We Banjo 3 is an award-winning band of brothers from Galway, Ireland. They combine irish music with old-time Americana and bluegrass influences to reveal the banjo’s rich legacy and roots. Enda & Fergal Scahill and Martin & David Howley are among the most celebrated and distinguished musicians in Ireland today. They are holders of multiple All Ireland music titles on banjo, fiddle, bodhran and guitar.
Skerryvore first formed on the tiny island of Tiree off Scotland’s west coast. Brothers Martin Gillespie (bagpipe & whistle) and Daniel Gillespie (accordion) teamed up with friends Fraser West (percussion), Alec Dalglish (lead vocals & guitar) and Craig Espie (fiddle), later adding Alan Scobie (keyboards) and Jodie Bremaneson (bass). They’ve all come together musically to produce innovative versions of classic Scottish tunes and their own collection of tightly crafted, pop-infused songs and instrumentals powered by the traditions of the Gaelic lands. One local writer described them as "some of the best ambassadors Scotland could ever have wished for…a living, breathing, 12 legged party waiting to happen."
JigJam are the hottest new act on the "Celtgrass" music scene. They have developed an exciting, energy-fuelled live sound blending the best of bluegrass and Irish folk music. The band comprises Jamie McKeogh, Daithi Melia, Cathal Guinan and Gavin Strappe. JigJam’s debut album “Oh Boy!” is a tour de force of Irish and Americana music and a brilliant representation of their live show.
The Screaming Orphans are four sisters raised in the magic of Bundoran in County Donegal, Ireland. There is a great tradition of music to be found in Irish homes especially in the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas which have produced the likes of Clannad, Altan and Enya. After playing at a St. Brigid's day concert in Kildare along with truly great Irish artists like Christy Moore, Liam O'Maonlai, and Sinead O’Connor, Sinead then asked them to be her back-up singers and open for her on her Gospel Oak Tour. They went across Europe, America and Canada, and appeared on David Letterman and other TV shows as part of her show and as a band in their own right. The following year was spent touring with world music star, Babba Maal, singing at his homecoming concert in Dakar, Senegal, and contributing vocals to his album "Nomad Soul." They also recorded with Peter Gabriel and were backing vocalists on the Joni Mitchell track "Magdalene Laundries" for the Chieftains "Tears of Stone" album. Being surrounded by so many different influences has inspired them to explore new and exciting song writing and performance concepts. And if you're wondering about their name... "A friend of Joan's (Damien Granaghan) came up with it one night and we loved the name because we were going out on the road on our own and we were leaving behind our Mam who had been our lead singer for years and our Da who was our manager/sound engineer and so we became "orphans." The “screaming” bit is what usually occurs when surrounded by family and we are known to hit certain high notes that could be interpreted as scream-like. That and our secondary school used to be an orphanage so there you have it."
Garry has been working, touring and performing with many artists including The Fureys, Stockton’s Wing and Gerry O’Connor and the successful dance show Celtic Legends II playing banjo, mandolin and singing with the show. He also featured on several tracks on the recorded tribute album to acclaimed singer/songwriter Christie Hennessey, with such famous Irish artists as Christie himself, Christy Moore, Luka Bloom, Paul Brady, Moya Brennan and Finbar Furey and then toured with the sensational music and dance show, Irish Legends in 2011. During this time Garry also toured with Lord of the Dance star, Liam O’Connor and his show. In early 2012 he joined the award winning Brock McGuire band, which was recently voted “Irish Instrumental Band Of The Decade” in the U.S.A, and has been touring in Ireland and North America with them since. He was also busy as a recording artist, working on albums for popular Irish artists including Tommy Fleming and Mike Denver as well as recording his own long awaited debut album, Pickin’ Time. Released in March 2013, it has received critical acclaim from Gerry O’Connor, Irish American News, LiveIreland and American Public Radio, amongst others. Since then, he has performed extensively with the Garry O’Meara Band, as well as the sensational award winning band We Banjo 3. He has completed several tours in Europe and the States and at home with the band.
Kiana June Weber was born and raised on a farm just outside the small town of Chelsea, Michigan. She began playing the piano at the age of 5, but soon after, she begged her parents to let her play the violin. During high school, Kiana developed an interest in fiddling and guitar. She performed with a Celtic band called The Chelsea House Orchestra (CHO) across the Midwest. During her time with CHO, she also began gigging on her own as a singer-songwriter and won numerous awards for her songwriting. Kiana attended the University of Michigan (UM) where she studied violin with Stephen Shipps. In 2007, Kiana formed her own acoustic trio called the Daughters of Newgrass, which performed original compositions of a diverse fusion of rock, Celtic, Bluegrass, and Jazz. She also performed in an alternative rock band with Charlene Kaye and Darren Criss (of “Glee” fame). Kiana toured with Barrage for three years and appeared in theaters, festival stages, and television specials all over the North America, Central America, Europe and Asia. Kiana joined Gaelic Storm in Fall 2012 and toured with them until early 2017, recording three No.1 Billboard World Music Albums and performing to audiences all over North America.
In 2015 Kiana moved to Galway, Ireland and has lived there since. She has performed at numerous Irish/Celtic music festivals, including the very first Mad Gael Music Fest, as “Kiana & Friends” offering a spontaneous and ever changing mix of unique, energizing live performances with musician friends from throughout the Celtic music world. We are excited to have her return for 2017.
Quickly gaining recognition as one of Irish music’s new “super-groups,” RUNA has been enchanting audiences by pushing the boundaries of Irish folk music into the Americana and roots music formats since their formation in 2008. Interweaving the haunting melodies and exuberant tunes of Ireland and Scotland with the lush harmonies and intoxicating rhythms of jazz, bluegrass, flamenco and blues, they offer a thrilling and redefining take on traditional music. RUNA consists of vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist, Fionán de Barra, Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion, Maggie Estes of Kentucky on the fiddle and mandolin, and Zach White of Missouri on mandolin, vocals, banjo, and flat-picking guitar. The group has been honored internationally, winning Top Group and Top Traditional Group in the Irish Music Awards and three Independent Music Awards including Best LIVE Album, Best World/Traditional Song, and Best Bluegrass Song. RUNA recently released their fifth album, RUNA: LIVE, which was recorded at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD on Thursday, March 17th, 2016 Receiving lavish praise on both sides of the Atlantic, the album has been hailed as “an incredible masterpiece” (Marcene Bronson, The Celtic Crier).
Hailed by The Grand Rapids Press as “top-notch, instrumental wizardry,” The Moxie Strings offer listeners the unique opportunity to experience some of the world’s best-known instruments through a young, progressive lens. Diana Ladio and Alison Lynn, often joined by percussionist, Fritz McGirr, all hold Bachelor of Music degrees in music performance, which have given each the technical foundation to explore the limits of his/her instrument and helped the group build a reputation for musical excellence. The Moxie Strings compose the majority of their pieces and arrange melodies from many traditions, resulting in a genre-blurring blend of ear-catching melodies and foot-stomping, rock-influenced rhythms. Alison performs on a newly-invented, electric cello, and Diana on a contemporary 5-string violin, both through a variety of audio effects pedals. Fritz performs on a mix of world percussionist instruments and drum kit. Their polished, high-energy show and unique sound are redefining strings' role in contemporary music, and have quickly made the band one of the country’s most promising instrumental acts.
Rising Gael's musical signature is the nexus of old and new. By transforming traditional tunes into modern arrangements, Rising Gael has carved a niche in the Celtic music genre. The driving rhythms played on guitar and drum race with the fast fingers and electrifying bowing of the fiddle. This mix is paired with pure, haunting vocals, resulting in a rich and exhilarating sound.
Madison’s own, The Kissers, bring a fresh, original kick to Celtic music. Forged during legendary Monday nights at Madison’s O’Cayz Corral and honed through 1000 nights on the road, their sound blends sharp musicianship, black humor and the lilt and lyricism of ancient melodies. Rock musicians who learned Irish music, The Kissers explore the roots of that tradition while retaining their own unique essence.
A currach is a traditional Irish boat, framed in wood with hide or canvas stretched to cover. It has close cousins in the Welsh coracle and canoe, but the design and construction spring uniquely from the West of Ireland and Scotland. A craft worthy of sea travel, fishing, and even the transport of livestock, powerful and ancient, like the music of Daithi Wolfe, Darl Ridgely and Josh Perkins. For 7 years, each Friday night at the Brocach Irish Pub, this Madison-based trio of friends have pursued their apprenticeship to the great art of traditional music. In and out of the door, new friends come and go, some to stay only the night and some to stay for years. The languages of talk, laughter and music mix and flow through the rooms as blood through the veins of time and all the old makers of tunes are as alive in those rooms as they were in their prime, as they are always alive where they're called to listen and play. For a little while, we're all there together to sing and to remember why we worked to learn the music, that asks everything and gives back double in return.