March 26, 2017: The Outside Track to perform Celtic music in Harrisburg

The Outside Track, a Celtic group performing Scots, Irish, and Cape Breton tunes, songs, and step-dance comes to Harrisburg for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, March 26, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., at the Abbey Bar, Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street. The group features vocals, electric harp, flute, whistle, fiddle, and guitar.

For information on the band members visit

The Outside Track was named Group of the Year in both the Live Ireland awards and the TIR awards and was nominated for a Scots trad award. The group’s latest CD, “Light Up the Dark,” was nominated for Best Album in the 2016 Indie Acoustic Project Awards.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at

We had a chance to speak to the band’s accordion player Fiona Black about the origins of The Outside Track and what audiences should expect.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that throughout the history of the band you have had members from Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and the United States. Did you start out with the idea to become a Pan-Celtic band?

FIONA: It really didn’t start out as a concept band. We met in Limerick in Ireland at University. Originally it was myself and Ailie (we are the two Scottish members) and we also had a couple of Irish members at the very beginning and a Canadian member.

It has always seemed natural that we would play music from the countries that we were from. That’s how it came about and we have continued to do that.

FOLKMAMA: Would it be easy for an audience member to figure out the country of origin for the tunes or songs that you play?

FIONA: We all play music from our own regions and our own countries, but honestly there are many more similarities than differences between the music from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton.

FOLKMAMA: Can you describe your performances?

FIONA: Well, they are really quite lively. About half of what we do are tunes and the other half songs.  We do different arrangements of tunes; some traditional ones and some that we have invented. Each instrument is showcased at different points and we all work together on harmonies and chords. The fiddle player is the dancer. She does Cape Breton style of dancing which is really close to the floor and really beautiful.

FOLKMAMA: Who is in the band and where are they from?

FIONA: Teresa Horgan is the lead singer and flute and whistle player. She’s from County Cork in Ireland. And then Ailie Robertson is the harp player in the band—she plays electric harp. She creates a lot of the bass lines and a lot of the texture as well. And she’s from Edinburgh in Scotland. My name is Fiona Black and I’m from the Highlands in Scotland and I play the piano accordion. And then we have Emerald Rae who’s from Boston. She’s the fiddle player and the step dancer in the band. She spent a lot of time in Cape Breton. And then Eric MacDonald is also from Boston and he’s the guitar player in the band.

FOLKMAMA: How long have you been playing together?

FIONA: We started about 10 years ago. Ailie and I are the two original members left.

FOLKMAMA: Anything you want the readers to know?

FIONA: We just put a new music video out on Facebook. We have another week in the tour and then off we’ll go to Germany. We’ll be back in the US in August!

FOLKMAMA: Is this the main gig for everyone?

FIONA: We tour about six months out of the year. We all have different side projects, other bands and different teaching projects and composing project—but for everyone this is the main band.





Irish Music w/ Mick Moloney, Billy McComiskey + Athena Tergis March 13, Hbg, PA

Three icons of Irish-American music—MICK MOLONEY (guitar/banjo/vocals), BILLY McCOMISKEY (accordion), and ATHENA TERGIS (fiddle)—come to Harrisburg on Sunday, March 13, 2016, for a lecture, potluck dinner, and concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The concert is at 7:30.

The evening opens with a 5 p.m. with what is sure to be a fascinating illustrated talk on “Irish and African Roots of American Music.” Mick Moloney, who will be giving the talk along with Harrisburg’s own LENWOOD SLOAN, says that they will focus specifically on Appalachian music and the music of the minstrels. “Throughout history there has been a close association between Afro-Americans and the Irish, “Mick told me. “Both groups lived on the margins of society.”

“It might be a startling fact, but 38% of African Americans have Irish DNA,” he said. “Both BARAK AND MICHELLE OBAMA have Irish ancestry.”

Moloney has taught ethnomusicology, folklore, and Irish studies courses at several universities. Lenwood Sloan is a choreographer and scholar of dance history with a special interest in minstrel dance. Additionally Lenwood has served as director of PA’s Culture and Heritage Tourism Program and PA’s Film Commission and is active with the arts in Harrisburg.

Mick Moloney has recorded and produced over 40 albums of traditional music and has been an advisor for scores of festivals and concerts all over America. In 1999 he was awarded the NATIONAL HERITAGE AWARD from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest official honor a traditional arti


st can receive in the U.S. Billy McComiskey is a highly regarded player and composer of Irish traditional music. He has won FOUR ALL IRELAND CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES. Athena Turgis has toured extensively with the Sharon Shannon Band and has appeared in the Las Vegas production of Lord of the Dance. She has also been principal fiddler for the Broadway production of RIVERDANCE.

All are welcome to a free potluck dinner before the concert. Bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $21 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. The lecture is included with concert admission. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006.

For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at


Following are a few more details from my conversation with Mick:

FOLKMAMA: Susquehanna Folk has been lucky enough to have Billy McComisky on our stage twice; once with Pride of New York (which features Cherish the Ladies’ JOANIE MADDEN) and Trian (which features fiddler LIZ CARROL). We haven’t had Athena play for us yet, but she sure has an impressive bio! What’s it like playing with these two powerhouses?

MICK: There is not too much more to say then they are the best of the best. They are just fantastic musicians and I love playing with them. They’re masters of their craft.

FOLKMAMA: How long have you been playing together?

MICK: About 10 years now. But we play in different configuration and sometimes with other musicians.

FOLKMAMA: What’s the music like that you play?

MICK: Well it’s all traditional Irish music, but between us we have such a huge repertoire that we can adjust to any situation. We don’t have to spend hours rehearsing. We just have so much stuff under the belt as it were.

FOLKMAMA: You might know that Susquehanna Folk has been doing a little bit of a focus on the banjo this season. You play the tenor banjo. I’m curious to know a little bit about the history of the banjo in Ireland.

MICK: Well, the banjo found its way formally to Ireland with The Virginia Minstrels in 1844, and it’s been a part of Irish music ever since. The banjo that we play, though, is the Irish banjo. It’s tuned an octave below a standard banjo. The tenor banjo is tuned like a fiddle, and the music fall on it fairly naturally.

FOLKMAMA: Anything else that you want to add?

MICK: We expect the concert to be fresh and lively because we’ll figure out what we’ll play a half an hour before! And we’ll enjoy ourselves immensely and hopefully everyone will too!


Yves Lambert Trio to appear in Harrisburg, PA January 10, 2016. An interview with band member Olivier Rondeau.

The Yves Lambert Trio

Hailed by some Quebec music critics as a beacon in the aesthetics of Quebec’s cultural heritage, Yves Lambert is a powerful singer and musician whose 36-year career has been full of risks and adventures. He and his trio brings the energy, multicultural ambiance, and colorful sounds of Quebecois music (a wonderful mix of Irish and French styles) to Harrisburg for a January 10, 2016, Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg.

Often seen as a veritable patriarch of the revival of Quebec’s musical roots, Lambert founded the legendary group La Bottine Souriante in 1976. In his 26 years with that group, Lambert was the link between its various incarnations and was its heart and soul.

In the summer of 2010 he joined with multi-instrumentalists Yves Lambert Trio and Tommy Gauthier in a trio that brilliantly demonstrates how traditional local music continually reinvents itself within a modern context.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at

I caught up with band member Olivier Rondeau and had a chat with him about the roots of Quebecoise music as well as the innovations that the Yves Lambert Trio brings to the genre.

FOLKMAMA: I know that Quebecoise music was heavily influenced by two groups that settled in Quebec; the French and the Irish, but how did the style first become popular?

OLIVER: The traditional music from Quebec just starts from the kitchen party. There were people down there that were playing fiddle during the night, just to entertain the people and there were singers too. And people go with foot tapping on the floor, just to keep the beat and all the dancers going crazy!

Mainly all the music influence is from Ireland and stuff like that. When people come, when there is a deportation, they come with traditional music.

Quebec music is a big ear training tradition and there are many different versions of songs just because they were interpreted differently. So extra beats, a lot of extra beats here and there [Known as “crooked tunes”]

FOLKMAMA: How does Yves Lambert fit into all this?

OLIVER Back in the 70s there was a folk revival in Quebec and he became really impressed with accordion playing. He’s totally self-taught. Yves helped to keep the music alive. He was an original member of La Bottine Souriante, one of the most famous bands in Quebec.

And now for over 40 years now he keeps going the tradition. He keeps on looking for new airs and new reels on the accordion. Yves role in the band is to keep it alive and to always bring new traditional music to the band.

FOLKMAMA: And what’s the instrumentation of the trio?

OLIVER: Yves Lambert is the lead singer and plays accordion: diatonic accordions and he has a chromatic one too. I play the guitar and kind of bass on my guitar and the response [Quebecoise music is characterized by call-and-response singing) , and we have Tommy Gauthier on the fiddle and mandolin, and he’s the [foot] tapper of the band. And he’s on the response too.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that the Cajun accordion and the Quebecoise accordion are the same.

OLIVER: Yes, actually Yves has two Cajun accordions that were built in Louisiana by Mark Savoy.[a famous Cajun accordion builder] Old ones. One is back to 1976 and the other one may be in the beginnings of 80s. So he is playing with those two beautiful instruments, both diatonic One in “C” and one in “D”.

FOLKMAMA: Does the band play straight Quebecoise music, or are you influenced by other styles?

OLIVER: For me, and for my generation , every music that I hear that has a good groove is an influence. So that’s the way it works. If it’s good music and we hear it, it could influence our sound.

And I could say since we’ve played more in the United States we hear other bands and we’re intrigued by their style. We love it so much that we put some in the last recording. When you listen to us you can hear a hint of old time, bluegrass, and the kind of rhythmic phrasing that you hear in Appalachian music

FOLKMAMA: Your guitar has a pretty distinctive sound and the times that I’ve seen you I’ve noticed a lot of electronics at you feet. What’s the purpose?

OLIVER : Mainly it’s so that the two lower strings on my guitar can be processed with an “octaver” to give an extra lower octave to the notes. The two lower strings have two functions; they are guitar and they are a bass as well. This creates a powerful sound.

When we all play together Tommy is doing the rhythm with his feet and playing the fiddle at the same time, Yves singing and. playing the accordion and I got the guitar and the bass going on so as a trio one thing that we love is to make the sound way bigger than it looks.

FOLKMAMA: What else would you like people to know?

OLIVER : One thing we love to do, Tommy and I, is to arrange music. We love the texture and we put a lot of work in the arrangement. We try to make each song distinctive; make it grow. So we work pretty hard on this.

When you listen to the song you can hear the roots of it, but there are a lot of influences that come to the music. There are a lot of surprises!

Legendary Musicians from Quebec to Perform in Harrisburg, PA March 27th

Legendary Quebec traditional musicians Lisa Ornstein, Normand Miron, and André Marchand, appearing together as Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town), come to Harrisburg for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Friday, March 27, 2015, at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free workshop on Quebec music at 5:30 and a 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

Ornstein and Marchand first met as bandmates in La Bottine Souriante, the iconoc trad super group that kickstarted Quebec’s folk music revival. Miron is a singer and button accordionist who grew up surrounded by family musicians in Lanaudière, the epicenter of Quebec’s folk music scene. As a trio, Le Bruit Court dans la Ville produces music that is at once deeply rooted, innovative, nuanced, and spontaneous.

Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006.

Join us for a free potluck supper before the concert. Bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at


Because these three legendary musicians were so important in the revival of traditional music and dance in Quebec some 40 years ago, I wanted to speak to the group’s fiddler LISA ORNSTEIN (who is a folklorist) about changes in Quebec’s cultural climate and also how she and her band mates were able to plant some of the seeds that have allowed Quebeoise music and dance to grow in popularity and flourish.

FOLKMAMA: Can you tell me some things about the members in your trio? I know that all three of you are considered legendary in Quebec’s trad music scene.

LISA: Well we’ll begin first with André Marchand. He’s from Jolliet, he’s lived here all his life. His father played violin but it was classical violin, a hobbyist. He got his start playing guitar in the early 1960s. He was listening to Bob Dylan because at that time there wasn’t really a “Quebecoise” tradition of guitar playing. He kind of invented an approach to backing up this music with the kind of guitar playing that you hear with the guitar tuned in standard tuning.

FOLKMAMA: I understand during the time when Andre was growing up that it was difficult to find traditional Quebecoise music because the French Canadian culture had been repressed. What were the politics in Quebec like at the time?

LISA: The 1960s in Quebec began what we call the Quiet Revolution. The Prime Minister who had been quite conservative died, and a liberal, Jean Lesage took his place and he had a completely different vision. The saying during that time was “Masters in Our own Country” because the Quebecoise since 1759 had really been second citizens here. All the administrators and the owners of industry in the province were Anglo-Canadians who had come from British forefathers. The Quebecoise were basically told that they were going to be water carriers.

So Jean Lesage came in and one of the first things that he did was to nationalize electricity. Which was huge in this province—there is hydro-electric power to sell to all of North America. That gave the government the capacity to create all kinds of social services, vocational training, and higher education opportunities. So by the 1970s there was a whole generation of Quebecoise who were beginning to be well educated.

FOLKMAMA: How did Quebecoise trad music and dance play a role in the Quiet Revolution?

LISA: The music got pulled into the equation very much in the same way that music got pulled in with the Civil Rights Movement. The folk and traditional music often had an ideological and political content –especially by some of the singer/ songwriters who became involved in the Quebec Sovereignty Movement. It was a time of Quebecoise pride when the Quebecoise were proud to be Quebecoise.

FOLKMAMA: Did Quebecoise Trad music start to become more widespread?

LISA: In Montreal a group of young university graduates organized a folk festival where they brought in elders. Nothing like this had ever happened– it changed the lives of a whole generation of young musicians who for the first time could hear and learn from the older generation of musicians. So you have this coming together of very traditional musicians who are being brought onto the stage, very much like the Newport Folk Festival, and you have these young urban Quebecoise who are just thirsty for music that looks and sounds like them.

FOLKMAMA: I know that the group La Bottine Souriante was one of most important groups to form during this era.

LISA: Yes, La Bottine Souriante formed as a direct result of this festival. The group was made up of all young musicians, including André Marchand who was an original member and now of course plays in Le Bruit Court dans la Ville. The group was so influential because it not only helped to increase the popularity of Quebecoise music in Quebec, but also brought it to France, the United States and around the world.

FOLKMAMA: So, I know that you are an American fiddler verse in both old-time and Quebecoise fiddling. I understand that you also played in La Bottine Souriante. How did that come about?

LISA: I had been playing fiddle from the time I was 13 or 14. I grew up in a musical family; my mother was a harpsichordist who played Renaissance music. My idea of what music was as a very small child was small ensembles who were improvising on dance melodies. I think that’s why I was attracted to traditional music rather than classical music; it was the social aspect of it and the way that music was made in these small groups. I appreciate orchestral music but I’ve always be interested in how much music can be made with the smallest, the most frugal means. And I think that traditional music is all about that. It’s about the frugality of the means with great creativity in the hands of exceptional artists with immense amount of virtuosity and depth of understanding.

Even though I really wanted to just play fiddle, my parents wanted me to go to college so I went to Oberlin.  In my last year the college asked me if I was interested in the Watson Scholarship which would allow me to study something outside of the country. By then I was so interested in Quebecoise music because of a friendship I had with a Franco-American fiddler Louis Beaudoin.

So I got this grant to come to Quebec and I didn’t know anybody. I went to Université Laval because I knew that they had a folklore archives, but the only Quebecoise musician I could find was a button accordion player names Albert who played on the streets for the tourists. So I played with him sometimes, and during the summer I went to this great summer festival and there he was on stage and he made me get up and play with him.

Afterwards we decided we’d go to this great bar that was right across from the stage that had an outdoor terrace and as we sat there I heard a tune that I thought I knew from my friend Louis Beaudoin, and then one of the members of the band who had heard me play approached me and he said, “Come join us.” And it was La Bottine Souriante. I couldn’t believe these young guys were there playing traditional music.

So we played together all night and then we lost track of each other but next night they invited me to play in their show in front of 20,000 people. Soon after they left for a tour in France, but on the way back some of the musicians couldn’t return because of an airline strike, so I filled in for their fiddler at the band’s next gig. Soon after they asked me to join the band. So I went to Jolliet and played in the band for about 8 years so.

FOLKMAMA: Was that what you were doing full time?

LISA: When I was in Quebec I worked for this traditional arts advocacy group and was really involved in promoting Quebecoise culture and heritage.

Although it’s taken 30 years, Quebec just this past year passed its law recognizing intangible traditional arts. We were working on that dossier in the 1980s. We had a center where there were classes for young people who didn’t come out of singing and playing families. These were young kids who loved the music and dance but didn’t have other chances to learn it. At the time there was no money available in the Quebec government to fund this kind of program. It’s changed now, although the law is in place and there is no budget to enact it. So our organization became more and more politically motivated because we realized that the traditional arts weren’t getting the government support that it should have gotten.

FOLKMAMA: It doesn’t seem like you are intimidated by working on the governmental level to promote traditional music.

LISA: I had worked at the Library of Congress. My mother in law was Bess Lomax Hawes. She created the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts program and was Curator of Folk Songs at the Library of Congress. She’s Alan Lomax’s sister.

So I had connections with Alan Jabbour at the Library of Congress and folks at the Smithsonian. We brought people from the Government of Quebec’s Minister of Cultural Affairs to visit in Washington to show them that there can be a different vision.  The United States government has acknowledged that not only is this worthy but it’s necessary to support the celebration and transmission of traditional cultural heritage.

FOLKMAMA: So what your third member?

LISA: Normand Miron is from a small village just outside of Joliette. He’s from a very traditional family of singers and instrumentalists. His uncle was an accordion player and his grandfather was apparently an extraordinary singer. The whole area around Jolliet is known in Quebec as being one of the strongholds of traditional singing and particularly especially song and response songs. Norman is the real stuff, he’s straight out of the tradition. Normand Miron was the go-to guy for many of the songs that La Bottine  Souriante was doing because his repertoire was so huge, although was never in the band.

FOLKMAMA: So I believe you have been playing with Andre and Norman informally for many years. Why have you chosen now to tour as a group?

LISA: My children are almost grown and Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer (the latest group that Andre and Norman performed in together) is on hiatus so the three of us just looked at each other and said, “This is our chance.”


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The Irish Band GOITSE to appear in Harrisburg March 9th. An interview with band member Tadhg Ó Meachair

GOITSE-PHOTOOn Sunday, March 9 at 4 PM the Susquehanna Folk Music Society will recreate the excitement and fun of a traditional Irish pub when they present the Irish band Goitse and dancers from the Coyle School of Irish Dance. The event will also featuring an opening act by the popular area Celtic band Irish Blessing and an Irish session held after the concert to which musicians are encouraged to bring instruments.

The event will be held at the Abbey Bar, Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. 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

I had a chance to speak to Tadhg Ó Meachair, one of the founding members of the band, about the group’s members, repertoire, and Limerick University’s Irish Music and Dance program where they met.


FOLKMAMA: How long has the group been together?

TADHG: We’ve played   three or four years full time at this stage but we started 7 years ago. Colm and I put the idea of the band together originally and started putting some music together, and Conal joined and a year later James came to the University and we asked him to join the band. So it gradually happened.

FOLKMAMA: Were you still at school when the band started performing?

TADHG: Yes, we performed here and there over the course of the four years. It was in our final year that we first started going on tours. It was at our third year at University that we recorded our first CD. As soon as we finished we went full time into touring and traveling.

FOLKMAMA: Can you tell me about the members of your band? Several of them have Gaelic names. I’m curious how you pronounce them.

TADHG: So there’s Colm (CULL-um) Phelan on the drum, the bodhran. And then there’s Áine (AWE yeh) McGeeney who plays fiddle and is the vocalist for the band. And then we’ve got James Harvey on banjo and mandolin. Conal O’Kane is the guitar player. And my name is Tadhg (TYG) Ó Meachair and I play keyboard and accordion.

FOLKMAMA: I understand that they band writes most of the songs that they play.

TADHG: So basically in Irish music we have a large canon of music from which to draw from, and then there’s the strong tradition of composing as well. So what we tend to do is to kind of make our own compositions out of older tunes that sometimes have been in existence for hundreds of years. We take these melodies that are old and arrange them in a new way using variations and various ornamentations.

FOLKMAMA: How often does the band tour in the states?

TADHG: In the past years we’ve been in the states either twice or three times. At the moment we’re out for three weeks. We tend to be over for St Patrick’s Day and in the summer it’s largely Irish festivals.

FOLKMAMA: So you all met at Limerick University when you were all students at in the Irish Music and Dance program. It says on the school’s website that it’s the first program of its kind in Ireland, and it’s particularly unique because it encourages a lot of performance.

I’m curious what your experiences were like there and what encouraged you all to go there.

TADHG: Well I guess there is this huge imbalance when it comes to music education where a lot of the programs focus on classical music training, but it was a unique program because it gave a unique perspective. Obviously we started with western theory and things like that, but the focus was on Irish music. Just putting folk and traditional music on par with other kinds of music is right and proper I suppose.

But I guess what encouraged us to go there is just the environment that is there. It’s an environment that fosters a lot of creativity and it gives you the opportunity to meet like minded people. I suppose all of us went there to expand our understanding of Irish music and expanding our musicianship. We kind of clicked with each other musically and we went from there.

FOLKMAMA: Have there been a lot of groups that have come out of the Irish Music and Dance program?

TADHG: Yeah. I guess the cool band when we were growing up was a band called Beoga. They graduated just ahead of us. All sorts of different acts have been associated with the academy at different points.

FOLKMAMA: Your band members have won some pretty prestigious awards and actually it seems like in Ireland that there is a very robust system for recognizing talented traditional instrumentalists. We hear about the All-Ireland fiddlers, banjo players, and flute player—for example. How does the system work and how has it helped to keep traditional Irish music alive?

TADHG: So what you are talking about is the Fleadh (festival/competition of Irish music). And basically it starts out at the county level.  The first and second place winners from the county Fleadh go on to the provincial Fleadh, and then the first and second winners from the provincial Fleadh go on to the All- Ireland Fleadh.

Musicians compete in four different age groups; under 12, under 15, under 18 and senior. There are competitions on all different instruments like fiddle, accordion, whistle, pipes, and harp. It’s a great process, from a teaching point of view especially for young children. It provides a great focus for them to really think about and improve the tunes that they are playing. And wrapped around the competition you have this really festive atmosphere. The All-Ireland competition is probably one of the largest Irish Festivals in the world and a great place for musicians to meet and play with one another.

FOLKMAMA: Can musicians from the United States compete also?

TADHG: Yeah, it’s called the All-Ireland Fleadh but you have four provincial Fleadhs in Ireland, an  All-Brittan Fleadh and two provincial Fleadhs in the US. The winners from all of those Fleadhs come in and partake in the All Ireland.

FOLKMAMA: One of the claims that Limerick University makes is that the Irish Music and Dance program helps to make its students more marketable. How easy or difficult have you found it to make a living as a professional Irish musician?

TADHG: It’s really enjoyable work. It’s a lot of travel, obviously, but you really get to see the world from a different perspective. We just spent seven weeks in China, for instance. It’s definitely an enjoyable experience. We get along well on the road. A lot of us teach when we are at home, have private students or teach at the university.

FOLKMAMA: Can you describe to us what people are going to hear when they come to the concert?

TADHG: It’s Irish music with our own fun and energetic twist. It should be a good mix of some high edgy stuff and some beautiful songs .

Dynamic Acadian Music and Dance with Vishtèn, 7:30 February 16th in Harrisburg, PA


Vishtèn is a traditionally oriented group of musicians who members are from two different Acadian communities in Canada—onefound on Prince Edward Island and the other on the Magdalen Islands. The group draws from the Acadian heritage of the area, as well as from the Irish and Scots immigrants who the Acadians co-mingled with. The group creates a lively up-beat dance hall fusion sound that’s frequently punctuated by foot percussion and step dancing.

Vishtèn features twin sisters Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc who join forces with Pascal Miousse.

Vishtèn is scheduled to play for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society at 7:30 PM, Sunday, February 16, 2013 at the Abbey Bar of the Appalachian Brewing Company located at 50 N. Cameron St in Harrisburg, PA 17101. This is a sit-down concert in a listening room environment.  Free parking is available behind the building.

Tickets are $23 and are available in advance at or at the door.


I had a really interesting conversation with Vishtèn member Pastelle LeBlanc about Acadian music and dance and what their band is doing to refresh and enliven the Acadian traditions.

FOLKMAMA: So for this concert coming up, what will people see and hear?

PASTELLE: We’re going to be doing some music and dance from the Acadian tradition. My sister Emmanuelle and I have been step dancing for quite a while and we’ll be presenting some Acadian steps which are a totally different style than Irish stepdancing. There will be a bit of sitting down dance, which is foot percussion done with actual steps.

So the people will be able to see some of that as well as hear high energy Acadian tunes.

We’ll  also be singing some songs.  Most of the songs are kind of old songs that we have reworked, keeping the nice melodies but adding some modern influences. All of us sing and there will be about 12 instruments on stage.

FOLKMAMA: Which instruments?

PASTELLE: There’s fiddle, guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, accordion, harmonium, whistles, piano, bodhrán, jaw harp, moog, and electric guitar.

FOLKMAMA: And you compose a lot of your pieces?

PASTELLE: Yes, we create a lot. We try to mix the old and the new and keep it interesting.

FOLKMAMA: Could you please give us a little history of the Acadian culture?

PASTELLE: The Acadians were from France and about 400 years ago traveled to start a new life in Acadia which was in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Islands. They got established there for about 150 years before there was a great deportation so a lot of Acadians got deported back to France or to many parts of the United States, especially Louisiana.

Many of the Acadians that remained after the deportation didn’t have the money to buy instruments, but a way for them to keep the music alive was through “mouth music”, so that’s a big part of the Acadian culture. The foot taping was used to help keep the beat and to help the dancers. There is also very distinctive swing to the Acadian style. So the bowing is kind of a “shuffle” bowing.

There is still a strong connection between Acadians throughout the world. We have Acadian congresses– this summer there’s one. It’s a reunion of all the Acadian cultures–Cajun cousins in the United States, Acadians in France and Acadians throughout Atlantic Canada.

FOLKMAMA: I’m curious about that distinctive swing style that you were just mentioning. Has Acadian music always had that swing, or is it a new development?

PASTELLE: I think it is a bit more recent. One of the stories that Pascal tells is from the Magdalen Islands. A lot of the fishermen play fiddle and so they say that the syncopated rhythm kind of imitates the sound of the engines from the fishing boats. So the fiddler would be on the fishing boat the whole day and get back on the island at night and it would make sense that they would still have the engine’s rhythm in their ears.

FOLKMAMA: What about your growing -up years? How has being a set of twins influenced your music?

PASTELLE: We grew up in a household where there was lots of music. Hearing the same music and having the same influences has definitely affected the way that we create arrangement. We don’t notice it but people say that we talk basically the same and even our singing voices are very similar. It’s kind of a twin thing of knowing what the other thinks or is going to say and I guess that kind of transpires into the music as well.

Pascal is from the Magdalen Islands and he started playing fiddle when he was about four or five years old. He actually has a twin brother and sister so he understands the twin thing. He has a very instinctive traditional feel. He’s very creative, and he composes a lot. He plays the fiddle but also guitar and mandolin, anything with strings. He’s a big force in the band.

The Quebe Sister Band heads to York PA January 26th with a surprising new line-up

T_QuebeSistersThe Quebe Sisters Band will bring their refreshing blend of western swing, jazz, vintage country and three-part harmony vocals to Marketview Arts in York, PA on Sunday, January 26, 2014 for a Matinee Concert at 4:00 pm. The concert is sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and will be recorded for broadcast on WITF-FM’s “Center Stage” radio program.

Marketview Arts is located at 37 W. Philadelphia Street in York, PA. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased at or by calling 800-838-3006.

In 1998 the Quebes heard Texas style fiddling for the first time at a fiddle contest in Denton, Texas. At ages 7, 10 and 12 they started taking fiddle lessons from Joey and Sherry McKenzie. From the start, all three sisters demonstrated talent, determination and a love for the music. Soon afterwards, the girls began competing in fiddle contests and had success early on; winning regional, State and National championships.

The girls soon took their act on the road, accompanied by the driving rhythm of Joey McKenzie on guitar and Galvin Kelso on bass. Through the years they have played at the Grand Ole Opry, the Kennedy Center, NYC’s Lincoln Center, The Birchmere, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the National Folk Festival. In addition, the QSB has appeared in concert with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Merle Haggard, Asleep at the Wheel, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, Riders in the Sky, and Marty Stuart. They have also had the pleasure of playing with billionaire/ukulele enthusiast Warren Buffett and had the honor of performing for President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

During a recent interview Grace Quebe talks about the group’s new CD, the marriage of the youngest Quebe sister, Hulda and the band’s surprising new line-up.


FOLKMAMA: We’re really looking forward to your performance in York, PA! It seems like there are a lot of new things happening with the Quebe Sister Band. First off, I’m wondering if you can tell me some things about your new CD?

GRACE: We’ve just got our new CD back from the printer. (“Every Which-Away”, release date February 11th) It’s come within the last few days and we’re really excited about it! We’ve been working on this project for awhile. We recorded it in about two weeks or so. But it’s taken a long time to finish in between touring and trips in the summer. There are so many people who helped us with this project. We’ve had great engineers, and everyone who did the art work were great. It was produced by Joey McKenzie and mastered by him too. But we’re really happy with the quality.

FOLKMAMA: Is it very similar in style to your last CD, or have you made some changes?

GRACE: It’s very similar to our last CD “Timeless” because, up until this point, it featured our current band and it’s a lot of straight ahead Western Swing and jazz. It’s a really good representation of what we have been doing. All of the songs we are still playing and will continue to play because we have them on this album. So when people come out to a show they are going to be hearing quite a few songs on this record. It’s really an accurate representation of what we have been doing and the different styles that we have been playing.

FOLKMAMA: And will you have it available when you come to play in York?

GRACE: We sure will.

FOLKMAMA: You’ve recently made a line-up change that may be a big surprise to a lot of people. Tell me a little bit about the musicians that you will be bringing with you to York?

GRACE: Our guitar player Joey McKenzie and our bass player Galvin Kelso really provided a solid rhythm team, but we just decided it was time to to pursue some different avenues. Joey was definitely interested in doing some more teaching which was really hard for him to do with all the touring that we do. So we decided to go ahead and make a change which which allows him to do what he wanted to do.

We first met our new band mates Penny Lea and Katy Lou Clark (they’re twins) at the Grand Old Opry where they were working. We played there one night and we met them at a CD signing and we found out that they were from Texas and we told them to come on over if they were ever at home visiting family. So a few Christmases ago they dropped by to see us and we had so much fun and just got to be such great friends! So when they found out that we were going to be making these changes in our band that said that they’d like to help us out at least for 2014. And then we’ll see.

So Penny and Katy will be playing with our band and when they go to Nashville they play with their brother in a band called the Purple Hulls. They recently moved to Texas to be with their parents because their dad was sick and has since passed away. Maybe sometime they’ll move to Nashville, but for now they live in Texas.

FOLKMAMA: So how has working with Katy and Penny altered your sound?

GRACE: Well I think we’ve learned to adapt to the players. We actually now have a broader range of instruments to work with. Penny plays the mandolin and the guitar and Katy’s playing banjo and plays accordion and piano as well. This concert in York will be one of the first that we’ll play together as a band.

FOLKMAMA: And the twins are young too, like the three of you are?

GRACE: They are my age, 27. I’m the oldest. My sister Sophia is 26 and Hulda is 23.

FOLKMAMA: And I believe one of you is married.

GRACE: Yes, it’s my youngest sister Hulda. She got married this past year. She married a fiddle player.

FOLKMAMA: And has that changed the amount that you can tour?

GRACE: Actually no because Hulda’s husband is just finishing up school. I think he’s going to graduate this spring. So he’s working really hard to finish up school and he’s really busy They were dating all the while that we were touring for the past several years so they’re quite used to that schedule–traveling all all that.

FOLKMAMA: So you are all full time, on the road then. Do you also teach and do other things?

GRACE: You know I have taught in the past. I was helping out Sherry McKenzie, Joey’s wife who was teaching fiddle at some schools and we helped her out with that for several years–that’s when we were in high school. Then our band got so busy that and our schedule became so sporadic so that it was hard for us to have a weekly schedule at the school. So ever since then we’ve just been in the band.

FOLKMAMA: So what are your goals now as you and your sisters are getting older?

GRACE: Well. we just want to keep on playing. We’re having so much fun and we’re doing things that we didn’t really plan –but just naturally happened. We’re enjoying it, and if others are enjoying it that’s all the more reason to keep doing it too. We’re looking forward to 2014 to see what comes along!

To find out more about the Quebe Sisters Band visit Information about Penny and Katy Clark can be found at

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