Celtic music, like the Celts themselves, has put down roots the wide world over. Scholars may quibble and traditionalists argue about the finer points of lineage, but there's no better proof that the family tree is flourishing than the L.A.-based group Craicmore. The name itself - an easy blend of "craic" -an Irish word for fun, and the anglicization of "mór" - Irish for big reflects the group's approach to its music.
"We're a contemporary traditional Celtic band," the group agrees. Formed in Los Angeles in 1998, they draw their words and music from the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland and claim influences as diverse as the Afro Celts, Chieftains and Pogues; rock, and Australian indigenous music. It's an amazingly seductive marriage: one that never fails to turn new faces into fans, an audience that continues to grow with Craicmore's aggressive touring and the release of its third critically acclaimed CD, from hill & hoolie.
Craicmore - Nancy Johnston (vocals, bodhran, hard shoe), John MacAdams (vocals, guitar, percussion, didjeridoo ), Sean FayCullen (vocals, bass, big drum) and Dave Champagne (Irish flute, orchestral flute, whistles, pipes and Irish harp) originally came together through a series of chance meetings at Los Angeles' Celtic Arts Center's legendary Monday night seisiún. As their musical interests and commitment deepened Craicmore moved from performing at small local street fairs, museums and libraries in the late '90s to main stage performances at prestigious Folk Festivals, Scottish and Irish cultural events and Concert Halls throughout the United States. Of note are five consecutive years of performances at the classic "Fremont Street Experience" Las Vegas' huge St. Patrick's Day celebration, and a fourteen-concert appearance at the International Music Festival in Shanghai, China.
In todays multi-cultural society, Craicmore's Arts in Education residency "Celtic Connections" (more info click here) brings a positive message of cultural diversity, demonstrating how Celtic music has accepted many global influences while retaining its fundamental traditions. Receiving accolades from educators and students, the standards based, 30 - 50 minute assembly style, interactive program has reached over 50,000 K-12 students during more than 250 performances.
Craicmore's approach to each and every song is framed by abiding respect for the material, but maybe more important is the musicians' sheer joy in the music and willingness to take chances, enriching the tradition with their own time and place. As Johnston says, "Celtic music is a living tradition that continues to influence and absorb other traditions. For example, I sing a waulking song in Gaelic backed a shruti box, an East Indian instrument. Its raspy drone is a perfect fit with the song."The three male voices blend with Johnston delivering sparkling four part harmonies, creating a sound that's as full as it is sophisticated.
Craicmore doesn't do rebel songs and it doesn't do drinking songs. What Craicmore does do is sing "Cunla" in Irish, in three-part harmony, deliver "Mairi's Wedding" complete with electric bass solo, and feature conga drum in their show-stopping jig and reel combination, "Cliffs of Moher"/"Sally gardens." With this group it is, indeed, all about the music, and the music can only be defined as Craicmore.
Born and raised in Boston MA, Nancy Johnston came to music through theater's door.
She saw Dylan plug in at the Newport Folk Festival, got muddy at Woodstock, and is possibly the only living person ever to fall asleep at a Jimi Hendrix concert, but it wasn't until college when she did arrangements for a production of Brecht, that the then-theater major got serious about music. And it wasn't until after graduation that she began her professional career when a friend, tired of hearing her talk about singing, picked up the phone herself and answered a newspaper ad for a country singer on an L.A. radio station: Johnston got the job.
A few years later, she arrived at The Celtic Arts Center in search of a play and walked away as the vocalist for Craicmore. Since then, her rich, smoky contralto and way with a bodhran have become signatures of the group. Signature, too, are the group's dynamic rhythms driven by MacAdams and FayeCullen.
John MacAdams Recipient of the Arts Northwest 2010 Coyote Award "which recognizes extraordinary leadership, service, innovation and artistic excellence."
His musical resume is as diverse as the instruments he plays.
A native of Vancouver, B.C., he began amassing credits in his early teens, touring the U.S. and Europe in a youth orchestra. As his musical tastes expanded from Miriam Makeba and The Kingston Trio to include The Beatles, The Jam and Clash, MacAdams became a regular on the Vancouver club scene.
In the late 70's, he played drums and sang in The Modernettes, a Vancouver group that earned a following extending south to the States. His passion for percussion has resulted in an instrumental repertoire that includes bodhran, bones, conga, Native American tom and didgeridoo. It also resulted in a several year stint with the popular pipe and drum band Wicked Tinkers.
"There is something in music that transcends and unites" - HHDL
Dave Champagne a Southern California native, was performing music at 7 years old. In addition to his acclaimed work with the flute, whistle and Highland and Ulleann pipes, Dave also performs on piano, Celtic harp, oboe and cors anglais (English horn).
Dave, a classically trained musician, first came to Celtic music through the Great Highland Bagpipes. He can be seen in full regalia performing at numerous official events and high profile weddings. Dave has traveled to Canada, Scotland, Ireland, China and the European continent with various musical groups and companies including the Fullerton Wind Ensemble, Chapman University Orchestra and Fullerton Civic Light Opera. He is also a studio musician and has performed on screen in movies, commercials and on television including the CBS series, “The Mentalist.”
“Working with Craicmore has been a natural progression for me of the types of music I can bring to the stage. Being classically trained, I enjoy incorporating classical theory into Celtic performance while maintaining its traditional integrity.” Dave is also a magician member of the Magic Castle® in Hollywood, CA and is found there quite often.. Never without a deck of cards in his pocket, he's quite often seen between sets manipulating them. “It warms up my hands and keeps them nimble for some rather challenging whistle playing.”
Sean FayeCullen acoustic and electric bassist for over 20 years, specializes in world and folk musics including, afro-Cuban, bluegrass, Irish, middle eastern, jazz and Jamaican. With a Bachelor of Music in composition, he has taught music and music appreciation to early childhood age folks for 10 years.
Having performed in Poland, Amsterdam, Mexico and across the United States, he appeared as a vocalist at the Kodak Center’s opening night in Hollywood. Sean’s specialty of amalgamating contemporary bass styles into traditional world music is a perfect fit with CRAICMORE.
Quick with a smile, his warm baritone vocals and inventive bass lines are an unshakeable foundation for the band.