Hailed by John Renbourn as "the best Celtic guitarist in the world" Tony McManus has been listed as one of the 50 transcendent guitarists of all time by Guitar Player Magazine. Conjuring a unique but universal language from that most ubiquitous of instruments, the acoustic guitar, Tony McManus has both extended and transcended the parameters of contemporary Celtic music. Ranked by peers and predecessors alike alongside the guitar world’s all-time greats, his fiendishly dexterous, dazzlingly original playing draws on traditions from the entire Celtic diaspora – Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Galicia, Asturias, Cape Breton, Quebec – along with still further-ranging flavours, such as jazz and eastern European music. Long applauded for his uncanny ability to transpose the delicate, complex ornamentation characteristic of traditional bagpipe or fiddle tunes – even the phrasing of a Gaelic song – onto his own six strings, McManus is increasingly being acknowledged also as a pioneering figure in bridging the realms of Celtic music and other guitar genres.
Tony has since worked with, among many others, Dougie McLean, Phil Cunningham, Liam O’Flynn, Martin Simpson, Kevin Burke, Alison Brown, Natalie MacMaster, and Mairead ní Mhoanaigh. He has been invited to not only Folk and Celtic Festivals, but also guitar specific Festivals around the world in Italy, France, Australia, and the UK, and has been invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville. Tony has performed and taught at the Ellnora Guitar Festival in one of Illinois's most prestigious venues, the Krannert Center, with the likes of Pat Metheny, Kaki King, Molly Tuttle, and Steve Dawson. He is a signature artist for PRS Guitars in Maryland, and has performed at their venue with Carlos Santana, among others.
Joey Abarta is an award-winning uilleann piper who has performed worldwide. In 2018 Joey was invited to represent piping in America by performing for the president of Ireland at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Joey released a new album of piping music, Swimming Against the Falls, in Jan 2022.
David McKindley-Ward is a multi-instrumentalist and one of the top traditional singers in Baltimore.
Brenda Castles on concertina and vocals, comes from a rich tradition of music in Co. Meath, Ireland. ‘The Light Side of the Tune’, released in November, is her most recent album.
Together they are The Sheep Stealers, a transatlantic trio combining traditional Irish tunes, tasty vocal harmonies and Irish and American folk songs.
“Emery is one of the world’s finest guitarists…” (allaboutjazz.com).
Co-founder of the pioneering chamber jazz ensemble The String Trio of New York, (S3NY), virtuoso guitarist and composer James Emery has received international recognition for his distinctive and highly original approach to both improvisation and composition. James has been highly active as virtuoso performer, and oft-commissioned composer on the international jazz and contemporary music scene since 1975 with over two dozen CDs as a leader or co-leader and live performances in more than 25 countries worldwide. His recordings have been described as “innovative and imaginative” and “utterly distinctive” by the Penguin Guide to Jazz, which selected his orchestral recording, Transformations, for its edition titled "The History of Jazz in the 1001 Best Albums." He has received international critical acclaim for his work leading various ensemble formations of jazz and creative music, particularly the String Trio of New York which will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2023.
James’ unique artistic expression has resulted in many awards, grants, and commissions including a Guggenheim Fellowship and 2 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Emery has performed and recorded with a variety of contemporary music heavyweights, including Anthony Braxton, Steve Reich, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, The Human Arts Ensemble, Joe Lovano, Muhal Richard Abrams, Leroy Jenkins, and many others. Emery has composed over 150 works, his most recent being a double concerto commissioned by the Skidmore College Orchestra. One of his happiest and proudest moments was performing the piece with his daughter, clarinetist Hannah Emery.