Irish-American soprano vocalist and songwriter Cathie Ryan grew up in Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by traditional Irish influences. She is expert at the ancient art of sean nos (pronounced “shan-nos”) unaccompanied singing, and its traces can be heard in her delicate trilling and subtle ornamentation. The Detroit influences are also there in the form of blues and R&B beats.
“I would describe my music as coming from an Irish-American experience,” Ryan said. “I was raised by Irish parents in an American city setting, and my music comes from that, from all of that. But I always thought you had to do one or the other: you were either an American singer or you were an Irish singer. It has taken time to understand that I can be both. I just sing what’s in me.”
Cathie has released several solo albums and is featured on more than forty compilations of Celtic Music.
‘There is nothing like a live show, being with an audience, sharing the music. That is the best part of being a singer and writing songs ,’ she says.
In 2003 Cathie was included in the famous Irish music collection, A Woman’s Heart’ A Decade On placing her among Irish music’s finest female vocalists and songwriters. It was the first time Americans were featured in the series and she shared the honor with Allison Krauss, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.
Her original songs have been recorded by distinguished Irish vocalists such as Frances Black and Mary Black among others.
Catherine Ann McPhee is one of the great Gaelic voices. She was born in the Island of Barra (Scotland) and worked as an actor and singer proud of her heritage for many years. Her big break came in the 198s when she was asked to record an album. She now has three albums in her repertoire and her voice has become one of the most after in the Gaelic language world. She has recorded with Hector Zazou and has recently sung alongside Bjork, Siouxie and the Banshees and Suzanne Vega.
Catherine-Ann MacPhee was brought up on the Island of Barra. The Barra of her childhood was predominantly a singing island, especially Eoligarry, the small village where her home was. It was also home to many of the Island\’s singers, not least her grandmother and various other members of her family who encouraged the natural talent that they all saw in her at a very young age. At the age of seventeen, she was invited to join the first Gaelic Touring Repertory Theatre Company Fir Chlis. She toured with them for three and a half years throughout Scotland and England.
After Fir Chlis’ premature demise, Cathy Ann joined John McGrath’s 7:84 Theatre Co. and continued to tour as an actress and singer for some years. During this time she released her first recording, Canan Nan Gaidheal, followed in 1991 by Chi Mi’n Geamhradh, then the Sings Mairi Mhor album in 1994 and Suil Air Ais, ten years later. She is now in demand performing and teaching at many feisean, from Barra to Seattle.
After living in South Uist (Outer Hebrides) for some years Cathy Ann moved to Ottawa, Canada.
Cathal McConnell is known and respected all over the world for his masterful flute playing and singing, solo as well as with his band, Boys of the Lough and for the enormous number of tunes and songs he has stored in his head over a lifetime in music. A co-founder of the band and a member for nearly thirty years, Cathal and the Boys Of The Lough have performed in major concert halls throughout the world and have recorded nearly twenty albums.
Born in Co. Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland, he won All-Ireland Championships in both flute and tin whistle at the age of 18. Five years later he started touring with the first incarnation of the Boys of the Lough and has been with them ever since as instrumentalist and lead singer. He has become well known over the years as a true virtuoso of the flute and pennywhistle.
The Boys of the Lough (Trailer Records, 1973)
Second Album (Trailer Records, 1973)
Live at Passim’s (Philo Records, 1974)
Lochaber No More (Philo Records, 1976)
The Piper’s Broken Finger (Transatlantic Records, 1976)
An Irish Jubilee (Topic Records, 1976)
Good Friends … Good Music (Transatlantic Records, 1977)
On Lough Erne’s Shore (Topic Records, 1978)
Wish You Were Here (Transatlantic Records, 1978)
Regrouped (Flying Fish, 198)
In the Tradition (Topic Records, 1981)
Open Road (Topic Records, 1983) To Welcome Paddy Home (Philo Records, 1985)
Far From Home – Live (Shanachie Records, 1986) Farewell and Remember Me (Shanachie Records, 1987) Sweet Rural Shade (Shanachie Records, 1988) Live at Carnegie Hall (1992)
The Fair Hills of Ireland (Lough Records, 1992)
The Day Dawn (Lough Records, 1994) Midwinter Night’s Dream (Blix Street Records, 1996) The West of Ireland (Lough Records, 1999) Long Expectant Comes at Last (2000)
Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes (Lough Records, 2002)
Twenty (Lough Records, 2005) Rising Fawn Gathering, with Norman Blake (Western Jubilee Recording Company/Plectrafone Records, 2009) Good Friends – Good Music (Rounder, 2009)
Cady Finlayson specializes in spirited Irish fiddle music with American Folk and World Music Influences.
From her first show in a small Irish pub in the U.S. Virgin Islands to her Carnegie Hall appearance for the New York Police Department (NYPD) Memorial Concert, Cady Finlayson has brought her spirited Irish fiddling to numerous venues throughout the United States.
Cady Finlayson received her Master of Music degree from Mannes College of Music and the President’s Award for Irish fiddle study at Blas World Music Centre in Limerick, Ireland.
Her Shines Like Silver was listed as one of the top 2 CDs of 2002 by WVPE. Recording credits include the soundtrack to Irish film Snakes and Ladders, baseball film Random Acts, the Peace on Earth Holiday Folk Tour with Judy Collins, and CDs for artists including Pierce Turner, Piper John Bradley and Holly Palmer.
Her all-star Irish band includes singer Honor Finnegan, guitar master Kyle Sanna and a driving rhythm section led by Tim Alworth. Her CD, Harp and Shamrock, celebrates her love of both traditional Irish music and American folk/world music percussion.
Carreg Lafar was formed in 1993, in Cardiff, by musicians coming from different parts of Wales: Wrexham in the North, Llanelli and Swansea on the South Coast and the valleys of South East Wales. Their backgrounds were diverse, but they all share a love and enthusiasm for the music and culture of Wales. The original lineup featured Rhian Evan-Jones on fiddle, Antwn Owen-Hicks on bodhrán and vocals, James Rourke on flute, Linda Owen Jones on vocals, and Simon O’Shea on guitar. Danny KilBride has been playing guitar with the band since 2007.
The band spent a lot of time researching and arranging traditional material, culminating in their debut album Ysbrydy Werin released in November, 1995 on Sain Records.
Carreg Lafar’s live performances are passionate and lively. The band has performed at Celtic and world Music festivals in Wales and Brittany. Through a mixture of traditional and traditionally inspired original music, the group conveys a fresh and vibrant spirit whilst remaining firmly rooted in the language and musical heritage of its homeland.
Calum is from the island of Tiree in the Hebrides. He started learning the fiddle at an early age, from a neighbor, Willie Kemp, who studied with James Scott Skinner. He was runner-up at the 1988 US National Scottish Fiddle Championships, and returned to judge the Nationals in 1989, 1991, 1998 and 2001.
The irresistible energy and sensitivity of Calum’s playing has made him a highly sought-after performer and teacher. His busy performance schedule of concerts and workshops has taken him across the United States and Canada and to Scotland, England and Japan. Calum plays extensively for Scottish country dances across the US and Canada with his band, The Music of Spey that includes pianist Andy Imbrie and bass and cello player Ralph Gordon. He also plays frequently for dances with Muriel Johnstone, Scotland’s premier country dance pianist.
Calexico is an influential band that plays border music, a mix of Tex-Mex and southwestern music, country and rock. Although the band founders, Joey Burns and John Convertino, originally met in California, Calexico was formed in Tucson, Arizona.
Each of their albums attracted attention, from their debut Spoke (1996) to The Black Light (1998), the breakthrough, mariachi-infused Hot Rail (2000), to their highly successful Feast of Wire (2003), that ventured into ambient electronica and Gil Evans influenced jazz.
In early 2004, Calexico released a live DVD, Calexico – World Drifts In, taken from a remarkable performance at the Barbican in London.
In 2006 Calexico released Garden Ruin, officially the band’s fifth album, aside from their numerous tour-only CDs. Written in Bisbee, Arizona; recorded in Tucson, Arizona; mixed in Brooklyn, New York; and mastered in California.
Turkish music specialist Burhan Öçal has made the bridging of musical cultures his central mission. A native of Kirklareli, near Istanbul, he grew up in a musical family. From his father he learned a variety of percussion instruments, while his mother introduced him to religious vocal music. At an early age he was influenced by and began performing Turkish court and folk music, as well as neo-classical Turkish music. After his first contact with Western music, he became interested in combining other genres and cultural traditions, such as jazz and Western classical music, with his own.
Burhan Öçal’s instruments are as diverse as his music. In addition to a wide variety of percussion, such as the Darbuka (a vase-shaped drum played with the fingers), Kos (kettle drum), Kudum and Bendi, he is a highly skilled player on a number of stringed instruments, including the Divan-Saz, Tanbur and Ud. His expressive voice adds to the spectrum of musical elements at his command.
Since 1977, Burhan Öçal has divided his time between Istanbul and Zurich, Switzerland. He has won worldwide recongnition for touring and recording with his own Istanbul Oriental Ensemble, which performs traditional Gypsy and Turkish folk music. Seeking out a range of world-class collaborators, he has also performed with pianist Maria Joao Pires, jazz keyboardist (and Weather Report founder) Joe Zawinul and classical guitarist Eliot Fisk. He has toured and recorded with German fusion specialists in the Burhan Öçal Group, and as a guest artist with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band from Switzerland as well as the Australian pianist Peter Waters.
Burhan Öçal made his United States debut in February 1998 with Eliot Fisk followed by a tour with the George Gruntz Band, performing at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and in Vancouver and New York City. Mr. Öçal collaborated with the young Canadian saxophone player Seamus Blake in a residency at the University of Southern California and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He then brought The Seamus Blake Ensemble to the Istanbul Jazz Festival and the Izmir Music Festival in Turkey.
Öçal also joined the Kronos Quartet to premiere a new work of his own with them in October 2001. The Orange County Philharmonic Society’s Eclectic Orange Festival commissioned Mr. Öçal al to write a piece for the Kronos Quartet as well as Öçal and the zurna player, Ahmet Elbasan. The work was repeated with Kronos in June 21 at the Turkish Music Festival in Istanbul. Mr. Öçal returned to the Montreal Jazz Festival that summer, this time with an oriental-style funk ensemble, Groove ala Turca, featuring Jamaaladeen Tacuma (of Ornette Coleman’s band) as well as the Istanbul Oriental Ensemble.
In March 2001, Öçal appeared at a benefit for the Red Cross in Los Angeles featuring Sting and Argentine actress Mia Maestro. New collaborations include a tour with Huse Sermet, the noted French/Turkish pianist, in 23 and a tour and recording of Öçal’s first orchestral compositions (for percussion/violin/voice) with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra conducted by Howard Griffith.
Burhan Öçal has an extensive discography with several award-winning recordings. His first disc with his Istanbul Oriental Ensemble, Gypsy Rum won the 1995 German Record Critic’s Award and was a best-seller on the world music charts. The follow-up to that disc, Sultan’s Secret Door received the rare honor of a second German Record Critics Award. Later came Caravanserie.
He also received the Prix Choc in 1996 for his solo disc titled Ottoman Garden, Turkish classical music of the 17th century (Harmonia Mundi).
In 1998 Öçal formed the Classical Ensemble of Istanbul and released Orient Secret, a recording of the traditional art music of Islam. He also released a trance/ambient recording, Sultan Orhan, with Peter Namlook on the Fax label, his second CD with the German techno artist. His next album New Dream was released by Doublemoon Records in June 2005.
Bora Yasar was born in 1973 in Gaziantep, Turkey. He studied Alevi music and played saz for a semah group. He studied and applied classical Turkish music maqam and sufi music on the fretless classic guitar with neyzen Sezgin Bademli (University of Gaziantep Conservatory). In addition to his musical studies, Yasar studied Agricultural Engineering at Ankara University (1992-1994), Environmental Engineering at Mayis University (1994-1997) and Mechanical Engineering at University of Gaziantep (1997-21).
He has been researching Mesopotamian and Anatolian (which contains Turkish, Kurdish, Suryani, Armenian, and Laz) music and their similarities.
He plays saz, kopuz, yayli, mizrapli, tanbur, and fretless guitar.
Currently, he lives in New York and is working with different musicians from all over the world.
“Our goal is to musically combine the traditions of the different ethnicities, societies and tribes of Asia Minor throughout history beginning from Greeks and including Romans, Ottomans, Armenians, Jews, and Kurds,” says Bora Yasar. Along with Olcay Sesen, he makes up Sounds From Anatolia, a group they founded several years ago in Gaziantep, an ancient city in the South-East part of Turkey.
Sounds From Anatolia utilizes classic scales and local instruments to create a fusion of modern day sounds that bear traditional forms of Classical Turkish,Folkloric and Sufi (Tasawwuf) music. Played in the Anatolian maqqam (mode system), these songs include a wide range of styles from songs of mystical love (ghazal), to hymns (ilahi) and music of the Ottoman court. By fusing this musicwith their own improvisational compositions, they become archivist of the traditional repertoire while molding old forms into a new form. Their music isnot East meets West, more than it is ancient meets today.
Their mission of introducing the indigenous music of their ancestors to the world brought them to the US last year. Here is a short excerpt from our conversation with Bora:
How did you start working together?
Everything started organically. We met in college, had long conversations about music and gradually started playing together. In time we realized that there were more people around us listening to our music than we had initially thought.
How would you define your sound?
We are very interested in ethnic sounds. Every major society that resided in Anatolia left a distinctive sound and style. That’s why the region is so rich today. Lift a stone from the ground and you can trace the marks of different cultures that have existed there. The music of Anatolia is a mosaic and so is our sound.
What kind of instruments are you using in your music?
I went to school in different parts of Turkey and was introduced to different sounds inherent to those regions. I played with local musicians at family fests and gatherings and was introduced to a myriad of local instruments. I play classic and fretless guitar, tanbur (a long-necked plucked lute with frets),flute, cura, and kopuz (a short-stringed lute with three strings). My partner Olcay accompanies me with the classic guitar.
Musically speaking, who influenced you?
We are influenced by a wide array of artists but most importantly I would say Erkan Ogur. He is the pioneer of the fretless guitar and an extremely experienced musician in the field. Other than that the Armenian duduk player Jivan Gasparyan, Goksel Baktagir, 13th century poets Yunus Emre and Asik Veysel. We also buy almost everything Kalan Music puts out in Turkey; all their releases are superior.
In your shows you mention the story of Mississippi and the blues. What is the real story?
I read an interview with Erkan Ogur and he was saying that in order to be able to play the blues or jazz you had to cross the Mississippi river 4-5 times.Ogur was drawing a comparison to Turkish folk music and explaining how difficult it is to master it. So, we decided to come here and see if we can cross theriver.
Are you really going to do that?
We don’t know, maybe. We’ll begin with the Hudson River, we live in New Jersey. [laughs]
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Needless to say, Erkan Ogur is our biggest influence and we would give anything to play with him. I also found out that Omar Faruk Tekbilek lives in New York and we would like to collaborate with him as well.
What is your goal for the future?
We would like to play as much as possible to introduce our sound to the American people and at the same time learn their ethnic sounds.
Born in a university town, Novi Sad, in the former Yugoslavia (and now part of Serbia), and entirely self-taught, Branco began playing guitar at the age of 15 and very soon found a love of jazz and Brazilian music, influenced by Joe Pass, Charlie Parker and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Soon, Branco was being featured at a number of jazz venues and festivals in his home country and appeared at the largest festival “The Days of Jazz in Novi Sad”.
At 18 he prolifically started composing sensual music of great beauty with Sunny dispositions and gathered 1s of tunes till present. He is largely inspired by the Sun, and influenced by Jazz, Traditional Folk music of Yugoslavia, Brazilian, World and classical music. The interest in these compositions led to recordings for radio and TV Novi Sad. Following this Branco formed his “Sad Nova Trio” whose success led to numerous concerts and broadcasts on TV.
As an avid reader of the Sherlock Holmes series, he began to hanker after a different life and wider musical opportunities. In the early nineties he set off to England with little more than his guitar and has since become a fixture on the London and UK music scene, actively composing and performing solo, in various duos and with his NEW trio featuring the elegant Leslee Booth on 6 string contra bass and imaginative Buster Birch on percussion.
The trio has performed at many top venues such as Arts Centres – the National Theatre foyer, the Royal Festival Hall foyer, the Barbican Arts Centre foyer, the Royal Albert Hall-Ignite, Norwich, Colchester, Cardiff, Windsor; Festivals – London Jazz and Jazz on the Streets, City Of London Festival, International Guitar Festival of GB Wirral, Bath International Guitar Festival, Ards International Guitar Festival of Co Down N. Ireland, and an endless list of clubs such as: Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, The Stables Theatre Milton Keynes, Cambridge Modern Jazz Club, The Landmark Hotel London.
Branco has also appeared with his trio on Sky TV “Arts World”, BBC Radio 3’s “In Tune” program and is regularly featured and a favorite on Sarah Ward’s show on Jazz FM and new station The Jazz.
Branco is a qualified teacher at Goldsmiths College, London, where he teaches guitar in his unique, passionate and enthusiastic way, passing that enthusiasm and love for the instrument onto his students from the very start enabling them to relay play the guitar. During seven years of teaching at the college, in course questionnaires he was always rated 5 out of 5, as a mark of excellence and the students satisfaction.
Something between the Sea and the Sky (Sun Recordings BS-SR 24597, 1998)