Tag Archives: fiddle

Artist Profiles: Jenna Reid

Hailing from Shetland, Jenna Reid grew up immersed in the island’s rich fiddle tradition. At the age of nine she began to learn the fiddle and was taught by the late Dr Tom Anderson. When fiddle tuition became available in schools Jenna studied with the late Willie Hunter and was under his direction until the age of 13; during that time she was a prominent prize-winner in the Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year Competition and by the age of 14 had won both the intermediate and open sections of this annual competition.

Through this success she was subsequently invited to compete in the Glennfiddich Fiddle Competition. While still at school Jenna also took lessons from Trevor Hunter and Margaret Scollay. In addition to playing the fiddle Jenna also studied classical piano. On leaving school Jenna went on to study a BA in Traditional Scottish Music at the Royal Academy of Music & Drama in Glasgow. Whilst studying fiddle she also played piano and piano accordion as well as being introduced to singing.

Jenna has also performed since a young age and Shetland band Filska was where this began. Under the direction of mum Joyce Jenna along with her sister Bethany and friend Gemma Wilson had played together since a young age and in 1995 Filska released their debut album entitled Harvest Home. This was to be followed in 1998 with their second release Time and Tide. It was this album that saw Filska begin to make a name for themselves not only in Scotland but throughout Europe and beyond. Their success saw them play to audiences in Norway Sweden Denmark Italy Ireland France Canada and the US.

Filska’s trip to America came as an invitation to represent Scotland at the Millennium Celebrations in Disney’s Epcot Centre. Following this Filska performed live as part of the Scottish Millennium Celebrations along with Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham in a show that was broadcast to over 6 countries. Jenna also performs with Dochas who have been taking the traditional music world by storm.

Now based in Glasgow Jenna enjoys work as both a performer and teacher having tutored alongside legendary fiddler Liz Carroll. In addition to this Jenna has also toured and played with Scottish acts Deaf Shepherd Fiddlers’ Bid John Raes Celtic Feet and Kevin MacKenzie’s Vital Signs.

In 2005 Jenna released her debut solo CD With Silver and All and received the Scottish Traditional Music award for Best Up and Coming Soloist.

Discography

With Silver and All (2005)
The Laughing Girl (2008)
Morning Moon (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Hanneke Cassel

Hanneke Cassel

Raised on the Oregon Coast, Hanneke Cassel began playing violin at eight years-old, but a local fiddle competition inspired her to take up traditional fiddling. A few years later, at fourteen years old, she entered a Scottish fiddle contest, winning the national title. Years later, after numerous trips to Scotland, and studies with the great fiddlers Alasdair Fraser and Buddy MacMaster, she moved to Boston and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. Going to Berklee in the early days of their groundbreaking strings program, Hanneke has since been at the forefront of a national fiddling revival, helping define the instrument for a new generation.

As a fiddler, Hanneke’s sound is a blend of Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, as well as some early roots in Texas fiddling. But she also draws heavily on experiences working with street kids in Kenya (many of the songs were commissions for them), her numerous trips to China (she lived and taught in Shanghai for a while), and her friends and relationships built around the scene in Boston.

In 214 she released Dot the Dragon’s Eyes, where she is joined by cellist Rushad Eggleston fiddler/violist Jeremy Kittel, cellist Mike Block (her husband), and New England guitarist Keith Murphy. The album also includes vocals from Aoife O’Donovan.

In addition to her solo act, Hanneke tours regularly with Baroque/Celtic group Ensemble Galilei, and has performed with the Cathie Ryan Band, Cherish the Ladies, Alasdair Fraser, and Matt Glaser and the Wayfaring Strangers. She is an active member of Boston-based band Childsplay (featuring over 2 fiddles made by Bob Childs) and co-founder (with Laura Cortese and Lissa Schneckenburger) of Celtic female band Halali.

She teaches regularly at Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and Sierra Fiddle Camps, Boston Harbor Fiddle Camp, and the Club Passim School of Music.

Hanneke’s awards include1992 and 1994 U.S. National Jr. Scottish Champion, 1996 Berklee U.S. Scholarship Tour Award, 1996 Oregon State Texas-style Grand Champion 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, 1998 Berklee College of Music Strings Award, and 28 USA Songwriting Contest (1st place Instrumental and 3rd place Overall).

Discography

The Wee Hours: Future of Scottish Fiddling in America (Gargoyle Records, 1998)
Diary of a Fiddler, with Darol Anger (Compass Records, 1999)
My Joy (Cassel Records, 2001)
Many Happy Returns (Cassel Records, 2003)
Halali, with Halali (Footprint Records, 2003)
Some Melodious Sonnet (Cassel Records, 2004)
The Farthest Wave, with Cathie Ryan (Shanachie, 2005)
Silver (Cassel Records, 2006)
In the Moment, with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2007)
From the Edge of the World, with Ensemble Galilei (2007)
Calm the Raging Sea, with Christopher Lewis (Cassel Records, 2007)
Notes From Across The Sea, with Ensemble Galilei (Ann Mayo Muir, 2009)
Waiting for the Dawn, with Childsplay (Childsplay Records, 2009)
For Reasons Unseen (Cassel Records, 2009)
Dot the Dragon’s Eyes (Cassel Records, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Fiddlers 4

Fiddlers 4

Fiddlers 4 was a collaboration featuring some of the finest fiddlers in the United States. Michael Doucet is well loved for his work as the leader of Cajun supergroup BeauSoleil; Darol Anger, a veteran of the David Grisman Quintet and founding member of the Turtle Island String Quartet, is the leading exponent of jazz-infused newgrass; and Bruce Molsky is internationally acclaimed old time fiddler. Together with cellist Rushad Eggleston, the quartet offered a cross-cultural fiddling fest, rooted in the musics of Louisiana, the Appalachian mountains and the Marin, California foothills.

Discography:

The Fiddlers 4 (Compass Records, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Filska

Filska

Filska is a band from the Shetland Islands, who built their music on the Islands tradition of fiddle playing. The word Filska comes from the Shetland dialect, and means mischievous and high-spirited. The line up includes sisters Jenna (Fiddle/Accordion/Vocals) and Bethany Reid (Fiddle/Piano/Vocals), Gemma Wilson (Fiddle/Vocals) and Andrew Tulloch (Guitar/Vocals).

As girls, they grew up together playing traditional Shetland music through the encouragement of Jenna and Bethany’s mother, Joyce Reid. Throughout their upbringing, the late, great fiddlers Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter taught the girls. They also had tuition from Eunice Henderson, Margaret Scollay and Trevor Hunter. Under this fine direction, they each went on to become prominent prize-winners of Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year competition.

In 1995, the band recorded their debut album, titled Harvest Home. The album included traditional material from Shetland, Scotland and Ireland, and confirmed their musical talents from an early age. Following the success of this recording, Filska began to perform increasingly on the Mainland of Scotland at various concerts and festivals. Subsequently, Filska were invited to perform on the Grampian TV traditional music program Ceol na Fidhle, recorded live at Coo Cathedral, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.

The band returned to the studio in 1998 to record their second album Time and Tide. Shetland singer, guitarist and recording engineer Andrew Tulloch, recorded the album and played guitar on the recording. Before long, Tulloch was a member of the band. Time and Tide introduced the band to a much wider audience, and their line up of three fiddles, guitar, accordion, piano and vocals delighted audiences throughout Ireland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the States. Filska’s trip to the USA came as an invitation to perform at the millennium celebrations held in the Epcot Centre, Florida. On their return to the U.K., Filska performed as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in London.

Since the release of their second album, Filska has integrated an increasing amount of original tunes and songs to their set, as well as performing their own native music. This approach to traditional, Shetland and contemporary tunes is what gives Filska their highly unique and innovative sound.

Discography:

Harvest Home (1995)

Time and Tide (1998)

A Thousand Miles Away (Foot Stomping CDFSR1723, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Fiddlers’ Bid

Fiddlers’ Bid

Fiddlers’ Bid is internationally respected as a leading exponent of their unique musical heritage and rich fiddle tradition. Global ambassadors for Shetland, this dynamic four-fiddle front line joins with a powerhouse of piano, bass, guitar and Scottish harp to create a ‘display of stunning virtuosity’.

Since their formation in 1991, the “flying fiddles and furious talent” of Fiddlers’ Bid have astounded audiences all over the world with their expressive, high energy music and performance.

Fiddlers’ Bid have performed at some of the largest folk festivals in the world including the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in USA and have had two hugely successful tours of Australia and Tasmania, performing at the Melbourne Concert Hall and Sydney Opera House. One tour earned the band a nomination for Best Contemporary Music Presentation at a national music award ceremony in Australia.

Their album Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer was the Greentrax best-selling album of 2002 and Naked and Bare received acclaimed reviews.

Discography:

Around the World (Fiddlers’ Bid, 1994)

Hamnataing (Greentrax Recordings, 1998)

Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer (Greentrax Recordings, 2001)

Naked and Bare (Greentrax Recordings, 2005)

All Dressed in Yellow (2009)

website: http://www.fiddlersbid.com

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Artist Profiles: Eileen Ivers

Eileen Ivers – Photo by Patrick McBride

Eileen Ivers – The musical star of Riverdance and currently a sensation in Europe, Eileen Ivers is the most successful American-born competitor in the history of the all-Ireland championships. Along with her thirty medals, Eileen Ivers won seven All-Ireland fiddle titles and an eighth on the tenor banjo. The native New Yorker displays a breathtaking technical range and refreshing choice of repertoire.

Born in the Irish community of the Bronx, New York, Eileen Ivers began playing fiddle at the age of eight and eventually studied with famed Limerick-born fiddler Martin Mulvihill.

As an Irish-American raised in an ethnically diverse Bronx neighborhood, Eileen was forever intrigued by the multicultural sounds of her childhood environs. After graduating magna cum laude in Mathematics from lona College, Eileen passionately immersed herself in the myriad of musical genres that had once filled her young ears. Perhaps it was the mathematical mind coupled with her passion for seeking parallels in certain traditional music styles that contributed to what has become Eileen’s signature sound: A beautiful and enthralling melange clearly grounded in traditional Irish music that embraces the rhythms of African. Latin and American roots music in a natural way.

Eileen Ivers in 2006

Eileen was a founding member of the all-woman Celtic folk group Cherish the Ladies and has been a member of such notable bands as, Hall and Oates, The Green Fields of America, and Chanting House before joining the World Wide hit show Riverdance.

On her album Crossing the Bridge, Ivers collaborated with a broad array of celebrated world-music performers, including John Doyle and Seamus Egan of Solás, Bakithi Kumalo (heard on Paul Simon’s Graceland album), Joanie Madden of Cherish The Ladies, and jazz artists Eddie Gomez and Randy Brecker.

In 1999 Eileen established a touring production company in New York City to present the music which now encompasses Eileen Ivers and her band, Immigrant Soul. This mix of African and Latin percussion and bass, Irish instrumentalists, and American soulful vocals is privileged to appear at major performing arts centers, guest with numerous symphonies is true to the heart of Irish music while embracing the multiculturalism of American life.

Discography:

Eileen Ivers (Green Linnet 1139, 1994)

Wild Blue (Green Linnet 1166, 1996)

So Far – The Eileen Ivers Collection 1979-1995 (Green Linnet 1185, 1997)

Titanic (Sony Classical SK 6691)

Crossing the Bridge (Sony Classical SK 6746, 1999)

Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul ( Koch CD-8494, 2003)

An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas (2007)

www.eileenivers.com

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Artist Profiles: Darol Anger

Darol Anger

Violinist, composer, producer and educator Darol Anger is at home in a number of musical genres some of which he helped to invent. With the jazz-oriented Turtle Island String Quartet Anger developed and popularized new techniques for playing contemporary music styles on string instruments. The masterful Chambergrass groups Psychograss and Newgrange and the plugged-in Anger-Marshall Band feature his compositions and arrangements. His acclaimed folk-jazz group Montreux was the original musical model for the New Adult Contemporary radio format. The David Grisman Quintet forged a new genre of acoustic string band music with Darol’s creative use of the violin.

Working with some of the world’s great improvising string musicians, among them Stephane Grappelli, Mark O’Connor, Bela Fleck, David Grisman and Vassar Clements, has contributed to the development of Anger’s signature voice both as player and composer. His published works include jazz originals and arrangements a fiddle tune collection and of course recordings. Anger has produced dozens of critically praised recordings since 1977 which have featured his compositions and performances. Highlights include the Heritage Folk Music project that brings together some of the most important voices in the traditional contemporary folk and bluegrass music scene; the Anger-Marshall Band’s JAM and Brand New Can which set new standards for the Newgrass/jazz genre; and his release Diary Of A Fiddler which sets Anger in duet with the most prominent and innovative fiddlers of our time.

Anger holds the String Chair of the International Association of Jazz Educators. He has led seminars at the Stanford Oberlin and Amherst Jazz Worshops regularly teaches at the Berklee School of Music and the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp and at workshops and clinics from Campo Do Jordao Brazil to the Music Conservatory at Bremen Germany. He is a Contributing Editor for Strings magazine and is on the ASTA Editorial Board.

The recipient of a 1995 California Arts Council Composer Fellowship, Anger was nominated in 1997 for the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts. He has been a featured soloist on a number of motion picture soundtracks and he wrote and performed the score for the Sundance Award-winning film Best Offer. He was the winner of the Frets Magazine Readers’ Poll for Best Jazz Violinist for four years running.

Anger’s work has expanded not only the acoustic violin’s boundaries but has contributed to the development of violin synthesizer repertoire and technology. His writings on these subjects and string education issues appear regularly in prominent music periodicals and on the Web. His current projects include Darol Anger and His Jazz Guys is a working group featuring fellow S.F. Bay Area residents a duet recording with pianist Phillip Aaberg and Fiddlers 4 with Michael Doucet, Bruce Molsky and Rushad Eggleston in 2002; and a collaboration with Swedish group Vasen.

Discography

Fiddlistics (1981)
Tideline, with Barbara Higbie (1982)
Live at Montreux ’84 (1984)
Chiaroscuro (1985)
The Duo with Mike Marshall (1988)
Jazz Violin Celebration (1988)
Heritage (1996)
Like Minds (1997)
At Home and On The Range (1997)
Christmas Heritage (1998)
Jam (1999)
Diary of a Fiddler (1999)
Brand New Can (2000)
Now Hear This with Psychograss (21)
Republic Of Strings (2005)
Generation Nation (2007)
Woodshop (2007)
Mike Marshall and Darol Anger with Vasen (2007)
Cross Time, with Philip Aaberg (2008)
Eand’a (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Courtney Granger

Courtney Granger

Courtney Granger is a virtuoso fiddler, guitarist and outstanding singer. He was born in Eunice, Louisiana. Granger is Christine Balfa’s cousin and was the youngest member of Balfa Toujours. He recorded his debut CD for Rounder Records at the age of 15. He quickly became a reputable musician in the Cajun music scene and received several Cajun French Music association (CFMA) awards.

In 1999 Courtney joined Balfa Toujours on bass and fiddle playing together with the great Kevin Wimmer. Courtney also recorded with the legendary bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien.

Courtney’s repertoire includes Cajun and classic country tunes. His masterful fiddling and soulful singing has made him one of the most sought-after Cajun fiddlers, playing with renowned artists Jason Frey Dirk Powell and Horace Trahan. He joined the famous Cajun band The Pine Leaf Boys in summer 2008.

In 2016 he released Beneath Still Waters, his first solo country album.

Discography:

Un Bal Chez Balfa (Rounder, 1999)

Live at Whiskey River Landing, with Balfa Toujours (Rounder CD 696 2000)

Live at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2009)

Back Home, with The Pine Leaf Boys (Valcour Records, 2010)

Live at Jazzfest 2012, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2012)

Danser, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2013)

Beneath Still Waters (Valcour Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Chris Stout

Chris Stout

Shetland fiddler Chris Stout is one of the finest fiddlers of his generation in the UK. Stout was best known as a frontline member of Fiddlers’ Bid. His debut solo release First O’ the Darkenin’  however focused attention on his formidable individual talents at the helm of his own five-piece band winning him a nomination for Best Traditional Track at 2005’s Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Stout was born in Lerwick and grew up in Fair Isle until he was 7 years old “…where I caught my first glimpse of the fiddle when I was only 3! It was being played by my friend Ewan Thomson who was 7 years old at the time but has subsequently made the art of violin making his career. I now play two of his instruments a fiddle and viola.”

He played classical music at school and traditional music at home with his father who plays the accordion. “He took me to play at the Accordion and Fiddle clubs which was my introduction to traveling round the halls in Shetland and gave me my first performance experience.”

1990 was an important year for Stout. “I moved schools and became friendly with other young musicians who were mainly fiddle players. This group of youngsters were given the name ‘Fiddlers’ Bid’. They enjoyed frequent afternoon sessions possibly in place of classes such as Math or English with their teacher Willie Hunter. Countless concert experiences at coffee evenings and such like came rolling in.”

In the same year he won Shetland’s ‘Young Fiddler of the Year’ competition for his traditional fiddling. “I became Shetland’s ‘Young Musician of the Year’ for performing a classical repertoire. Having studied for a year with fiddle player Arthur Scott Robertson it was the advice of my classical tutor Teresa Mooreland that I should continue my studies on the mainland.”

In 1991 Stout gained a place at the music school of Douglas Academy in Glasgow where he studied for two additional years before gaining a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). “During this time I played most weekends with the popular singing group ‘The Clydesiders’. This gave me a real appreciation and understanding of using the fiddle in an accompanying role to the voices. In retrospect it was probably my first opportunity to use the fiddle in an improvisatory style.”

Throughout his studies at the RSAMD he became more fascinated and excited by contemporary classical music. “As part of my degree I spent time working in an electro acoustic music studio. I completed my degree in classical violin and went on to do Masters in electro acoustic composition studying with the leading composer Alastair MacDonald. I was lucky enough to have one of my pieces released on a compilation CD of electro acoustic music featuring some of Britain’s top composers in this field.”

In 2000 Stout took part in a UK tour called ‘Fiddles on Fire’ with fiddlers Dezi Donnelly (Manchester) Eliza Carthy (England) and Susanne Lundeng (Norway). “This gave me my first independent break as a solo fiddle player on a national level.”

Stout has put this eclectic musical experience to good use. “I work with jazz musicians including London based trombonist Annie Whitehead drummer John Rae with his ‘Celtic Feet’ band saxophonist Phil Bancroft and ‘Orquestra Scotland Brasil’ 2003 collaboration.”

I am in demand as an electro acoustic composer. I composed a piece for Phil Bancroft in 2002 which was performed as part of the UK tour ‘Double Helix’. This was one of 3 professional commissions since leaving music college.”

Chris Stout’s quintet features Fraser Fifield (soprano saxophone) Catriona Mackay (harp piano) Malcolm Stitt (guitar) and Neil Harland (bass). The Quintet’s sound draws on the full breadth of Chris’ diverse skills and interests centered on his beloved Shetland traditions but weaving in a rich array of jazz and world-music influences.

In 2007 Stout released his solo album Devil’s Advocate.

Discography:

Around the World, with Fiddlers’ Bid (1994)

Hamnataing, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 1998)

Da Farder den Da Welcomer, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 2002)

First O’ the Darkenin’ (2004)

Naked and Bare, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 2005)

Laebrack, with Catriona McKay (2005)

Devil’s Advocate (Greentrax, 2007)

All Dressed in Yellow, with Fiddlers’ Bid (2009)

White Nights, with Catriona McKay (2010)

First O’ the Darkenin (Greentrax, 2011)

Chris Stout’s Brazilian Theory Live in Concert (2011)

Cauld Wind, with Finlay Macdonald (2013)

Seavaigers, with Catriona McKay (2014)

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