Celtic Week Staff - July 14-20, 2013
Martin Hayes, from East County Clare, began playing the fiddle at the age of seven and went on to win six All-Ireland fiddle championships before the age of nineteen. He is the recipient of numerous awards including “Folk Instrumentalist of the Year” from BBC Radio, “Man of the Year” from the American Irish Historical Society and “Musician of the Year” from TG4, the Irish language television station. Martin has contributed music, both original and traditional, to modern dance performance, theatre, film and television. He is the artistic director of Masters of Tradition, an annual festival in Bantry, County Cork and functions in the same capacity for the touring production of the festival featuring other Irish music masters, including the guitarist Dennis Cahill, with whom Martin has toured the world for the last eighteen years. Their adventurous, soulful interpretations of traditional tunes are recognized the world over for their exquisite musicality and irresistible rhythm. Martin also plays in the trio Triur, with Peadar O Riada and Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, the trio The Teetotallers, with Kevin Crawford and John Doyle, and the band The Gloaming.
So far, Liz Carroll has had a remarkable century. Her two solo albums, Lake Effect and Lost in the Loop used Liz’s hometown of Chicago as the influence for an extraordinary outpouring of new compositions. The latter recording led the Irish Echo to proclaim her their “Traditional Musician of the Year.” Her first duet album with John Doyle, In Play, caused Sing Out! magazine’s Rob Weir to exclaim, “Liz Carroll recordings induce joy and admiration that exhaust this reviewer’s feeble descriptors,” and her 2009 recording with Doyle, Double Play, was nominated for a Grammy, making her the first American-born artist nominated for playing Irish music – ever! On St. Patrick’s Day of that year, Liz travelled to Washington, D.C., to play for fellow Chicagoan, President Obama, at the annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. In 2005, she became a member of String Sisters, a sextet of fiddlers from America, Ireland, the Shetland Islands and Norway, and their 2009 Live album was shortlisted for a Grammy. Prior to these 21st century accolades, Liz won the 1975 All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Championship, was honored when Mayor Daley proclaimed September 18, 1999 as “Liz Carroll Day” in Chicago, and received a National Heritage Award Fellowship in 1994, which honored her as a “Master Traditional Artist who has contributed to the shaping of our artistic traditions and to preserving the cultural diversity of the United States.” 2010 saw the publication of Liz’s first book of compositions, Collected, and in 2011 she was awarded Ireland’s most revered traditional music prize, the Cumadóir TG4 (Composer of the Year).
Nuala Kennedy hails from Co. Louth in the northeast of Ireland. She sings traditional songs in English and Gaelic, plays the flute and low whistle, and is a songwriter and tunesmith. Kennedy’s roots are first and foremost in Irish traditional music, and last year, she released Noble Stranger, her third solo recording. In addition to her own music, Nuala currently performs in Oirialla, with Gerry (fiddle) O’Connor, Breton guitarist Gilles Le Bigot and accordionist Martin Quinn. The band play music from the ancient kingdom of Oriel (Southeast Ulster): older musical gems researched, rediscovered and brought back to life. Oirialla recently recorded an eponymously titled album of this material. A few years ago Nuala also recorded Enthralled, an album of original duets for fiddle and flute with the late great Canadian composer Oliver Schroer, which was released on Borealis Records in 2012. Whatever she is doing, Kennedy always comes back to her traditional Irish roots. Her 2007 debut solo album, The New Shoes, was voted album of the week in the Irish Times, was featured in Hotpress’ Top Ten Folk Albums of the year, and named BBC Radio Scotland’s “Traditional Album of the Year” in 2008. She has received numerous awards and accolades, including several international invited residencies and collaborations, and holds a Master Degree in Music from Newcastle University, a BA (Hons) in Design from Edinburgh College of Art, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education with distinction, the Curse Comais in Gaidhlig.
Born in Birmingham, England, Kevin Crawford’s early life was one long journey into Irish music and Co. Clare, to where he eventually moved while in his 20’s. He was a founding member of Moving Cloud, the Clare-based band who recorded such critically-acclaimed albums as Moving Cloud and Foxglove, and he has also recorded with Grianin, Raise the Rafters, Joe Derrane, Natalie Merchant, Susan McKeown and Sean Tyrrell. Kevin appears on the 1992 recording, The Maiden Voyage, recorded live at Peppers Bar, Feakle, Co. Clare, and appears on the 1994 recording, The Sanctuary Sessions, recorded live in Cruise’s Bar, Ennis, Co. Clare. Kevin now tours the world with Ireland’s cutting-edge traditional band, Lúnasa, called by some the “Bothy Band of the 21st Century,”with eight ground-breaking albums to their credit: Lúnasa, Otherworld, The Merry Sisters of Fate, Redwood, The Kinnity Sessions, Sé, The Story So Far and La Nua. His latest project is the Teetotallers, a supergroup trio that also features Martin Hayes and John Doyle. A virtuoso flute player, Kevin has also recorded several solo albums including The ‘D’ Flute Album, In Good Company, On Common Ground, a duo recording with Lúnasa’s piper, Cillian Vallely, and his most recent, Carrying the Tune.
Our Scottish fiddle instructor from our very first Gathering twenty-one years ago, Brian McNeill celebrates the 42nd year of a career that has established him as one of the most acclaimed forces in Scottish music. Described as “Scotland’s most meaningful contemporary songwriter” by The Scotsman, his work and influence as performer, composer, producer, teacher, musical director, band leader, novelist and interpreter of Scotland’s past, present and future describe a man who has never stood still. He has been a member of several of Scotland’s most influential bands, including Clan Alba and Battlefield Band, which he founded in 1969, and with whom he has performed around the globe. Brian plays fiddle, octave fiddle, guitar, mandocello, bouzouki, viola, mandolin, cittern, concertina, bass and hurdy gurdy, and his many songs about Scotland’s past and future, such as “The Yew Tree,” “The Lads O’ The Fair,” “The Snows of France and Holland,” to name a few, have established him as one of Scotland’s leading songwriters. His first novel, The Busker, was published in 1989, and a year later he left Battlefield Band to concentrate more on writing and solo projects. Another novel, To Answer The Peacock, followed, but he has by no means slackened off on his musical career, touring with Dick Gaughan, Clan Alba, Kavana, McNeill, Lynch and Lupari, Martin Hayes, Natalie MacMaster and Feast of Fiddles. His audio-visual shows, The Back O’ The North Wind, about Scottish emigration to America, and the sequel, with accompanying CD, The Baltic Tae Byzantium, which explores the influence of the Scots in Europe, have won wide critical acclaim. For six years he was Head of Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. His latest novel is In The Grass.
New York-born fiddler Brian Conway is a leading exponent of the highly ornamented Sligo fiddling style made famous by the late Michael Coleman. The winner of two All-Ireland junior titles in 1973 and 1974, and the All-Ireland senior championship in 1986, Brian first studied fiddle with his father, Jim, of Plumbridge, Co. Tyrone, and with Limerick-born teacher/ fiddler Martin Mulvihill. However, it was the legendary fiddler and composer Martin Wynne who taught him the nuances of the County Sligo style. Later, Brian met and befriended the great Andy McGann of New York, a direct student of Michael Coleman, who further shaped his precision and skill on the instrument, and he remains faithful to the rich tradition handed down to him. In 1979, Brian recorded a duet album, The Apple in Winter, with fellow New York fiddler Tony DeMarco. In July of 2002, Brian released his debut solo CD, First through the Gate, on the Smithsonian-Folkways label, which was subsequently chosen as Album of the Year by The Irish Echo. He is also featured on the CD, My Love is in America, recorded at the Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival, and on the documentary, Shore to Shore, which highlights traditional Irish music in New York. With the release in 2008 of his second solo CD, Consider the Source, The Irish Echo selected Brian as their Traditional Irish Artist of the Year. One of the musical ‘rocks’ of the New York area, Brian has also performed all over North America, Ireland and the rest of Europe, and is a noted instructor who has mentored many fine fiddle players, including several All-Ireland champions.
John Doyle is one of Ireland’s most talented and innovative musicians. Originally from Dublin, and now a resident of Asheville, John is an accomplished singer and songwriter, and an extraordinary master of the Irish guitar whose hard-driving style has influenced a generation of players. A founding member of the acclaimed group Solas, his powerful guitar playing provided the signature rhythmic backbone for the band, and his delicate and emotional finger-style playing and creative vocal harmonies can be heard on all four of Solas’ recordings for Shanachie Records. John regularly performs solo, and has toured the world with the likes of Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker, Alison Brown, Joan Baez, Linda Thompson, Mick Moloney, Kate Rusby and a host of other world class performers. John has been featured on over 100 recordings of traditional and contemporary Irish, folk and Americana music, including his most recent, Shadow and Light, a solo recording of all original compositions, and Helping Hands, a collaboration with the late Cape Breton fiddle great and former Gathering staffer, Jerry Holland. He is a great lover of traditional song, an encouraging and enthusiastic teacher, and his nearly non-stop touring, producing and recording schedule attests to his high standing in the world of traditional Irish music. We’re pleased to welcome John back for his seventh Gathering.
Liz Knowles is one of the few classical violinists to become adept at playing in an authentic Irish fiddling style. Her career as a fiddler has included a solo spot on the soundtrack of Neil Jordan’s film, Michael Collins, a two-year run as the soloist with the international touring company of Riverdance, performing as a member of the String Sisters, as a guest soloist with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, and in the Broadway show, The Pirate Queen. She has performed and/or recorded with Tim O’Brien, Don Henley, Rachel Barton Pine, Marcus Roberts, and Paula Cole. For the last three years, she has been the musical director and fiddler for the Irish music and dance show, Celtic Legends, which has toured extensively in Europe, South America and China.
Laura Risk grew up in the thriving San Francisco Scottish fiddle scene of the 1980s and 90s, learning her craft from acclaimed fiddler Alasdair Fraser. Now living in Montreal, Laura tours internationally as a soloist and with her band Triptych. She has over ten albums to her credit, including her latest solo CD, 2000 Miles, on which she teams up with some of Quebec’s hottest traditional and jazz musicians for a new take on tunes from the great Scottish collections of the 18th and 19th centuries. Says Living Tradition, “Laura plays in a powerful, percussive style, with tight control and beautiful tone but bursting with energy and passion, turning reels into romps and slow airs into soul-searches.” Known as an inspirational teacher, Laura has taught fiddling at numerous summer camps and was an Instructor of Fiddling for five years at Wellesley College. She is also a co-author of The Glengarry Collection: The Highland Fiddle Music of Aonghas Grant, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Musicology at McGill University. Laura is thrilled to be returning to Celtic Week again this year!
County Antrim’s Len Graham has been a full-time professional traditional singer since 1982. After he won the All-Ireland Traditional Singing competion in 1971, his passion for the songs of his native Ulster began to grow with his reputation. Len sought out and recorded older singers, and published a book, Here I Am Amongst You, on the songs, dance music and traditions of Joe Holmes. He was a founding member of the group Skylark, with whom he toured extensively for ten years and recorded four albums. In 1993, he released his book and field recording collection, It’s Of My Rambles. Over the years, Len has collaborated and worked with numerous musicians, poets and storytellers. His association with the late John Campbell brought storytelling and song to a world audience, and their work together over twenty years made a significant contribution toward creating a deeper cross-community understanding of shared cultural traditions during many years of conflict in the north of Ireland. Len has recorded numerous albums, performed at many Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, and appeared on many radio and television programs. In 1992, he received the Seán O’Boyle Cultural Traditions Award in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer. In 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for “Traditional Singer Of the Year.” In 2008, he was awarded “Keeper of the Tradition” from the Tommy Makem Festival of Traditional Song and the US Irish Music Award in the “Sean-Nós Singing” category, and in 2011 he was awarded the Gradam na mBard CCÉ (CCÉ Bardic Award) at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Born in Glasgow, Alan Reid has been taking Scottish folk music all over the world since 1975. Invited to join the fledgling Battlefield Band in 1969 by Brian McNeill, he recorded almost 30 albums with this hard-working and enduring band, garnering a respected reputation for his original keyboard work and his singing. With encouragement from band mates, he began writing in the 1980s, and from 1990 was the band’s principal songwriter, writing songs often noted for their storytelling element while being grounded in Scots history. His first songbook, Martyrs, Rogues and Worthies, was published in 2001, and in 2009 he was nominated as Composer of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards. Alan also contributed to Linn Records’ mammoth CD series recording the complete songs of Robert Burns. After 40 years or so with the ‘Batties,’ he left in 2010 to concentrate on his duo with guitarist/singer Rob van Sante. Their most recent album is a portrait of the colourful life of Scots-born sailor and American Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, a project for which Alan composed all the songs and music. The album was premiered at the 2011 Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival (near Jones’ birth place) in performances that incorporated drama also scripted by Alan.
Cathie Ryan has been in the vanguard of Irish music for over 25 years. She is one of Irish music’s most emulated singers, and is also a respected educator who has taught workshops on Irish traditional singing, myth and folklore throughout North America and Ireland, including several years at the Gathering. Born in Detroit to Irish parents from Kerry and Tipperary, she grew up in a home steeped in singing and storytelling and continues to research, excavate, and sing the old songs. She is critically-acclaimed for her crystalline voice, a singing style that incorporates the ‘sean nós’ music she grew up with, an unerring taste in songs, solid songwriting, and excellence in recording and performance. Her career in Irish music is the result of a deep and abiding love of Irish traditions. Cathie tours internationally with her band, headlining at performing arts centers, festivals, and guest starring with symphony orchestras. She has released five CDs and is featured on over 50 compilations of Irish music.
Kimberley Fraser was born on Cape Breton Island and nurtured within its rich musical heritage. She first impressed audiences at the age of three with her step-dancing talents, and soon thereafter took up both the fiddle and the piano. She has performed around the world, from touring Sweden with Cherish the Ladies, to performing at the Celtic Connections festival in Scotland and entertaining NATO troops in Afghanistan. Kimberley holds an honours degree in Celtic Studies and a minor in Jazz from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, and is also a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. An advocate for the importance of traditional music education, she has been a long-time instructor at Cape Breton’s Gaelic College and Ceilidh Trail Music School as well as teaching at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp, the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes, and the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Aberdeen, Scotland. Following the success of her award-winning recording, Falling on New Ground, Kimberley is currently working on her third album.
Gráinne Hambly comes from County Mayo in the west of Ireland. She started to play Irish music on the tin whistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp. She lived in Belfast for six years, where she completed a Master’s Degree in Musicology at Queen’s University. Her main research topic concerned folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. In 1994, she was awarded first prize in the senior All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil competitions for harp and concertina. As well as being an established performer touring extensively throughout Europe and North America, she is also a qualified teacher of traditional Irish music and is in great demand at summer schools and festivals both in Ireland and abroad. Gráinne was awarded the T.T.C.T. (a certificate for teaching traditional Irish music at advanced level, credited by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the Irish Department of Education), and has also received her Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) from the University of Limerick. She has released three widely-acclaimed solo harp CDs and a collaborative CD with William Jackson, as well as appearing on a number of other recordings.
At age seven, Cillian Vallely began learning the whistle and pipes from his parents, Brian and Eithne at the Armagh Pipers Club, a group that has fostered the revival of traditional music in the north of Ireland for over three decades. Since leaving college, he has played professionally and toured all over North America, Eu- rope, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. He has also performed and toured with Riverdance, Tim O'Brien's The Crossing, New York- based Whirligig, and the Celtic Jazz Collective. He has recorded on over forty albums including Callanbridge, with his brother Niall, and various guest spots with Natalie Merchant, Alan Simon's Excalibur project with Fairport Convention and the Moody Blues, GAIA with the Prague Philharmonic and Karan Casey. He has recently recorded on two movie soundtracks, Irish Jam, and Chatham, and played pipes on the BBC's Flight of the Earls soundtrack. Since 1999, he has been a member of the band, Lúnasa, one of the world's premier Irish bands, with whom he has recorded five albums and played at many major festivals and venues including WOMAD, the Edmonton Folk Festival and The Hollywood Bowl.
Dónal was born in 1975 and spent most of his early childhood in Canada and the U.S. before his family settled back in An Rinn, Co. Waterford, Ireland, in 1983. He grew up in a household and community rich in music and started to play the guitar at the age of eight. In 1995, he co-founded the group Danú, but departed soon after to tour with his father, the famed Liam Clancy, and his cousin, Robbie O’Connell. Since then, Dónal has performed with many other top names in Irish music, including Solas, The Eileen Ivers Band and The Chieftains, and appears on dozens of recordings. In 2003, Dónal rejoined his friends in Danú, and the band was awarded the prize for “Best Group” at the 2004 BBC 2 Folk Awards. 2006 saw the release of Dónal’s critically-acclaimed solo debut, Close To Home, which The Boston Globe declared to be “a sweet masterpiece of melodic grace and riveting groove.”
Billy Jackson has been a major figure in traditional Scottish music for over thirty-five years, and was a founding member of the influential folk group, Ossian, whose outstanding recordings remain a benchmark for Scottish music. Acclaimed for his musicality on the Celtic harp, he is also a renowned composer whose work is inspired by the history and landscape of Scotland. In 1999, his song, “Land of Light” was selected as the winner of The Glasgow Herald’s year-long Song For Scotland competition, coinciding with the restoration of the Scottish Parliament, to select a “new anthem for a new era in Scotland.” As a solo performer, he has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, and has taught harp at many festivals, including the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, Somerset Folk Harp Festival, Ohio Scottish Arts School (Oberlin) and the Rio International Harp Festival. Billy is also a trained music therapist, and in 2004, he received our Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement. As part of his work combining traditional and classical music, Billy has performed with, and composed for, a variety of orchestras including The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Asheville Symphony and Cape Cod Symphony. Billy headed the music therapy program at Mission Hospital in Asheville for 10 years, and he now works part-time in music therapy in Sligo, Ireland.
A San Francisco native, Marla is a long-time feature of the Bay Area Irish music scene, and an unapologetic proponent of the mandolin in Irish music. She brings a musicality and excitement to the tradition that is not often heard on the mandolin. Her dynamic playing is featured both on her CD with Three Mile Stone, and on The Morning Star, a duo CD with Jimmy Crowley, an all instrumental project which features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments – mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bouzouki, and dordan. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar and button accordion. She sings and writes music, and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students, and has been a staff instructor at many music camps, including The Mandolin Symposium, California Coast Music Camp, Lark Camp and Portal Irish Music Week.
Scottish singer, folklorist and writer Margaret Bennett was brought up in a family of tradition bearers, Gaelic on her mother’s side (from the Isle of Skye) and Lowland Scots on her father’s. With an MA in Folklore and a PhD in Ethnology, this former lecturer at the University of Edinburgh School of Scottish Studies wears her scholarship lightly while widely regarded as “Scotland’s foremost folklorist”. She currently teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, sings, tells stories and lectures on both sides of the Atlantic. A recent Scottish Arts Council festival reviewer noted, “(it’s) rare to witness such a charismatic and fascinating raconteur.” A prize-winning author, she has nine books to her credit and contributions to over thirty others. One of our most popular guests at the Swanannoa Gathering, she was the 1998 recipient of the Master Music Maker Award “in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching”. In 2011 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music in Glasgow and in 2012 Honorary Professor of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. She is also known for collaborations with her son, the late Martyn Bennett, featuring in theatre and film, including the world-acclaimed play, The Black Watch. She is also featured in a new film, Ruadhan the Bard, due to be released in 2013. Hamish Henderson wrote, “Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland.”
Andrew is a two-time finalist at the All-Ireland Championships and has performed with many Irish luminaries, including John Doyle, Liz Carroll, Altan, Aidan O’Rourke, Flook, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, Liz Knowles, Kieran O’Hare and Daithi Sproule. At age 17, he released his first CD of Irish fiddle music, Drive & Lift, featuring fellow SG staffers John Doyle and John Skelton, that Sing Out! magazine called “a stunning debut... the perfect balance of precision and intensity.” Cuts from that CD have been featured several times on NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock. In 2009, he was awarded a Fulbright-MtvU fellowship to develop a concept album about the human story of AIDS in Malawi, southern Africa. Working with Malawian musical icon Peter Mawanga, their recording, Mau a Malawi: Stories of AIDS, was released in October 2011 in the United States and Africa. Sales from the CD are invested in programs to keep vulnerable Malawian children in school and empower them through the arts. Andrew has served as an instructor in Irish fiddle at the Swannanoa Gathering for four years. He performs in Europe with the Celtic Legends music and dance revue, the Paul McKenna Band, 2009 Scots Trad Music winners of “Best Up & Coming Band,” and many artists around the New York City area where he resides.
London-born flute and whistle player John Skelton is probably best known to American audiences from his work with The House Band, with whom he recorded eight albums on the Green Linnet label. He has also released a solo album, One At a Time, and Double Barrelled, a highly regarded album of flute duets with Kieran O’Hare, as well as a series of tune collection books, A Few Tunes, A Few More Tunes, Yet More Tunes and Some Breton Tunes. John has performed at most of the major folk festivals in North America Europe and Australia. He is an experienced teacher, and has taught at summer schools in the United States, Europe and Africa, and fifteen previous years at the Gathering. In addition to his background in Irish music, John is also well-schooled in the music of Brittany. He visits there regularly, and is a highly-regarded player of the Breton bombarde, a double-reed folk shawm. NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock described him as “the finest bombarde player outside of Brittany.” He also plays the ‘Piston’ (Low Bombarde), the ‘Veuze’ (the bagpipe of eastern Brittany) and the ‘Gaita Gallega’ (Galician pipes). John serves as the ‘Host’ of Celtic Week.
While growing up in Dublin, Eamon developed an interest in Irish music through his friendship with the Mayock family, noted traditional musicians originally from County Mayo. When he moved to New York City in 1992, he met guitarist John Doyle and fiddle player Patrick Ourceau, among others, and has since become a fixture in the city’s thriving Irish music scene. Eamon has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, performing with many of Irish music’s great players, including Paddy Keenan, Mick Moloney, Tommy Peoples, and James Keane, and has recorded with singer Susan McKeown and flute player Emer Mayock. In addition to his performance schedule, Eamon has taught at numerous music programs including the Augusta Heritage Center, the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Alaska Irish Music Camp and several years at the Gathering. In 2012, Eamon released a recording of traditional songs, The Murphy Beds, with Jefferson Hamer.
Born in Bedford, England to a father from Errislannan, Co. Galway, and a mother from Newtown Forbes, Co. Longford, Kathleen first took lessons in her hometown at an early age from from Clare musician Brendan Mulkere, a well-regarded teacher in and around London. She was also heavily influenced by her father, Michael, a well-known fiddle, accordion and tinwhistle player. The Conneely home was often filled with music from records, tapes and live sessions with many visiting musicians. In 1991, she appeared with her father, Mick Sr., brother, Mick Jr., fiddle and banjo player John Carty and flutist Roger Sherlock on RTE’s The Pure Drop. Kathleen has lived, played and taught music in several cities, such as Birmingham, London, Dublin, Chicago and Boston. She has been privileged to have played with many great musicians over the years and has taught for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (parent organization of the All-Ireland Championships) in Dublin and Boston, at the Boston College Irish Studies Program, the Irish Arts Week in the Catskills. and eight years at the Gathering.
Matthew has been performing and teaching as a percussionist and dancer since 1996. He began attending festivals and music events at an early age with his father’s flute business, and in 2005, released an album with his brother Aaron Olwell and their band, Hell on the Nine Mile. Partly self-taught, Matthew studied percussion with Myron Bretholtz, Benoit Bourque and Steve Bloom, and with some of the finest teachers in percussive dance, including Donny Golden, Eileen Carson, and The Fiddle Puppets. He danced for nine years with the Maryland-based Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, traveling across North America and Europe, and appearing in Riverdance, and in 2006 he co-founded Good Foot Dance Company. Matthew has performed with James Leva, John Skelton, Lúnasa, Eileen Ivers, Matapat, Uncle Earl, Liz Carroll, Tim O’Brien, and Bassekou Kouyate. He has taught at many camps and festivals including the Augusta Heritage workshops, Pinewoods, Timber Ridge, Boxwood and Ogontz, and he is very happy to be returning to Swannanoa in 2013!
Maldon Meehan is a performer and teacher of Irish sean-nós and set dance. She holds a BA in Irish Studies from The Evergreen State College and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick, Ireland. She has been teaching since 1994, and in 2008 received a Regional Arts and Cultures grant. In 2005, she released an instructional DVD of sean-nós dance with Ronan Regan. Maldon has performed and/or taught at the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the Boffin (Ireland) Arts Festival, the Friday Harbor Irish Music Camp in Washington, Sean-nós Milwaukee, and, in Massachusetts, the Irish Connections Festival, and Brian O’Donovan’s Christmas Celtic Sojourn. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she holds regular classes at her own Maldon Meehan Dance Studio.
Called a “Celtic guitar god” by the Baltimore City Paper, Robin Bullock’s virtuosity on guitar, cittern and mandolin blends the ancient melodies of the Celtic lands, their vigorous Appalachian descendants, and the timeless masterworks of the Baroque and Renaissance eras into one powerful musical vision. Robin is a winner of “Editor’s Pick” and “Player’s Choice” Awards from Acoustic Guitar magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-music trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, Kansas. His twelve solo and collaborative recordings include Celtic Guitar Summit with fellow Guitar Week staffer Steve Baughman, named one of the top CDs of 2003 by Acoustic Guitar; Rosewood Castle, featuring duets with guitar legends Alex de Grassi, Tony McManus, John Doyle, Al Petteway and Steve Baughman; and his latest, Majesty and Magic: Music of Bach, Dowland and Carolan for Solo Guitar. In addition to his solo work, Robin also tours internationally with Grammy-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including Tom’s 2010 and 2012 “Together at Last” tours with Janis Ian. This is Robin’s eighteenth Gathering.
Rose Flanagan is a traditional Irish fiddle teacher from Rockland County in New York who originally began music lessons as a child with Martin Mulvilhill while growing up in the Bronx. She further developed her Sligo-style of playing with the help of Martin Wynne and her older brother, Brian. She currently has a large fiddle school in her hometown of Pearl River, NY, where she is hard at work preparing the next generation of great fiddle players, which already includes several All-Ireland champions and medalists. Rose has been an instructor at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, Alaska Fiddle Camp, Irish Dance Camp in Harrison Hot Springs, BC, the O’Flaherty Retreat in Texas, Banjo Burke Festival, MAD week in Maryland and the Fiddle and Pick camp in Tennessee. She has taught weekend workshops in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. She also runs various seisuns and plays with her group, the Green Gates Ceili band in the tri-state area. We’re pleased to welcome her back for her second Gathering.
The Coordinator of Celtic Week is an award-winning songwriter and instrumentalist and a three-time finalist for College Entertainer of the Year. He is the founding Director of the Swannanoa Gathering Folk Arts Workshops at Warren Wilson College, directs the Celtic Series of Mainstage Concerts at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre, and in 1994, was awarded the first Fellowship in Songwriting and Composition from the North Carolina Arts Council. He performs solo on guitar, cittern, bodhran and vocals, and with his wife Beth (flute) and son Andrew (fiddle) as the Celtic trio, The Magills. With numerous album and performance credits, including appearances with Emmy Lou Harris and Tom Paxton, Jim’s original songs have been covered by such artists as Mike Cross, The Smith Sisters, Cucanandy and the Shaw Brothers, and have been featured on NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock. In the world of graphic arts, his cover designs for the Gathering’s catalogs have won nine design awards, he’s twice been a finalist for Photoshop World’s Guru Awards, and he has served as a consultant on website design for several luthiers.
“Laugh Often” is Denisa’s motto and one she is quite happy to follow herself. “Queen D” will bring her high-spirited, creative energies to the Swannanoa Gathering for another summer. She is a multi-talented and innovative organizer who has managed to retain a child’s viewpoint on the world. Just ask any kid Denisa’s real age and you will be told “she’s 8 years old of course... because of the magic spell cast upon her!” Denisa is the Director (and creator) of the LEAFlet Kids Village at the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) and the Owner/Director of Owls Nest - After School Care. Puppet theatres, costume tents, instrument petting zoos, and booking kid/family bands are all in a day’s work, along with pie fights, leading parades, parachutes, bubbles, squirt guns and a humongous collection of silly and traditional camp songs! She provides wild & wacky games and activities for families and kids everywhere. As a children’s arts & games specialist, Denisa is thrilled to bring her zany songs, awesome crafts and good times to the Gathering for the 20th year, as she teaches and coordinates the Children’s Program during Traditional Song, Celtic and Old-Time Weeks.