A tune dedicated to my first grandchild, a special needs child who died young. Not a gloomy tune at all though - more about her spirit than her circumstances.
Celtic Udon
The title pretty much says it ... a musical noodle with Celtic flavouring.
An Sean Bhean Bhocht (The Poor Old Woman)
My own arrangement of a traditional tune that I first heard on Chieftains 8.
Donegal Pilgrim
My very favourite Dave Evans tune.
Lord Inchiquin
A fairly elaborate arrangement. I am playing one of the two penny-whistles in this one. And yep, that's me making the squeaky whistle blooper towards the end of the tune.
West Fork Gals
Not exactly Celtic, but arguably an American cousin once or twice removed. I like this one because the banjo duet involves two completely different banjo styles - I'm playing melodic style and my friend Joel Bornstein is playing the more traditional clawhammer style. You wouldn't think it would work, but it does. Or at least I think so!
Old Hag at the Kiln
Another tune I first heard on Chieftains 8 ...
the old hag avatar
My Celtic Guitar Forum avatar.

This is actually a small character "maquette" made by a fellow called Gideon Hay, who did (maybe still does) props etc. for the movie industry. King and I were doing a studio tour of the building in Vancouver where he lived at the time, and I saw her there and wanted so badly to take her home with me ... but she wasn't for sale. So King took a photo of her, with Gideon's permission of course, and later I had some fun with Photoshop.

I really couldn't resist, me being a potter and a player and all.

I grew up in a family of musicians -- Mom played piano, Dad played violin and still plays guitar, both brothers play guitar. So I guess it was only natural that I would pick up some kind of musical instrument at some point or other. I fooled around a bit on both the violin and the piano, but neither of these was really the right fit for me. Then when I was about 16 I tried my hand at the guitar. I instantly fell in love with it, and then with folk music, and haven't been the same since.

me and my yamaha
Me and my Yamaha, 1995

My very first guitar was an old Harmony Sovereign with a big, booming sound and terrible intonation -- accurate to maybe the fourth fret, as I recall. Still, I learned my first fingerpicking tunes on that guitar. (The one I was proudest of at the time was something called "Tangerine Puppet", which I learned from one of Donovan's early albums.)

My first really good guitar was a Martin 000-28, an amazing instrument that truly inspired me to grow as a musician. Unfortunately, that guitar was stolen from me, and I mourned its loss for many years. Luckily for me the Yamaha I bought to fill the gap (all I could afford at the time) turned out to be a darned good guitar for the money. It served me well until I got my beautiful Morgan guitar in 2002.

me and my morgan
Me and my Morgan, 2003

Celtic music came into my life in about 1980 or so, when my friend Dan Bouman asked me to play back-up guitar with his small Celtic band. Once again I fell deeply in "musical love" and haven't been the same since.

I enjoyed playing back-up guitar with the band, but loved the tunes so much that I really wanted to play them note-for-note. So I started learning the pennywhistle (at which I am still fairly competent). I also tried out a few melodies on the guitar, but didn't have much in the way of precedent to listen to until I was given the album "Irish Reels, Jigs, Airs and Hornpipes", which featured Dave Evans, Duck Baker, Dan Ar Bras, and (on the original vinyl) Davey Graham. ****WOW.**** Did this ever open up a whole new world! John Fahey and Leo Kottke were no longer the largest celestial bodies in my fingerpicking universe.

(Small aside regarding the term "fingerpicking": keep in mind that in the early 80s the term "fingerstyle" was not yet in general use, much less "acoustic fingerstyle guitar" or "Celtic fingerstyle guitar". The "Irish Reels, Jigs, Airs and Hornpipes" album I refer to above describes its tunes as "arranged for fingerpicking solo guitar.")

Many solo fingerstyle guitarists, Celtic and otherwise, have come to prominence since that time. Some of those who have awed and inspired me include Don Ross, Michael Hedges, Chris Proctor, Martin Simpson, Peppino D'Agostino, Tony McManus, and Tommy Emmanuel, to name just a bare few. There are many, many more, some famous and some not so famous and some not famous at all. So many great players, so much to listen to and learn, such an amazing growth of a musical genre.

Onward to the present. While I do not play Celtic music exclusively, its influence on my playing and composition is pretty obvious. At this time I have only a few tunes to offer, as I have just begun to explore the possibilities of recording my own tunes here at home. For the information that has enabled me to do this, I must thank some of the friendly and informative folks at Celtic Guitar Talk, a forum I would highly recommend to anyone interested in Celtic fingerstyle guitar. It's a great little community.

I have also included a couple of tunes from my days with the band. We never recorded formally, but we did occasionally try to tape a few of our tunes in someone's living room, and a couple of them didn't turn out too badly.

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