Caleb Chia is a guitarist from West Auckland. He specializes in tunes accompaniment. He grew up in a musical family of fiddlers, pipers, flutists, and bodhran players. He is a regular and welcome part of the trad scene in New Zealand. He has studied with a number of top guitarists at festivals and summer schools in NZ and Ireland. Recognising his ability, the NZ Gaidhealtachd community sent Caleb to Ireland on a scholarship. Upon his return Caleb began a very successful week tutoring at the summer school. He has a passion for tune rhythms and has a varied playing style. His main influences are bands such as Lunasa, Grada and Ben the Hoose. Caleb plays with award winning family band ‘The Chia’s’, ‘Shimna’s List’, ‘Originz’ – recent guests at Wellyfest and before that at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany, and now with new four-piece band ‘Rough Town‘, guests at the Auckland Folk Festival, and much more. While performing regularly, Caleb also has a strong session focus, helping to run one of Auckland’s longest running sessions.
Pat Higgins is an Irish musician living in WellingtonNew Zealand. A Galwayman who moved to New Zealand last century, he plays Irish traditional music on whistle and more recently wooden flute. Pat has guested at music festivals, in New Zealand, Ireland and Australia. He is a co-founder of Ceol Aneas, and has previously taught whistle at that event. Pat is sought after as an Irish traditional music teacher, and has given workshops on whistle at several music festivals. He currently runs regular classes in Wellington on the tin whistle as well as leading a weekly music session. He once sang solo live on Sky TV, has performed on stage with the Chieftains and is delighted to be able to give something back to the music tradition and honour the people he has learnt from.
Dougal Adams is one of Australia’s finest flute players and has long been acknowledged, particularly among his peers, as one the Irish flute’s finest local exponents.
Glasgow born, Western Australian raised, Dougal’s love of traditional dance music began with the Highland pipes. In his late teens he became interested in Irish music and transferred to playing the tin whistle. A trip to Ireland in the early 1980s led to a fascination with the flute which has become his favoured instrument.
Over the years Dougal has performed with various groups and prior to moving to Melbourne, had a long running duo with concertina player Ormonde Waters which produced the recording “The Good Ear” He has also taught flute and presented workshops for Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann in Perth. In October 2015, Dougal with Ben Stephenson and Ado Barker of “Trouble in the Kitchen” fame, released their CD “The Freewheeler”.
Declan Simpson has been playing fiddle since he was a young tacker, and has been an active member of the traditional Irish music scene in Melbourne since 2005. Declan’s many pilgrimages to Ireland have included a year living in Dublin where he was immersed in a dynamic and rich traditional music community. His experiences ranged from running sessions to performing shows in Dublin, Galway and Belfast. Declan performs with the multi-award winning band ‘The Simpson Three’ as well as with ‘Squeebz’ and a new trio with Beth McCracken and Ben Stephenson. He draws influences from many great Irish fiddle players including John Carty, Tommy Potts, Jesse Smith and James Carty (to name a few!). He is excited to share his insights and knowledge of all things ‘Trad fiddle’ at this year’s Ceol Aneas festival.
Angela Usher, born in Manchester, is a well-known tenor banjo player, as well as an experienced teacher and composer of Irish music.
Angela learned the tin whistle from Marian Egan and soon progressed onto other instruments. By her mid teens, she joined her first band Curragh and was then a founder member of the popular Manchester Celtic rock group, Toss the Feathers.
In July this year, Angela released her debut solo banjo album ‘The Gort Mile.’ The album’s title is a reference to her origins; Angela’s Grandfather, John-Joe Lally, came from Peterswell and won the Gort Mile race in the early 1920’s. Angela spent her summers in Peterswell, frequently visiting the family home of celebrated box player Joe Cooley, playing tunes with Joe’s brother, Jack.
Described as a uniquely soulful banjo player, where technical mastery meets impeccable musical taste, Angela is at last sharing her considerable talents as a musician and composer with the wider world. Almost half of the tunes on the album are Angela’s own compositions.
“The Gort Mile is a rare and spirited collection from an outstanding musician and teacher. Cherish it.” – Mike Harding – (Broadcaster and folk musician)
Watch and listen to Angela: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lraMpuojZsY
Eileen O’Brien was born into a musical family. Her father was Paddy O’Brien: a musician, teacher and composer of Irish traditional music. Her mother’s branch of the family, were Jim Seery (fiddle player) and brother Sean Seery (Piper) who were both leading members of “The Pipers Club” in Dublin and also founder members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Her musical achievements includes winning the All-Ireland Fiddle in 1980, the All-Ireland Slow Air Cin 1979. She has also toured extensively with many groups throughout the world and also given lectures and workshops both in Ireland and abroad, including the Minnesota Irish Music Centre (USA), Eire Le Festa Music Festival (Italy), Catskills Irish Arts Week (USA).
Watch and listen to Eileen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRwlL5YCjLE
Aisling is the current INA Musician in Residence and a well known and highly regarded musician, dancer and singer from Co. Cork, Ireland. She has toured extensively around Ireland, Europe and America and has had the honour of touring with Comhaltas Ceolóirí Éireann as a musician and dancer several times. Aisling has also enjoyed great success at competition level, winning five All-Ireland Titles at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. A music and Irish language teacher by trade, Aisling is also highly regarded for her outstanding teaching skills and was awarded by Comhaltas for her exceptional results in the TTCT teaching diploma in Irish Traditional Music. She has been an active member of her local Comhaltas Branch in Ballincollig, Co. Cork from an early age where she has been teaching for the past 4 years alongside her own musical mentor Martin Power. Aisling is a key member of the traditional group “Ceoltóirí Mhuscraí” and endeavours to actively promote the Gaelic culture at home and abroad.
Mary’s style of music is deeply set in the mellow rhythm and swing of east Clare having being fortunate to have played with the musical masters of the area such as Martin Rochford, P Joe Hayes, Bill Malley and Joe Bane. While Mary has performed mostly as a solo musician all over the world she has also toured with The Tulla Ceili Band, the all women group Macalla, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, Catherine McEvoy and also Martin Hayes. Mary has recorded three solo albums followed by a duet album “The Lady’s Cup of Tea” with her daughter Sorcha Costello. “The Lady’s Cup of Tea” was described by Frankie Gavin as “Sincere, hypnotic and an overall delight”.
Watch and listen to Mary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4u3wqaYU84&feature=youtu.be
Dara O’Coisdealbha is an award-winning accordion player from a hugely talented musical family steeped in traditional Irish music and based in Co. Tipperary. Currently based in Australia, Dara is already in huge demand due to his fine musicianship and lively performances.
Muireann Banks is a banjo player hailing from Dublin, Ireland. Born into a musical family, she began playing traditional Irish music on tin whistle at the age of five, progressing onto the mandolin and banjo in the years that followed. Over the years, Muireann has been a founding member of numerous ceilí bands and groups and continues to be part of the lively traditional music scene in Dublin. She is an in-demand performer and tutor in Dublin and at many festivals across Ireland and abroad including, Fleadhanna Ceoil, The Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, The South Sligo Summer School in Tubbercurry, Rencontres Musicales Irlandaises de Tocane Saint Apre, Féile Chois Cuain in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo and Kincora Tradfest, Ballina, Tipperary.