About the Band
A Brief History of Time
The Homespun Ceilidh Band was first formed in 1993 by John Ward and Trix Whitehall. At the time they were members (and still are) of the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, an organization located in the Washington DC. that plays scottish fiddle music. They were looking for a group of musicians who were not necessarily fiddlers to form a band with. They linked up with Bill Mitchell and Becky Ross (also a member of the PVSFC), Glenn Arthur, Jennifer Silverman, Lorraine Lacey, Karin Loya, and some others as a pick up band to do an impromptu concert at the Greenbelt Arts Center in Greenbelt Maryland. They enjoyed playing with each other so much they decided to make it a permanent entity and the Homespun Ceilidh Band was formed. Later Lorraine and Karin left to persue independant interests, and we added Mike Stoddard and Felicia Eberling to flesh out the sound of the band.
Big Band Celtic
Our sound is unique. Unlike most celtic bands we are big. We have two fiddlers, a flutist, and two bodhran players (the bodhran is a hand held frame drum), a hammered dulcimer, guitar, irish bouzouki, cittern, and for the base we have a viola de gamba (a rennaissance instrument that looks like a cello with frets and six strings). All of this combines in a unique way to produce a really big sound. We like to call it "Big Band Celtic Music". You'll see why too, if you come to one of our performances.
A Very Short course in Gaelic
For readers unfamiliar with Gaelic, or with Celtic music, the word "ceilidh" in the band's name is pronounced "KAY-lee". And, as always Celtic is pronounced "Kel-tik" and NEVER "Sel-tik". The "Seltiks" are a basketball team from Boston.
The word Ceilidh is the gaelic word for a "gathering". In the olden days it was used to signify a gathering of people in someone's kitchen or on the front porch to trade music, dance, stories, and news of recent events. Its purpose was to tie a community together. Today it is used to describe a more formal event, in which music was played and people dance, sing, or tell stories. A "ceilidh band" is typically a group of local musicians who get together to play at the ceilidh.
Other Web Sites That Mention Ceilidhs
The following are some reviews of the band published in various papers and magazines
Excerpt from the Greenbelt News
There was some of the familiar and some of the unfamiliar in the St. Andrews program at the Greenbelt Arts Center (GAC) on November 23 . It is always a delight to hear the fiddling and singing. Each time we attend GAC's Celtic program we expect more of what we've heard before. In a way we get it, but there is always something different, something unique and we find an interesting, entertaining program once again.
We thought this last program was more lively than the one before. This time we were treated to some lovely Christmas carols. Some were sung in the Gaelic language. But always they were explained or translated first, so that the audience could feel and understand the mood of each. Others were played on instruments. Of added interest to us from Prince George's County were songs of Celtic origin which had been played in early Annapolis. This seemed so fitting in this our tricentennial year. The singers and players have begun to seem like friends to us. We looked forward to each...
The Homespun Ceilidh Band was just as the ad had declared, a big band playing lively music from the Celtic lands. This group with their Renaissance instruments showed their enjoyment in their faces and actions as they played. One young man [Glenn] was playing with such rhythm and gusto that his instrument went up over his head. Undaunted, he continued playing and finally the instrument righted itself. Some of their old instruments such as the viola da gamba and hammered dulcimer were new to many.
Conducting the program was Greenbelt's own John Ward... John fiddled all evening and never seemed to run out of steam. It was John who also explained the music and opened our eyes to the different kinds of music played in Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Nova Scotia and the Isle of Man. Maybe some Welsh next time? Trix played the Celtic drum, the bodhran. She also gave us, as expected, another song of infidelity and revenge. Of course, she sang other songs, too, in her high, clear voice. We enjoyed them all...
No Celtic program is complete without toe tapping fiddling. Interspersed in the rest of the program, this sort of fiddling was obviously the audience's favorite. They swayed, they tapped toes, clapped hands and yelled. When the main program ended, the audience didn't want to stop. They clapped until their hands were sore for another and yet another encore to be played. Finally the performers had to stop, even though the audience tried hard to get them to play one more tune. In fact we were thirsting for more, and then we heard the good news that there would be another Celtic program in the spring. We'd like to hear [them] again and we'll never get tired of this magic fiddling.