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The ancient wail of the bagpipes glides over the heavy deep rhythm of psychedelic rock, with Andrew Forbes on bagpipes, Tony Steele on bass, and Michael Morales on drums. An ode to the power of Celtic music joined with blues, funk, hip-hop and rock. This raw sound forged on the streets of New York will have every body part dancing and feeling the funky bagpipe soul.
Andrew Forbes’ style is unique in its approach to both traditional bagpipe music and original compositions. Influenced by the great rock artists of the classic era. His piping is bold and fierce, with technical precision, rhythm, and depth. Michael Morales is a master drummer from New York City, receiving his degree in music from CUNY. He and Forbes started the group in 2011 as both a gigging band and a busking duo. For years they were a fixture in Union Square, NYC, on Sunday afternoons. Rocking crowds on the streets and in the clubs, Scottish Octopus cut their teeth on New York’s exciting live music scene, being featured at the Gov Ball, on PBS, the Village Voice, and NYC Tartan Week Festival. After meeting Tony Steele in 2015, fretless bass guitar completed the trio, making for a fresh heavy sound. The trio will rock your body, brain, and bones.
Alasdair White is an exceptional exponent of West Coast Scottish music and is widely regarded as one of the foremost Scottish fiddler players of his generation.
He was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands of singular importance to Gaelic Scotland’s musical heritage and is perhaps best known as having been a member of Scotland’s seminal Battlefield Band for over 16 years, touring extensively in that time throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Now resident in New York, Alasdair has performed and recorded as a guest with many of the most well known names in Scottish, Irish and Breton traditional music including Kathleen MacInnis, Julie Fowlis, Eddie Reader, Allan MacDonald, Manus Lunny, Nuala Kennedy, and Arnaud Ciapolino. Current ongoing projects include Daimh, the Alan Kelly Gang and of course Battlefield Band. Alasdair also recently premiered a major commission at the Hebridean Celtic festival in Stornoway, an hour long original piece entitled an Iuchair.
In his thirty years of professional performing, Seamus has taken his music from Alaska to Florida, Maryland to California and a host of stops in between, playing everything from the pubs to the concert halls. As a result, he is a master showman of exceptional musical skills and unmatched repartee.
Seamus has released eleven CDs of both contemporary and traditional material, including Christmas songs and a children’s album. The Washington Area Music Association has awarded him a WAMMIE for “Best Irish/Celtic Male Vocalist” every year since 1993. His versatility makes him a headliner at Celtic festivals such as Hunter Mountain (NY); Celtic Classic (PA); Longs Peak Scottish Irish Festival, (CO) and at Sacramento (CA) Highland Games. Seamus is often invited to perform for various organizations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Fraternal Order of Police, Firemen, military groups and the Bar Association. There is always something for everybody.
Seamus’ trademark is his ongoing interaction with his audiences. From the moment he steps on stage, he starts talking to them — and encourages them to talk back! He is quick with a quip and likes nothing better than to discover someone in the audience who is similarly inclined. Fast-paced humor is very much a part of what Seamus does, whether he’s telling a series of rapid-fire jokes or launching into a lyrical parody.
A powerful trio made up of faculty and students from East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic and Country Music Studies Program in Johnson City, IN.
Atlantic North has recently returned from their first tour to Scotland in 2017, and released their first CD in 2017 as well. Members include
- Will MacMorran (ETSU Faculty, touring with the Chieftains in 2018, 7N etc.)
- Helena Hunt (ETSU student, vocals)
- Aynsley Porchak (ETSU grad student, won American AND Canadian Grand Master fiddle championship)
William Jackson and Gráinne Hambly
Internationally known harper and composer William Jackson has been a major force in Scottish Music for many years. As a founding member of the band Ossian, he was part of the revival of traditional music in Scotland in the 70’s and 80’s, and became known as an innovative composer, using a mix of traditional and classical musicians.
Touring extensively in Europe and North America he gained a reputation as a fine performer of traditional music featuring the Scottish harp, and also as a teacher. Apart from his Scottish background William has also been influenced by Irish music in his compositions, as both his paternal grandparents were from Co. Donegal, Ireland, and he spent a great deal of his childhood there.
Gráinne Hambly from Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp, and is in great demand as a performer and teacher, both at home and abroad. Gráinne started to play Irish music on the tin whistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp.
She has attracted glowing praise for her live performances and recorded material, which brilliantly showcase what has been described as her ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. She has featured on a number of recordings and has released three critically acclaimed solo CDs plus a collaborative recording with Scottish harper William Jackson.
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.
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.”
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 three CDs: The Wandering Stars, Crossing the Sabine and Revel Grove.
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 recently 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.
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.
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.
Thank you for your interest in the Grandfather Mt Highland Games!
2017 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