Gerry O’Connor comes from Dundalk in Co. Louth, and was taught by his mother, Rose, who was a descendant of three generations of fiddle players. With a focus on his local music of the Oriel region, he is known world-wide as a soloist and as a founding band member of Lá Lugh, Skylark and Oirialla. His playing is noted for its vibrancy and pulsating rhythm which he attributes to his early years of step-dancing. He has recorded 14 albums, with his first solo album, Journeyman hailed as a landmark album of Irish fiddle music, and he has performed with all of the leading performers of the Irish music world including members of the Chieftains, Boys of the Lough, Planxty, De Dannan and the Bothy Band. Gerry has published a book of Cathal McConnell’s songs, I Have Travelled This Country, and his recent publication, The Rose in the Gap, is a collection of the dance music of Oriel recorded at the turn of the 20th century. A winner of the prestigious Ródaíocht Bardic Award at the the 2018 All Ireland Fleadh for his valuable cultural contribution to Irish music, Gerry is also highly regarded as a violin-maker and music producer, and is in constant demand as a music tutor. His second solo album, Last Night’s Joy is now available on Lughnasa Music.
Born in Birmingham, England, Kevin Crawford’s early life was one long journey into Irish music and Co. Clare, where he eventually moved while in his 20’s. He was a founding member of Moving Cloud, the Clare-based band who recorded such critically-acclaimed albums as Moving Cloud and Foxglove, and he has also recorded with Grianin, Raise the Rafters, Joe Derrane, Natalie Merchant, Susan McKeown and Sean Tyrrell. Kevin appears on the 1992 recording, The Maiden Voyage, recorded live at Peppers Bar, Feakle, Co. Clare, and appears on the 1994 recording, The Sanctuary Sessions, recorded live in Cruise’s Bar, Ennis, Co. Clare. He now tours the world with Ireland’s cutting-edge traditional band, Lúnasa, called by some the “Bothy Band of the 21st Century,”with nine ground-breaking albums to their credit. A recent project is the Teetotallers, a supergroup trio that also features Martin Hayes and John Doyle. A virtuoso flute player, Kevin has also recorded several solo albums including The ‘D’ Flute Album, In Good Company, On Common Ground, Carrying the Tune, a duo recording with Lúnasa’s piper, Cillian Vallely, and a trio project with Dylan Foley & Patrick Doocey, The Drunken Gaugers.
Laura Risk’s fiddling has been described by filmmaker Ken Burns as “a revelation and achingly beautiful” and Living Tradition hails her “powerful, percussive style… bursting with energy and passion.” Originally from California, now living in Montreal, Laura performs and teaches Scottish and Québécois fiddling internationally and has over a dozen albums to her credit. Laura has toured with Cordelia’s Dad, Triptych, Ensemble Galilei, and dancer Sandy Silva; served as musical director for ensembles Childsplay and Revels North; and produced seven albums, including three for fiddler Hanneke Cassel. Her research credits include articles in Ethnomusicology and MUSICultures, co-authorship of The Glengarry Collection: The Highland Fiddle Music of Aonghas Grant (Mel Bay), and the CD-booklet Douglastown: Music and Song from the Gaspé Coast, awarded the 2014 Prix Mnémo. Laura recently joined the University of Toronto at Scarborough as an Assistant Professor of Music and Culture.
John Doyle is one of Ireland’s most talented and innovative musicians. Originally from Dublin, and now a longtime resident of Asheville, John is an accomplished singer and songwriter, multi-Grammy nominee, and an extraordinary master of the Irish guitar whose hard-driving style has influenced a generation of players. A founding member of the acclaimed group Solas, his powerful guitar playing provided the signature rhythmic backbone for the band, and his sensitive and emotional fingerstyle playing and creative vocal harmonies can be heard on four of Solas’ recordings as well as dozens of other recordings. John regularly performs solo, and has also toured the world with such artists as Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Linda Thompson, Jerry Douglas, The Alt, Usher’s Island, Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Michael McGoldrick & John McCusker, Alison Brown, Mick Moloney, Kate Rusby and a host of other world-class performers. John has been featured on over 100 recordings of traditional and contemporary Irish, folk and Americana music, and is a great lover of traditional song, and an encouraging and enthusiastic teacher. We’re pleased to welcome one of our Master Music Makers back for his fourteenth Gathering.
For twenty years, North Carolina-native violinist/fiddler Andrew Finn Magill has been pursuing parallel careers in traditional Irish music, Brazilian choro, jazz and American fiddle. Growing up, Finn learned from the best fiddlers in the world at The Swannanoa Gathering and has gone on to record and perform with many of them including Liz Carroll and Martin Hayes. He is a Fulbright fellow, a North Carolina Arts Council Fellow, and Ropeadope Recording artist, and has been featured on MTV, TEDx, Avianca in-flight entertainment and multiple times on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock. His 2016 recording, Roots (featuring Cillian Vallely of Lúnasa and John Doyle) debuted at number #46 on the folk DJ charts, and since then he has toured internationally and headlined several Irish festivals. He has performed with a variety of artists, from Grammy-nominee John Doyle to Rising Appalachia. In 2020, he released albums with former Paul McKenna Bandmate Seán Gray and Swannanoa Gathering alum Alan Murray (Colin Farrell Band). Finn is currently working on recording projects with Irish singer Dave Curley as well as his original jazz quartet and Brazilian music projects.
Brian Holleran grew up in Jersey City, NJ in an Irish family. His interest in traditional Irish music was first piqued at the age of twelve after listening to the session recording, Music at Matt Molloy’s and later with his father’s trad. vinyl collection. His mother found him a tin whistle instructor in Maura Vesey and finally came flute lessons with Mike Rafferty of Ballinakill, East Co. Galway. Mike taught Brian the bulk of his music and would become Brian’s biggest influence and source of encouragement. In addition to many tunes, Mike taught Brian about the many musicians who came out of East Galway and the distinctive traits of that regional style. Brian was also influenced by Willie Kelly and Patrick Ourceau, two of the greatest exponents of Irish fiddle in the United States, who shared with him a love and respect for Mike’s music as well as that of Jack Coen, a later influence on Brian’s playing. Brian has also found inspiration in the recordings of Joe Cooley, Bobby Casey and Matt Molloy. He has taught at the Chris Langan Weekend in Toronto and at Irish Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia.
Katie McNally grew up playing Scottish and Cape Breton music in Boston, Massachusetts. A member of the cross-genre fiddle supergroup, Childsplay, Katie has also toured with Karan Casey, John Whelan, Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez, and performs regularly in her own projects, Fàrsan and the Katie McNally Trio. Her 2020 release, Now More Than Ever, was hailed as “Brisk and inventive…taking no prisoners” by The Scotsman. She has appeared at Celtic Colours, Celtic Connections, Newport Folk Festival, and The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, as well as countless folk venues throughout North America and Europe. In addition to her busy touring schedule, she is a devoted educator who teaches regularly at fiddle courses and gives private lessons at her home in Portland, ME.
Born in Manchester, England, into a very musical family to parents from Co.Galway and Co.Cavan, Colin started playing the fiddle and tin whistle from an early age and won numerous titles at the Fleadh Cheoil. Since then, he has made a name for himself performing and recording with an array of great musicians in Europe and the US, and is currently playing with the band Lúnasa. In 2005, Colin was awarded a Masters Degree in Music from Limerick University. Living in Florida since 2005, when not touring, Colin has been teaching at schools and various camps around the US and Europe. Colin’s solo debut, On The Move was named one of 2010’s 10 Best Albums by The Irish Echo, and his second album, Make A Note, released in 2015, was awarded Instrumental Album of the year by LiveIreland. His latest recording, Music and Mischief with Kevin Crawford and Patrick Doocey has just been released.
Dáithí Sproule is a native of Derry in the north of Ireland, a renowned traditional singer in both Irish and English, and one of the world’s premier guitarists in the Irish tradition. He pioneered the use of DADGAD tuning in the accompaniment of Irish music, a style now used around the world, and is a member of the seminal Irish bands Skara Brae (with Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Maighread & Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill), Trian (with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey) and Altan, with whom he continues to tour and record. He has worked with many other greats, including Tommy Peoples, James Kelly, Paddy O’Brien, Randal Bays, Seamus and Manus McGuire, Peter Ostroushko, James Keane and bluesman Dave Ray. Dáithí has also taught Old Irish language, Celtic mythology and Irish music at several universities in Ireland and the U.S., and is the author of a volume of short stories in Irish and several academic articles on early Irish poetry and legend. He currently teaches at the Center for Irish Music in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Called “One of the brightest fiddlers around today” by WGBH radio’s A Celtic Sojourn host Brian O’Donovan, multistyle violinist Mari Black has delighted audiences around the world with her energetic playing, sparkling stage presence, and dazzlingly virtuosic fiddling. Mari made her entrance onto the international stage when she became the Glenfiddich Fiddle Champion of Scotland, a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and a two-time Canadian Maritime Fiddle champion, all within a three-year period. She’s performed at Celtic festivals, Highland Games, celebrated folk venues, world music concert series, and acclaimed classical concert venues including Carnegie Hall. She’s performed in Brazil, Scotland, Canada, China, Korea, Zimbabwe, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy and France, and works as a teacher, performance coach, dancer, competition judge and musical ambassador dedicated to connecting people through music. Mari has taught workshops at the Acadia Trad School, the Jink & Diddle School of Scottish Fiddling, the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp, the Tanglewood Festival, the Yale School of Music, and more. Her compositions have won several awards, including a Gold Medal from the MASC International Songwriting Competition.
Gráinne Hambly comes from Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland. She started to play Irish music on the tinwhistle at an early age, before moving on to the concertina and later the harp. She lived in Belfast for six years, where she completed a Master’s Degree in Musicology at Queen’s University. Her main research topic concerned folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. In 1994, she was awarded first prize in the senior All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil competitions for harp and concertina. As well as being an established performer touring extensively throughout Europe and North America, she is also a qualified teacher of traditional Irish music and is in great demand at summer schools and festivals both in Ireland and abroad. Gráinne was awarded the T.T.C.T. (a certificate for teaching traditional Irish music at advanced level, credited by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the Irish Department of Education), and has also received her Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) from the University of Limerick. She has released three widely-acclaimed solo harp CDs and a collaborative CD with Billy Jackson, as well as appearing on a number of other recordings.
Born in London, in his youth John was blessed to play with some great names of an older generation of players, such as Lucy Farr, Brian Rooney and Bobby Casey, to name but a few. After winning three All-Ireland button accordion competitions, he recorded his first LP, The Pride of Wexford, at the age of fourteen and an EP with Christine Considine, produced by the legendary Finbarr Dwyer. He made several appearances on RTE and British television before moving to the US in 1980 where he teamed up with Eileen Ivers, culminating in the recording, Fresh Takes with Mark Simos on guitar. In 1996, he signed with Narada Records and wrote, recorded and produced seven CDs, bringing him into the Top Ten on the Billboard World Music charts with sales in excess of one million. John has taught no less than four All-Ireland Button Accordion Champions, two of whom became professional players. Teaching has always been a passion for John and is not limited to just button accordion: he also taught the great Karen Tweed, five-time All-Ireland piano accordion player from England. John has also appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show and in two films, Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee and Gods & Generals, directed by Ron Maxwell. He recently formed a new band called Gailfean, featuring lifelong friend Brian Conway, with Máirtín de Cógáin and Don Penzien.
At age seven, Cillian Vallely began learning the whistle and pipes from his parents, Brian and Eithne at the Armagh Pipers Club, a group that has fostered the revival of traditional music in the north of Ireland for over four decades. Since leaving college, he has played professionally and to ured all over North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. He appears on over sixty albums including guest spots with Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Merchant and Alan Simon’s Excalibur project with Fairport Convention and the Moody Blues. He has also performed and toured with Riverdance, Tim O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Whirligig, and the Celtic Jazz Collective. Since 1999, he has been a member of Lúnasa, one of the world’s premier Irish bands, with whom he has recorded nine albums and played at many major festivals and venues including WOMAD, Glastonbury, Edmonton Folk Festival, Carnegie Hall and The Hollywood Bowl.
Will MacMorran is a multi-talented musician, audio engineer, and educator based in Johnson City, TN. Will has had the honor of touring with The Chieftains as their guitar player for the past few years and has spent 15 years touring nationally and internationally with well-known artists in the Celtic, pop, and country genres. Will started piping at a young age and quickly added the guitar, whistles, accordion, and bouzouki, among other instruments, to his skill set. In addition to touring, Will currently teaches in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Program and is the Department Head of Entertainment Technology at Northeast State Community College.
Billy Jackson was a founding member of the influential folk group Ossian in 1976, a band whose outstanding recordings remain a benchmark for Scottish music, and a member of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Acclaimed for his musicality on the Celtic harp, he is also a renowned composer whose work is inspired by the history and landscape of Scotland. In 1999, his song, “Land of Light” was selected as the winner of The Glasgow Herald’s year-long “Song For Scotland” competition, coinciding with the restoration of the Scottish Parliament, to select a “new anthem for a new era in Scotland.” As a solo performer, he has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, and has taught harp at many international festivals. Billy is also a trained music therapist, and in 2004, he received our Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement. Billy has performed with, and composed for, a variety of orchestras including The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Asheville Symphony and Cape Cod Symphony. Billy headed the music therapy program at Mission Hospital in Asheville for 10 years, and he now works part-time in music therapy in Sligo, Ireland.
Dave Cory has been playing Irish and American folk music on tenor banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, and other fretted instruments for over twenty years. Throughout years of learning, gigging and recording, Dave has contributed to numerous independent projects and releases, from pub sessions to theatre soundscapes, and instructional camps to touring groups. After early classical guitar lessons, and chance hearings of the Chieftains and the Bothy Band, Dave started spending as much of summer as possible traveling to trad. music festivals and summer schools in Ireland each year, before moving to Boston and working with the wildly active music community there. Since then, Dave has recorded and gigged with The Magic Square, Eliot Grasso, Bridgetown, Lissa Schneckenburger and the McKassons, to name a few of many, and teaches regularly at his home in Oakland, CA.
Dave Curley is one of Ireland’s leading multi-instrumentalists, vocalists and a champion step dancer. Hailing from Co. Galway on the west coast of Ireland, Curley has worked with the award-winning traditional group, Slide, for the past 10 years and also spent 5 successful years with award-winning American Roots band, Runa. More recently, Curley has joined forces with musically diverse multi-instrumentalist Andrew Finn Magill, and is also a creative member of Crannua, featuring Moya Brennan, John Doyle, Ashley Davis, Mick McCauley and Eamonn & Cormac DeBarra. Curley has a BA in Irish Music and Dance from the University of Limerick, four years teaching experience at The Music Academy, State College PA, and has taught at O’Flaherty’s Retreat in Texas, the Milwaukee Irish Fest School of Music, and has presented many music workshops at colleges, festivals and music schools around the US with Slide, Runa and Sligo fiddler, Manus McGuire.
From the folk clubs of Scotland in the 1960s and 70s to the festivals, coffeehouses and music camps of America, Ed Miller has steadily established himself as one of the finest Scottish singers of both contemporary and traditional songs. He has been a regular staff member of Swannanoa’s Celtic Week for more than two decades, where his love and knowledge of Scots song, paired with a droll sense of humor, made him an excellent and popular teacher. Originally from Edinburgh, Ed has been based in Austin, TX for many years, where he received a PhD in Folklore from the University of Texas, but over the past 30 years he has gradually moved from academia to full-time performing. He hosts a folk music show on SunRadio.com in Austin, leads folk music tours to Scotland each summer, and has released ten CDs of traditional and contemporary Scottish song, including his most recent, Follow the Music.
London-born flute and whistle player John Skelton is probably best known to American audiences from his work with The House Band, with whom he recorded eight albums on the Green Linnet label. He has also released a solo album, One At a Time, and Double Barrelled, a highly regarded album of flute duets with Kieran O’Hare, as well as a series of tune collection books, imaginatively titled A Few Tunes, A Few More Tunes, Yet More Tunes and Some Breton Tunes. John has performed at most of the major folk festivals in North America, Europe and Australia. He is an experienced teacher, and has taught at summer schools in the United States, Europe and Africa, and nineteen previous years at the Gathering. In addition to his background in Irish music, John is also well-schooled in the music of Brittany. He visits there regularly, and is a highly-regarded player of the Breton bombarde, a double-reed folk shawm. NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock described him as “the finest bombarde player outside of Brittany.” He also plays the ‘Piston’ (Low Bombarde), the ‘Veuze’ (the bagpipe of eastern Brittany) and the ‘Gaita Gallega’ (Galician pipes). In 2014, John and Kieran O’Hare recorded the CD, Two Tone, a follow-up to their highly regarded album of flute duets, Double-Barrelled. John serves as the Celtic Week Host.
Originally from Dublin, Eamon has lived in New York City for the last twenty years. He has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, performing and recording with many of Irish music’s great players. In addition to his performance schedule, Eamon has taught at numerous music programs including the Augusta Heritage Center, the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Alaska Irish Music Camp and many years at the Gathering. In 2004, he and Patrick Ourceau released a live recording, Live at Mona’s, documenting their many years hosting a session on New York’s Lower East Side, and in 2012, Eamon released a recording of traditional songs, The Murphy Beds, with Jefferson Hamer, described by the Huffington Post as “ten beautiful, crystalline songs.” He has also teamed up with old friends John Doyle and Nuala Kennedy to form The Alt. Their self-titled debut album was released in November 2014.
Anna Colliton is one of America’s leading exponents of the bodhrán, the traditional Irish frame drum. A native of Chicago, a city of Irish musical excellence, Anna plays a highly intricate style of drumming with masterful tonal and rhythmic variation. She has taught and performed at festivals across the country, including Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Gathering’s Celtic Week, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, The O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, The St. Louis Tionol, CCE MAD Week, Tune Junkie Weekend, and Augusta Celtic Week, as well as with the Academy of Irish Music in Chicago and the Irish Arts Center in New York. She is a permanent member of the Tune Supply roster, and has played and performed with Cherish the Ladies, Comas, the Paul McKenna Band, Girsa, and others, and completed a three year residency at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where she performed daily at the International Showcase at Epcot Theme Park. Anna is a member of Boston-based traditional music quartet Ship in the Clouds, as well as The Bad Neighbors Rhythm Project, a rhythm-centric collaboration with percussive dancer Danielle Enblom.
Ranked among the “100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists” by DigitalDreamDoor.com, Robin Bullock has been hailed as “one of the best folk instrumentalists in the business” by Sing Out! magazine, “breathtaking” by Guitar Player magazine and a “Celtic guitar god” by Baltimore City Paper. His honors include Editor’s Pick and Player’s Choice Awards from Acoustic Guitar magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-music trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, KS and the Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award. Robin performs solo, with Guitar Week colleague Steve Baughman, and with four-time National Scottish Harp Champion Sue Richards. He’s also played several hundred concerts as a sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including four “Together at Last” tours with Tom’s fellow Grammy-winner Janis Ian. Robin’s discography of nearly two dozen solo, collaborative and group CDs includes the first volume of the Bach Cello Suites on solo mandolin; The Carolan Collection, a compilation of the legendary Irish bard’s compositions, sales of which benefit North Carolina animal rescue organizations; and most recently, the straightforwardly-titled An American Guitar Album, focusing on classic American folk songs interpreted on solo guitar. Robin co-hosts the monthly Carolina Celtic concert series in Black Mountain, NC, leads the annual Robinwood Guitar Retreat in Sharpsburg, MD, and teaches guitar and mandolin anywhere in the world via Skype and Zoom. Now a proud resident of nearby Black Mountain, Robin has been an instructor at every Swannanoa Gathering since 1996.
Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Caitlin Warbelow is a violinist and fiddler based in Manhattan. Currently the violinist/fiddler for the Tony-award winning Broadway musical Come From Away, Caitlin previously performed with Riverdance’s Heartbeat of Home as well as Sting’s Broadway musical, The Last Ship. She has toured with Cherish the Ladies, The Alt, Mick Moloney and the Green Fields of America, Michael Londra & Celtic Fire, Trinity Dance Company, and the Cathie Ryan Band, among many others. Caitlin performs, records, and teaches extensively in a variety of traditional and popular Irish and American genres, and occasionally returns to her roots as a classical violinist. Caitlin holds honors from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, the National Suzuki Conference, the New England Fiddle Championship, and the Fleadh Cheoil, and she is on the faculty at Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center as well as the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and the Far North Fiddle Festival. Caitlin holds a Masters degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a Bachelors degree from Boston University in Violin Performance and Anthropology.
Ten Grammy nominations in eight different categories. Three Grammys, in three different categories, almost forty years apart. What does that mean? “Either I don’t do anything well for very long, or I bore easily.” Janis Ian wrote her first song at 12, was published at 13, made a record at 14, had a hit at 15, and was a has-been at 16. It’s been uphill ever since. Her writer’s catalogue includes “Stars”, recorded by artists as diverse as Mel Torme, Glen Campbell, and Nina Simone; “Society’s Child,” which provoked the burning of a radio station and the firing of DJs who played it, “Jesse”, and the seminal “At Seventeen”, recorded most recently by Celine Dion. The musical guest on the very first Saturday Night Live, her list of interests includes technology (her article “The Internet Debacle” was cited in the Grokster and Napster cases), science fiction (nine short stories published in the field, with “Prayerville” adapted for theatre by Sci-Fest LA), children’s books (The Tiny Mouse was a Kirkus Children’s Book of the Year), and her own life (her autobiography, Society’s Child, was starred by Publisher’s Weekly and her narration of it won her another Grammy, for “Best Spoken Word”). A favorite guitarist of the late Chet Atkins, she was also the first female player to have a signature acoustic guitar by a major company (Santa Cruz.) She truly believes artists should know about everything, without limitation, and she hopes passing on some of her own hard-earned knowledge will help others avoid her mistakes – or at least, not care as much about them. We are delighted to welcome Janis back for her fifth Swannanoa Gathering.
The Coordinator of Celtic Week is an award-winning songwriter and instrumentalist. Founding Director of the Swannanoa Gathering Folk Arts Workshops of Warren Wilson College, he also acts as Coordinator for Contemporary Folk and Mando & Banjo Weeks. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was awarded the first Fellowship in Songwriting and Composition from the North Carolina Arts Council. He directed the Celtic Series of Mainstage Concerts at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre for more than twenty years, and performs solo on guitar, mandolin and vocals, and with his wife Beth (flute) and son Andrew Finn (fiddle) as the Celtic trio, The Magills. With numerous album and performance credits, including appearances with Emmy Lou Harris and Tom Paxton, Jim’s original songs have been covered by such artists as Mike Cross, The Smith Sisters, Cucanandy and the Shaw Brothers, and have been featured numerous times on NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock. In the world of graphic arts, his cover designs for the Gathering’s catalogs have won fourteen design awards; he’s twice been a finalist for Photoshop World’s Guru Awards; and he has served as a consultant on website design for several luthiers.