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.
Bauman and Vogt
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
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.
Collin Stackhouse is an Alaska-born, Portland-based, ex-Bellingham fiddle and banjo player. He combines modern vocal edge with old time instrumentation, Irish tunes plus folk/pop/punk confessional melodies, and Americana roots.
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.
The Devilly Brothers
The Devilly Brothers are comprised of up to 5 members. The core group began as Ed Hoban and Derek Duffy who got together to write and share folk songs from Ireland and the Americas, and have been playing together now for 7 years. They are full harmony vocal and various instruments including mandolin, guitars, bazouk, double bass, fiddle and whistle. As well as heartfelt ballads and soulful renditions of folk songs, they play numerous fiddle tunes and rousing proletariat and rebel songs.
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 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.
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.
Kelsey has been dancing all of her life, in many disciplines such as ballet, tap, jazz, modern, African and flat footing. She began Irish step dancing at the age of 12 with Maria Oliver in Chico, CA. As a competitive step dancer under the instruction of Kathleen Deely-Braten, Kathleen Maeve Smith, and Patricia Kennelly, she moved up the ranks and competed in National and World championships just three years after her first lesson. While finishing her Bachelor's degree in Theatre arts from CSU Chico, Kelsey first began sean-nós dance with Maldon Meehan at Lark Camp in Mendocino, CA. Entranced and inspired by the close relationship with music and culture, she dove headfirst into her study of the dance form, having since studied with Nic Gareiss, Siobhan Butler, Alicia Guinn and Ben Power, and performed with Dervish, Men of Worth, Kevin Carr and the boys of Na Rosai. She currently dances with the Portland-based group The Stomptowners.
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 and Aaron Malcomb
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.
In 2010 Erik Killops returned to his hometown of Portland, Oregon after receiving his bachelors degree in Irish Music & Dance at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Shortly after he met recent New Jersey transplant Richie Rosencrans and California native Preston Howard at sessions around Portland. All three were eager to start a project and discovered common interests in regards to traditional music. After a few house gatherings, a weekly performance began at local watering hole. In the fall of 2012 flute player Conor O'Bryan moved to Portland from Chico, California and immediately joined the ranks of the group.
In the Fall of 2014 Na Rósaí released their debut album featuring an eclectic mix of traditional Irish music, old time Appalachian tunes, and a set of French tunes.
Na Rósaí's second album is currently in the works.
The Porchlights combine traditional Celtic tunes and centuries-old story songs with a dash of peat moss and a sprinkle of sawdust from calloused fingers. The mischief began on the porch of 1213 Indian Street as late night fire-side entertainment between friends and occasionally as accompaniment for The Portico Dance Company. The spark for the flame was the siren-song vocals of Bethany Loudon, supported by the acoustic genius of David MacGuire, and the worldly percussion talents of David Lofgren. As the ensemble evolved, Zach Bauman joined adding a dapper, sophisticated element of mandolin, followed closely by Clea Taylor, who weaves her elegant and accomplished cello playing through the melodies. The tapestry of the Porchlights’ music is embellished by a revolving roster of renowned local fiddlers, guest soloists, and the voices of their audience. With one foot and the old world, and one in the new, the Porchlights put on a show that is both haunting and lively, steeped in Irish tradition and perfect for settling in with a pint. Listeners are guaranteed to leave with a lilt in their step, a tune in their head, and the smell of wood smoke in their hair.
Reed and Vogt
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.
Sean Connors is an Irish fiddle player from Southern Oregon. He started making music when he was eight years old and has been playing traditional music ever since. Besides his love for local jam sessions, he has played at the Northwest Folklife Festival countless times, the Bellingham Folk Festival, and many other venues across the West Coast.
The Three Seas
The Three 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!