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Powered by four of the brightest voices in a new generation of traditional folk music, Fàrsan unites song, dance and instrumental music from the Gaelic traditions of Scotland and Cape Breton. Their unique blend of fiddle, pipes, whistles, piano and accordion with percussive stepdance and puirt-à-beul brings a sparkling energy to every performance.
Sue Richards and Robin Bullock
A major new duo of two award-winning American masters of traditional Celtic music, Sue Richards and Robin Bullock blend the ancient and magical tones of the Celtic harp with the powerful resonance of the steel-string guitar, cittern and mandolin, drawing on Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Breton traditions to create something truly unique: beautiful and timeless, yet fresh and current.
Their individual achievements speak for themselves, with (among many other accomplishments) Sue being a four-time National Scottish Harp Champion and Robin being a longtime touring sideman with Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award winner Tom Paxton.
“A band that knows how to rock, but hasn’t forgotten how to think.” Brian McNeill
Respect for Celtic tradition while redefining Celtic rock. Just powerful harmonies and great musicianship. Deanna Smith sings like an angel, Richard Kean plays like the devil, add Linda Relph on fiddle, a bad ass rhythm section and a whole lot of fun and you get Jiggernaut.
Sadly, we lost the angel and the legend, Deanna Smith Scotland, in November 2019. Though we will not have Deanna’s voice soaring out from the Shannon stage, Jiggernaut will be still be continuing their drive to redefine Celtic rock, ably aided and abetted by the incredible voice of Amanda Williams Ware, who will be taking on the lead vocal role.
Founding member Wolf Loescher will also be joining them. Jiggernaut will be using their set on Saturday afternoon to honor Deanna with many guest artists joining them for what promises to be an unforgettable hour.
Emerald Rae is a fiddler and folksinger from the seaside town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Roots Music Report hails her as “a spell-caster of no small skill… maxing out her axe’s potential in the service of her consistently compelling melodies”and recognizes her self-titled 2018 release as “one of the year’s more fetching releases”. She was chosen as a Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist and is quickly gaining ground as one of the top new artists to follow this year. Pairing ornamented vocals with groovy percussive fiddle, Emerald pushes the boundaries of the imagination with a refreshingly colorful palate.
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. His newest CD is Follow the Music, an eclectic mix of seven Scottish songs, four Irish, and one Texan.
The Reel Sisters
The Reel Sisters: a duo steeped in the musical tradition of Scottish harp and smallpipes. Rosalind and Kelly share lifetimes of experience in the traditional music community and the technical expertise of classical training. Compelling tunes combine with The Sisters’ approachable, lighthearted personalities to create a unique and intimate musical experience. The Reel Sisters’ music is uplifting, stirring, and just sweet fun.
Brothers McLeod, David and Michael, began performing in 2014. David studied bioengineering as an undergraduate at Clemson University with research interests including upper-limb prostheses, signal analysis, and machine learning. He will begin doctoral studies at George Washington University in biomedical instrumentation in Fall 2019. Michael is a professional level solo competitive bagpiper who attends Furman University majoring in biology to pursue a career in dentistry.
Both have been members of numerous bands including Palmetto Pipes and Drums of Columbia, SC; Upstate United of Clemson, SC; and the Atlanta Pipe Band. They also perform at events such as weddings, Burns Dinners, Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan services, parades and veterans’ services, and debutante balls. Most notably, they have performed as entertainers on the Alex Beaton Stage at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games since 2015.
StrathSpan creates a musical tapestry of the rich tones of cello interwoven with the lyrical voice of the violin. The sound of StrathSpan starts with traditional Scottish pipe and fiddle tunes, layering innovative harmonies and rhythms. The repertoire ranges from elegant marches and strathspeys to driving reels, from lively jigs to soulful airs, with occasional forays into Irish, Scandinavian, and Breton traditions. The resulting music evokes the timeless sensations of heartbeat and laughter, waves and sea creatures, joyous dance and ancient ceremony.
StrathSpan is Julia Weatherford and her cello at the eastern end of the Swannanoa Valley in North Carolina, and Nora Garver and her fiddle in Asheville at the western end of the Swannanoa Valley. “Strath” means valley in Scots Gaelic. Thus, they span the valley. Julia and Nora brought together years of astonishingly varied musical experience when they formed their duo in 2015. Past performances include Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Swannanoa Gathering, Biltmore Estate, and Whitehorse at Black Mountain.
Wolf Loescher is a singer / storyteller based in Longmont, Colorado. He sings songs and tells stories from the Old World and the New, accompanying himself on his custom 8-string bouzouki (aka “Bouzar” or “Gadzouki”), guitar, and bodhran. He is often joined by fabulous musicians from around the country in his backing band “The Growlers”.
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.
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.
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.
Piper Jones Band
The Piper Jones Band is a lyrical, high energy trio based on the moving and beautiful sounds of the Highland bagpipes, accompanied by unique percussive chords from the bouzouki and inspired drums. While maintaining a strong musical base in traditional tunes from Ireland, Scotland, and Appalachia, the group also performs original instrumental compositions and powerful vocal harmonies, as well as stepping off stage from time to time to lead the audience in traditional Celtic dances. The Piper Jones Band brings authentic, traditional music to your audience in a fresh, entertaining way.
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 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.
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.”
Thank you for your interest in the Grandfather Mt Highland Games!
2019 archived lineup here.
Want to be a performer at GMHG or talk about who would make a great act to include in a future year? Do you already study traditional music and want some support from other musicians in bringing your music from the practice room to the festival? email EJ or text 713-526-7889.
To be a performer on the GMHG concert stages you must:
-inspire the traditional players of tomorrow to take the stage
-make music informed by a love of Scottish songs and tunes
-entertain the audience
-have studied Scottish music at least a little
-strive to bring the audience the highest quality musicianship