2019 Contributors

Alicia Guinn

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Alicia Guinn has danced in the sean-nós tradition for the past 20 years. Old-style Irish dance is incredibly rare to find outside of Ireland, and Alicia is one of only a handful of dancers teaching and promoting this tradition in North America. 

Alicia is the organizer and teacher for Sean-nós Seattle. She was also a founder of the Sean-nós Northwest Festival in 2009 and currently serves as the festival’s Dance Director. In the past decade, she has worked for festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada, performing, teaching, and adjudicating sean-nós dance competitions. 

Alicia's sean-nós style has direct ties to the dance communities of Galway and Clare, including steps learned directly from Connemara dancers including Pádraig Ó hOibicín, Máire Áine Ní Iarnáin, Seosamh Ó Neachtain, and the Devane family. 

 

Bill Woods

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Bill Woods is a performer, teacher, composer, studio musician, and author. He has performed in many bands beginning in the 1980s and is currently the bodhran player for Seattle band Keltoi. Over the decades he has taught many bodhran workshops at the Northwest Folklife Festival, the Seattle World Rhythm Festival, and Dusty Strings Music School. His compositions have been performed and recorded, and some of his more atmospheric works were used on the soundtrack of a documentary about salmon in the Columbia River. He has played bodhran on recording projects as varied in style as heavy metal, improvisational, new age, and classical as well as traditional Celtic music. He has written four books (Bodhran: the Basics, Bodhran: Beyond the Basics, Playing the Frame Drum, and The Rhythm Encyclopedia), all of which are published by Mel Bay Publications and sold all over the world.

 

Bauman & Vogt

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Zach Bauman and Sam Vogt from Bellingham have been playing together for many years. They offer thoughtful arrangements of traditional and original tunes, easily switching genres between Irish, Scottish, Old-Time, and Bluegrass, and switching instruments from guitar to mandolin to bouzouki to whistle. Their versatility and ease of playing comes from many years of playing together in a variety of musical settings. 

 

Biddy on the Bench

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The versatile combination of banjo, guitar, mandolin, tin whistle and four part vocal harmony lends itself equally to high-energy Irish rebel songs and shanties, lively session tunes, and mournful gaelic ballads. Grounded primarily in the folk/traditional style of Irish music pioneered by such bands as "The Dubliners", "Planxty", and "The Bothy Band", Portland's own "Biddy on the Bench" breathes life and authenticity into old standbys of the genre and lesser-known tunes alike.

In the winter months of 2013, Biddy on the Bench was formed. The members include Kevin Grgurich, Nick Frey, Noah Cotter, Casey Dyer, Tristan Cormack, and Trevor Cormack. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Kevin, Nick, Tristan, and Trevor have been playing music together for close to a decade. Noah and Casey are Oregon natives and bring with them years of experience with Irish music. Together, Biddy on the Bench approaches each song, each melody, with a passion for the music and sharing it with others.

 
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Colm hails from Dublin, Ireland, lives in Seattle, plays guitar for people all around the world and sings beautifully. He works with Colleen Raney, Jocelyn Pettit, and many other luminaries of the traditional music world circuit.

 

Dale Russ

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Martin Hayes’ assessment of Dale Russ as “one of the greatest fiddlers I know in Irish traditional music” is shared by all who hear him. Dale has been playing Irish fiddle since his move in 1973 from his native Connecticut to Washington State, where he is now regarded as “the shining jewel of Northwest fiddle players.” Dale taught for 15 years at the Lark in the Morning Summer Camp in Mendocino, California, and he has taught and performed at many other workshops and music camps, including the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, and the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, North Carolina. He has also played for ceilis, set dances, and dance competitions. In 1990 Dale was invited to perform at the first Boston College Irish Music Festival “My Love Is in America,” featuring 16 of the finest Irish fiddle players living in the US. The concert was recorded and released by Green Linnet Records and won the Smithsonian Institute’s “Traditional Recording of the Year” award.

Dale performed for 15 years with the traditional Irish band the Suffering Gaels, appearing at the Milwaukee Irish Festival in 1993 and ’94. In April of ’96 he spent two weeks touring Japan with the trio Jody’s Heaven, and has returned to Japan yearly. He currently plays with Mike Saunders and Tom Creegan in the trio Crumac. Dale has recorded an instructional video for the Lark in the Morning video series; a solo CD, Soul Food; a duet CD with guitarist/vocalist Mike Saunders, Celtic Dance Music and Song; two albums with the Suffering Gaels; a fiddle and uilleann pipe CD with Todd Denman, Reeds and Rosin; a duet album with Suffering Gaels guitarist Finn MacGinty, two CDs with Jody’s Heaven, and two CDs with the trio Setanta.

 

Denise Ni Dhailtuin

Denise is a native of Co Kerry, Ireland and grew up speaking Irish at home, although she didn't live in a Gaeltacht. She attended school through the medium of Irish. She did a Diploma in Irish at University College Galway and goes home every year to practice her Cupla focail (few irish words). She attends an Irish circle weekly and a pop-up Gaeltacht once a month.

 

Derek Duffy

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Born in Kilkenny Ireland, and having emigrated to the UK where he was educated Derek moved to Canada in the 90s where he lived and worked for some 20 years, immigrating once more to the US in 2012. Derek has written music since his teens and has performed worldwide for nearly 40 years playing in a variety of bands. Many of the songs he will be performing is of the immigrant experience and what it is like to be from back there. The storytelling and songs will be a unique perspective known only to those who have shared this experience of always having been an immigrant in a foreign land.

 

DJ BoomBox Kid

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With a multitude of sounds and styles, BoomBox Kid blends genres seamlessly without hesitation.

 

Gallowglass

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Gallowglass is an acoustic Irish band from Bellingham, Washington.  They formed on St. Patrick's Day night 2014 during a spontaneous music session at percussionist David Lofgren's house with David on bodhrán, Zach Bauman on mandolin and bouzouki, and Jan Peters on bouzouki and harmonicas. Both Jan and Zach share a love of singing a have brought some uncommon songs to their repertoire, and new arrangements to some familiar ones. Now well into their forth year, they've attracted highly accomplish fiddler Margaret Inez Driscoll to the group who brings a powerful drive and beauty to the jigs, reels, and hornpipes they play.  Also fantastic Fiddler Kera-Lynne Newman features with Gallowglass and twin fiddle sets are likely to occur whenever possible. Most recently they've been featuring singer Mishon Kirkland who brings new and compelling dimension to the songs they perform. 

 

Giant’s Causeway

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Giant’s Causeway is a group of young Irish music players based out of Bellingham, Washington who share a passion for these exciting and beautiful tunes. While playing music separately in other projects in a variety of genres, they discovered their unique, shared interest through the highly secretive Irish music underground network. A band was formed and it stuck.

The group is comprised of Cayley Schmid on fiddle, Clea Taylor on cello, Zach Bauman on mandolin and guitar, Sam Vogt on guitar and mandolin, and David Pender Lofgren on bodhran. While their musical focus is the traditional instrumental music of Ireland, tunes can be heard that have originated in Scotland, England, and America. Lively jigs and reels are woven together with sweeping airs and waltzes.

 

Kate Powers & David Rivers

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With soaring finesse Kate Powers takes traditional Scottish, Irish, Oldtime, and Contra fiddle tunes, and injects it with a zeal and that is unparalleled. An incredible performer, at only 19, and a prolific composer of fiddle tunes, and a professional sound engineer, she is poised to burst onto the Pacific Northwest contra scene. Backed by the joyous rhythms of Berklee Alumnus, David Rivers, who manages to make His acoustic guitar grooves both thundering and elegant, the two of them creating a sweeping symphonic sound that can't be missed!

 

Kathie Hardy

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Kathie is a professional Harper who performs an elegant mix of ancient and traditional tunes with clear and unpretentious arrangements. Kathie performs on her 36 string harp, handcrafted of curly maple and koa wood, built by Dusty Strings in Seattle, Washington. Other harps in her collection include a 26 string Dusty Strings harp built of maple and koa, a 22 string Triplett Irish lap harp, and a 31 string reproduction medieval bray harp built by Catherine Campbell of Port Townsend, Washington.  This medieval harp is based on the harp depicted in Hans Memling’s 1480 painting, Madonna and Child with Angels at the National Gallery in Washington DC. Kathie is also a winner of several Pacific Northwest Scottish harp competitions, including first place in the advanced harp category of the 2007 Northwest Regional Scottish Harp Competition at the Highland Games in Enumclaw.

 

Lindsay Street

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Lindsay Street is a whimsical, fun, and musically diverse folk-roots band that has been playing gigs since 2004. Based in Bellingham, WA Lindsay Street draws inspiration from past and emerging music traditions that wash up on the shores of Bellingham Bay by way of Ireland, England, Scandinavia and Quebec, with an occasional original tune thrown in the mix. Described as "pan Celtic, quirk and beauty," Lindsay Street creates unique arrangements that feature accordion, guitar, violin, mandolin, bodhran, banjo, whistles, and other assorted instruments and vocal harmonies.

 

MAC

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MAC: a refreshingly innovative trio featuring the fiery musicality of Ryan McKasson (fiddle), Elias Alexander (bagpipes/vox) & Colin Cotter (guitar/vox). MAC is, at its core, part of the natural progression of Celtic music as it has worked away into the American consciousness. McKasson, Alexander, and Cotter are all three well-versed in the Celtic music tradition, and the music that they write and perform is steeped heavily in this timeless tradition while calling upon influences ranging from rock to classical. Their performances reveal fiery personas tempered with artistry, finesse, and virtuosity as they draw from a deep well of innovative original music and lush arrangements of traditional songs and tunes.

 

Margaret Driscoll & Aaron Malcomb

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Margaret Driscoll and Aaron Malcomb have been sharing tunes for over 10 years. Aaron plays bagpipes, flute, and whistle and is most at home where the shapes and flows of the Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton traditions converge. Margaret is handy on the fiddle in all genres but Irish, Cape Breton, and Scottish tunes are where she is known for sparking off and playing with a hard drive. You can also hear Margaret’s diverse fiddle styles this weekend performing with Gallowglass and The Devilly Brothers.

 

The Moving Hats

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The Moving Hats play informal folk music for anywhere beer (or in this case, wine) is served. Formed for a St Paddy's Day gig in 2017, they quickly discovered that their blend of old-time tunes, traditional songs, and driving guitar work was too much fun to put away. They've played for people eating dinner, and they've played for people dancing on tables. It has always been way too much fun. Members: Jesse Stanton, a sharp guitar player with colorful socks, has played in contra-dance outfit Portland Megaband. He's also been instrumental in Bellingham rock legends Uncanny Valley, Silence DoGood, and, currently, The Wyrds. Robin Elwood grew up with no electricity, raised by parents who sang folk from the British Isles and built Appalachian dulcimers. He has no shame about playing a bunch of different accordions and singing crooked old songs about current social issues. Howie Meltzer knows all the tunes, and everyone knows Howie. He's a tricky fiddle player, who plays in a bunch of bands. In no particular order..... Eat'N' Run, Red Crow, Buckle Busters, Howie and Lori Meltzer, Wild Rose String Band....

 

Rakish

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Violinist Maura Shawn Scanlin and guitarist Conor Hearn unite to form “Rakish.” The pair gets their namesake from the traditional Irish tune Rakish Paddy, an origin that aptly suits the duo and their shared background in traditional Irish and Scottish music. Yet “rakish” itself also suggests something strikingly unconventional in its appearance, and Maura and Conor knowingly embrace this wealth of connotation in their music, drawing on the music they grew up with and performing it with their own slant. In a performance that is something more akin to concert music, Rakish explores tunes and songs from Irish and American folk traditions in a way that reflects their shared interest in and love for chamber music and jazz. Maura Shawn, a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion and a winner of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Competition, wields the technical range of an accomplished classical violinist and the deep sensitivity of a traditional musician. Conor, a native to the Irish music communities of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, makes his home in Boston playing guitar for a number of traditional music acts and bands. As a duo they have performed on Front Row Boston, Brian O’Donovan’s Burren Backroom Series, and they can be heard on broadcasts of WGBH’s “A Celtic Sojourn.”

 

Reed & Vogt

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Laura Reed & Sam Vogt spent years independently collecting and adapting traditional Irish music for fiddle and guitar. So both were surprised to find each other wandering the halls of a Bluegrass festival. Having discovered themselves to be the only two remaining musicians unwilling to play a twelfth rendition of "What Have They Done To The Old Home Place?," they retreated to remote Bellingham, WA until they'd transformed their mutual catalogs of jigs and reels into a carefully curated performance. Sam and Laura combine a warmth and precision in traditional melody with innovative harmonies for the modern ear.

 

Sweater Weather String Band

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With members drawn together from all across the Salish Sea by a mutual love of folk music and knitwear, Sweater Weather String Band blends old-time, honky-tonk, Celtic, and indie folk influences into a style that has been likened to “the frolicking of sheep before a thunderstorm.” For the Bellingham Irish Festival, they will present a stripped-down set of ballads and tunes common to the Celtic and Old-Time traditions.

 

The Wandering Seas

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The Wandering Seas is a recently formed group of talented local musicians whose interests span many instruments and folk music genres. Fiddler Colleen Freeman has her roots in Celtic fiddling but has since branched off to include Northern and Eastern European as well as American fiddle styles. She recently self-released a debut EP of original songs, Horse Without Wings, and is the most recent addition to local band The Porchlights. Cellist Clea Johnson is well known in Bellingham for her musical prowess in bands such as Giant’s Causeway, Rattletrap Ruckus, the Goldengems and The Porchlights, as well as for her infectious gleeful laughter. And last but not least, multi-instrumentalist Casey Connor brings a diverse background to bear on guitar. His previous Bellingham entanglements include Rattletrap Ruckus, The Spyhoppers, and his own singer-songwriter work. For their set at BIF they’ll be playing mostly Irish tunes with a few surprises sprinkled in!