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.





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:


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.

Irish music with CILLIAN and NIALL VALLELY along with ALAN MURRAY , Sept 15, Harrisburg, PA

niall and cillian hiresThree of the greatest names in traditional Irish music today, all acclaimed soloists in their own right, are coming together this fall for a unique U.S. concert tour, and Harrisburg will be one of their early stops. Brothers CILLIAN and NIALL VALLELY along with ALAN MURRAY will appear in a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Sunday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 50 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

Known worldwide for their work with the Irish acts Lúnasa, Nomos, and Karan Casey, the Vallely brothers hail from Armagh City in the north of Ireland. They are being joined by Scottish guitarist and singer Alan Murray.

Cillian Vallely is the uilleann pipes and low-whistle player with Lúnasa, praised by Irish Voice as the “hottest Celtic band on the planet. Niall Vallaly has been recognized throughout the world as one of Ireland’s greatest concertina players. Alan Murray is a highly respected guitarist and singer who has toured extensively across Ireland, Britain, Australia, and the U.S.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at

The interview below with Cillian Vallely was conducted and edited for Susquehanna Folk Music Society by Lesley Ham, Sept 2, 2013


Lesley: First of all, we’re looking forward to you coming here; we’re excited to hear you.

Cillian: Yes, I was there about seven years ago with Lunasa. We had a nice time, it’s good to be going back there now.

Lesley: Usually, we’re used to seeing you with Lunasa, but this is the first time I’ll be seeing you with your brother.

Cillian: Yes, we grew up playing together. We both started when we were very young. We started playing formal concerts and tours about 2001-2002. We decided to record an album together, Callan Bridge. We put together tunes to record and went on the road.

Lesley: Callan Bridge is the only one you’ve done together, right?

Cillian: Yes, it’s about 10 or 11 years old now; maybe we should get cracking on another one.

Lesley: Yes, you should. It seems surprising that you haven’t.

Cillian: In the last year and a half we started playing a bit more together, we’ve got some new stuff.

Lesley: That’s great. It’s also surprising that it took so long to put an album together since you’ve been playing together since you were kids.

Cillian: Niall left Armagh when he was 18 to go to Cork (Niall got his Bachelors of Music degree from University College Cork) and two years later when I was 18 I went to England and then from England to America, so I wasn’t really around much for 10 years after that. We’d meet up at Christmas or whenever. We’d only play with our parents, we never played formally. We didn’t have set tunes or a program that we could do. That only came about for the album. We had barely played as adults until that point.

Lesley: Your parents started the Armagh Pipers Club over 40 years ago. That must have been fun growing up in such a musical family.

Cillian: Yes, it was always there; I don’t know anything else. That was just the reality of growing up. My parents ran a club of about 100 kids, we just went to the classes with everybody else. There was always music and concerts. We even did a few tours as a family when I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember we went to Switzerland and France. So I had an early feeling for going on tour and going on stage.

Lesley: That’s quite young!

Cillian: I only have one upbringing, so I don’t know how to compare not having that music.

Lesley: So, when it came time for you and Niall to put together your album, how did you choose what to put on it?

Cillian: There are few different elements. We got a few sets of things we’d always played, things we learned from our parents, standard tunes; and then both of us had a lot of tunes we knew that nobody else played, old, traditional tunes, so we did a bit of research and found tunes that suited the instruments; and then Niall also composes tunes, so he had 5 or 6 tunes that he hadn’t recorded with anyone else that suited the pipes. So a mixture of new stuff and very old stuff from manuscripts; a varied program.

Lesley: Do you also compose tunes?

Cillian: Yes, recently I’ve written quite a few tunes that Lunasa did on the last album. Some of them I wrote 10 to 15 years ago, but only recently got the confidence to let them loose.

Lesley: I’m glad you got brave enough to let us listen to them!

Cillian: I don’t do it a lot, but sometimes you find yourself doodling and then develop a melody. It’s always a bit nervy playing for someone else; it can be a humbling experience.

Lesley: Do you still have that session in New York?

Cillian: No, but there are always sessions most days of the week in Manhattan I can sit in.  But when I’m back home I play. Most of my friends play; it’s as much as a sociable evening out as a musical one. When I’m home for a while I like to get out and see everybody and have a few drinks with them.

Lesley: Your parents’ philosophy is that listening is just as important as learning how to play the instrument.

Cillian: At the Piper’s Club, they were very against the competition angle of music for children, in favor of putting together groups and doing concerts and arrangements. They’ve always been keen to stress that element of music, listening to each other; fiddle players play with pipers and flute players. Everybody is taught as a group. The focus is on the music itself and the ensemble and social aspect of it. Pipers tend to be all around musicians instead of solo pipers. I think that’s a healthy way to teach young people. People can play with all instruments and all styles. You get a balanced musical education at the Pipers Club.

Lesley: You have an album with Kevin (Crawford from Lunasa, On Common Ground). How did that come about?

Cillian: We’re always playing a certain style with Lunasa so we decided to do something different, a little less arranged, with lower instruments called flat pipes, that give a mellow sound. It’s a relaxed album. I enjoyed doing that; it’s a different style of music than I play with Lunasa or Niall. For a few years we did a lot of concerts, just myself and Kevin, or myself, Kevin and a guitarist.

Lesley: That sounds nice. We’ll have to bring you back with that ensemble! I notice that Karan Casey is your sister-in-law. Your family holidays must be fun.

Cillian: It’s more social; we all get together and our children play together while we chat. I often play with Niall and Caoimhin (his younger brother, who plays the piano, tin whistle, and fiddle) and Karan. Karan often sings with Lunasa, so I end up doing quite a few gigs a year with Karan, but we don’t do a lot of casual playing. It’s the nature of when it’s your profession. We’re usually playing formally, so it’s nice when we have a casual night.

Lesley: Do your daughters play?

Cillian: Not yet. One is three and one just turned six. I want them to play forever, so I’m not going to force them yet; let them run around the park. When they’re ready for an instrument hopefully they’ll take it serious.

Lesley: Thank you. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

Cillian: See you around.