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About Us

About Mara, Roger, and other people we play with

Mara Shea

I played a violin for lots of years before I found that it could be a fiddle, and that I enjoyed playing it that way. I grew up in New England, but didn't discover contra dancing and the wealth of music for it until I moved to North Carolina and started going to contra dances in the early 1990s. I like dancing, but I really prefer playing for the dancers! One of my favorite things about playing for dancers is making the music fit the shape and feeling of the dance.

Besides contra, I also like playing for English and Scottish country dances. I regularly play for Sun Assembly, the English country dance community in Durham, North Carolina; for many Regency / Jane Austen-era English dances and weekends; and for many Scottish country dances across the the U.S. and Canada. I don't think of myself as very competitive, but I learned a lot from participating in Scottish fiddle competitions. In 1999 and 2000 I won the Loch Norman Scottish fiddle Open competition, and in 1999 I won the Grandfather Mountain Scottish fiddle Open competition. I much prefer playing for dances rather than competitions, but I've learned a lot from competing.

For Scottish music, I have been on staff at many weekends and workshops: Pinewoods, Ramblewood, Scottish Weekend (in West Virginia), and as a staff musician for the Teachers Association of Canada (TAC) Summer School in Waterloo, Ontario. As part of an ensemble called Highland Oasis, I play for Scottish Weekend at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York each year.

Teaching and mentoring are a big part of my life. In 2014, for a marvelous weekend, I helped lead a musicians' workshop in Lisbon, Portugal with Dean Herington, and that led to the formation of a new group of musicians there who now are beginning to play for the Lisbon Scottish country dances. At John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, North Carolina, I very much enjoyed leading a week-long Scottish fiddle workshop, and then returning for another week to teach an intermediate fiddle class. Brasstown is an inspiring place to teach and learn. I also play for the English Country Dance Weekend in May each year, which is a joyous occasion, as it coincides with May Day and all the colorful celebrations and Morris dancing there.

Since 2003, I have been a regular member of The MacRowdies (Pete Campbell, accordion, and Dean Herington, piano), playing at the Loch Norman Highland Games, Stone Mountain, and many other Scottish weekends. I also team up with pianist extraordinaire Dave Wiesler, to play mostly Scottish country dances, but some contra and English country dance, too. In 2009 Dave and I released a recording of Scottish country dance music, Heather Hills, which is available through cdbaby.com.

For my online calendar, and more information about the music I play, see more about Mara...


Roger Gold

Roger Gold grew up surrounded by music. His parents and older sister all sing and play various instruments. He knew at the age of six that he wanted to play guitar and persisted until his parents found a teacher. His interests took his guitar playing from the ever present folk, through electric teen-age-rock, to Traditional, Celtic, and more. He likes to "play" with the music; turning waltzes to klezmer, Bach into swing, and doing even stranger things to the tunes he writes. Roger's guitar styles range from classical to hard driving, rhythmic, contra dance music. He enjoys contra dancing, and enjoys playing music for contra dances, and has yet to figure out how to do both at the same time.

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