Festival Workshops & Lectures

The Austin Celtic Festival is proud to offer students and interested parties the chance to be directed and counseled by some of today's leading experts in Celtic music. In general our paid workshops, led by our headliners are casual, question and answer arenas for persons already familiar with the subject instrument and are looking for progressive instruction or a chance to ask more complex questions. You should also be prepared for practical application of a particular technique or style favored by the headlining instructor.

Direction and focus of the workshops can be fluid and develop based on the needs of the attending students. Although, they might not necessarily be needed, a well prepared student will have their instrument, pen and paper and a recorder with them. These workshops are limited to a smaller number to be more effective. Novice or beginners may purchase tickets and attend as observers.

Reminders

  • You must purchase a ticket to the festival in addition to the workshop fee.
  • Print out the email confirmation page from paypal as proof of payment for the workshop.
  • No unattended children at the workshops or on the festival grounds.
  • Please refrain from trafficking in and out of the workshops out of respect for the instructors.

SATURDAY WORKSHOPS

Beginning Beginning Irish Guitar with Jeff Moore

Austin Celtic Festival Jeff Moore Irish Guitar

Time: 12:30-1:30 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Jeff Moore is a highly sought-after accompanist living in Austin, Texas and has performed with many of the foremost Irish and Scottish music ensembles and musicians in the Southwest. An accomplished guitarist and singer, Jeff has also accompanied international touring musicians such as Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland, Dublin-born Irish accordion legend James Keane, master Irish fiddler James Kelly and most recently Irish music icon Joe Burke.


Intermediate Irish Banjo with John and Maggie Carty

Austin Celtic Festival Brian Miller

Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 12 attendees)


Inishfree Irish Dance for all ages

Austin Celtic Festival Inishfree Irish Dance

Time: 12:45-1:45 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE

With intricate and exciting choreography, rhythms, beautiful costumes and music, Inishfree Irish Dance showcases a brilliant mix between traditional style and modern athleticism that has made Irish dancing one of the most respected and exciting dance forms in the world.


Irish Ballads with Makem & Spain

Austin Celtic Festival Makem and Spain

Time: 1:45-2:45 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Listen and sing a long with some amazing Irish ballads from the seminal Irish folk ballad families of the Makem and Spains.


Fun with Irish Language Class

Austin Celtic Festival Gaelic Language

Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m., East Side Pavilion
Fee: FREE

Join the Gaelic League of Austin in the East side pavillion for a casual romp through the beginning studies of the Irish language. Fun and for the whole family, take a dip in the charming and beautiful Gaelic language.


Macallan Scotch Tasting with Kieron Elliott

Austin Celtic Festival Derek Warfield Irish History

Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: $25 (age 21 and up)

Join Kieron Elliott, the National Brand Ambassador for Macallan Scotch Whisky, as he takes you through the taste and treasures of one of the world's great Scotch brands.


Intermediate Irish Guitar with Eamon Mc Elholm of Solas

Austin Celtic Festival Ryan McGiver Irish Guitar

Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 12 attendees)

Eamon will take a guitar workshop focusing on DADGAD TUNING – a popular tuning used for traditional and folk music. It will focus on basic chords used in DADGAD and ways to accompany jigs and reels. Eamon McElholm was born in Killyclogher, just outside Omagh in County Tyrone. He has worked with many acts and musicians including Stockton’s Wing, Solas, Cathal Hayden, Dezi Donnelly, Cara Dillon, Finbar Furey, Brian Finnegan and others. He was awarded the PRS John Lennon Songwriting Award whilst a student at Salford University. He has performed all over the world including concerts in China, Japan, Brazil, Slovenia, all over Europe and extensively in America. He has written music for TV documentaries and has worked as a session musician on a number of film soundtracks.


Beginning Irish Fiddle with Chris Buckley

Austin Celtic Festival Chris Buckley Irish Fiddle

Time: 3:00-4:00 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Chris Buckley grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His Irish music roots came under the tutelage of Martin Dowling, Liz Carroll, Brendan Mulvhill and James Kelly. Christopher has received numerous awards and recognitions for this outstanding achievements in Irish music. He compeated in three All-Ireland world competitions. In 2001, Christopher moved to Austin and has been a member of and recorded with Cluan, Blaggards and Tea Merchants. He is one of the founding members of the Tea Merchants.


Hill Country Highland Dance Workshop and Performance

Austin Celtic Festival Hill Country Highland Dance

Time: 3:30-4:30 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE

Highland dancing is the unique dance form for Scottish bagpipes. The Highland Fling and Sword Dance date back to the Middle Ages and have a ritual, war-like, masculine character. In the eighteenth century, ballet influenced dances like Seann Triubhas (“old trousers”), the Scottish Lilt and Flora McDonald’s Fancy, giving them a graceful, feminine character. Vigorous dances like the Sailor’s Hornpipe and the Irish Jig were borrowed from neighboring cultures, but are mainstays at Highland games.


Advanced Irish Fiddle with Winifred Horan

Austin Celtic Festival Kevin Crawford Irish Flute

Time: 3:30-4:45 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 12 attendees)

Known for her playing in both the Irish tradition and from her classical violin background, Win will work on fiddle technique and address the issues that are often a concern for all fiddle players. Intonation, tone, bow technique and rhythm. Win will also have a colorful array of tunes that she will be teaching. Born and raised in New York of Irish parents, Winifred began playing music at an early age. Her first instrument was piano, which she learned from her father who was himself an accomplished pianist and jazz trumpeter. Throughout these years she participated and competed in many fleadhs and competitions in the US and Ireland, winning the US National Dance Championships a record nine years in a row. In great demand for live shows and as a studio musician, she has worked with many of the finest musicians on the Irish Music and contemporary folk scenes. She has played and recorded with Cherish the Ladies, Sharon Shannon, Declan O’ Rourke, Belinda Carlisle, Mundy, Pierce Turner, Richard Shindell, Liz Carroll and many more. Her meeting and ultimate collaboration with Seamus Egan saw the start of the Irish-American band SOLAS which has since enjoyed worldwide success.


Beginning Bodhran (Irish Drum) with Rob Forkner

Austin Celtic Festival Mairtin de Cogain

Time: 4:15-5:15 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Rob Forkner learned how to play the bodhran after hearing the playing of the great Johnny McDonagh. Since he needed a drum, and it was impossible to find one in Alaska, Rob started building his own. Many years later, Rob used the time to refine his drum building skills, building a highly successfully business, Metloef Irish Drums. For fun, Rob studied Geology and ended up at the University of Texas. He also honed his skills as a mighty fine bodhran player. He became a regular sit-inner with Cluan and was a founding member of Tea Merchants, both local Austin Irish music bands. In 2007, Tea Merchants were awarded the Austin Music Award for Best World Music. Rob has competed in and medaled in a few of the fleadhs both in the US and in Tipperary. And yes, it is a long way there. A few years ago the Geology thing took Dr. Rob over the pond to Denmark and Belgium. But alas, Austin has him back as a founding member of The Here and Now.


Scottish Country Dance Alliance Workshop

Austin Celtic Festival SCDA

Time: 4:45-6:00 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE

Scottish country dance challenges both the body and the mind. The moves are known in advance, so you don't have to worry about making them up as you go along. Also, you get to meet new people and make new friends! No partner is needed because everyone dances with everyone else. So, come alone or bring a friend.


Intermediate Irish Fiddle with Alison Perkins

Austin Celtic Festival Mari Black Irish Fiddle

Time: 5:00-6:15 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 12 attendees)

Alison learned the fiddle from Irishman Mick Gavin, whose lovely Clare fiddling is imprinted on Alison's musical style. During her teenage years, she had success in competitions, winning in her age group at the Midwest Irish Fiddle championship 6 years in a row. She is deeply interested in the older generation of Irish musicians, counting luminaries such as Tommy Potts, Seamus Ennis, Paddy Carty and Bobby Casey as influences. She has found staying within the perceived confines of the traditional style to be both rewarding and challenging, which has resulted in a musical style that is rich in subtle creativity.


Irish Storytelling with Mairtin De Cogain

Austin Celtic Festival Nuala Kennedy Irish Song

Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Máirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling bodhrán player who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs in his native Ireland and all over the U.S. and between and beyond, too! An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of any collection of people, from a concert hall to an intimate porch. Descended from a long line of storytellers and with two CCÉ All-Ireland’s for Storytelling under his belt, Máirtín gets no more joy out of life than the telling of stories. If you are lucky enough to catch him spinning a few yarns, you are in for a treat.




SUNDAY WORKSHOPS

Irish Ceili Dance with Inishfree Austin for All Ages

Austin Celtic Festival Inishfree Irish Dance

Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE

Chris Buckley grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His Irish music roots came under the tutelage of Martin Dowling, Liz Carroll, Brendan Mulvhill and James Kelly. Christopher has received numerous awards and recognitions for this outstanding achievements in Irish music. He compeated in three All-Ireland world competitions. In 2001, Christopher moved to Austin and has been a member of and recorded with Cluan, Blaggards and Tea Merchants. He is one of the founding members of the Tea Merchants.


Beginning Uilleann (Irish) Piping with Elias Alexander

Austin Celtic Festival Sean Gavin Irish Tin Whistle

Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Elias Alexander is swiftly distinguishing himself in traditional music circles as a piper, singer, composer, and sometime comedian. Originally from Ashland, Oregon, he graduated from Middlebury College in 2013 with an honors degree in music, moving to Boston to be part of the vibrant traditional music scene there. Elias has appeared with greats such as Carlos Nuñez, Alasdair Fraser, and Gillebrìde MacMillan, and has performed at top festivals such as Celtic Connections. Elias is the frontman, piper, and co-founder of Afro-Celtic Funk band Soulsha, and the leader of Elias Alexander and Bywater Band (formerly known as Fresh Haggis). He also performs with Georgia Old-Time duo The New Millennium Jelly Rollers, and with MAC. A regular staff member of Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp and Creekside Fiddle Camps in Ashland, OR, he is in demand for teaching at other camps around the country.


Intermediate Scottish Fiddle with Ryan McKasson

Austin Celtic Festival Peadar Hickey Irish Guitar

Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 12 attendees)

Ryan McKasson has gained a reputation as a performer, composer, collaborator, and teacher. In 1996 he was the youngest to win the National Scottish Fiddle Championship. One of his early fiddle teachers was Carol-Ann Wheeler who encouraged Ryan to joined the Seattle Scottish Fiddlers, headed by Calum MacKinnon, where he first began to play Scottish fiddle. In 1994, he started attending Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School (VOM), where he met fiddler and teacher Alasdair Fraser, and joined a rather remarkable generation of musicians. Ryan has also taught at fiddle camps around the US and New Zealand, most notably: Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddling School, Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddle, Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, and Swannanoa Gathering.


Irish and Scottish Sing-a-long with Kieron Elliott and Mairtin De Cogain

Austin Celtic Festival Scotch Tasting Kieron Elliott

Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE (all ages welcome)

Join our Festival MC's as they share their favorite Irish and Scottish songs. Get ready to sing a long and learn some of the Celtic world's favorite legendary songs. Sing-a-long, clap-a-long, or just sit back and enjoy it. The craic is always mighty with these two ACF favorites!


Beginning Irish Flute and Whistle with John Williams

Austin Celtic Festival John Willians

Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

John Williams is internationally regarded as one of the foremost players of Irish music today. With five All-Ireland titles to his credit, John is the only American-born competitor ever to win first place in the Senior Concertina category. His additional talents on flute, button accordion, bodhran, and piano distinguish him as a much sought after multi-instrumentalist in the acoustic scene around the world. Forming the groundbreaking Solas in 1995 with Seamus Egan, Winifred Horan, Karan Casey and John Doyle, Williams received wider recognition playing to sold out audiences internationally and earning two NAIRD awards and Grammy nominations. The Irish national broadcasting network RTE has featured Williams as the subject of the radio program The Long Note, the television series The Pure Drop, and the Gaelic language and music programs Geantrai and Failte. Williams has made numerous appearances on Mountain Stage, A Prairie Home Companion and The Grand Ol' Opry as well as guest performances with The Chieftains, Nickel Creek, and Riverdance.


Intermediate Irish Guitar with Peadar Hickey

Austin Celtic Festival Damaris Woods Irish Banjo

Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 12 attendees)

Dublin’s Peadar Hickey has been delivering the songs of Ireland’s history to audiences at home and abroad for over a decade. A regular fixture on the Dublin city folk and traditional music circuit, Peadar learned his trade on stage at The Arlington Hotel’s, Oliver St John Gogarty’s and The Temple Bar in Dublin’s Cultural Quarter. He is currently an instructor of guitar for traditional Irish accompaniment at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan.


Fun With Gaelic Language Workshop

Austin Celtic Festival Gaelic Language

Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m., East Side Pavilion
Fee: FREE

Join the Gaelic League of Austin in the East side pavillion for a casual romp through the beginning studies of the Irish language. Fun and for the whole family, take a dip in the charming and beautiful Gaelic language.


The Irish in the American Revolution with Derek Warfield

Austin Celtic Festival Mairtin de Cogain

Time: 3:30-4:30 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE

Many of the Irish festivals around the United States every year also play host to lectures/musical performances on the songs of the Irish in the American Revolution and Civil War by Derek Warfield and The Young Wolfe Tones. Derek deals with ballads of regret, joy, victory and defeat and clearly illustrates Ireland's hand in defending the promise of the Declaration of Independence. The lecture/show has been an eye-opener for many folk and history enthusiasts from Ireland and America alike. The response and feedback throughout the festival circuit here has been wonderful and has added such a wide and important aspect to the legacy of Derek Warfield and his part in the history of Irish balladry. It is a rich legacy that was almost entirely neglected before Derek began putting together “Sons of Erin”, “Bonnie Blue Flag”, “Faugh-a-Ballagh” and “Washington's Irish” — four albums dealing with the Irish in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars.


Beginning Scottish Fiddle with Mari Black

Austin Celtic Festival Brian OHairt Irish Singing

Time: 3:30-4:45 p.m., Seelie Court
Fee: FREE

Multistyle violinist and champion fiddler Mari Black is rapidly building a reputation as one of the most dynamic young artists of her generation. Her energetic playing, engaging stage presence, and commitment to bringing people together through music have made her a favorite with audiences across the country and around the world. Equally at home in a wide variety of musical traditions, Mari is the reigning Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Champion and Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion, the 2013 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, the 2011 Canadian Novelty Fiddle Champion, a 2010 1st Prize Winner at the American Protégé International String Competition, and a 2-time laureate at the American String Teachers’ Association Alternative Styles Awards.


Intermediate/Advanced Irish Banjo and Mandolin with Seamus Egan

Austin Celtic Festival Cillian Vallely Irish Pipes

Time: 3:30-4:45 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 10 attendees)

Seamus will explore the use of both banjo and mandolin in traditional and contemporary Irish music. Students will learn technique for both instruments, and how to employ this technique is the vast repertoire of Irish tunes. Triplets, plectrum use, strumming, melody playing and general technical issues associated with both instruments will be addressed while learning new tunes. Born in Pennsylvania in 1969, Seamus Egan moved to Ireland with his family when he was three years of age, and a few years later he began taking lessons on the tin whistle. At age 14, Egan returned to the United States, and already displayed a precocious talent on the whistle, flute, banjo, mandolin, and guitar. At 16, Egan cut his first album, Traditional Music of Ireland, and before he turned 20 he was already a seasoned professional musician, having toured with the likes of Peter, Paul & Mary and Ralph Stanley, and doing session work with Vernon Reid. The band’s hard work was paying off as Solas had become one of the most popular Celtic folk groups in America. When not busy with the group, Egan pursues a solo career and composed the score for the musical Dancing on Dangerous Ground.


Scottish Country Dance With the ASCDS Youth Group

Austin Celtic Festival Irish Dance

Time: 4:45-6:15 p.m., Kelpie Tent Stage
Fee: FREE

Scottish country dance challenges both the body and the mind. The moves are known in advance, so you don't have to worry about making them up as you go along. Also, you get to meet new people and make new friends! No partner is needed because everyone dances with everyone else. So, come alone or bring a friend.


Songs and Stories from the Easter Rebellion with Mairtin De Cogain

Austin Celtic Festival Nuala Kennedy Irish Song

Time: 5:00-6:00 p.m., Seelie Court Grandstands
Fee: FREE

Máirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling bodhrán player who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs in his native Ireland and all over the U.S. and between and beyond, too! An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of any collection of people, from a concert hall to an intimate porch. Descended from a long line of storytellers and with two CCÉ All-Ireland’s for Storytelling under his belt, Máirtín gets no more joy out of life than the telling of stories. If you are lucky enough to catch him spinning a few yarns, you are in for a treat.


Intermediate Scottish Fiddle with Colin Cotter

Austin Celtic Festival Colin Cotter

Time: 5:00-6:15 p.m., Workshop Trailer
Fee: $12 (limited to 10 attendees)

Colin Cotter picked up the fiddle at the age of 4 beginning a life-long journey building upon several generations of his family’s intimate relationship with traditional Finnish music. Over time, musical influences from Scotland to Quebec to New York City to West Africa crept in rendering him a genre-defying folky, unencumbered by traditional convention yet warmly familiar with it. Colin has toured internationally as a lead-singer, guitarist, and front man while also performing extensively as a guitar accompanist to traditional fiddlers of varying backgrounds. Since arriving on the scene, he has shared the stage with the likes of Alasdair Fraser, David Bromberg, Natalie Haas, Brittany Haas, Ashley Broder, Rushad Eggleston, and Zach Brock, and has released 4 studio recordings of largely original music. In addition to performing 100+ gigs each year, Colin is a regular faculty member at both Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School and the Mike Block String Camp.