Grammy Award-winning guitarist, composer of Ken Burns’ The National Parks soundtrack.
Al Petteway is a Grammy-Winning guitarist who has played nearly every type of popular, folk and classical music – as a soloist, as part of an ensemble, and as an onstage accompanist. He established a reputation as a world-class sideman by playing and recording with Jethro Burns, Peter Rowan, Tom Paxton, Jonathan Edwards, Cheryl Wheeler, Debi Smith, David Wilcox, Maggie Sansone, Bonnie Rideout and many more. Though his primary instrument has always been the guitar, he also studied lute, string bass, percussion and music composition. His compositions for acoustic fingerstyle guitar are strongly influenced by his love of Celtic music and his own roots in folk, rock and blues. He performs as a solo guitarist and with his wife Amy White as a duo, playing original and traditional music on acoustic instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin, harp, piano, and percussion.
While living in the Washington, D.C. area, Al was awarded forty five “Wammies” by the Washington Area Music Association including the top honors of “ARTIST OF THE YEAR” and “MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR”. He was also the recipient of two Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards for Music Composition. Al performed at the Vice President’s House and The White House during the Clinton administration. He and his wife, Amy White were Artists in Residence at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and Warren Wilson College where he has been the Guitar Week coordinator for the world famous “Swannanoa Gathering” music camp for over twenty years. In 2005, he was voted one of the Top Fifty Acoustic Guitarists of all Time by the readers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine and in 2008 he won Silver and Bronze medals in the magazine’s Player’s Choice Awards. Al’s CD “Caledon Wood” was included as one of the “Essential Albums of the past Twenty Years” in Acoustic Guitar’s 20th Anniversary issue and his album “It’s Only the Blues” was selected as one of the top ten “Essential Acoustic Albums of 2012.” His newest albums are “Mountain Guitar” and “Dream Guitars, Vol II.”
Al’s Dream Guitars videos, his numerous recordings, music books, and instructional videos, have helped win him international acclaim and appearances on National Radio and Television Programs. His music has been featured in a number of films and documentaries including six documentaries by Ken Burns. His original composition “Sligo Creek” was used as the theme for the Emmy-Winning PBS series “The National Parks-America’s Best Idea.” In 2013 he was given the title of “Master Music Maker” by The Swannanoa Gathering and Warren Wilson College. In 2018, he was voted among the top ten guitar camp instructors by the readers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
In addition to performing solo and with Amy, Al teaches workshops across the country and records and teaches private lessons in his and Amy’s home studio Fairewood Studios, near Asheville, NC.
“Contemporary instrumental music can be played with self-discipline rather than self-indulgence, with real melodies rather than vague moods, and with roots that are respected rather than diluted. Artists such as Michael Hedges and Alex de Grassi have proven as much in the past, and Al Petteway & Amy White, prove it again”> – THE WASHINGTON POST
“Never showy for the sake of showiness, Petteway is nevertheless an understated master on six strings, his playing characterized by crystalline notes, warm tone, and crisp articulation.”– ACOUSTIC GUITAR Magazine
“An innovative instrumentalist known for his open tunings, Petteway offers a rich, dulcet sound that features a fusion of old and new.” – THE BOSTON GLOBE
“Al Petteway is quickly building a catalogue of some of the most beautiful instrumental guitar work ever recorded.”– JAMES JENSEN
“His articulate flawless fingering and lyrical phrasing do not just engage the heart, but they invite the consciousness to open.” – NAPRA TRADE JOURNAL
“Guitarist Al Petteway can play the hair off a dog. His left hand glides like a spider on skates along the fretboard while his right hand picks out marvelous clusters of notes. So smooth. So fluid. Oil on a skillet.” – MINOR 7TH
“A virtuoso finger-style guitarist with one foot in each of the Celtic and American folk music camps.” – REAL TO REEL NEWS
“In 2005, the readers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine voted Al Petteway one of the Top Fifty Acoustic Guitarists of all Time. For the hardcore music-seekers, we’d known about the Grammy-winning musician, teacher and acoustic guitar master for years. You might say Al is like the Yoda of the acoustic guitar…mellow, soft-spoken, and seemingly infinitely gifted. (He isn’t nearly 800 years old though, as far as I know.) His music was the driving muse behind my own acoustic guitar instrumental, Dry Pond Road. Although, after that recording, I must admit, Al’s delicate and precise touch on the fretboard is something I will always admire, but may never replicate. I am amazed, but he is amazing.
“Al possesses an innate talent for something I call “Melodic Prosidy”. Prosidy is what a songwriter may possess, having the ability to convey lyrics in a natural, conversational manner. James Taylor, for example, would be the king of such a thing, as musical lyrics go. Al has this same gift, but expresses it in melodic lines that seem to be comfortable and almost anticipated, even upon a first hearing. It’s incredibly unusual, and is something that permeates every Al Petteway recording I’ve ever heard. Fascinating.” – Ricky Fitzpatrick, FIVE ON THE FIVE
Grammy-nominated Irish guitar legend, founding member of Solas
Name many of the most notable recordings and/or performers in Irish music and it’s a fair bet that John Doyle had something to do with them. Liz Carroll; Eileen Ivers; Karan Casey; Solas; Michael Black; Mary Black; the trio of McCusker, McGoldrick and Doyle; The Teetotalers (Martin Hayes, Kevin Crawford, John Doyle); and now Usher’s Island (Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Mike McGoldrick, Paddy Glackin and John Doyle) – a vertible who’s who of the greatest names in Irish music. These are just a very few of the stellar artists for whom John Doyle’s signature guitar sound, singing or songwriting is essential.
From a musical family in Dublin, John’s influences include well known English folk singers Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, and The Watersons; Scottish singers Dick Gaughan and John Martin; and fellow Irishmen Paul Brady and Al O’Donnell as well as his father, Sean Doyle – probably the biggest influence of all. John went on the road as a pro at 16 with the group Chanting House which he formed with Susan McKeown and which eventually included such great players as Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, & Donogh Hennessy. John went on to form the highly acclaimed super group, Solas, with Seamus Egan, John Williams, Karan Casey and Winifred Horan which took the folk and Celtic music worlds by storm, in no small part due to John’s powerhouse rhythmic guitar style and innovative arrangements. As a member of Solas, John performed to sold out audiences nationally and internationally as well as appearing on many national TV and radio programs: NBC’s The Today Show, various programs for National Public Radio and Public Radio International, A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, E-Town and World Cafe as part of that critically acclaimed group, he also received three NAIRD awards and a Grammy nomination for the band’s self-titled first recording.
After leaving Solas, John has gone on to perform and tour with other greats in the Folk, Celtic and Bluegrass worlds – as music director for folk icon Joan Baez, guitarist for Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien (John was included on Tim’s 2006 Grammy-award winning CD, Fiddler’s Green), Linda Thompson, Kate Rusby, Cathie Ryan, Cherish the Ladies, and many others. He has appeared on soundtracks for the feature film, The Brothers McMullan, Soldier, PBS’s Out of Ireland and also composed the music for the film Uncle Robert’s Footsteps and the play Down the Flats as well as performing on countless recordings as guitarist and/or singer for other notable artists such as Kate Rusby, Linda Thompson, Tim O’Brien, Alison Brown, Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, Mick Moloney, Cathal McConnell, Karan Casey and so many others (check out the discography page for a full list). John is a featured regular for many years in the hugely popular BBC Scotland “Transatlantic Sessions” regularly broadcast in Ireland and at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow having performed there with Americana greats Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Rodney Crowell, Sara Watkins, Kathy Mattea, and many others.
There are few artists more respected in the genre or more in demand in the studio, as songwriter, as performer
In recent years, John has focused primarily on writing songs based on the varied experiences of Irish emmigrants – his great grandfather on the torpedoed S.S. Arabic in 1915; famine victims on the coffin ships to Quebec; Confederate and Union Irish fighting against one another at Fredericksburg; an Irishman’s journey through the First World War. In reviews, these songs on Doyle’s 2012 release, “Shadow and Light” have been said “to be destined to be classics in the Irish folk music songbook. His talents as songwriter are rare and exquisite.”
Cherish The Ladies lead singer from Ireland’s legendary Clancy family
Aoife Clancy (pronounced “Eefa”) brings a refreshing new voice to folk music, one that ranges from traditional Irish songs to ballads and contemporary folk. Aoife comes from the small town of Carrick-on-Suir, in Co Tipperary, Ireland, where her musical career began at an early age. Her father Bobby Clancy of the legendary Clancy Brothers, placed a guitar in her hands at age ten, and by age fourteen was playing with her father in nearby pubs.
In 1995 Aoife was asked to join the acclaimed group “Cherish the Ladies”, which is one of the most sought-after Irish American groups in history. For the past four years Aoife has toured extensively doing no less than two hundred dates a year throughout the United States and Europe. She has been a featured soloist with orchestras such as the Boston Pops and Cincinnati Pops and, while performing with Cherish the Ladies, collaborated with the Boston Pops on their Grammy nominated Celtic album.
Scottish harp and smallpipes -uplifting, stirring, and sweet fun!
The Reel Sisters are 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.
Rosalind Buda holds a BMUS from the University of Iowa and a MM from New England Conservatory in Bassoon Performance. She has taught and performed throughout the US and Europe. She teaches and performs classical chamber and orchestral music and Celtic music in her in her home of Asheville, NC and throughout Western North Carolina. Keeping to the mountain tradition, Rosalind plays banjo for fun and enjoys contra dance.
Kelly Brzozowski holds a BMUS and a Masters Diploma in Harp Performance and Musicology from the University of North Wales. She has taught and performed throughout Europe and the US. Kelly lives in Atlanta where she maintains a large teaching studio and performs both classical and Celtic music. When she is not performing or teaching, she is homeschooling her son. You will often find them designing and conducting experiments. Is it science or food?!
Rosalind and Kelly both enjoy coffee, chocolate, and wine, fiber arts, games of all kinds, playing tunes outside, learning with young ones, traveling, and meeting new friends.
Spirited and magical dance tunes featuring the Great Highland Bagpipes
EJ Jones began his musical journey at the age of 11 when he began studying the traditional music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. At age 13 he had his first experience performing alone, busking on a street at a festival. Since then he has walked the two sides of the instrument: first in the lifetime study and performance of traditional music in competition, and second in the exposure to the public the power and wildness of the bagpipe as an instrument of the festival.
His first instructor was Michael Cusack at the St. Thomas Episcopal School in Houston TX, where he played in the school pipe band and took private lessons as well as attended the yearly “Balmoral” summer camp, which hosted instructors Jimmy McIntosh, James MacGregor, and Ronnie Lawrie. In high school he continued private study with Mike Cusack and joined the Hamilton Pipe Band, initially formed by Lars Sloan but quickly passed to the leadership of Donald MacPhee in 1989. The Hamilton Pipe Band was a competing band that under Donald MacPhee’s leadership went from the bottom of the Grade IV to becoming one of the best pipe corps in the US in the early 90s, winning the Grade II events at the US Championships in Alma, the Santa Rosa Highland Games, and Bethlehem Celtic Classic. EJ was a teenager playing in a band of adults and being challenged to keep up with some very good players.
At the same time EJ was performing regularly at the Texas Renaissance Festival, having co-founded the group Clandestine with Lars Sloan in 1991. He also played at a weekly session at The Brewery Tap, a bar in downtown Houston, a jam that would continue for more than a decade.
EJ attended Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 for two semesters under the direction of Jimmy McIntosh, where he continued intensive study of classical Scottish bagpipe music. At night he would busk in various locations around Pittsburgh with guitarist Jen Hamel. In 1994 he moved back to Houston with Hamel and reorganized the band Clandestine, which would eventually become a nationally touring quartet playing some of the best Celtic music festivals in the US, along with a few trips to the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in 1997, 2000, and 2002.
In 2002 while still touring and after recording four albums with Clandestine, EJ made his first solo album The Willow with the help of famed guitarist/producer Gerry O’Beirne and friends Rosie Shipley (fiddle), Wolf Loescher (percussion), and Randy Miller (bass/engineer). EJ, Rosie, and Gerry would later tour together until 2004 as the Willow Band.
EJ began making Scottish Smallpipes in 2003, and this became his career focus until 2013.
In 2013 he refocused on performing full-time and created the group Piper Jones Band, which has had recent successes in headlining festivals across the US. EJ is embarking on an ongoing recording effort beginning with the 2015 release The Wandering Stars with bouzouki player Frances Cunningham and many friends.
Four-time Grammy winner, Master Appalachian musician and storyteller.
Four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt is a musician, storyteller, artist, historian and radio and television host. For more than forty years, he as collected and performed the songs and stories of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He learned this treasure trove of music directly from musical greats including Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Tommy Jarrell, Etta Baker and Grandpa Jones.
In addition to making numerous critically acclaimed recordings, Holt is host of popular television programs including the PBS series David Holt’s State of Music, Folkways and Great Scenic Railway Journeys. He was featured in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou and was host of the Nashville Network’s Fire On the Mountain and American Music Shop. In 2016 David was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
From 1998-2012 David toured and performed with the legendary Doc Watson. “A highlight of my career,” says Holt. He currently tours the country performing solo, with Josh Goforth, and with his band, David Holt and the Lightning Bolts.
Founded in 1990, Ensemble Galilei is an ensemble of players from both classical and Celtic backgrounds, playing Irish and Scottish airs and dance tunes, early and medieval music, and original compositions. The Ensemble takes their name and inspiration from the life of composer Vincenzo Galilei, whose influence, some four hundred years ago, helped restore a vital element of passion to the music of the day.
To achieve their unique Celtic sound, Ensemble Galilei has melded the elegance of chamber music with the energy and excitement of traditional music. An intricate blend of instruments grants listeners passage to another world, evoking musical images of the ancient Celts and bringing these images to life for today’s audiences. They have performed and toured globally for almost twenty-five years, and have been featured on multiple recordings and radio performances. They have notably collaborated with National Geographic to create First Person: Stories from the Edge of the World and collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art for First Person: Seeing America.
“Virtuoso technique, an instinctive feeling for the idiom, and the courage to improvise . . . they play with energy, splendid ensemble, good humor and imagination. ” — The Washington Post
“Every time Knowles laid into one of her foot-stomping reels, she’d set Gaige Auditorium ablaze.” Channing Gray, Journal-Bulletin Arts Writer
Liz Knowles has brought her distinctive sound–the fire and finesse of Irish fiddle music combined with the tonal richness of the classical violin–to concert stages and festivals across the world. Her auspicious beginnings as the fiddler for Riverdance and as soloist on the soundtrack for the film Michael Collins established her as a virtuosic and versatile performer, and she has since performed as soloist with such orchestras as the New York Pops and the Cincinnati Pops. Liz was a member of the renowned Cherish the Ladies and today she performs with another all-star female super-group, the highly acclaimed String Sisters. She toured for four wonderful years in Europe, Asia and South America as performer, artistic and music director of the wildly popular show Celtic Legends, an Irish music and dance show.
Liz first distinguished herself as a violinist in New York City, performing in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and Broadway, with such artists such as Marcus Roberts, the Bang-on-a-Can Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Paula Cole, Steve Reich, Eliot Goldenthal, Rachel Barton, Don Henley, and Tim O’Brien. It was also in New York that she discovered her true passion for Irish music. Today, she is well respected on both sides of the Atlantic as a player, composer and teacher. Her compositions and arrangements of tunes and songs have been recorded by John Whelan, Liz Carroll, Beolach, J.P. Cormier, Michael Black, John Doyle, Dennis Cahill, and Flook. Her favorite project last year was to arrange strings for original songs by KP Devlin.
Liz has always produced her own albums as well as being co-producer of albums with such artists as Liz Carroll, Ensemble Galilei and her own trio Open the Door for Three. Her 2010 release, “Making Time”, the first in eleven years, was a snapshot of two decades of living and breathing Irish music, an exploration of both familiar and obscure Irish tunes from various old collections, Irish, Scottish and Medieval, arranged with Liz’s unique sensibility for strings and harmony. Her strong solo playing, signature string arrangements, and the powerful bouzouki of Pat Broaders provide the lush palette and landscape of this album. Guest musicians include Donna Long, Johnny Connolly and Kieran O’Hare.
She has just finished co-producing an album with Liz Carroll for the Art Institute of Chicago for their exhibition “Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840”, which was just released.
Her trio Open the Door for Three with Kieran O’Hare and Pat Broaders is touring widely these days. After spending nearly four years traveling together overseas, this trio is a well-oiled machine of crafted arrangements and powerful music. They have been gracing the stages of many of the irish festivals and concert stages across the country and their second album, The Penny Wager, has just been released.
Liz is a well-known and sought-after teacher of Irish music. She has taught at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Swannanoa Gathering for their Celtic and Fiddle weeks, the O’Flaherty Irish Weekend, and has taught at many Irish piping festivals and tionols across the US and in Ireland, to name a few.
Irish/Brazilian/world music fiddle virtuoso
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. Magill learned from the best fiddlers in the world at The Swannanoa Gathering and has gone on to be a performer and headliner at festivals including Celtic Connections in Glasgow Scotland, Malawi’s prestigious Lake of Stars Festival, and Milwaukee Irishfest. He is a Fulbright fellow, North Carolina Arts Council Fellow and has been featured on MTV, Avianca in-flight entertainment and multiple times on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock.
His 2016 album Roots (featuring Cillian Vallely of Lúnasa and John Doyle) debuted at number #46 on the folk DJ charts and he has released four albums since resulting in a record deal with Ropeadope Records and more than a million streams on Spotify. He has performed with everyone from grammy-nominees John Doyle and Trio Brasileiro to Rising Appalachia. In 2020 he will release albums with former Paul McKenna Bandmate Seán Gray and Scottish singer and guitar & bouzouki-player Alan Murray (Colin Farrell Band). Magill is also working on recording projects with Irish singer Dave Curley and his original jazz quartet, both of which will be launched in 2021.
“I’m gonna keep listening for Finn Magill.” – Grammy-winner Tim O’Brien
“It’s nice to see fresh, young musicians carrying on the traditions of Brazilian music. Finn Magill displays a love and authenticity that can fool you into thinking he is from Brazil. His style is playful and light, yet soulful and passionate. Congratulations!” – Airto Moreira (Miles Davis, Weather Report, Chick Corea)
“Serene and incredibly soulful, North Carolina fiddler Andrew Finn Magill encounters the tradition in a manner reminiscent of Keith Jarrett on The Melody at Night With You.” – The Irish Times
“Andrew Finn Magill is a leading fiddler in a new generation of musicians.” – BBC Folk Musician of the year Martin Hayes
“Magill’s fresh, clear tones calls to mind Stéphane Grappelli…” – Songlines Magazine