Festival Stages

Scottish music as seen at GMHG has always been a contributor the wide musical world, from the old pipe tunes of the Piobaireachd influencing the master Classical composers, to the fiddle tunes that fill the dance halls and theaters influencing American rock and country music.

Our heritage is one of excellent players touring all over the world and then coming back home to play where they began. Our music has been passed down over centuries and remains the basis of a vibrant community across the Atlantic and beyond.

Traditional music is inter-generational and tells the stories of coming together as well as traveling to new places and making one’s own way in the world.

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Tune Sheperds

   The Tune Shepherds, a trio of Asheville musicians with flute, fiddle, and guitar, delight in finding and arranging older Scottish instrumental music.                                   

    This mostly 17th & 18th C. music was published in dozens of folios—interesting and unusual melodies that the Shepherds bring to 21st C. listeners.  You might hear something from Aberdeenshire reminiscent of a gypsy camp; or fiddle music from Perthshire with Beatlesque melody lines; or perhaps a flowing harp tune honoring Clan Gordon. Nothing commonplace here.

   Time spent with The Tune Shepherds—flute player and maker Chris Abell; country dance fiddler Michael Garner; and Grammy winning guitarist Bruce Nemerov—is time spent discovering an old world of sound made new.

Emerald Rae

Emerald Rae is a fiddler and folksinger from the seaside town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Roots Music Report hails her as “a spell-caster of no small skill… maxing out her axe’s potential in the service of her consistently compelling melodies”and recognizes her self-titled 2018 release as “one of the year’s more fetching releases”.  She was chosen as a Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist and is quickly gaining ground as one of the top new artists to follow this year. Pairing ornamented vocals with groovy percussive fiddle, Emerald pushes the boundaries of the imagination with a refreshingly colorful palate. 

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Will MacMorran

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 the past few years and has spent the last 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. Will toured with Celtic rock pioneers Seven Nations for 10 years on bagpipes. In addition, 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.

Jiggernaut

“A band that knows how to rock, but hasn’t forgotten how to think.” Brian McNeill 

Respect for Celtic tradition while redefining Celtic rock. Just powerful harmonies and great musicianship. Deanna Smith sings like an angel, Richard Kean plays like the devil, add Linda Relph on fiddle, a bad ass rhythm section and a whole lot of fun and you get Jiggernaut.

Sadly, we lost the angel and the legend, Deanna Smith Scotland, in November 2019. Though we will not have Deanna’s voice soaring out from the Shannon stage, Jiggernaut will be still be continuing their drive to redefine Celtic rock, ably aided and abetted by the incredible voice of Amanda Williams Ware, who will be taking on the lead vocal role.

Founding member Wolf Loescher will also be joining them. Jiggernaut will be using their set on Saturday afternoon to honor Deanna with many guest artists joining them for what promises to be an unforgettable hour.

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Ed Miller

Ed Miller has been hailed as “one of the finest singers to come out of the Scottish Folksong Revival” and as “one of Scotland’s best singing exports.” Originally from Edinburgh, he has for many years been based in Austin, Texas, where he gained graduate degrees in Folklore and Geography at the University of Texas. Ed’s repertoire covers the whole spectrum of Scottish folk music, from old ballads and songs of Robert Burns to more recent songs that add to the huge store of Scots songs. When not on the road, Ed also hosts a long-running folk music show, “Across the Pond,” on Sun Radio, and he has expanded his activities into taking folksong based tours to Scotland each year, and teaching at various folk music camps. His newest CD is Follow the Music, an eclectic mix of seven Scottish songs, four Irish, and one Texan.

The Reel Sisters

The Reel Sisters: 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.

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Wolf Loescher

Wolf Loescher is a singer / storyteller based in Longmont, Colorado. He sings songs and tells stories from the Old World and the New, accompanying himself on his custom 8-string bouzouki (aka “Bouzar” or “Gadzouki”), guitar, and bodhran. He is often joined by fabulous musicians from around the country in his backing band “The Growlers”.

He feels at home in many places: behind a microphone, behind a drum kit, behind a computer keyboard; on a stage, on a boat, on a mountain; in a kilt, in sneakers and jeans, in a swim suit; at a house concert, at a small local music venue, at a large international music festival. And his music reflects this.

Marybeth McQueen

Marybeth McQueen grew up in an environment filled with Scottish music, the closest source being her father Gregory McQueen, fiddle player for Clandestine. She began learning the Highland pipes at age 8, and has been attending the North American Academy of Piping and Drumming for many years. In 2014 she placed 2nd in the US Scottish Fiddle championship and in 2015 won “Best March” in the open level. Marybeth is currently a student at UNCW and is an expert at mixing traditional music with modern techniques in an upbeat and creative style.

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Brothers McLeod

Brothers McLeod, David and Michael, began performing in 2014. David studied bioengineering as an undergraduate at Clemson University with research interests including upper-limb prostheses, signal analysis, and machine learning. He will begin doctoral studies at George Washington University in biomedical instrumentation in Fall 2019. Michael is a professional level solo competitive bagpiper who attends Furman University majoring in biology to pursue a career in dentistry.

Both have been members of numerous bands including Palmetto Pipes and Drums of Columbia, SC; Upstate United of Clemson, SC; and the Atlanta Pipe Band. They also perform at events such as weddings, Burns Dinners, Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan services, parades and veterans’ services, and debutante balls. Most notably, they have performed as entertainers on the Alex Beaton Stage at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games since 2015.

Strathspan

StrathSpan creates a musical tapestry of the rich tones of cello interwoven with the lyrical voice of the violin. The sound of StrathSpan starts with traditional Scottish pipe and fiddle tunes, layering innovative harmonies and rhythms. The repertoire ranges from elegant marches and strathspeys to driving reels, from lively jigs to soulful airs, with occasional forays into Irish, Scandinavian, and Breton traditions. The resulting music evokes the timeless sensations of heartbeat and laughter, waves and sea creatures, joyous dance and ancient ceremony.

StrathSpan is Julia Weatherford and her cello at the eastern end of the Swannanoa Valley in North Carolina, and Nora Garver and her fiddle in Asheville at the western end of the Swannanoa Valley. “Strath” means valley in Scots Gaelic.  Thus, they span the valley. Julia and Nora brought together years of astonishingly varied musical experience when they formed their duo in 2015.  Past performances include Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Swannanoa Gathering, Biltmore Estate, and Whitehorse at Black Mountain.

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For more than 25 years, Alabama natives Jil Chambless and Scooter Muse have been performing the music of Scotland, Ireland and early America with various ensembles in a wide variety of venues, from house concerts to festivals and concert halls. Jil and Scooter have been fortunate to work alongside many of the nest artists in Celtic music, resulting in many spontaneous collaborations.

As singer and flute and whistle player, Jil Chambless has performed across the US as well as in Canada, Scotland, and Israel with many artists and bands. In 2009, Jil released her first solo CD, The Ladies Go Dancing, produced by the legendary Brian McNeill. Jil brings to any audience a wonderful listening experience from haunting ballads to upbeat songs with a smooth delivery that never fails to bring both smiles and tears.

Scooter Muse has his roots in Bluegrass and is an award-winning 5-string banjo player, and in the late 1980s he moved into the world of Celtic guitar. Scooter’s first solo recording of original guitar instrumentals, Saddell Abbey, was purchased by the Scottish Tourist Board in Kintyre.

In 2010, Jil and Scooter began performing as a duo, playing a variety of venues from small house concerts to major Celtic festivals. Since then they have released three CDs as a duo, The Laverock Sang, Passing Tales & Glories and The Lang Awa’ Ships. They also released a CD with Scottish fiddler John Taylor, Live @ NTIF.

Piper Jones Band

The Piper Jones Band is a lyrical, high energy trio based on the moving and beautiful sounds of the Highland bagpipes, accompanied by unique percussive chords from the bouzouki and inspired drums. While maintaining a strong musical base in traditional tunes from Ireland, Scotland, and Appalachia, the group also performs original instrumental compositions and powerful vocal harmonies, as well as stepping off stage from time to time to lead the audience in traditional Celtic dances. The Piper Jones Band brings authentic, traditional music to your audience in a fresh, entertaining way.

EJ Jones first played at GMHG with Clandestine in 1998 and is a professionally ranked competitive piper in the EUSPBA. He has had a performing career spanning over two decades with the recent distinction of representing the USA at the 2014 MacCrimmon Trophy at Festival Interceltique Lorient.

Frances Cunningham, on bouzouki, is a Texas native who has enjoyed a long career performing nationwide, with a variety of musicians. Her first love is traditional Irish music and she was the winner of the Midwest Fleadh in 2013 in both accompaniment and on the tenor banjo. She currently lives in Nashville, TN and has released her debut CD, Alcinoe. 

Wolf Loescher plays percussion in bands ranging from symphonic to progressive rock to Celtic folk. He specializes in drum kit and hand percussion, and has performed and recorded with a variety of projects all across the country. He founded the band Jiggernaut and has been a key member of many great Celtic bands.

Jennifer Licko

AWARDED CELTIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR BY CELTIC MUSIC RADIO AND NOMINATED FOR TRAD ALBUM OF THE YEAR BY TRADCONNECT, THIS NORTH CAROLINA FOLK SINGER, HAS A STRONG RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MUSIC THAT TRAVELED OVER WITH THE SCOTTISH SETTLERS.

Founder and lead singer for Highland Echoes, Jennifer's music weaves Scots Gaelic and Appalachian sounds together with her originals and traditional Celtic songs. Spending her youth as a competitive Scottish Highland Dancer encouraged her interest and love for the Scottish traditions. Jennifer is an exceptional vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who plays the piano, guitar, and bodhrán (Irish drum). After living almost a decade in Scotland and Ireland, Jennifer realized the strong similarities between Scotland and North Carolina...and her music began to branch out into a genre that honors those connections.

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“I believe that the music needs to connect with the audience through our shared emotions and experiences for us all to feel that which can only be experienced through music.”

Through its touring schedule and dynamic live performances, Seven Nations has become one of the fastest growing live acts nationwide. They have logged in more than one million touring miles trying to make the music universal for old and new fans alike. To the five member band, that means being on tour 85 percent of the year, melding guitar and vocal elements of American pop and rock with Highland bagpipes and fiddle. The result is a high-energy performance that has fans jumping out of their seats, and has sparked interest nationwide.

Lead singer/songwriter and founding member Kirk MacLeod attended bagpipe summer schools in these mountains from the age of 12 and won the first ever John McFadden award for “most promising piper.” Many years later he has led a band through almost a quarter of a million albums sold and some of the most brilliantly powerful and creative Celtic rock ever played.

“We are lucky,” says McLeod, “because we come from two unique cultures. We love American pop and rock and roll, but we also love our Celtic roots. We want to touch everybody with our music.”

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