Born in Illinois and raised in Ontario, Nicolas Brown first started playing Irish music when he was in his late teens. A friend lent him a practice set of uilleann pipes, with which he proceeded to torture his extremely patient and understanding parents. Norman Stiff (a student of Chris Langan) started teaching him and gave him two CDs: one of Willie Clancy and one of Seamus Ennis. Nicolas proceeded to listen to these two recordings on repeat for the next year. Eventually, he got his own set of pipes and a flute (and some more CDs!) and set out on his journey down the Irish music rabbit hole. Over the last 15 years, Nicolas has not only become a very proficient musician, but he has also developed his teaching skills by providing private lessons first in Ontario and now in Michigan, and giving workshops at festivals and piping clubs around Ontario and the US. Nicolas has also developed a vast knowledge of Irish music history, old musicians, tune histories, Irish music in America, and more. Nicolas teaches uilleann pipes and flute out of his home in Ferndale, MI and at DIMA in Ann Arbor.
b/c button accordion, piano accordion, piano accompaniment
Accordion and piano teacher Suzanne Camino grew up in the polka capital of Cleveland dancing to Slovenian polkas and Italian tarantellas. When she came to Michigan as a young adult, she was smitten by the jigs and reels of Irish trad and by the warmth of the welcome of the sessions in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Originally trained as a classical pianist, Suzanne has been playing Irish music on the B/C box, piano accordion and the piano for more than twenty years at sessions, ceilis, and concerts in Michigan and beyond.
fiddle, tin whistle
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Alison Perkins grew up in a household filled with music. The daughter of musicians, she attended her first concerts before she took her first steps. Her parents regularly took her to musical events in the city's vibrant folk and Irish music scenes, and she routinely fell asleep inside of her dad's guitar case, lulled to slumber by live music.
As a child, she 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 music competitions, winning in her age group at the Midwest Irish Fiddle championship 6 years in a row before "retiring" at the old age of 18. She was also a member of many award winning groups, trios and duets. As she neared adulthood, Alison grew from precocious child to masterful young player--something that hasn't gone unrecognized by the community. At age 19, in 2007, she was invited by Irish singing legend Sean Keane to go on a Canadian and American tour. Her work with her much praised family band, Finvarra's Wren, has awarded her the honor of playing music all over North America, from Ontario, Canada to Austin, Texas.
Alison's musical philosophy is very much rooted in the Irish tradition. 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.
In addition to performing, Alison is a highly sought out music instructor who has been teaching for over a decade. She frequently teaches workshops at festivals around the country. In 2016, she was invited to teach fiddle at the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Midlothian, TX. She teaches private lessons at her home in Ferndale, MI, and at the Detroit Irish Music Association in Ann Arbor.
bodhrán, tin whistle, beginning uilleann pipes
Tristan Pruss has drawn on a wide range of influences in Irish music, first immersing himself in the vibrant traditional music scenes in Chicago and Galway before returning to his native Michigan in 2007. He's studied with countless great players and teachers locally, as well as at the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Irish Music School of Chicago, and the Craiceann Bodhrán Summer School on Inis Oírr. A capable piper and whistle player as well, he has been teaching bodhrán through the Detroit Irish Music Association since 2012. He's appeared on stage with Michigan Emmy-award winning singer-songwriter Kitty Donohoe, Ann Arbor-based band Ensoleil, and legendary uilleann piper Paddy Keenan, and is a veteran of countless sessions on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as both sides of Lake Michigan.
Ginny Shilliday is a professional Traditional Singer who grew up hearing traditional singing in Appalachia. She has studied with many of the greats of the traditional song genre, including Len Graham, Robbie O’Connell, Margaret Bennet, and Bridget Fitzgerald, and is a frequent guest artist with various groups as well as performing regularly with Hazeltree at concerts and festivals. She also teaches workshops and classes in both Ireland and the US. She has designed programs about traditional music, including two programs Early Music Michigan, and written and performed programs featuring traditional music.
While Fiddler Marty Somberg has developed a driving, lyrical style that he applies to a variety of musical genres, he has a special interest in Irish music. As a member of the band Knock-na-Shee, he toured East in 1979 and recorded the album Last Night’s Fun on the Shanachie label. After the break up of Knock-na-Shee, Marty was a member of the well-known Washington D.C. band Celtic Thunder and also played for Contra dances in the Washington D.C. area. He moved back to his native Michigan in the early 1980s. While living in the Ann Arbor, he has performed with the Irish band Finvarra’s Wren and played for innumerable Contra dances with The Contrapreneurs, The Sharon Hollow String Band, Big Fun, and others. He has hosted the Sunday night Irish music session at Conor O’Neill’s pub in Ann Arbor for sixteen years.
singing, tin whistle
Linda came to traditional Irish music through performing with a fife and drum corps. There was always at least one person playing tin whistle at the various reenactments and living history events, and she fell in love with the happy sound of the wee instrument. After a time, the fife was replaced by the tin whistle and, as the progression goes, Linda set her sights on learning the Irish flute. She was a regular student at DIMA for many years and at the Catskill Irish Arts Week school where she honed her skills on tin whistle, Irish flute, bodhran, and traditional singing (English). As singing has always been her first love, she competed twice at the annual Midwest Fleadh Cheoil and won a spot each time to compete at the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na Eireann. Linda loves teaching those who are just starting to explore traditional Irish music, and believes in encouraging her students to listen, listen, listen to the music, get the tune first; ornamentation later, and to have fun with the whole process.