcean CD with Liam and Dónal Clancy. Robbie O’Connell, Live, Humorous Songs and All on a Christmas Morning with the group Aengus, were released in 1998. Recollections, a twenty-year retrospective collection album, was released in 2001. In 2006 he began an ongoing collaboration with his cousins Aoife and Donal Clancy. The Clancy Legacy, their first CD together, was released in 2010. He is currently working on a new solo CD of his own compositions.
“A National Treasure” is how Ireland’s top music magazine, Hot Press, describes Robbie O’Connell, “…a man blessed with an enviable turn of phrase and a gift for melody bestowed on only the few.”
A native of Edinburgh, Ed Miller first came to the US for “a year or so” to do graduate work at the University of Texas. Now, over 40 years later, he is still based in Austin and travels throughout North America entertaining and educating audiences with his wonderful songs and droll stories.
Ed did gain a PhD in Folklore from UT, and hosts a popular folk music show, Across the Pond, on sunradio.com. Over the past 30 years, he has established himself as one of Scotland’s finest singing exports, and is in great demand to perform at concerts, folk clubs, coffee houses, Celtic festivals, Burns Suppers, and Highland Games all over the country. In recent years, Ed has expanded his activities to include leading folksong tours to Scotland to meet the singers and hear the songs “on location.”
Ed first learned his craft in the pubs and clubs of Edinburgh during the folk revival of the 1960s, and his repertoire reflects the breadth of that movement. From old traditional ballads and the timeless songs of Robert Burns, to contemporary songs of urban change, emigration, nationalism, and humor, Ed Miller’s performances give a real taste of Scotland and reveal his continuing love for his homeland. Don’t be surprised, however, if he draws musical connections between the old country and his adopted home in Texas.
Reviews of Miller’s performances often use words such as “flawless,” “compelling,” or “refreshing,” while his voice has been described as being “as smooth and satisfying as a really good single malt whisky.”
Ed has nine CDs to his credit, the most recent of which is Come Awa’ Wi’ Me. His earlier Lyrics of Gold, a collection of Burns songs, was featured in Sing Out magazine as one of the four best Robert Burns CDs of recent times. www.songsofscotland.com
Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald
Combining the fiery edge of the Scottish Border pipes with the rich sounds of the Cape Breton fiddle, Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald merge traditional influences from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, as well as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This fresh and talented duo pairs driving dance-tunes with expressive Gaelic airs and songs, bringing their listeners a powerful combination of passion and grace.
New York/Cape Breton
Ben Miller traces his interest in traditional music to his exposure to the pipes at a young age, in his hometown of Queensbury, New York, as well as his family’s strong connections to its Scottish and Irish roots, through both his American mother and Canadian father. He began studying the Highland Bagpipes around age eight, but by 12 he began to shift his focus to the bellows-blown Scottish smallpipes and Border pipes. Ben is also an academic, holding an undergraduate degree in Music, as well as a Master’s degree in Scottish Ethnology, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies. His repertoire and style draw mainly on the Gaelic traditions of Western Scotland and the Canadian Maritimes, blended with a healthy dash of Irish tunes for good measure.
Anita MacDonald is an accomplished musician, dancer, and Gaelic singer. She began stepdancing in the family kitchen at the tender age of four, and picked up the fiddle a few short years later, at age eight. Anita has been wowing audiences with her impeccable timing and neatly choreographed steps ever since. Anita’s fiddle playing has a distinctive sound, influenced by the deep roots of her musical family and her teachers throughout the years. Her energetic style has put her in demand as a performer and teacher, across Cape Breton and beyond. She has been a featured artist in the Celtic Colours International Festival, and has toured throughout New England with Cape Breton folk trio, The Goin’s On. Anita is also the recipient of the Frank ‘Big Sampie’ Sampson Award, nominated by the Festival Volunteer Drive’ers Association. Following this award, Anita released her debut album, Stepping Stone, during the 2011 Celtic Colours International Festival.
Ben Miller and Anita MacDonald
Timothy Cummings, a Vermont-based composer and multi-instrumentalist (chiefly a piper), enjoys an uncommonly diverse repertoire. His music spans from contemporary and sacred music to the traditional melodies of the British Isles, Appalachia, Cape Breton, Brittany, and beyond.
Tim earned his undergraduate degree in Music Education (The College of Wooster, Ohio), both a B.A. Honours degree in Ethnomusicology and an M.A. in Musicology (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), and spent a semester at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and National Piping Centre in Glasgow.
Tim was the 2002-03 Artist in Residence at The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada (Summerside, PEI). While living in New Zealand, Tim was a member of the highly competitive Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band. In recent years he has been leading workshops and performing at a variety of festivals and gatherings throughout eastern North America. He is currently on faculty at Middlebury College and the Middlebury Community Music Center, offering private tuition on the Scottish pipes and tin whistle.
In addition to teaching and performing, Tim operates Birchen Music & Publishing, a cottage industry devoted to publishing a diverse array of new music for Scottish-style pipes. He also writes for the National Piping Centre’s Piping Today magazine.
Recent projects have included his first solo album, The Piper in the Holler: Tunes from Appalachia (2012, with backing from Pete Sutherland and Caleb Elder), composing the original score for the indie Scottish film ‘To Kill a Kelpie’ (recorded in 2013), publishing How Can I Keep from Singing?, a collection of songs arranged for voice & smallpipes (2014), and The Wind Among the Reeds, a duo album with Jeremiah McLane (2016).
Tanya Perkins began teaching her workshop ‘Take Your Voice Out of the Shower’ at Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival in 2008 when Scottish singer Alison Bell initiated the festival’s informal singing program where participants could learn favorite traditional songs taught by Festival performers. In 2009 Tanya was asked to help develop a regularly scheduled ‘Singing for Fun’ program. The program and Tanya’s singing workshops have proven to be perennial favorites among festival goers, according to Festival founder, Barbara Yule. Although Tanya does not claim to be a veteran of the Celtic music scene, she does have extensive experience in teaching singing to students of all skill levels with interests across all musical genres. As Tanya herself says, “I don’t have any street credits as a Celtic performer, unlike some of the prestigious performers that bring their talents to Spanish Peaks. However, I can teach you “how” to sing. My goal, especially for my more reticent ‘shower students,’ is to teach them singing techniques so they can have fun and satisfaction singing in a group. I am passionate about teaching new singers and feel strongly that everyone has a voice. Equally, I love helping veterans with subtleties to help elevate their performances.” Performer Bonnie Carol, a student of Tanya’s, categorically states, “Although I haven’t experienced every singing guide, guru, and teacher on the planet, I’m ready to stop any further experimentation and decide we have the best here in Tanya.”
Tanya has taught for NYU’s Musical Theatre Program, the Swallow Hill Music Association, the Academy of the Arts, and Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School. She currently teaches seminars and offers private and group lessons along the Front Range. Tanya has a musical theater background and has performed in venues from Seattle to NY, taking leading roles in such productions as My Fair Lady, Romance, Romance, and A Little Night Music. (“And for you Celts, I played an Irish nun in Nunsense and a Scottish lass in Brigadoon!”) Tanya has released two well-received CDs – Lead Me to the Rock and Still with Thee.
Arlene Patterson, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, lives and teaches in Longmont, Colorado. She has studied and performed violin and fiddle since childhood, counting among her early influences Aberdeen’s celebrated North East fiddler, Bill Hardie, and Dr. Tom Anderson, musical mentor to a generation and pioneering conservator of the musical heritage of the Shetland Islands and its unique style of fiddling playing. Arlene’s special interest in the traditional fiddle music of the Shetlands continues to this day, as does her affinity for teaching others to play and to enjoy playing the fiddle.
Arlene holds a Bachelors of Music Education from the University of Michigan and a Masters of Education from Lesley University. She teaches and performs regularly at traditional music festivals across the US and in the UK, and at top fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and his Scottish Fiddle Camp on Skye. Arlene is a certified national judge for Scottish fiddle championship competitions and is a regular clinician for Suzuki institutes and workshops. She is returning to Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival for an 8th year to teach and play fiddle and lead Scottish ceilidh dancing.
John Crumlin grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. His former job as a manufacturing engineer brought him to the U. in 1981, but he now is a psychologist at the CU Aging Center in Colorado Springs.
He was first exposed to Scottish dancing at school but wasn’t particularly interested. Traditional dancing was just one of the things that Scottish kids had to do in PE, like sit-ups and playing rugby in the freezing rain.
By his early 20s, John’s outlook had changed. On mountaineering trips, he would find himself in the village hall on Saturday night after the pub had closed, desperately trying to figure out the complexities of Strip the Willow or The Eightsome Reel, often still wearing his hiking boots. Those happy evenings got him interested in learning more, but it was only after coming to the US that he really got involved seriously with Scottish dancing. He obtained his first teaching certificate through the Teachers’ Association of Canada in 1990, and his “full” certificate in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2000. For many years, John taught a weekly Scottish dancing class in Colorado Springs. His love of Celtic dance and music has also led him to host The Celtic Show on KRCC.
John appreciates the enthusiasm and friendliness of Scottish dancers, and he really enjoys introducing newcomers to the dances and the dance form. He has led Scottish dancing at the Spanish Peaks Festival since its inception and is looking forward to doing so again at this year’s Festival.
Dave is a 13-time national solo fife champion who grew up in New York City and came into traditional flute playing as a natural extension. He’s twice been a finalist for the All-Ireland world championship on flute and fife (miscellaneous instruments) in consecutive years. His paternal grandmother is from Co. Mayo, Ireland, and his mother is a native of Galicia, Spain, one of the world’s oldest Celtic regions, and he has performed in a variety of venues in both countries. Dave’s been named overall Folk Musician champion at the Longs Peak Scottish–Irish Highland Festival at Estes Park, CO, and holds a variety of other competitive honors in traditional music. He is an award-winning investigative reporter for The Denver Post in his “regular” life.
Jim Remington studied fiddle and tin whistle in Ireland primarily at the famed Willy Clancy School. For 10 years he played fiddle with the Greencastle Band in New England and now teaches guitar, ukulele, tin whistle, songwriting, composition, and music theory at Lakewood School of Music (lakewoodschoolofmusic.com). Jim is also an author whose recent publication, Mostly Short, Mostly True Stories from Ireland, is a compilation of 31 tales of his travels across Ireland from 1978 to 2010 which appeared monthly in the Celtic Connection newspaper, Denver, Colorado.
David and Debbie Kolacny
David Kolacny is co-owner of Kolacny Music, the National Exhibit Chairman for American Harp Society (AHS) Conferences, and President of International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen (ISFHC). David is also the author of The Harps Nouveau Introduction to Harps and Trouble Shooting Your Lever Harp. David started playing the tin whistle in order to demonstrate them in the shop and fell in love. Now he offers beginning and elementary workshops to others who want to learn the instrument. E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deb Kolacny is co-owner of Kolacny Music in Denver. She has been playing harp for twenty-five years. This will be her 11th year teaching the ‘Hands on the Harp’ classes. E-mail to: email@example.com.
David & Debbie Kolacny
Dirk Mewes has been making uilleann pipes in his Berthoud, Colorado workshop since 2010, and he has been playing the pipes since 2000. Dirk learned to make reeds by visiting and studying with different uilleann pipe makers around the world, including Cillian O’Briain, David Quinn, Tim Britton, and Benedict Koehler. Between playing the pipes in Colorado, and travelling all over, he now specializes in making reeds that travel well, and can be played in climates as varied as the high Colorado mountains, rainy Ireland, and muggy St. Louis. In addition to teaching reed-making workshops at various Irish music festivals, such as Spanish Peaks, O’Flaherty’s, and Zoukfest, Dirk enjoys performing with his friends in several bands at various festivals in Colorado. He also enjoys teaching up-and-coming pipers to play the instrument, and dropping-in at the local pub for some session tunes with many of the same friends.