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Highland Health and Holler

Celtic Music’s Voyage to Appalachia hits Tacoma

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Something about this time of year — it makes plaid cool. It makes fiddles cool, too. The Celtic Music’s Voyage to Appalachia: Highland Health and Holler, featuring Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, and Bruce Molsky, arrives at the Pantages Theater Thursday. Cool.

Having been recognized as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced, Alasdair Fraser has been credited with transforming the country’s music scene. Performing Gaelic traditional to classical, Fraser is rooted in traditionalism but updates his pieces as he runs the musical gauntlet. Natalie Haas is American bred, but you’d never guess it by her explorations into Scottish traditional with Alasdair. The Californian cellist made her way through Julliard and has been making her presence known ever since. Haas and Fraser are collaborators who feed off of each other’s creativity. The duo’s latest partnership resulted in their sophomore CD, In A Moment, which features original works by both of these gifted artists.

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill comprise another bi-country pair of musicians who blend the music of their motherland together to create a unique sound, which stands alone. Martin Hayes is an Irish fiddle virtuoso. Playing in the fashion of his father, P.J. Hayes, leader of the famed Tulla Ceili Band, he is entrenched in traditionalism but has the ability to cross-breed many styles. Born in Chicago to Irish parents, Dennis Cahill got the best of both musical worlds.

Known throughout the world as a master guitarist, Hayes is comfortable playing in many genres and treats each one with respect. Together, Hayes and Martin create music with foundations embedded in Celtic, but which explores shades of jazz, blues and classical.

For the past two decades, fiddler/guitarist/banjoist, Bruce Molsky has been probing into the origins of traditional music. Most identifiable is his admiration for traditional American old-time music, but he doesn’t limit himself there. Rather, he explores everything from Appalachia, Delta blues, Irish traditional and music of Eastern Europe.

Cool. — Tony Engelhart

[Pantages Theater, Thursday, Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., $36-$46, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.591.5890]

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