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2018 Headline Performers

We are pleased to announce the headline bands for 2018. Click on the band picture to link to a recent(ish) YouTube video.

The Elders

The Elders

The Elders were founded in 1998 by six individuals with a passion for music rooted in Americana and Celtic folk rock. From the beginning The Elders seemed to be channeling something ancient and enduring – something unaffected by fads, trends and the giant maw of mind-numbing commercialism. Their ability to bring together the art of story telling with elements both musically progressive and rooted in tradition, has won them a broad international fan base, as well as critical acclaim in numerous publications.

"True", the 8th studio album, builds upon The Elders song writing reputation. The songs reflect delightful and often educational story lines, with vibrant narratives that explore history, legends, tall tales and true-life experiences. In addition to bands' trademark mesh of styles & textures, and lush, soaring vocals, the album features three barn-burning instrumentals.

Their critically acclaimed albums serve as reflections of the group dynamic, but fans who are wild about The Elders can tell you that the real magic happens on stage, where their powerful personal and musical chemistry forges a deep sense of community with their audience. During the upbeat numbers, everyone is shouting gleefully, singing along and dancing as the band stirs up their latest moment of wild abandon.

Screaming Orphans

Screaming Orphans

The Screaming Orphans are four sisters with the good fortune to have been 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, Enya and Mairead, Micheal and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill. Our home was no exception. From we were young, we've been singing and playing traditional Irish music but when we hit our teenage years we knew it was time to start our own pop rock band.

Our first gigs were at local surf festivals at Bundoran playing covers. We were soon writing our own music and travelling to Dublin to play the singer/ songwriter clubs including Whelans. At one of these shows we were seen by the director of London based Blue Mountain Music publishing company founded by Chris Blackwell of Island Music and subsequently signed a deal with them.

Our next break came with an invitation to play 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 us to be her back-up singers and open for her on her Gospel Oak Tour. We 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 our own right.

While we can never forget our roots in traditional Irish music, the Screaming Orphans draw on a diverse set of influences ranging from Simon and Garfunkel, The Bangles to The McNulty Family, with a strong focus on melody-driven songs with pop and rocks strains.

Screaming Orphans Folk/Irish album "Taproom" charted at No. 1 in the iTunes World Music charts, in the top 100 in the iTunes overall music charts, and in the top 10 in the Billboard World Albums charts. The band was previously nominated by the Irish Music Awards for Best New Irish CD and have won the Top Celtic Rock band category. They were also included on the "Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk" album, which includes tracks from many of their musical heroes.

Mari Black

Mari Black

Multistyle violinist and champion fiddler Mari Black is rapidly building a reputation as one of the most dynamic young artists of her generation. Her energetic playing, engaging stage presence, and commitment to bringing people together through music have made her a favorite with audiences across the country and around the world. Equally at home in a wide variety of musical traditions, Mari is the 2015 & 2013 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, the 2014 Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Champion, the 2014 & 2012 Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion, the 2011 Canadian Novelty Fiddle Champion, a 1st Prize Winner at the 2010 American Protégé International String Competition, and a 2-time laureate at the American String Teachers’ Association Alternative Styles Awards. On stage, she creates shows that draw on elements from many different styles including jazz, tango, folk, Western classical, as well as Celtic, American, and Canadian fiddling. Her performances take listeners on a musical journey exploring the diversity and celebrating commonalities in the dance-driven folk musics of the world.

An internationally-recognized performer, Mari can be seen playing in all sorts of settings. She has been featured at Celtic Highland Games, Argentine tango festivals, folk festivals, jazz concert series, and world-famous classical concert venues including Carnegie Hall. Mari has appeared with such diverse artists as Irish fiddle champion Liz Carroll, Americana master Mark O’Connor, and jazzman Willie Ruff.

Dedicated to education, both musical and academic, Mari presents frequent outreach concerts and workshops at schools, conferences, festivals, and universities. She has taught at the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp, the long- established Kinhaven Music Festival, and the Boston Youth Symphony’s Intensive Community Program.

Mari holds a Masters’ Degree and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music, and a doctorate from Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she was the Geffen Fellow in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creativity.


Calan bring together the remarkable talents of 5 young musicians giving a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music. With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions through their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing.

They blast their way through some of the old favourite reels, jigs and hornpipes with fast paced and uplifting arrangements before melting into some of the most beautiful and haunting songs.

Following the release of their debut album, ‘Bling’ in 2008, which attracted four star responses from the critics, the five-piece have been playing to big audiences and rave reviews at concerts and festivals around Britain and Europe, including the coveted Cambridge Festival; Celtic Connections, Glasgow; Shrewsbury Folk Festival; Moseley Folk Festival; Derby Folk Festival; Bromyard Folk Festival, Whitby Folk Festival a concert tour of Italy, Austria and Belgium along with a number of performances at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany, where they’ve received the award for the best group.

The group, who’ve raised some eyebrows with a deliberate policy of eye-catching clothes and presentation, despite the ancient roots of their music, see themselves as a new generation of ambassadors, striving to take their new sound to new audiences, while raising the profile of Welsh traditional music on an international level.

With their unique instrumental blend fiddles, whistles, guitar and bagpipes and a traditional reed instrument from Wales called a pibgorn made from a wooden pipe and the horns of a bull. Great fun, a sense of humour and step dancing from a champion dancer who dances in a style unique to Wales.



Premier Irish-American fiddler Brian Conway performs with a skill, grace and force that are steeped in tradition but distinctively his own. Conway has won numerous All-Ireland fiddling competitions, and has been called one of the best fiddlers of his generation. New York born, he is a leading exponent of the highly ornamented Sligo fiddling style made famous by the late Michael Coleman and passed on to him by legendary Martin Wynne and fiddle great Andy McGann. Brian remains faithful to the rich tradition handed down to him—the distinctness of his tone, the lift of his playing, and the deft ornamentation he brings to the tunes have placed him among the finest Irish fiddlers of any style, Sligo or otherwise. His talents have also been enthusiastically received all over North America and throughout Ireland and the rest of Europe.

Máirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling, bodhrán player. He performs in his native Ireland and all over the U.S.... and between and beyond, too! An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of any collection of people, from a concert hall to an intimate porch. Descended from a long line of storytellers and with two CCÉ All-Ireland's for Storytelling under his belt, Máirtín gets no more joy out of life than the telling of stories. If you are lucky enough to catch him spinning a few yarns, you are in for a treat. When touring the globe with The Máirtín de Cógáin Project & The Fuchsia Band, Máirtín is also a true promoter of the ballad. He is searching ever for those forgotten songs of old to give them new life, and also writes some of his own. Máirtín also is threading the boards as a playwright and actor, most notably in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley and recently playing De Bogman off-broadway in NY.

Accompanist Don Penzein has long been a top-flight performer of traditional Irish music. He frequently tours nationally playing concerts and festivals with The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, The John Whelan Band, Legacy, Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and String Band, and now with Gailfean. Don’s dexterous work on DADGAD guitar provides solid, driving rhythms to traditional tunes as well as perceptive and sensitive accompaniments to songs and airs. When called upon, he also adds whistle, bodhran and vocals to arrangements.

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.


Crannua brings together the talents of singer Moya Brennan (of Clannad), guitarist John Doyle, musical brothers Cormac and Éamonn De Barra and American singer/songwriter Ashley Davis.

This new and exciting group first came together in a collaborative set of special performances at the EXPO World Fair in Italy in 2015 and has grown into a band that has produced an album of contemporary tracks firmly rooted in tradition and yet infused with fresh ideas.

A true culmination of musical connections coming together as one. John Doyle’s innovative guitar arrangements complement Moya Brennan’s luxurious vocal blending, layering, and harmonies. The multi-talented, Dublin-born De Barra brothers — inheritors of the famous Ó Tuama family of musicians — add a strong historical element with their encyclopaedic knowledge of Gaelic foundations and writings. Singer/songwriter Ashley Davis brings a wealth of knowledge of the Appalachian and American Folk traditions, as well as a successful career in contemporary composition.

Tommy & Saundra O'Sullivan

Tommy’s and Saundra’s paths crossed when she attended an annual traditional Irish music retreat in Midlothian, Texas, where Tommy was an Irish guest instructor on guitar and vocals. As they explored singing together they discovered her alto harmonies to be a perfect match to his tenor vocals. They now live in Dingle, Ireland since their wedding in Houston, Texas in March 2010. In 2011 they opened O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub, in Dingle, Ireland, which gained a reputation for world class traditional Irish music. In 2015 National Geographic cited O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub as the go to pub for traditional Irish music on Ireland’s, Wild Atlantic Way.

Prior to opening O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub, Tommy was a fulltime touring musician.  As a member of Sliabh Notes he recorded 3 albums to date. He also toured for years with Irish piper Paddy Keenan with whom he recorded a duet album; The Long Grazing Acre. He has also recorded two solo albums; Song Ablaze and Legacy.

In contrast, Saundra followed a career in the medical profession. As a flight nurse she flew with Aer Evac as well as being an ER nurse at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston’s medical center. She brings to the table a strong background in choir and folk singing. These skills are heard to great effect on their upcoming, first duet album.

Tommy and Saundra have now been singing together for a number of years. As their contrasting styles have blended, their own unique sound has emerged.

As well as hosting nightly Irish traditional music sessions in Dingle, Ireland, they continue to embark on an annual winter tour in the USA.  Drawing from their deep well of musical influences and with the help of their many talented musical friends, they are recording their first, long overdue duet album. In 2018 they have planned an extensive CD launch tour crossing 13 US states which includes North Texas Irish Festival. They have a release date planned for their first CD in January 2018.

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