The History of Celticado - My traditional Celtic duo

About 14 years ago, I was living in Hadley in a rental apartment on route 9 not far from whole foods.

I was playing at the time with a string quartet that played traditional Irish and Celtic music called Woodkerne. The first name was cracker Jack. We had to change the name because one of our members discovered that there was a punk rock group in the Saratoga Springs area with the same name and didn't want to conflict with the group. So we saw out a name change, everybody came up with their own ideas, and we voted and the one we liked the most was Woodkerne. Now most people don't know what that word means, and I'll just say that in the history of Ireland when the English were driving the Irish landowners out of their homes and castles murdering them and taking their women and children it was a tumultuous time and groups of young men would flee to the woods where they would set up camps and try to make a living as subsistence and as rangers and and what not. This might just well-be where some of the most famous stories about rogues and Robin Hood certainly and some of the other stories like the wonderful Clancy Brothers tune Brennan on the moor originated.

The name Woodkerne means woods obviously, and Kern is the English word for Cannon fodder. Back in the middle ages, unskilled farmers and young men and boys were often recruited by advancing armies to go in front and basically be hacked down, slowing the advancing enemy army. They were called Kerne, and so the name Woodkerne essentially refers to people who live in the woods who come out and try to take their land back. So if you go to Wikipedia and you look up the word Woodkerne you should be able to find a much better definition than the one I've just given you.

Our band consisted of banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bodhran. We played a mixture of Celtic fiddle tunes that were tunes that I had picked up over the years playing in bluegrass bands and contradance bands. The members also contributed their own songs that they wanted to play and we sang a few songs as well. We played a variety of jigs and horn pipes and polkas and waltzes and because of my classical music background and it specifically my chamber music background I really spent a lot of time making up interesting arrangements for the different musical instruments. Now I got kind of in trouble for that, because one of our players in the group specifically said on many occasion that traditional Irish music was not harmonized there was no improvisation and nobody took turns playing at that everybody played the same melody all together at the same time without any cordial backup or at least very minimal. So I thought that that was pretty hokey and not something I wanted to do. Which is why I started calling the band style music Celtic, rather than traditional Irish. I had done some reading about what traditional Irish really meant, and I had learned that there is a lot of confusion about what traditional Irish meant and the history of Irish music is so convoluted that it would take further study. Now this was the 1990s, 1998 as a matter of fact, and I had not done the deep research on the topic yet, but I knew enough about the music that I really felt it wouldn't be fair to call it traditional Irish. So we billed ourselves as a Celtic band. Thankfully, it didn't seem to hurt us in the slightest.

We played for a lot of weddings and concerts and private events and public events. We played at a golf course. We played on the side of a of a mountain in a stone chapel, in an abandoned camp, in hotels, and all over New England. Two of us went to Egypt and played in front of the great pyramids in a world music festival. We were hired to play in a real swanky wedding in California and the bride and groom paid for our tickets and put us up in a very nice hotel and Anaheim. We played a lot of really interesting places and had a really good time doing it.

In 2001, our guitar player, Paul Burton, had to move away. And that meant that we had to find another
Irish Bouzouki
guitar player. Now the banjo player and I were the really oldest members of the group. He and I had been playing together since the early '90s with another band called Maple Ridge. His name was John Rough. John and I used to go to an Irish session that we helped set up in North Amherst at a public house called The Harp. The session was on Friday nights and we would go over there and sit and have a couple of Guinness and play some tunes. At one of the sessions, we met a man from Connecticut named James Bunting. He was playing an instrument that looked like a very large mandolin and later when I got to talk to him he told me it was called an Irish bouzouki. But I never heard of a bouzouki before so of course I had to go online and learn everything I could about it. As it turns out a member of the Bothy Band which is a very famous Irish band, took his family on vacation degrees in 1966 and there he picked up a Greek bouzouki which he played a little bit while he was there and brought it back with him to Ireland when he returned and started playing around with it in the Bothy Band and soon after several other bands including the De Dannen which is another famous Irish super group and all tan started incorporating the bouzouki into their music and now it's highly unusual to find an Irish band that doesn't have a bouzouki player. but I didn't know any of that at the time, so it was a great conversation starter. I went up to gym and said "hey my name is Adam I really enjoying your playing, what is that instrument?" We chatted for a while about that turned out he also played guitar one thing let to another and I invited him to come to a Thursday night rehearsal at my house and Hadley which she did the following Thursday. So it seemed like we had our guitar player.

Over the next eight years would current played 100th of concerts weddings parties and other events together. We lost our bodhran player who developed a severe rheumatoid arthritis and couldn't use the tapper anymore. So we had to look around for another bodhran player and I found one whose name was Andy Weiner. Andy was just learning how to play but he could play sufficiently so that he could provide a solid beat behind the group the group smelly and that's all we really needed. Andy was a real good guy very friendly very upbeat always wanting to help out with a contradict background so we kind of lucked out with that.

We recorded our second album at Avocet recording studios in Colrain I forgot to mention, that our first album was also recorded there and if you go to my band camp page which is you can download the music from those albums directly from that page if you want a CD of either the first or the second album let me know and I will do my best to burn one for you from my desktop.
Woodkerne 2009

So after losing Dan and acquiring Andy, we were able to get back into the gigs and get back to work but all good things must come to an end, and in 2009 we played our last gig together which was at a Irish night in New Haven Connecticut and unfortunately I mean it was a great show but the organizers refused to pay us because they said that they hadn't drawn enough people and we were only going to be paid a percentage of the door so we ended up not making much money that night. And when I went to tell the guys, they were not happy at all. After that we played one or two more gigs together but the magic had gone.

Celticado, was a duo that James Bunting and I formed way back in 2005 at the beginning of all this to play strip down easy cheap weddings and other events for clients that didn't want to pay for the full quartet. So when the band broke up in 2009, James and I continued to play together. we've had several people join us over the years and work on several projects, for example in 2010 Marc Vocca joined us for a special concert at the Windsor Art Center in Connecticut:

We've also played with other great musicians and had some wonderful experiences as a duo and then as a trio with Claudine Langille. Now I would like to talk about Claudine, but I believe it deserves a separate podcast or blog post so I will get to it at another time suffice to say that Claudine is one of the world's greatest traditional Irish mandolin players alive today. And it is always a treat to be able to play a gig with Claudine.

Celticado's Website:

Well thank you very much for reading this post and/or hearing it on my podcast website if you have any questions or comments look forward to receiving them through my website at have a great day.