Master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas to delight audeinces in Harrisburg, PA on Sunday, April 27th!

By John Hope

Alasdair and Natalie, smallMaster Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and dynamic young American cellist Natalie Haas, who have teamed up for appearances in Scotland, Spain, France, and throughout the U.S., come to central Pennsylvania on Sunday, April 27, 2014, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society matinee concert at 4 p.m. at Appalachian Brewing Company’s Abbey Bar, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg

 

“People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound,” Fraser says, “but they’re surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands. Natalie Haas unleashes textures and deep, powerful rhythms that drive fiddle tunes. We can ‘duck and dive’ around each other, swap melody and harmony lines, and improvise on each other’s rhythmic riffs. She has such a great sense of exploration and excitement for the music; it’s a joy to play with her.”

 

Alasdair Fraser, hailed by the San Francisco Examiner as “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling,” is a consummate performer whose dynamic fiddling, engaging stage presence, and deep understanding of Scotland’s music have created a constant international demand for his solo appearances and concerts with a variety of ensembles for more than 30 years. He is credited with being a major force behind the resurgence of traditional Scottish fiddling in his homeland and the U.S.

 

Fraser has been featured on more than 100 TV and radio shows in the UK and on several US national broadcasts, including Prairie Home Companion and Thistle and Shamrock. He has released several critically acclaimed albums, including the Indie Award-winning Dawn Dance (Best Celtic Album of 1996).

 

Haas is a Juilliard School graduate who is accomplished in a broad array of fiddle genres in addition to her extensive classical training. She was encouraged to explore the cello’s potential for rhythmic accompaniment to Celtic fiddle tunes while a student at Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School. Fire & Grace, her 2004 album with him, was awarded Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards. She also has toured extensively as a member of Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio. She teaches privately, at workshops and fiddle camps, and at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

 

In addition to their concert, Fraser and Haas will present an Arts in Education program at Harrisburg School District’s Foose School, with support from the Hall Foundation, the Lois Grass Foundation and the Foundation for Enhancing Communities.

 

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com. Funding is provided by the Cultural Enrichment Fund and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, administered locally by the Cultural Alliance of York County. “Your Name in Lights” sponsors for this event are Fred and Kathy Fries. The concert is presented in collaboration with Greenbelt Events. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org

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Martin Hayes, John Doyle & Kevin Crawford–The Teetotallers– appear in Harrisburg Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Teetotalers by Jordan KoepkeOn Wednesday, April 16th at 7:30 PM the Susquehanna Folk Music Society is very pleased to be welcoming back three of the very best Irish musicians alive–six times All Ireland Fiddle Champion Martin Hayes, John Doyle; who the Irish Echo called the best guitarist in traditional Irish music today and Kevin Crawford from the group Lúnasa who is known for his excellent Irish flute playing and wit.

 

This trio—who call themselves the Teetotallers will appear at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 Front Street, Harrisburg. Tickets and information can be found at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/571342

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Following is a reprint of an interview that I did with Teetotalers guitarist JOHN DOYLE in April, 2013.

1. How long have the Teetotallers been together?

 

We’ve been doing it for the last couple of years. Very seldom we’ll do a tour because we’re busy with other things. Kevin Crawford is with Lúnasa and Martin is Martin, you know with all sorts of projects going on—and myself too. We try to get our calendars together to do at least one tour together a year. This is our second tour in the states.

 

2. Where do each of you live?

 

I live in Asheville, North Carolina and I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in County Sligo. Ireland the last year and a half—been back and forth. Kevin lives in County Clair and Martin lives in Clair also, although he’s back and forth a lot too.

 

3. How did the band first get together? How did you pick your name?

 

We were all doing this festival called the Sebastopel Celtic Festival in California back in 2010 and this man named Cloud Moss who organizes the festival does this thing during one show where he throws a bunch of people together to play. So this is one of the configurations that he picked. He actually even named us the Teetotallers because none of us drink. So we thought it was pretty apt and we figured that no one else would take the name. So it was great to not have to ponder or worry about the name.

 

4. Style of music?

 

Its old reels—flute, fiddle and guitar. It’s going back to the roots of the music and playing simply but at the same time deeply. We play mainly music from County Clare. I sing too so there will be a combination of songs and tunes.

 

5. Which Counties are you all from in Ireland?

 

They are both from Clare and I’m from Dublin originally.

 

6. What strengths does each person bring to the group?

 

Martin and Kevin are really in-depth. They have been studying the tradition and played it all their lives. Myself too. We all started from a very early age. We all started in the tradition itself—we grew up in a family of musicians—all of us. That’s one of the things about Irish music or folk music; it’s very familiar—familiar based. It’s serving the tradition—serving the culture to a degree even though you’re not consciously thinking about that. There’s an overriding feeling about that somehow—subconsciously maybe. From that—Martin has keep the tradition from his family—this depth of fiddle playing that he has. And it’s more of a feeling—the feeling of a country, and Kevin really does the same thing. And I’m different in a way. I bring a different quality to the band—a different feeling and a different energy. And as far as songs are concerned I really try to go back and get some old—some really traditional ballads. I also write some songs, but the songs I write sound very much like the traditional ones, and they give the feeling of the country too.

 

7. So how long have you known each other?

 

We’ve known each other a long time. Off and on we’ve met each other at festivals and airports a lot. But the last couple of years were the first time that we have played together.

 

8. Do you have a CD together yet?

 

No, we’ll figure that out when it comes.

 

9. And have you had pretty good reception at your concerts?

 

People understand where we are coming from. The music—it’s not about trying to impress anyone, it’s about playing the music how we feel it. We’ve been playing it long enough to know that just playing it from the heart and playing as well as you can. It’s about jelling together when we play, it’s about the community. When people get together to play it’s like there is a jelling of spirit, of tone, and of experience. If you really pay attention to each other’s playing, there is something special that happens in the music. Any form of music—any tradition. That’s what I feel when I play with the Teetotallers. I feel the energy that is there. I love it.

WONDERFUL story on the Steel Wheels in the York Daily Record!

Thanks to Mike Angento of the York Daily Record for the WONDERFUL story on the Steel Wheels! Take a read and then come to see them Sunday, April 6th at the Appalachian Brewery in Harrisburg!
http://www.flipsidepa.com/concerts/ci_25475125/steel-wheels-is-not-your-average-folk-mennonite

The Steel Wheels Live in Harrisburg on April 6th!

Selling out coast-to-coast and appearing at many top music festivals, The Steel Wheels come to Harrisburg for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society matinee concert on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at 4 p.m., at the Appalachian Brewing Company Abbey Bar, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

Based in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, The Steel Wheels have captured audiences across the county with their heady brew of original soulful mountain music and their deep commitment to roots and community. This dynamic four-piece string band marries old-time musical traditions with their own innovative sound and lifestyle.

The group is known for their raw energy and chemistry on stage, where they often cluster tightly around a single microphone to support Trent Wagler’s unmistakable tenor with four-part harmonies inspired by their Mennonite heritage.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.BrownPaperTickets.com.

Following is an interview with the band’s leader Trent Wagler.
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FOLKMAMA: I’ve actually never seen the band, but I’ve seen a lot of your You Tube Clips and I really love what I see. I know that you toured with Red Molly and I asked them about you and they said that you were really good.

TRENT: Aw, that’s nice!

FOLKMAMA: So, you did a small tour with them so there must have been something about both of your groups that made you good companions.

TRENT: We’ve know Red Molly for a little while. We’ve played at a lot of the same venues and a lot of the same festivals. We were backstage at a festival in Vermont a couple of years ago and we were just talking about touring and we were joking around and someone was talking about how they were a super group of all females with three great lead singers and great harmonies and great songs and us being all male we joked that their audience must be all middle aged men looking to come see them and our audience must be all middle aged women and that we should get together for a Valentine’s Day tour. So that was the original impetus for doing the tour. We had such a great experience and I would say that the similarities are many. We definitely did connect with that band.

We are cut from a very similar cloth in terms of the kinds of music that we try to bridge. We bridge the mountain music with singer/songwriter sounds and original songs that are important to us. In our band we share, kind of by accident, a Mennonite heritage, we all grew up Mennonite in different parts of the country and we found that that common heritage has a lot to do with our harmony singing.   That’s a big part of the heritage of the Mennonites because they didn’t always have a lot of musical instruments so singing became their instrument. So we sing a lot of harmonies. That’s a lot of what we enjoy bringing to the stage.

FOLKMAMA: So in your music I hear a lot of gospel, but I don’t necessarily think of it as religious music. Sometimes I think there is a really division between modern Christian music and gospel music. Do you feel that your music is Christian, or are you just interested in following the gospel traditions?

TRENT: Where drawing from the environments that we grew up in, but we definitely don’t think of our music as Christian. Some of the themes and language and biblical imagery is Christian music is definitely in what we do and some of the forms of gospel music–particularly some of the a capella songs that we do–but I usually try in the lyrics to open it slightly so that it’s different in form and function than a bible beating gospel but instead trying to turn a lyric more towards an open audience.

FOLKMAMA: So are you the main songwriter or do you write together?

TRENT: We write together to a certain extent. I’ve been the primary songwriter and lyrically speaking I’ve written everything. And then always the band is extremely important to the arrangement and in some cases to the final rewrites of the song. They’ve always been a very helpful part of that. So in some extent there’s been a workshoping of songs that brings everybody into the writing process.

FOLKMAMA: So have you played in Harrisburg before?

TRENT: We played at the Appalachian Brewery a couple of years ago, and we’ve certainly played a lot of shows in the Philadelphia area. We’ve played at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem as well as Musikfest and we’ve played at the bluegrass festival in Gettysburg.

FOLKMAMA: I see that you release your recordings in CD form and also on vinyl. Have you had a lot of call for the records?

TRENT: Yeah. The whole interesting in renewing vinyl recordings is such an interesting thing to watch. For some of our fans and some of the folk crowd, we say that we released it on vinyl and go get the record and they look at us like they think we’re crazy, “We threw away our vinyl 10 years ago!” But then there is a population of primarily young people who are really getting into this music and who love to hear it in this older way. It seems like there is something really special about people seeing the value in some of the older ways. I think that’s why we keep on playing these traditional melodies and playing these old songs because there is value in it. It’s not just out of responsibility, feeling like we have to keep the old songs alive.

The Steel WheelsThe intentionality of putting on a record, and listening to one side, a really thinking about why this band or artists decided to put these songs in this order and then you turn it over and you have another mini set. You have to pay attention because that record is going to stop, and then you have to turn it over and put it on again. All these things are things that we’ve lost with digital music.