This year on St. Patrick’s Day, folks can get a taste of some true, traditional Irish tunes by heading over to Jammin’ Java in Vienna to celebrate with The Homespun Ceilidh Band.
The Homespun Ceilidh Band was formed 20 years ago when John Ward and Beatrix Whitehall, both members of the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, wanted to collaborate with musicians who weren’t necessarily fiddlers.
Ward and Whitehall gathered musicians from the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club as well as other similar music groups in the Maryland area for a concert at the Greenbelt Arts Center in Greenbelt, Md. That show was a “wild success,” said Whitehall. The band decided to stay together and have offered an annual concert at the Prince George’s County venue ever since.
Ward, who plays fiddle, and Whitehall, who sings and plays percussion, both perform Scottish and Celtic music. Another member, percussionist Jennifer Lubell, Irish step dances, as well.
“There’s not much of a difference between Irish and Scottish music,” Ward said. “It’s probably more how it’s played than what is played.”
Ward has attended Scottish fiddle camps and schools and has learned from instructors from all over the world, including renowned Irish-American fiddler Eileen Ivers.
“What is often overlooked in this country is there are a lot of different Irish styles,” Ward said.
The band plans on bringing out music from the Irish side of their repertoire for the Jammin Java show.
“There are places of the world that are Celtic that you don’t even think are Celtic,” Whitehall said.
“And they all have slightly different traditions, it can be fun to bring out these traditions,” Ward added.
The Homespun Ceilidh Band is made up of many instruments and people. In addition to Ward, there are two other fiddlers, as well as members playing instruments such as the hammered dulcimer, cittern, guitar, flute and viola, just to name a few.
The band has performed at Jammin’ Java once before and said that the venue reached out to them to ask them to play at their local St. Patrick’s Day celebration. While the band often plays traditional venues and outdoor festivals, they also play at weddings, dances and holiday parties.
Both Whitehall and Ward are excited to perform Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day and anticipate that the show will be fun and entertaining for everyone who attends.
“Our Irish dancer may cut loose at any time,” Whitehall said with a laugh.