Gerry O’Connor comes from Dundalk in Co. Louth, and was taught by his mother, Rose, who was a descendant of three generations of fiddle players. With a focus on his local music of the Oriel region, he is known world-wide as a soloist and as a founding band member of Lá Lugh, Skylark and Oirialla. His playing is noted for its vibrancy and pulsating rhythm which he attributes to his early years of step-dancing. He has recorded 14 albums, with his first solo album, Journeyman hailed as a landmark album of Irish fiddle music, and he has performed with all of the leading performers of the Irish music world including members of the Chieftains, Boys of the Lough, Planxty, De Dannan and the Bothy Band. Gerry has published a book of Cathal McConnell’s songs, I Have Travelled This Country, and his recent publication, The Rose in the Gap, is a collection of the dance music of Oriel recorded at the turn of the 20th century. A winner of the prestigious Ródaíocht Bardic Award at the the 2018 All Ireland Fleadh for his valuable cultural contribution to Irish music, Gerry is also highly regarded as a violin-maker and music producer, and is in constant demand as a music tutor. His second solo album, Last Night’s Joy is now available on Lughnasa Music.
Since she was 18, when she astounded the Celtic music world by winning the Senior All-Ireland Fiddle Championship, Liz Carroll has been amazing audiences around the globe. She has been called a “virtuoso” (The Irish Times), a “celebrated torchbearer” (Lexington Herald-Leader), and a “master of Irish traditional music” (NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock). She is a NEA National Heritage Fellow, a 2009 Grammy nominee (“Best Traditional World Album,” Double Play with John Doyle), one of our Master Music Makers, and the first American-born recipient of the TG4 Gradam Cheoil for Cumadoir/Composer – Ireland’s most significant music prize. Liz’s recordings are, in the majority, her own compositions, and they have given her a stature equal to that of her playing. She is celebrated for invigorating the traditional styles of Irish music, and her compositions have entered the repertoire of Irish and Celtic performers throughout the world. The first part of 2020 finds Liz celebrating the release of her new tunebook. In April, Liz will be welcomed into the 2020 Class of the Irish American Hall of Fame, in the Arts and Humanities category, along with Conan O’Brien. Finally, Liz has appearances in Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Texas, and Ireland & England before she plunks herself down for her favorite week – the Swannanoa Gathering.
Nuala is known for her creative reworking and reimagining of traditional songs and for her unique Irish flute style, formed in Dundalk, County Louth and honed in her long-time adopted home of Edinburgh, Scotland. With four solo albums to her credit, Nuala is a musical adventurer who is known world-wide as a superlative performer of traditional music. She has graced the cover of Irish Music Magazine, Sing Out! and regularly appears on the mainstage at festivals around the world. Her roots are first and foremost in Irish music, but she’s ‘something of a genre bender’ according to Living Tradition magazine and last year released a stunning live album with two Norwegian musicians as Snowflake Trio. Nuala performs with Oirialla, playing music from her native area alongside fiddler Gerry O’ Connor, and with The Alt (John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary)
Kieran O’Hare is a highly respected and sought-after performer of Irish music on the uilleann pipes, flute, and tinwhistle. While attending university at Trinity College, Dublin, he was the first American-born player of Irish music invited to perform in the annual ‘Ace and Deuce of Piping’ concert, held in Ireland’s National Concert Hall. Kieran has since performed at countless festivals and concerts across North America, Europe, and Asia, with such artists as Liz Carroll, Mick Moloney, the late Jerry Holland, Bonnie Raitt, the Paul Winter Consort, Josh Groban, and Don Henley. He has appeared in the film Road to Perdition, the Broadway musical The Pirate Queen, the PBS special presentation Celtic Origins with the Irish choral group Anúna, and as a soloist at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra. Kieran works internationally with his wife Liz Knowles in the production and design of large-scale theatrical and musical productions, and he is currently artistic director of ‘Fête de la St. Patrick et de la Bretagne’ in France. Kieran and Liz also perform with Pat Broaders in the acclaimed trio, Open the Door for Three, which has just released its third album, The Joyful Hour. Kieran serves on the Board of Directors of Ná Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin, Ireland, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of uilleann piping worldwide, and of The Northeast Tionól, North America’s premier uilleann piping event.
Born in Birmingham, England, Kevin Crawford’s early life was one long journey into Irish music and Co. Clare, 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. He now tours the world with Ireland’s cutting-edge traditional band, Lúnasa, called by some the “Bothy Band of the 21st Century,”with nine ground-breaking albums to their credit. A recent 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, Carrying the Tune, a duo recording with Lúnasa’s piper, Cillian Vallely, and a trio project with Dylan Foley & Patrick Doocey, The Drunken Gaugers.
Laura Risk’s fiddling has been described by filmmaker Ken Burns as “a revelation and achingly beautiful” and Living Tradition hails her “powerful, percussive style… bursting with energy and passion.” Originally from California, now living in Montreal, Laura performs and teaches Scottish and Québécois fiddling internationally and has over a dozen albums to her credit. Laura has toured with Cordelia’s Dad, Triptych, Ensemble Galilei, and dancer Sandy Silva; served as musical director for ensembles Childsplay and Revels North; and produced seven albums, including three for fiddler Hanneke Cassel. Her research credits include articles in Ethnomusicology and MUSICultures, co-authorship of The Glengarry Collection: The Highland Fiddle Music of Aonghas Grant (Mel Bay), and the CD-booklet Douglastown: Music and Song from the Gaspé Coast, awarded the 2014 Prix Mnémo. Laura recently joined the University of Toronto at Scarborough as an Assistant Professor of Music and Society.
Win was born and raised in New York City of Irish parents and received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Mannes School of Music, where she studied violin, piano, music theory and composition. She received a Bachelors degree in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, attended the Aspen Music School in Colorado, and has played with multiple orchestras including the Boston Pops. A nine-time National Irish Step-dancing champion, she was a member of Cherish the Ladies as a dancer and fiddle player, and co-founded the band, Solas with whom she toured the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia for 22 years. She appears on numerous recordings with Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Seamus Egan, Damian Dempsey, Declan O’Rourke, Liz Carroll, Pierce Turner and multiple soundtracks. Win has recorded four solo albums and twelve albums with Solas, and has been on the faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston for the last five years.
John Doyle is one of Ireland’s most talented and innovative musicians. Originally from Dublin, and now a longtime resident of Asheville, John is an accomplished singer and songwriter, multi-Grammy nominee, 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 sensitive and emotional fingerstyle playing and creative vocal harmonies can be heard on four of Solas’ recordings as well as dozens of other recordings. John regularly performs solo, and has also toured the world with such artists as Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Linda Thompson, Jerry Douglas, The Alt, Usher’s Island, Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Michael McGoldrick & John McCusker, Alison Brown, 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, and is a great lover of traditional song, and an encouraging and enthusiastic teacher. We’re pleased to welcome one of our Master Music Makers back for his fourteenth Gathering.
All-Ireland fiddle finalist, Ropeadope Recording artist and Fulbright Fellow Andrew Finn Magill has been building his career on traditional Irish music for for twenty years. He grew up at The Swannanoa Gathering, where he studied every summer with dozens of the best fiddlers in the world. At age 18, his debut album, Drive & Lift was featured on NPR, and he has released six albums since in genres as varied as traditional Irish, Brazilian and Afro-pop. His Irish trad. recording, Roots debuted at #46 on the folk DJ charts. Finn’s music has been featured on Avianca Airlines in-flight entertainment and garnered more than a million listens on streaming platforms. He has performed with such luminaries of Irish music as John Doyle, Altan, Flook, Liz Carroll and many others at festivals from Milwaukee Irish Fest to Celtic Connections. He is a 2019 North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship recipient and and tours regularly with Dave Curley (of Slide and One for the Foxes), Alan Murray (The Colin Farrell Band), Seán Gray (The Paul McKenna Band), his own Brazilian group, Canta, Violino!, and as a solo artist and as a sideman for various other artists.
Brian Holleran grew up in Jersey City, NJ in an Irish family. His interest in traditional Irish music was first piqued at the age of twelve after listening to the session recording, Music at Matt Molloy’s and later with his father’s trad. vinyl collection. His mother found him a tin whistle instructor in Maura Vesey and finally came flute lessons with Mike Rafferty of Ballinakill, East Co. Galway. Mike taught Brian the bulk of his music and would become Brian’s biggest influence and source of encouragement. In addition to many tunes, Mike taught Brian about the many musicians who came out of East Galway and the distinctive traits of that regional style. Brian was also influenced by Willie Kelly and Patrick Ourceau, two of the greatest exponents of Irish fiddle in the United States, who shared with him a love and respect for Mike’s music as well as that of Jack Coen, a later influence on Brian’s playing. Brian has also found inspiration in the recordings of Joe Cooley, Bobby Casey and Matt Molloy. He has taught at the Chris Langan Weekend in Toronto and at Irish Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia.
Katie McNally grew up playing Scottish and Cape Breton music in Boston, Massachusetts. A member of the cross-genre fiddle supergroup, Childsplay, Katie has also toured with Karan Casey, John Whelan, Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez, and performs regularly in her own projects, Fàrsan and the Katie McNally Trio. Her most recent album, The Boston States, has been featured on NPR (The World, Thistle and Shamrock) and was hailed as “one of the best modern Cape Breton records of the past ten years” by Irish Music magazine). She has appeared at Celtic Colours, Celtic Connections, Newport Folk Festival, and The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, as well as countless folk venues throughout North America and Europe. In addition to her busy touring schedule, she is a devoted educator who teaches regularly at fiddle courses and gives private lessons at her home in Portland, ME.
After he won the All-Ireland Traditional Singing competion in 1971, Len’s passion for the songs of his native Ulster began to grow with his reputation, and he has been a full-time professional traditional singer since 1982. Len sought out and recorded older singers, and his book, Here I Am Amongst You, explores 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. Len has collaborated and worked with numerous musicians, poets and storytellers, and his twenty year association with the late John Campbell 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, and in 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for “Traditional Singer Of the Year.” He’s also been awarded “Keeper of the Tradition” from the Tommy Makem Festival of Traditional Song, and the US Irish Music Award for “Sean-Nós Singing” , as well as the “Gradam na mBard CCÉ” (CCÉ Bardic Award) at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
County Roscommon-born Cathy Jordan has been a professional singer with the Irish traditional group Dervish for over 23 years now. She is also a self-taught guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán and bones player. She has led Dervish as front-woman through thousands of concerts in hundreds of cities in nearly 40 countries. The most notable perhaps were performances at the Great Wall of China, and the biggest rock music festival in the world – Rock in Rio, to over 250,000 people. Cathy is also a successful songwriter and has co-written with the likes of Brendan Graham, best known for the smash hit “You Raise Me Up.” Recently, Cathy has taken up the role of TV presenter and has presented the award-winning Fleadh TV for the last four years.
Dáithí Sproule is a native of Derry in the north of Ireland, a renowned traditional singer in both Irish and English, and one of the world’s premier guitarists in the Irish tradition. He pioneered the use of DADGAD tuning in the accompaniment of Irish music, a style now used around the world, and is a member of the seminal Irish bands Skara Brae (with Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Maighread & Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill), Trian (with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey) and Altan, with whom he continues to tour and record. He has worked with many other greats, including Tommy Peoples, James Kelly, Paddy O’Brien, Randal Bays, Seamus and Manus McGuire, Peter Ostroushko, James Keane and bluesman Dave Ray. Dáithí has also taught Old Irish language, Celtic mythology and Irish music at several universities in Ireland and the U.S., and is the author of a volume of short stories in Irish and several academic articles on early Irish poetry and legend. He currently teaches at the Center for Irish Music in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Called “One of the brightest fiddlers around today” by WGBH radio’s A Celtic Sojourn host Brian O’Donovan, multistyle violinist Mari Black has delighted audiences around the world with her energetic playing, sparkling stage presence, and dazzlingly virtuosic fiddling. Mari made her entrance onto the international stage when she became the Glenfiddich Fiddle Champion of Scotland, a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and a two-time Canadian Maritime Fiddle champion, all within a three-year period. She’s performed at Celtic festivals, Highland Games, celebrated folk venues, world music concert series, and acclaimed classical concert venues including Carnegie Hall. She’s performed in Brazil, Scotland, Canada, China, Korea, Zimbabwe, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy and France, and works as a teacher, performance coach, dancer, competition judge and musical ambassador dedicated to connecting people through music. Mari has taught workshops at the Acadia Trad School, the Jink & Diddle School of Scottish Fiddling, the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp, the Tanglewood Festival, the Yale School of Music, and more. Her compositions have won several awards, including a Gold Medal from the MASC International Songwriting Competition.
Gráinne Hambly comes from Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland. She started to play Irish music on the tinwhistle 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 Billy Jackson, as well as appearing on a number of other recordings.
Born in London, in his youth John was blessed to play with some great names of an older generation of players, such as Lucy Farr, Brian Rooney and Bobby Casey, to name but a few. After winning his first three All-Ireland button accordion competitions, he recorded his first LP, The Pride of Wexford, at the age of fourteen and an EP with Christine Considine, produced by the legendary Finbarr Dwyer. He made several appearances on RTE and British television before moving to the US in 1980 where he teamed up with Eileen Ivers, culminating in the recording, Fresh Takes with Mark Simos on guitar. In 1990, he released a solo CD, From The Heart, and in 1996, he signed with Narada Records and wrote, recorded and produced seven CDs, bringing him into the Top Ten on the Billboard World Music charts with sales in excess of one million. Since coming to the US, John has helped no less than four students claim the All-Ireland button accordion Championship. Two of those students became professional players, Buddy Connolly (Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul) and John McGroary (Blackthorn). Teaching has always been a passion for John and not just limited to button accordion: he also taught the great Karen Tweed, five-time All-Ireland piano accordion player from England. John has also appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show and in two films, Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee and Gods & Generals, directed by Ron Maxwell. He recently formed a new band called Gailfean, featuring lifelong friend Brian Conway, with Máirtín de Cógáin and Don Penzien.
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 four decades. Since leaving college, he has played professionally and toured all over North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. He appears on over sixty albums including guest spots with Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Merchant and Alan Simon’s Excalibur project with Fairport Convention and the Moody Blues. He has also performed and toured with Riverdance, Tim O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Whirligig, and the Celtic Jazz Collective. Since 1999, he has been a member of Lúnasa, one of the world’s premier Irish bands, with whom he has recorded nine albums and played at many major festivals and venues including WOMAD, Glastonbury, Edmonton Folk Festival, Carnegie Hall and The Hollywood Bowl.
Will MacMorran is a multi-talented musician, audio engineer, and educator based in Johnson City, TN. Will has had the honor of touring with The Chieftains as their guitar player for the past few years and has spent 15 years touring nationally and internationally with well-known artists in the Celtic, pop, and country genres. Will started piping at a young age and quickly added the guitar, whistles, accordion, and bouzouki, among other instruments, to his skill set. In addition to touring, Will currently teaches in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Program and is the Department Head of Entertainment Technology at Northeast State Community College.
Billy Jackson was a founding member of the influential folk group Ossian in 1976, a band whose outstanding recordings remain a benchmark for Scottish music, and a member of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. 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 international festivals. Billy is also a trained music therapist, and in 2004, he received our Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement. 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.
Dave Cory has been playing Irish and American folk music on tenor banjo, mandolin, bouzouki and other fretted instruments for over twenty years. Throughout years of gigging and recording, Dave has contributed to numerous independent projects and releases, from pub sessions to theatre soundscapes, and instructional camps to touring groups. After early classical guitar lessons, and chance hearings of the Chieftains and the Bothy Band, Dave started spending as much of summer as possible traveling to trad music festivals and summer schools in Ireland each year, before moving to Boston and working with the wildly active music community there. Since then, Dave has recorded and gigged with The Magic Square, Eliot Grasso, Bridgetown, Lissa Schneckenburger and the McKassons, to name a few of many, and teaches regularly at his home in Oakland, CA.
Dave Curley is one of Ireland’s leading multi-instrumentalists, vocalists and a champion step dancer. Hailing from Co. Galway on the west coast of Ireland, Curley has worked with the award-winning traditional group, Slide, for the past 10 years and also spent 5 successful years with award-winning American Roots band, Runa. More recently, Curley has joined forces with musically diverse multi-instrumentalist Andrew Finn Magill, and is also a creative member of Crannua, featuring Moya Brennan, John Doyle, Ashley Davis, Mick McCauley and Eamonn & Cormac DeBarra. Curley has a BA in Irish Music and Dance from the University of Limerick, four years teaching experience at The Music Academy, State College PA, and has taught at O’Flaherty’s Retreat in Texas, the Milwaukee Irish Fest School of Music, and has presented many music workshops at colleges, festivals and music schools around the US with Slide, Runa and Sligo fiddler, Manus McGuire.
From the folk clubs of Scotland in the 1960s and 70s to the festivals, coffeehouses and music camps of America, Ed Miller has steadily established himself as one of the finest Scottish singers of both contemporary and traditional songs. He has been a regular staff member of Swannanoa’s Celtic Week for more than two decades, where his love and knowledge of Scots song, paired with a droll sense of humor, made him an excellent and popular teacher. Originally from Edinburgh, Ed has been based in Austin, TX for many years, where he received a PhD in Folklore from the University of Texas, but over the past 30 years he has gradually moved from academia to full-time performing. He hosts a folk music show on SunRadio.com in Austin, leads folk music tours to Scotland each summer, and has released ten CDs of traditional and contemporary Scottish song, including his most recent, Follow the Music.
Liz Knowles has brought her distinctive sound – the fire and finesse of Irish fiddle music combined with the tonal richness of the classical violin – to countless venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Broadway, the Kennedy Center, l’Olympia in Paris, and theatres and festivals from Shanghai to São Paulo to Sarawak. A virtuosic and versatile performer, Liz was the fiddler for Riverdance and soloist on the soundtrack for the film, Michael Collins. She has performed with such diverse artists as The New York Pops, Don Henley, Rachel Barton, Marcus Roberts, Steve Reich, Cherish the Ladies, and actress Fiona Shaw. Her career today combines the roles of performer, composer, arranger, and producer in theatrical and recording projects. She is a highly regarded and popular teacher for fiddle camps and this year, she has taken an adjunct position at the New England Conservatory. In and around appearances with her trio, Open the Door for Three, she also performs with the all-star fiddle ensemble String Sisters, and as a member of the Martin Hayes Quartet.
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, imaginatively titled 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 nineteen 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). In 2014, John and Kieran O’Hare recorded the CD, Two Tone, a follow-up to their highly regarded album of flute duets, Double-Barrelled. John serves as the Celtic Week Host.
Originally from Dublin, Eamon has lived in New York City for the last twenty years. He has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, performing and recording with many of Irish music’s great players. 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 many years at the Gathering. In 2004, he and Patrick Ourceau released a live recording, Live at Mona’s, documenting their many years hosting a session on New York’s Lower East Side, and in 2012, Eamon released a recording of traditional songs, The Murphy Beds, with Jefferson Hamer, described by the Huffington Post as “ten beautiful, crystalline songs.” He has also teamed up with old friends John Doyle and Nuala Kennedy to form The Alt. Their self-titled debut album was released in November 2014.
Anna Colliton is one of America’s leading exponents of the bodhrán, the traditional Irish frame drum. A native of Chicago, a city of Irish musical excellence, Anna plays a highly intricate style of drumming with masterful tonal and rhythmic variation. She has taught and performed at festivals across the country, including Catskills Irish Arts Week, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, The St. Louis Tionol, and Augusta Celtic week, the Academy of Irish Music in Chicago and the Irish Arts Center in New York. She toured with the band Comas for several years and had a three-month stay at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, where she performed at the International Showcase at Epcot. She has also played and performed with Cherish the Ladies, the Paul McKenna Band, Girsa, among others and is currently a member of Boston-based quartet, Ship in the Clouds, and The Bad Neighbors Rhythm Project, a rhythm-centric collaboration with percussive dancer Danielle Enblom.
Siobhan Butler is an acclaimed performer and teacher of sean-nós and set dancing. She has been featured in many settings including RTE and TG4 in Ireland and the prestigious Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Siobhan has performed and collaborated with many leading traditional artists including The Yanks, Kevin Burke, Cherish the Ladies, Nic Gareiss, Tony DeMarco, Kieran Jordan, Patrick Ourceau & Tony McManus, Atlantic Steps, as well as a European tour with the renowned Irish dance show, Rhythm of the Dance. With over 20 years of experience, Siobhan’s dancing has been described as musical, joyful, and exciting. Her expertise in Irish dance traditions is showcased through in-demand workshops, demonstrations, and lectures. She has taught master classes at The University of Limerick, and all over the U.S. at such venues as Boston College, Villanova University, Gran Bal Trad Vialfre, Milwaukee Irish Fest, and Sean-Nós Northwest to name a few. Siobhan is a graduate of Goddard College, and the University of Limerick, where she received a BA in anthropology and a MA in ethnochoreology, respectively.
Ranked among the “100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists” by DigitalDreamDoor.com, Robin Bullock has been hailed as “one of the best folk instrumentalists in the business” by Sing Out! magazine, “breathtaking” by Guitar Player magazine and a “Celtic guitar god” by Baltimore City Paper. His honors include 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, a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, KS and the Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award. Robin maintains a busy international touring schedule, performing solo, with Guitar Week colleague Steve Baughman, and with four-time National Scottish Harp Champion Sue Richards. He’s also played several hundred concerts as a sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including four “Together at Last” tours with Tom’s fellow Grammy-winner Janis Ian. Robin’s discography of nearly two dozen solo, collaborative and group CDs includes the first volume of the Bach Cello Suites on solo mandolin; The Carolan Collection, a compilation of the legendary Irish bard’s compositions, sales of which benefit North Carolina animal rescue organizations; and most recently, his debut duo CD with harp champion Sue Richards, Highland Ramble. Robin co-hosts the monthly Carolina Celtic concert series in Black Mountain, NC, leads the annual Robinwood Guitar Retreat in Sharpsburg, MD, and teaches guitar and mandolin anywhere in the world via Skype. 2020 marks the twenty-fifth consecutive Swannanoa Gathering for Robin, now a proud resident of nearby Black Mountain.
Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Caitlin Warbelow is a violinist and fiddler based in Manhattan. Currently the violinist/fiddler for the Tony-award winning Broadway musical Come From Away, Caitlin previously performed with Riverdance’s Heartbeat of Home as well as Sting’s Broadway musical, The Last Ship. She has toured with Cherish the Ladies, The Alt, Mick Moloney and the Green Fields of America, Michael Londra & Celtic Fire, Trinity Dance Company, and the Cathie Ryan Band, among many others. Caitlin performs, records, and teaches extensively in a variety of traditional and popular Irish and American genres, and occasionally returns to her roots as a classical violinist. Caitlin holds honors from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, the National Suzuki Conference, the New England Fiddle Championship, and the Fleadh Cheoil, and she is on the faculty at Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center as well as the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and the Far North Fiddle Festival. Caitlin holds a Masters degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a Bachelors degree from Boston University in Violin Performance and Anthropology.
Ten Grammy nominations in eight different categories. Three Grammys, in three different categories, almost forty years apart. What does that mean? “Either I don’t do anything well for very long, or I bore easily.” Janis Ian wrote her first song at 12, was published at 13, made a record at 14, had a hit at 15, and was a has-been at 16. It’s been uphill ever since. Her writer’s catalogue includes “Stars”, recorded by artists as diverse as Mel Torme, Glen Campbell, and Nina Simone; “Society’s Child,” which provoked the burning of a radio station and the firing of DJs who played it, “Jesse”, and the seminal “At Seventeen”, recorded most recently by Celine Dion. The musical guest on the very first Saturday Night Live, her list of interests includes technology (her article “The Internet Debacle” was cited in the Grokster and Napster cases), science fiction (nine short stories published in the field, with “Prayerville” adapted for theatre by Sci-Fest LA), children’s books (The Tiny Mouse was a Kirkus Children’s Book of the Year), and her own life (her autobiography, Society’s Child, was starred by Publisher’s Weekly and her narration of it won her another Grammy, for “Best Spoken Word”). A favorite guitarist of the late Chet Atkins, she was also the first female player to have a signature acoustic guitar by a major company (Santa Cruz.) She truly believes artists should know about everything, without limitation, and she hopes passing on some of her own hard-earned knowledge will help others avoid her mistakes – or at least, not care as much about them. We are delighted to welcome Janis back for her fifth Swannanoa Gathering.
The Coordinator of Celtic Week is an award-winning songwriter and instrumentalist and the founding Director of the Swannanoa Gathering Folk Arts Workshops of Warren Wilson College. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and also acts as Coordinator for our Contemporary Folk and Mando & Banjo Weeks. He directs the Celtic Series of Mainstage Concerts at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre, and was awarded the first Fellowship in Songwriting and Composition from the North Carolina Arts Council. He performs solo on guitar, mandolin and vocals, and with his wife Beth (flute) and son Andrew Finn (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 numerous times on NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock. In the world of graphic arts, his cover designs for the Gathering’s catalogs have won fourteen 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.
Children’s Program coordinator Melissa Hyman is involved with kids and music in all the many facets of her working life. She has taught music to elementary-aged students at Asheville charter schools and coordinated children’s programming at regional music conferences. Her main gig is as a musician on the folk/indie circuit, working full-time as a touring and recording artist, cellist, singer and songwriter. When not on the road she works on the pediatric unit at Mission Hospital in Asheville as a Music Teacher for Arts for Life (www.aflnc.org), a non-profit organization providing art and music programming for patients in NC’s major children’s hospitals. This year Melissa spearheaded the launch of an exciting new endeavor at AFL called the Heartbeat Project, in collaboration with Echo Mountain Studios and many talented members of the Asheville music community. Melissa looks forward to many more unforgettable summers in Swannanoa, leading a ragtag crew of amazing kids and counselors on adventures through space and time. She feels right at home in this world of messy games, silly songs, amazing crafts and fast friendships.