2018 Performers

Eimear Arkins & Eileen Gannon...

have been lighting up the Irish music scene in St. Louis, Missouri for the past several years. Eileen, a St. Louis native, is one of the top Irish harp players in the world. She has won numerous accolades including the highly coveted Senior Harp title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (World Irish Music Championships). She has a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from University of Limerick.

Eimear is an award-winning singer and fiddle player from County Clare with eleven solo Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann titles to her credit. She has performed throughout the US and Ireland with acclaimed bands like Cherish The Ladies, Téada, The Paul Brock Band, Brú Ború and The Nashville Celts. She has toured extensively with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Ireland, Britain, North America and Canada.

Matthew Byrne...

was born into a family of Newfoundland music makers. His repertoire is heavily influenced by that unique musical lineage – the weaving of a great story with a beautiful melody – and he supports this tradition with powerful vocals, polished guitar work, and a presence that fills the room. His repertoire transcends time and place and his live performance reminds us how satisfying traditional songs can be when stripped down to their basic elements. Matthew Byrne’s music has traveled well beyond the rugged shores of his Newfoundland home since his 2010 debut album, Ballads. Touring as both a solo artist as well as singer with The Dardanelles, he has played major festival stages worldwide. With his second album, Hearts & Heroes, receiving Traditional Recording of the Yearat the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards, Byrne has established himself not only as Newfoundland’s but also one of Canada’s most authentic and vital traditional voices.

Edel McWeeney...

was born and raised in Dublin. Her parents were lovers of traditional music and she was encouraged by them to learn to play the fiddle. From an early age she took lessons from Seán Keane, the Dublin fiddle player (later a member of the Chieftains), at the Pipers' Club in Thomas St..  In addition to the thorough grounding in the music which she got from Seán, she was also exposed to a wide variety of styles and players from all parts who visited the Club for the famous Saturday night sessions.  When a teenager she won an All-Ireland Fiddle competition and later played with the award winning, innovative Pipers' Club Céilí Band.   She formed a duet with Roma Casey, a fellow Piper's Club fiddler, and played the trad./ folk club circuit – ground breaking at that time for young women.  Edel was a founding member of Macalla, the all-woman traditional group and nows plays regularly with flautist Catherine McEvoy at the Cobblestone venue in Smithfield, Dublin.

Kelly & Tamsyn Russell...

are a father-daughter duo from St. John’s.  A founding member of Newfoundland musical groups Figgy Duff and the Wonderful Grand Band, Kelly is a highly regarded fiddler and recitationist. He is well-known for having worked closely with fellow Newfoundland fiddle players Émile Benoît and Rufus Guinchard and has collected over 500 traditional tunes unique to Newfoundland and Labrador. Kelly is a recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and was named as a Member of the Order of Canada.  Tamsyn has been performing at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival since the age of five and is proficient on button accordion, piano, guitar, flute and drums. A singer as well, she has performed at many events, festivals, theatre productions, as well as a TV commercial for Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism.

Caoimhin O Fearghail & Paddy Tutty...

both come from Co Waterford in Ireland. Paddy is a self-taught musician (fiddle and bodhran) and plays regularly with local members of the band Danu. He is a founding member of the group Caladh Nua, which has toured professionally in Europe, China, the US and India over the last decade. Also a talented wood worker, Paddy made his first fiddle during his school years and is now in the process of starting up his own fiddle-making business. Caoimhín started to learn the tin-whistle at the age of eight, taking lessons from Bobby Gardiner. He quickly progressed to the uilleann pipes, under the tutelage of David Power mostly and is self-taught on flute and guitar. In 2012, Caoimhín received the prestigious TG4 Young Musician of the Year award (Gradam Ceoil TG4). Together, Paddy and Caoimhin completed a tour of New Zealand in 2017, opening at the Taranaki Arts festival on August 18th  with various sized gigs in between. The tour finished after another major festival on September 1st at Christchurch.

Jean Hewson...

is a singer/guitar player who has been collecting and performing the traditional songs and tunes of Newfoundland and Labrador for more than thirty years. Highly regarded for her abilities as a traditional singer, arranger and accompanist, she has worked with many of the province’s leading traditional musicians.  Jean is currently a member of several bands including: Christina Smith and Jean Hewson, The Mahers Bahers, Lomond Sound, and What Odds.  Her albums with Christina Smith (Like Ducks!and August Gale) were nominated for East Coast Music Awards in the Roots/Traditional Group of the Year category. In 2005, Jean was nominated for Traditional Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, and in 2010 she and Smith received the Tradition Bearer Award from the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival in recognition of their outstanding work in preserving and passing on the song and instrumental traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Padraig McGovern...

hails from Ballymagovern, a townland in the Cavan-Leitrim border area of Ireland. Both counties have heavily influenced his music as he was taught by Cavan piper P.J. Flood and heavily influenced by accordionist Vincent Tighe. He also learned a great deal from session playing in Co. Leitrim and had a great deal of music passed on to him from the renowned researcher Fr. John Quinn in Gortletteragh. Padraig is a noted teacher, researcher and performer. He has taught pipes for many years at the ‘Joe Mooney Summerschool’, ‘Scoil Éigse’, ‘The William Kennedy Piping Festival’ and many overseas festivals in England, Germany France, Italy and the USA. He has also performed with many bands including Lúnasa, Dervish and Téada. In 2013, Padraig released a highly acclaimed duet album with Peter Carberry called ‘Forgotten Gems’, the title referring to many of the forgotten tunes revived and recorded from the Leitrim, Longford and midlands area.

Monica Walsh...

is a singer raised in the folk music tradition of Newfounadland and Labrador by her parents Des Walsh and Eleanor Dawson who are both stalwarts in the St. John’s folk music scene. Monica has appeared in over 20 films and 15 theatre productions and is an active screen writer and playwright. 

John Curran...

is the founding member of the well-known Newfoundland band The Masterless Men.  Originally from Ferryland on Newfoundland's Irish Loop, John has touched the hearts of many with his fine song writing, multi-talented musicianship, and his extremely gifted tenor voice, known for delivering the sweetest of ballads and rich traditional Irish songs.

Linda Byrne...

was born in Kingwell, Placentia Bay and resettled to Arnold’s Cove in the mid 60’s. As a teenager she had a keen interest in learning songs, particularly traditional ballads, and she recorded many of the older folks from a number of Placentia Bay communities singing in the traditional unaccompanied style. Linda also has a keen interest in the country and western songs which she learned from the radio stations being broadcast during her youth. Currently living in St. John’s she continues to sing these songs at Folk festivals and Song Circles as well as at informal gatherings.

Greg Walsh...

was raised in Bay de Verde, NL and influenced by his father Ray Walsh and the singing and playing of his grandparents. Greg became interested in traditional music as a teenager and quickly took to playing traditional instruments including fiddle, mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo, piano accordion, bozouki, etc.  After moving to St. John's in 1993 to attend university, he began frequenting traditional music sessions in the area and has since gone on to play, tour and record with many groups including the Walsh Family Band, The Navigators, Celtic Cross (Ontario), The Irish Descendants, Foc'sle, Middle Tickle, etc. A long time fan of The Masterless Men, Greg played with the group on several occasions from 2003 – 2007 and officially joined the band in 2007.

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Wilf Curran...

is a founding member of The Masterless Men and has been performing and delighting audiences for over 50 years. His powerful voice and colourful style for delivering music of all genres is unrivalled. With a fine flare for Irish and folk music, Wilf will engage you with every performance and reel you in to listen and sing along.