Many thanks to the GMHG board for supporting Scottish Concert-Arts!
Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Hass
The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly talented young California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.
Now regularly touring with Fraser and creating a buzz at festivals and in concert halls throughout Europe and North America, Natalie is in the vanguard of young cellists who are redefining the role of the cello in traditional music. The duo’s recordings display their dazzling teamwork, driving, dancing rhythms, and their shared passion for improvising on the melody and the groove of Scottish tunes.
Rathkeltair blends compelling and catchy original songs with tight, driving straight-ahead rock and roll, while never forgetting their Celtic roots. The band delivers a heady mix of bagpipe-driven foot-stomping tunes and original songs, which have been enthralling audiences for many years. Unique in their musicianship and high energy performances, Rathkeltair is one of the most respected and entertaining bands in the Celtic music world today.
Core members are Nick Watson and Trevor Tanner. Nick, on drums and vocals, was part of the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band (G1 World Champions 1993). Trevor, who was part of the influential 1980s English rock band The Bolshoi, creates much of Rathkeltair’s original material and brings that pop sensibility which makes Rathkeltair truly unique.
Rathkeltair’s namesake is a famous historical site in County Down, Northern Ireland, also known as the “mound of Down,” besides being close to the village where Nick was born and raised.
Maura Shawn Scanlin
Maura Shawn Scanlin, born and raised in Boone, North Carolina, currently resides in Boston. Maura is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Classical Violin Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. In addition to classical study and involvement, Maura enjoys performing and collaborating with other musicians in a variety of musical genres ranging from traditional folk to improvisatory music in the greater Boston area and beyond. Particularly versed in Celtic fiddle music, Maura is a two-time US National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and the winner of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Competition.
Elias Alexander is swiftly distinguishing himself in traditional music circles as a piper, singer, composer, and sometime comedian. Originally from Ashland, Oregon, he graduated from Middlebury College in 2013 with an honors degree in music, moving to Boston to be part of the vibrant traditional music scene there.
Elias has appeared with greats such as Carlos Nuñez, Alasdair Fraser, and Gillebrìde MacMillan, and has performed at top festivals such as Celtic Connections. Elias is the frontman, piper, and co-founder of Afro-Celtic Funk band Soulsha, and the leader of Elias Alexander and Bywater Band (formerly known as Fresh Haggis). He also performs with Georgia Old-Time duo The New Millennium Jelly Rollers, and with MAC.
A regular staff member of Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp and Creekside Fiddle Camps in Ashland, Oregon, he is in demand for teaching at other camps around the country.
Andrew Finn Magill
Andrew Finn Magill is a fiddler/violinist who straddles genres. He has toured the US, Europe, Africa, and Brazil and performed with many Irish and Scottish luminaries from John Doyle to the Paul McKenna Band. By age 16 he was a two-time finalist at the All-Ireland fiddle championships. In 2011 he co-produced an MTV-sponsored album with Afro-pop star Peter Mawanga Mau a Malawi. In 2016 he launched a two disc concept album, Roots and Branches, which charts Magill’s progression through his musical roots: Irish music.
Through its touring schedule and dynamic live performances, Seven Nations has become one of the fastest growing live acts nationwide. They have logged in more than one million touring miles trying to make the music universal for old and new fans alike. To the five member band, that means being on tour 85 percent of the year, melding guitar and vocal elements of American pop and rock with Highland bagpipes and fiddle. The result is a high-energy performance that has fans jumping out of their seats, and has sparked interest nationwide.
Lead singer/songwriter and founding member Kirk MacLeod attended bagpipe summer schools in these mountains from the age of 12 and won the first ever John McFadden award for “most promising piper.” Many years later he has led a band through almost a quarter of a million albums sold and some of the most brilliantly powerful and creative Celtic rock ever played.
“We are lucky,” says McLeod, “because we come from two unique cultures. We love American pop and rock and roll, but we also love our Celtic roots. We want to touch everybody with our music.”
Marybeth McQueen grew up in an environment filled with Scottish music, the closest source being her father Gregory McQueen, fiddle player for Clandestine. She began learning the Highland pipes at age 8, and has been attending the North American Academy of Piping and Drumming for many years. In 2014 she placed 2nd in the US Scottish Fiddle championship and in 2015 won “Best March” in the open level. Marybeth is currently a student at UNCW and is an expert at mixing traditional music with modern techniques in an upbeat and creative style.
David and Michael McLeod are EUSPBA Grade I solo competition bagpipers from Upstate SC, and are members of the Atlanta Pipe Band. They are students of Jimmy McIntosh and have performed with John Doyle, Jamie Laval, EJ Jones, and John Maschino. They jointly won the 2014 Goblin Cup and are full of great music.
William Jackson has been at the forefront of Scottish traditional music for nearly 30 years. In addition to his stature as one of the leading harpers and multi-instrumentalists in Scotland, William has gained an international reputation as a composer. His “Land of Light” won the international competition in 1999 as the new song for Scotland, announced on the eve of that Parliament convening for the first time in 300 years.
As a founding member of the band Ossian (1976-1989) he was part of the revival of traditional music in Scotland in the 70s and 80s, and became known as an innovative composer, using a mix of traditional and classical musicians in such acclaimed works as The Wellpark Suite (1985), A Scottish Island (1998) and Duan Albanach (2003). The band, whose music influenced a generation of musicians, extensively toured the U.S. and Europe. Besides harp, he also plays tinwhistle, bouzouki and piano.
Raven and Red
Raven and Red is an award-winning American folk music group based in Nashville, Tennessee. The band consists of Brittany Jones (vocals/violin) and Mitchell Lane (vocals/guitar), both graduates of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Mitchell’s youngest brother, Cole King (vocals/mandolin), a student at Woodward Academy. Together, they strive to reach audiences through their recordings and live performances, highlighted by eloquent vocals and expressive instrumental arrangements. Their innovative songwriting style is influenced by a combination of genres, including country, classical, Celtic, and American folk music. Their first full-length album, featuring original music written and produced by Raven and Red, is scheduled for release in the summer of 2017. The group has performed concerts at various festivals, venues, and events throughout the US, including opening shows for headliners such as 11-time Grammy Award nominee, Connie Smith, 2-time Grammy Award-nominated bluegrass group, Dailey & Vincent, multi award-winning bluegrass band, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, and Irish pop/Celtic rock band, Screaming Orphans. In addition to their current repertoire, Raven and Red has expanded into the Celtic music genre with recordings and live performances at several top festivals showcasing Scottish and Irish music.
Piper Jones Band
Piper Jones Band is a celebration of the Highland pipes with the percussive strains of drums and bouzouki, balancing integrity of tradition with playing with a sense of true abandon. The group has released two CDs, The Wandering Stars and Crossing the Sabine.
EJ Jones first played at GMHG with Clandestine in 1998 and is a professionally ranked competitive piper in the EUSPBA. He has had a performing career spanning over two decades with the recent distinction of representing the USA at the 2014 MacCrimmon Trophy at Festival Interceltique Lorient.
Frances Cunningham, on bouzouki, is a Texas native who has enjoyed a long career performing nationwide, with a variety of musicians. Her first love is traditional Irish music and she was the winner of the Midwest Fleadh in 2013 in both accompaniment and on the tenor banjo. She currently lives in Nashville, TN and has just released her debut CD, Alcinoe.
Wolf Loescher plays percussion in bands ranging from symphonic to progressive rock to Celtic folk. He specializes in drum kit and hand percussion, and has performed and recorded with a variety of projects all across the country. He founded the band Jiggernaut and has been a key member of many great Celtic bands.
Ed Miller has been hailed as “one of the finest singers to come out of the Scottish Folksong Revival” and as “one of Scotland’s best singing exports.” Originally from Edinburgh, he has for many years been based in Austin, Texas, where he gained graduate degrees in Folklore and Geography at the University of Texas. Ed’s repertoire covers the whole spectrum of Scottish folk music, from old ballads and songs of Robert Burns to more recent songs that add to the huge store of Scots songs. When not on the road, Ed also hosts a long-running folk music show, “Across the Pond,” on Sun Radio, and he has expanded his activities into taking folksong based tours to Scotland each year, and teaching at various folk music camps. He has recorded nine CDs of Scottish songs including the most recent collaborative CD masterwork Come Awa’ Wi’ Me.
Western North Carolina native Hannah Seng devotes herself to writing songs and playing tunes on her banjo and fiddle in traditional Appalachian old-time and Irish styles. Her songs and tunes are rich with texture, depth, tone, rhythm and lyrics that extend beyond the realm of traditional music into something atmospheric and original. Hannah grew up in a house filled with classical piano, rock guitar, folk songs, harmonies and dancing. She found her love of fiddling as a teenager in the vibrant dance community of this region of North Carolina.
Throughout her musical career, Hannah has played fiddle and banjo in a number of bands for contra and square dances, and at festivals such as the Lake Eden Arts Festival and the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. After having earned her BA in painting at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Hannah continues to balance songwriting, performing and teaching with time in her studio in Saluda, North Carolina.
Chambless and Muse
For more than 25 years, Alabama natives Jil Chambless and Scooter Muse have been performing the music of Scotland, Ireland and early America with various ensembles in a wide variety of venues, from house concerts to festivals and concert halls. Jil and Scooter have been fortunate to work alongside many of the nest artists in Celtic music, resulting in many spontaneous collaborations.
As singer and flute and whistle player, Jil Chambless has performed across the US as well as in Canada, Scotland, and Israel with many artists and bands. In 2009, Jil released her first solo CD, The Ladies Go Dancing, produced by the legendary Brian McNeill. Jil brings to any audience a wonderful listening experience from haunting ballads to upbeat songs with a smooth delivery that never fails to bring both smiles and tears in each and every performance.
Scooter Muse has his roots in Bluegrass and is an award-winning 5-string banjo player, and in the late 1980s he moved into the world of Celtic guitar. Scooter’s first solo recording of original guitar instrumentals, Saddell Abbey, was purchased by the Scottish Tourist Board in Kintyre.
In 2010, Jil and Scooter began performing as a duo, playing a variety of venues from small house concerts to major Celtic festivals. Since then they have released three CDs as a duo, The Laverock Sang, Passing Tales & Glories and The Lang Awa’ Ships. They also released a CD with Scottish fiddler John Taylor, Live @ NTIF.
Born in Aberdeen, John started learning fiddle when he was 8 years old. At age 10, he began studying with the late Kim Murray of Elgin. While in high school, he used to play at various local functions, sometimes with Mrs. Pearson’s Concert Party, a kind of Scottish variety show. After high school, John went south to Edinburgh to study Engineering at Heriot-Watt University. While there, he played in folk clubs, and for a while played fiddle and guitar and sang in a band called Main Street.
In 1979, John moved to San Jose, California. He played for years with the pub band Emerald, but has also had his own bands (The Back Close Band, Twisted Knickers, Hamewith) and has played with many other well known musicians, notably Ed Miller, Men of Worth, and more recently, Scooter Muse and Jil Chambless, and can be heard playing at Scottish festivals throught the US. He has also worked with Brian McNeill, who has produced two albums for John, After the Dance and The Road Ahead.
John is also well known as a musician in the world of Scottish Country Dance. He has played for dance tours in Scotland and New Zealand and regularly plays for dances and dance workshops throughout the US and Canada.
Thank you for your interest in the Grandfather Mt Highland Games!
2016 archived lineup here.