New Lang Syne – –

Jack manages to hit the deadline for a change with the guest post – –

Some disconnected recent events have got me thinking about American artists who successfully interpret Scottish music and songs.

Maura Shawn Scanlon
  1. John Turner – John runs the ‘Jink and Diddle’ series of Scottish fiddle classes in North Carolina and is a multiple winner of the US Scottish fiddle championship. My friend Randy who runs our local used book store gets lots of LPs and lets me know if there’s anything interesting among the recent arrivals. A few days ago he messaged me to say he had two by John Turner and Fiddletree. I had never heard of them but consulted Dr Google, which leads to the next performer –
  • Maura Shawn Scanlon – About six or seven years ago she won the US Scottish fiddle championships and I had her on my radio show. She was invited to compete in the Glenfiddich world championships in Scotland (which she also won) and I had her back. That’s when I found that she had studied at the ‘Jink and Diddle’ classes under John Turner! Since then she has moved to Boston to continue her studies and performs in various groups playing both classical and Scottish music. That leads me to another winner of the US championships –
  • Jamie Laval – I first met Jamie when we were both on the teaching staff at Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week and we hit it off. Jamie is also an expert of Scottish fiddling, but he concentrates on the west coast style, so, very different from John or Maura Shawn. That style owes a lot to bagpipe influence – not just in the actual tunes but also the tunings and drone effects. Talking of the west coast of Scotland leads me to –
  • Rhiannon Giddens – Wendy and I met Rhiannon when we led workshops at ‘Common Ground on the Hill’ in Westminster, Maryland about ten year ago. She was part of ‘The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ at the time and they were a black string band playing jug band music. But one evening there was a gathering in our room and Rhiannon started singing Scots Gaelic songs. I was astonished. How could a young black woman from North Carolina be doing this? It was obvious that she wasn’t just parroting the sounds but actually knew the language.

There are many events around the US featuring Scottish music but most of them feature performers that just skim the surface and have done no real research or study. But every once in a while folk come along that really do dig deep.

Some of them are listed above – – –

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