Raise High the Roofbeams, Celtic Fiddlers!

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Celtic fiddler Colin McLeod presented a house concert with Celtic harpist Brenda Bowen Cox, Bob Cox, and Janet Muse (keyboard) in Crozet on Nov. 1

The joyful, lilting strains of the Celtic fiddle and Celtic harp filled Deborah Scott’s spacious living room as the delighted listeners grinned, tapped toes, and clapped in rhythm. Celtic fiddler Colin MacLeod, Celtic harpist Brenda Bowen Cox, fiddler Bob Cox, and local keyboardist Janet Muse entertained a group of 25 music lovers, local musicians, and vintage dancers at a house concert off Brown’s Gap Turnpike on November 1—also to celebrate Samhain, a Gaelic harvest festival halfway between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice.

Celtic fiddler Colin McLeod

Wearing the traditional MacLeod tartan kilt, high socks, and sporran—an ornately decorated pouch that hangs down the front of the highlander’s kilt to carry money, keys, or food—MacLeod played with depth, skill, and tenderness as he led the other musicians in a varied program of Scottish, Irish, and American reels, jigs, and ballads. He alternately sat, stood, and danced around the room as they played many short sets of three tunes each, including Crossing the Minch/The Devil in the Kitchen/The Kilt is my Delight, Flowers of Edinburgh/Maid Behind the Bar/Tam Lin, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose/Josephine’s Waltz/Over the Sea to Skye, and even a Virginia Reel set of Turkey in the Straw/Old MacDonald/Arkansas Traveler. 

When Scott learned that MacLeod would be visiting Charlottesville after presenting concerts in Cape Breton, Canada and Richmond, she opened her home for the concert and invited a select group of friends to attend. MacLeod was born in Glasgow and currently lives in Cupar, County Fife, Scotland—not far from St. Andrews (“Home of Golf”). Playing violin since he was seven years old, he now travels the world engaging audiences through playing the Celtic fiddle, telling stories, and teaching. He plays from the heart as he shares his rich knowledge of Celtic culture. He explained that Celtic fiddle music has contributed to the shaping of many other fiddle traditions. “Celtic fiddle music can be traced back to the 1600s. When people emigrated from Scotland and Ireland to the U.S. and Canada, they brought their music and culture with them. Celtic music provided the inspiration for Bluegrass and Old Timey tunes and songs,” he said. American bluegrass music was especially influenced by the Scotch/Irish immigrants who settled in Appalachia. For more information, visit celticfiddleguru.com. 

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