"The Fiddle Traditions in Ulster-Scots Music, Then & Now"
Frank H. Ferrel
2017 North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame inductee, Frank Ferrel is considered to be one of the leading North American fiddlers performing today. In a Boston Globe article, music critic Scott Alarik referred to Mr. Ferrel as “One of the finest living masters,” of that genre.
Frank began his fiddling at age 8, influenced first by his grandfather, a traditional musician and native of Ohio and West Virginia. His father's family originally came from the Longford area of Ireland via Maritime Canada. Frank rekindled his interest in traditional fiddling under the influence of local Irish, French-Acadian, and Canadian Maritime fiddlers while stationed at the old Charlestown Navel Shipyard in Boston in the 1960’s, playing with and learning from such legendary players as Irish fiddlers, Paddy Cronin and Seamus Connolly, Cape Breton Scottish and French Acadian players, Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, Bill Lamey, Tommy Doucet, Joe Cormier, John Campbell and Angus Chisholm, just to mention a few.
Over the years, Frank has appeared on the nationally broadcast popular American radio series, A Prairie Home Companion, and is included on their anthology recording, "PHC Tourists." He has performed on numerous occasions with the legendary Celtic group, The Boys of the Lough, both as guest artist on their Scottish Highlands and Islands tours, as well as in concert performances throughout North America. The Library of Congress chose his major label CD release, Yankee Dreams, for inclusion in their Select List of 25 Recordings of American Folk Music. Throughout the 1990’s he performed with the legendary Irish-American accordion player, Joe Derrane, and was music director of the National Public Radio series, Say You.
Frank has published two collections of fiddle music for the international music publisher, MelBay, and a third collection of 325 of his original compositions includingthe classic Cape Breton Scottish jig, Spin-N-Glo. He has produced recordings of traditional music for such major folk labels as Rounder Records, Voyager, and Flying Fish Records. In addition, he has made a number of recordings, both as a solo artist, and as a studio musician. He was the Featured artist and cover story in the fall, 2016 issue of Fiddler Magazine.
Frank was asked to help in the development of the now legendary Festival of American Fiddle Tunes held in Port Townsend, Washington, and served as one of the first directors of that festival for ten years.
Recordings: Major Festivals: Maritime Melodies, 2016 Festival of Small Halls, PEI, Canada
Home Tapes & Favorite Cuts, 2014 Jamboree Atlantique des Violoneux, PEI, Canada
Fiddledance, 2004 American Folk Festival, Bangor, Maine
The Dactyls, S2003 National Folk Festival, Lowell, Massachusetts
Classic Down East Fiddle Music, 2000 Celtic Colours, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Boston Fiddle, 1996 Orkney Folk Festival, Kirkwall, Scotland
Moxie, 1994 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
Yankee Dreams, 1990 Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia
Sage Flower Suite, 1984 Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Down East, Out West, 1980 Summer Solstice Folk Festival, Los Angeles, California
Fiddle Tunes, 1975 Oregon Bluegrass Festival, Eugene, Oregon
Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, Washington
Rocky Mountain Fiddle Festival, Denver, Colorado
Sun Valley Folk Festival, Sun Valley, Idaho
Castlebay members Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee treat the audience to a musical journey through time and across the Atlantic blending history and legend into their personable style. Since 1988 they have toured down the American east coast and to Ireland, Scotland and England performing at arts centers, museums, festivals and schools. Julia's ancestors were among the Scots Irish who came to Pemaquid in the early 18th century. These colonists brought their music with them to the new world as heirlooms. Ancient ballads would ease the cold and darkness of a winter night and were passed down, now appearing in Maine's traditional repertoire.The lives and adventures of these people also provided ingredients for new songs whose origins can be directly traced to Ireland and Scotland. Lane and Gosbee research archives and collections for these songs and interpret them for performance. Castlebay will present a sampler of these musical stories.
Castlebay has produced numerous recordings featuring both songs of the Maine coast as well as songs, stories and poems in the Scottish and Irish traditions. Their most recent CD, Bound Away, features seafaring songs of Maine selected from historical archives. They are working on a book of Maine traditional songs and lore. For more information, please visit www.castlebay.net
Maine Highland Fiddlers
Maine Highland Fiddlers are part of the traditional Celtic music revival that thrives throughout the North Atlantic rim. The music of Scotland, Cape Breton Island, Ireland and the Shetlands resonates well with the rich heritage of Maine’s early Celtic settlements. Along with fiddles, the group includes guitar, bodhrán, and vocals. The group of six musicians gathers from throughout Southern, Western and Mid-Coast Maine to perform, pass on, and renew the Celtic fiddle tradition in Maine. Their music recaptures the kitchen party atmosphere that is central to the Celtic tradition.
What began as a group of friends gathering at someone's house to play Celtic tunes and talk Celtic times soon became a desire to share the music and traditions with everyone. They have played several popular venues in southern, central and mid-coast Maine; including Poland Spring All Souls Chapel, Araxine Wilkins Sawyer foundation, Maine Celtic Celebration, and Maine Highland Games.
Mike Boyd has been playing his bodhran with the Maine Highland Fiddlers for 8 years. He was first inspired by Rolf Wagels of the Irish band, Cara. That was when Mike learned just what could be done on a bodhrán. He then went on to take lessons from Rolf. Mike can often be seen at local sessions, playing with some of Maine’s best musicians. Mike has performed on stage with some world class acts. He makes tippers (drumsticks) for bodhrán players all over the world. Mike teaches bodhrán at many of the festivals and music camps around Maine.
Frank Grant started playing guitar when he was 10 years old. With no formal instruction he is self-taught. Since he was a teenager he has played in public venues and for private parties with other musicians and as a solo act. Frank favored artists such as James Taylor and Paul Simon most of his life. In 2015, he attended a performance of the Maine Highland Fiddlers. Joining them soon after, he has developed a deep appreciation and affection for Celtic music.
Michele Stowe learned to love music listening to her older cousin play piano, and at age nine began her study of classical piano. After grade school she auditioned and was accepted at the High School of Music and Art in New York City where she continued with the piano and began studying the violin which she played with their orchestra. She minored in music in college and then pursued a career in elementary education teaching third and fourth grades for twenty five years. After retirement Michele discovered Celtic Music and took her old violin out of the closet after forty seven years, and found a love of playing the fiddle that she never felt playing the violin. She fell in love with Scottish and Cape Breton music which reminded her of her Celtic roots from Galicia in Northern Spain. She has been a member of Fiddle-icious since 2011 and joined Maine Highland Fiddlers in 2015.
Rhonda Bullock began her musical career at age seven. Following the school years of violin lessons, orchestras, and festivals, she decided to explore a different style of music and attended Maine Fiddle Camp in 1999. After one weekend immersed in traditional fiddle music, she was hooked. She has been fiddling ever since – attending various workshops and music camps from Maine to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and plays with several groups including Fiddle-icious and The Maine Highland Fiddlers. In addition to performing, Rhonda teaches private violin and fiddle lessons at Fiddlehead Art & Science Center and especially enjoys sharing the art of traditional music with others.
At the age of 36 Susan Volmer was inspired to learn to play fiddle after seeing Eileen Ivers and John Doyle in concert. Their passion for playing and the traditional music was contagious. Sue started with private lessons learning by ear and quickly continued on with various workshops, fiddle camps, and classical violin lessons. Outside of Maine, Susan has performed in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia individually and with varied groups of fiddle friends; Sue was an original member of Fiddle-icious for its first 4 years, and currently plays with the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association, “Cache-tes-Fesses” Quebecois Study group, Belfast Bay Fiddlers, and her beloved Maine Highland Fiddlers pursuing her interest in Cape Breton Music.
Val Mann inherited her love of family, farming and fiddling from her Grandfather who proclaimed himself ‘of Scotch-Irish extraction’. She took up fiddling when she received the first fiddle that ‘Grampy’ built, dated 1924. He played for family and community dances as a youth. Val claims that some of his tunes are still in his fiddle. She has been a student of traditional music, learning from many of Maine’s and Nova Scotia’s best fiddlers. She has taken her interest in all things fiddle into the workshop and is now re-hairing and repairing fiddle bows. She and her husband, John, have been host to some of the Celtic genres very best traditional musicians for house concerts and jam sessions. She has been a member of Fiddle-icious since its beginning in 2004. She has performed with Maine Highland Fiddlers since the group began in 2008.