Celtic Groups and Events in the Washington, DC Area

Regional Music

Celtic Music Sessions

Traditional Music Sessions
An excellent and pretty near complete list maintained by Paul O'Donnell.

Local Musicians

40 Thieves
40 Thieves have established themselves as one of the best loved Irish bands in the Metro DC area. From the cozy confines of the DC area’s best Irish pubs to the wide-open stages of the festival circuit, this rocking ensemble has wowed the crowds by wedding old fashioned and newfangled Irish music with straight ahead rock and roll. Vocalist Melanie Caudron's rich, mellow croon meshes beautifully with guitarist Dave Dresser's gritty rock yawp. Fiddler Randy Latimer's classically honed, Cape Breton-influenced chops filigree the bar-band stomp and Guinness inspired grooves provided by drummer Jim Sullivan and bassist Charlie McNamara. Multi-faceted? No doubt.
4Ever Erin
4Ever Erin is a play on words of the Gaelic expression "Erin Go Braugh" which translates as "Ireland Forever"! (often heard in Irish bars and around St. Patrick's Day).. 4Ever Erin is a main course of folk thru folk rock music, Celtic and traditional Irish songs with large helpings of bluegrass, rock & oldies, country and a spice of variety available if you like.. can be served either acoustic and/or electric.. available as trio or full band.. tasty covers and originals..
Al Petteway & Amy White
Guitarist Al Petteway and pianist/percussionist Amy White, married in 1996, have produced a number of magical albums featurign a unique celtic-tinged style of accoustic folk.

Their "home" of Fairewood Studios maintains their full calendar and contact information, and offers their CD's (and soon their other artworks) for sale.

Brendan Mulvihill
Brendan Mulvihill, born in England but raised in Ireland,has spent over 20 years in the Washington D.C. - Baltimore, MD vicinity teaching and performing as well as travelling throughout the world. Currently, Brendan performs weekly at Nanny O'Brien's Pub as well as playing ceili's and other events with noted guitarist Zan McLeod and accordionist Billy McComiskey. Sometimes you'll see Brendan at a local Irish Music session, especially if there's a festival going on.
Cynthia Cathcart
Professional harper, two-time and current U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, 2002 Oberlin Ohio Master Harp Champion, 1998 North American Senior Amateur Scottish Harp Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy and holder of the Jan Pennington-Grey Award, Cynthia Cathcart is a leading authority on the ancient Wire Strung Harp, or Clarsach, of Ireland and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Darcy Nair
A lively and engaging singer and multi-instrumentalist, Darcy Nair has performed professionally as a soloist and with folk music groups in the Washington, D.C. area since 1990. She has produced and released 8 independent recordings, including 2 solo titles, and has earned 6 "Wammie" Award nominations from the Washington Area Music Association.
Dave Wiesler
Dave Wiesler is one of the mid-Atlantic's most versatile and sought-after pianists of traditional music. Since 1994 he has played extensively in the DC area for an ever increasing number of dances, concerts, and recordings - ranging from contra dances, English and Scottish country dancing, waltz, swing dance, and vintage dance to extensive studio work to museum performances on antique pianos.
Edsall Road
What happens when three musicians with backgrounds in American Fife and Drum Corps gather to share a common interest in Celtic Music? The result is a blend of traditional and modern Irish, Scottish and American Folk which keeps audiences all over the National Capital region banging their tables and shouting for more. Known for their rich talent, entrancing rhythms and comic shenanigans, Edsall Road pushes the limits of Celtic music while never leaving their traditional roots.
Elke Baker
Elke Baker won the 1995 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship. Elke plays for Scottish, English, and Contra dances, teaches Scottish Country Dancing and playing music for Scottish Country Dance sets, and directs the Potomic Valley Scottish Fiddle Club. She is a member of a number of groups of differing styles in the area, including Terpsichore.
Emily Reid
Emily Reid performs original arrangements of traditional music on both the Celtic folk harp and the double-strung Celtic harp.
Findhorne, led by pianist and accordianist Liz Donaldson, specializes in Scottish Country, English Country, and the occasional Contra set. The members, which include fiddler Steve Hickman and multi-instrumentalist Marty Taylor, also perform in other dance groups in the area as well.
Fynesound - Scottish Traditonal Music and Dance foursome from the D.C. area - take listeners back a couple of hundred years with tunes played in the hey day of Scottish fiddling. Melancholy slow airs are artfully arranged to break your heart. Jigs and reels are plucked and bowed with string snapping, foot stomping energy. Highland Dance adds depth to the rhythmic Marches,Jigs, Reels and Strathspeys.
Grace Griffith
Grace Griffith has been named "Best Female Vocalist" (in both the Celtic and Traditional Folk categories) by the Washington Area Music Association on several occasions.
IONA's music is a unique, acoustic weave of the traditional music of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany (France), the Isle of Man and Galicia (Spain). Blending songs, dance tunes, and aires into a rich and stunning tapestry, their style is outstanding in an arena where these traditions are seldom intertwined.

The members have been strong contributors to the local Celtic scene, and continue to produce a series of concerts at the Old Brogue in Virginia.

Irish Breakfast Band
The Irish Breakfast Band is a diverse group of DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland residents who meet every Saturday morning for a potluck breakfast. After breakfast is a rehearsal of its repetoire of Celtic tunes. These Saturday meetings are usually held at a different house each week, with attendance often exceeding a dozen musicians, though rarely the exact same set two weeks in a row.
Jo Morrison
Drawing on her Scottish heritage and on her experiences from several trips to the British Isles, Jo Morrison paints a vivid image of Celticdom through her performances. Using exciting, upbeat dance tunes and evocative, emotional airs, Jo touches the souls of her audiences. Described by music critic Pamela Murray Winters as having "the freshness and grace that first gave Celtic music its power," Jo has the energy and enthusiasm to invigorate any audience.

Jo is available for any type of event, including weddings, funerals, corporate parties, anniversaries, private functions, and coups d'etat. She gives scholarly lectures on the history, folklore, and music of the Celtic harp. She also gives Celtic harp lessons both privately and at workshops.

Jody Marshall
Jody Marshall, a native of the Washington, D.C. area, grew up in a musical family. Enchanted by the sound and visual appeal of the hammered dulcimer, she developed a passion for the instrument. She has been performing and teaching dulcimer since 1988 and was a founding member of the popular folk trio, Ironweed. Jody also has performed with the award-winning Celtic bands, MoonFire and Connemara. Her debut solo album, "Cottage in the Glen," was released by the Maggie's Music label in Spring 2005.
Liz Donaldson
Liz Donaldson (Bethesda, MD) is a full-time musician and dance caller, and has been playing piano for dancing for many years. She is known for her innovative back-up style incorporating exciting rhythms, textures, and harmony lines in her music. In addition to playing for Scottish, English and American contra and square dances, Liz teaches all these styles, and dances, too!
The artists of Maggie's Music, including Maggie Sansone, Bonnie Rideout, Ceoltoiri, Ensemble Galilei, Jody Marshall, Al Petteway, and Sue Richards have become nationally and internationally reknown and respected. Many are teachers as well as performers.
Cathy Palmer on fiddle, Jody Marshall on hammer dulcimer and keyboards, and Elise Kress on flute. These three first got together for Cathy's "solo" album Fiddler Play The Light, and decided to keep playing together. They also often play with Ellen James, Celtic harpist and vocalist.

They've been promoting a new CD release, Present, Past, and Future, a winner of the WAMMIE award for Best Celtic Album of the Year.

Na Maragan
Na Maragan is the Alexandria, Va.-based musical duo of Ed Bradshaw and Liam Cassidy. We play our own originals as well as music drawn from the traditions of Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. The distinctive sound of Na Maragan is based on the interplay between tin whistle, harmonica and acoustic guitar -- although we also play the melodeon, Highland bagpipes, shuttle pipes and Scottish small pipes and may break into song without warning. We perform songs in Scottish Gaelic, Irish and English and combinations of the above. You will find samples of our music at our Web site.
Port Righ
The Celtic duo Port Righ is a unique instrumental pairing rarely seen in Celtic music, with Jo Morrison on harp and Wayne Morrison on the shuttle pipe. Specializing in traditional Scottish music, from lively marches to wistful and expressive airs, they broaden their repertoire with traditional Irish music, vocal pieces, and their own original works. Their musical partnership is marked by a warm, balanced sound and a faithfulness to Celtic tradition. In every performance audiences can clearly see their respect for each other and their passion for the music they create.
Rhianon is a Contemporary Celtic Band with a Blues and Jazz edge. Rhianon mixes different style influences with traditional and original songs and tunes to create their unique Celtic sound. Rhianon has gained quite a following and reputation for their musicianship, harmonies and songwriting expertise in the Washington DC area. Rhianon?s current CD, Lost in Avalon is a combination of original songs written by founder, Rene Carawan and arrangements of traditional songs. The most notable of which is, Deirdre?s Lament, a traditional poem written in the 12th century, which Rene adapted to original music. They are now in the process of recording their 3rd CD, entitled ?A Rake, A Wheel and a Raggedy Reel\", due out early spring 2003. Unlike previous CDs, A Rake will be entirely of Traditional songs and tunes. Shortly after the release of A Rake, Rhianon will go back into the studio and record the 4th CD, which will consist of songs written and co-written by Rene Carawan, Greg Lygon and Cathleen Gary.
Scythian Music - Celtic with an Edge
Scythian (sith-EE-yin) is a DC based Celtic band of four 20-somethings. Best known for their high energy shows, Scythian has been known to dabble in music ranging from traditional Celtic to Celtic Rock with strains of Gypsie and Klezmer in between. Show schedule, sound clips and photos can be found on their website (www.scythianmusic.com). Hope to see you at one of their shows!
The Homespun Ceilidh Band
The Homespun Ceilidh Band is a group of local musicians led by fiddler John Ward. They've been playing Celtic music (largely Scottish, but also Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cape Breton, etc.) together in the Washington, D.C. area since 1993.

Skye Gathering is a quartet subset of HCB, and John or the HCB will often support Mac-talla, a local group of Scots-Gaelic singers.

The Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club
The Fiddle Club sponsors events including occasional workshops with guest fiddlers, performances at festivals and dances,concerts and fiddling competitions. Guests have included Scottish fiddle masterAlasdair Fraser, Cape Breton fiddle legend Buddy MacMaster, Boston Scottish Fiddle Club director Ed Pearlman, guitarist Tony Cuffe (formerly of Ossian), Shetland fiddler Catriona Macdonald, accordionist Ian Lowthian. The Fiddle Club has performed at the Washington Folk Festival, the Potomac Celtic Festival, the Virginia Scottish Games, Southern Maryland Celtic Festival, and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Fiddle Club now sponsors a regular Scottish Country Dance party series, several times a year. Fiddle Club members receive discounts to special events. Participation in Fiddle Club performances is open to all members. Rehearsals are scheduled outside of the monthly meetings, and music for the performances is drawn from current Fiddle Club music.
The Pyrates Royale
Begun as an improv comedy troupe early in 1987, the Pyrates are now one of the Maryland Rennaissance Festival's most prized acts. Armed with guitar, fiddle,bodhran, hammered dulcimer, and a hearty chorus of hale and harmonious voices,the group stays true to its original course: to make people laugh as well as sing along.
Tinsmith is an acoustic trio playing traditional Irish & Scottish music in non-traditional ways. Newly joined by mandolin/guitar/dobro player Avril Smith (replacing retiring member John McLoughlin), Tinsmith delivers up lively and fun performances...don't miss it!

Local Pipe Bands

City of Washington Pipe Band
The City of Washington Pipe Band is a Grade 2 competition- oriented pipe band located in the Washington, DC area, including suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. The band competes regularly in the Eastern United States and Canada, and has competed successfully in Scotland and California as well.

Radio with Celtic Music

Emerald Voyage on XM
Every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, XM Radio's Emerald Voyage, on Fine Tuning (ch 26) plays an hour of some of the best from all the Celtic Nations. Some local musicians including Maggie Sansone also make Fine Tuning's regular playlist as well.

Retired Music Groups

Caprizzio : Women of Whimsey
Formed by 2/3 of the (now infamous) Bawdy Balladeers, Caprizzio (Laura Lingle and Stephanie Lichtman-Price) perform original accoustic arraingements of a variety of folk songs, including tavern and baudy songs, Scottish and Irish traditionals, and new original material.
Grace Griffith (guitar, vocals) and Cathy Palmer (fiddle) form the core of Connemara, a well respected local group. Though on a recording hiatus for the time being, the group continues to perform together on occasion.
The Fabulous Potato Heads
The Fabulous Potato Heads Rhythm and Blues Ceili Band is a six piece group that approaches traditional Irish music from the perspective of a rock and roll band, incorporating influences ranging from pop to blues to zydeco.

As of May of 2001, The PotHeads have decided to disband. Bass player Chuck is now a member of Iona, and drummer Allen is seeking new musicians to start a new project.

A musical act in the area specializing in music from the Renaissance through the Colonial/Early American time periods - with as much Irish thrown in as they can get away with.


Brian & O'Brien
Brian Coughlan and wife Philomena O'Brien. They are currently performing in the DC area at such pubs as Ireland's Four Provinces of DC and Falls Church, VA, Ireland's Four Courts in Arlington, VA, The Dubliner in Washington DC and Flanagan's in Bethesda, Md.
Celtic Notes Limited
Bookings and promotions for Celtic Musicians, including Bagpipers. Call Doris Swisshelm at 703-660-9310 (evening) or 703-739-2302 (day).
Celtic Thunder
Celtic Thunder are a well-known Irish American band based around the Washington, D.C. area. Their music has both self-composed numbers, and Irish and Irish-American ballads and dance music, played with great unity, the result of a grouping that has been around in one form or another since 1977.
Dunloggin, the Pipes & Drums of Tir na Mhairi, is a Grade III competition bagpipe band known for their big sound and innovative musical style. The band is centered in Columbia, Maryland, with members from throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia. They compete in Highland Games and Celtic Festivals along the East Coast of the United States and in Canada, as well as performing in numerous concerts and parades throughout the year.
Rob Taggart, The Plaid Piper
Rob Taggart is a solo instrumentalist who performs traditional Celtic music on flute, whistle, fife, ocarina & bagpipes, while dressed as an Ancient Highlander.

He been performing since 1991, as a soloist since 1997. The performance area consists of the two Virginias, Maryland, Pennsylvania & Ohio, performing for Reenactments & Living Histories, Festivals & Civic Events, Weddings & Memorial Services, and other Private Social Functions.

Zan McLeod
Zan McLeod, multi-instrumentalist extraodinaire, is very active in performing with and producing other artists here in DC, including Grace Griffith. He is also a former member of Touchstone.