Review over Cappuccino

 In this edition: Nua,
Jonathan Kershaw and Eclipse


Making waves: Irish/Scottish Traditional Music, Experimental, Fusion trio from Toronto Canada.

NUA came up with an auspicious debut in a form of an EP. It gives us the taste of what this trio can offer not just today but also in future releases. These are clean, crisp tunes  that sparkle with precision and showmanship. The audio quality is something get excited about. The surface sound of every instrument is captured giving us a degree of nuance and atmosphere.

The EP starts with Fizzbuzz which showcases the thunderous bodhran playing of Jacob McCauley and the invigorating strums of Graeme McGillivray on guitar. These sounds are sliced up with James M Law’s luminous playing on fiddle. That fiddle simply sparkles in all of the tracks.

The Draw is perhaps what one would call a ‘carrier single’ due to its upfront rhythm and fast paced characteristic that draws influences from Jazz, Folk and even World. Here, Jacob McCauley’s bodhran becomes emotive, giving us an impression that this percussion has finally reached its tonal height and is capable of being a lead instrument. We have to remember, Jacob plays different types of bodhrans including those custom made by Christian Hedwitschak. This is a tune that’s guaranteed to get you dancing.

Martin’s Yellow Tea Pot has that folk pop quality that waltzes on you like a sunny  afternoon. We hear exquisite chord structures as well as interesting changes of rhythms. The guitar has a crunchy sound that really keeps everything together.

The Hijack is a perfect track to close the EP. It has all the elements of how ripe talents should sound like. Confidence, experimentation and cohesiveness are traits of what a good album should possess-and they are all here. If they are able to come up with a full  sound  in this 4 track EP, just imagine what a complete album would be like. You would be missing a huge part of your musical life if you don’t get this EP!

About NUA:

NUA is an innovative new trad trio, bringing a fresh and unique sound to traditional music, creating their own distinctive flavour with both original and traditional compositions from Ireland and Scotland. Based in Toronto, Canada, NUA consists of three award-winning members: fiddle player James M Law, guitarist Graeme McGillivray and bodhrán player Jacob McCauley. The interaction between the three
e is what really makes the music shine, whether it be their soaring melodies or tasteful grooves. The trio is also well known for their exciting incorporation of odd time signatures and polyrhythms, which give the music an electrifying lift and spontaneity.

Each member adds their own distinctive sound and influence to the music. Although they are a trio with a sole melody player, the brilliant multi-tasking of each member is demonstrated countless times with perhaps a guitar-driven flat-picked melody, rhythmic fiddle playing, or melodic bodhrán playing to add to the mix. The ability for each member to take on multiple roles is one of the staples of NUA. This adds to a thrilling live experience, and a “you just don’t know what’s coming next” approach!

NUA released their first EP on November 12th 2012 and they are currently beginning work on their full-length debut album to be released in 2013.

Helpful links:


“Bizarre Tales”


Now for something dark and Celticky…

If you are ready for something seductive, atmospheric and emotionally charged Celtic fusion music, then you better give  Jonathan Kershaw a listen. Everything he does points to Renaissance music in the vein of Dead can Dance. There are also Celtic folk  and Viking influences embellished with subtle atmospherics. The guitars are gentle and the female vocals are mysterious. There are other instruments like the cello.This album kept me up all night while I did my usual blogging and it has that quality of being un intrusive but at the same time with the right volume, creates a full-house of soundtracky experience.
Band personals:

Jonathan Kershaw – guitars, percussion
Laura Fauvel – vocals, some flute
Karina McGrath – vocals
Chris Jones – other instrumentation

In the words of Jonathan Kershaw:
The sound of this album was (in it’s inception) clearly supposed to be sat firmly in the traditions of Celtic folk music. Evident in the rich, flowing guitar lines intertwined with flute and violin, ringing pedal sounds and the sometimes rather ominous bodhrans.

However, somewhere along the line, the link was clearly stretched beyond its traditional boundaries. Jonathan’s love of music from outside this area becomes apparent with strange colourings from elements of classical, baroque music and dare I even say it, hard rock!

As a result, the album maintains a curious, ethereal feel of mysticism throughout as it moves through pieces in a variety of emotions:
Album Details
Artist:     Jonathan Kershaw     From the dark, pounding introduction of “The Demeter” and “Crossing the Third Sea” to the sensual stories and thoughts of “Never Love an Angel”, “Sandwalkers” and “Clocks & Mirrors” (with vocals courtesy of guest vocalists Laura Fauvel and Karina McGrath); the light, joyful melodies of “Lotus Corset” and the jig-like “The Green Man” to the comedy of “Rat Run” or “The Alchemist’s Penny” and the ever- increasing power of the centre piece “Andrasta”.

New album “Bizarre Tales” available now!
Celtic folk – Traditional – Acoustic rock

Here is the link to the music store where you can listen to samples:




It’s Christmas Now!

They  are singer/songwriters originally from Edinburgh, Scotland but currently live in CT, USA .  They call themselves Eclipse:twin sisters Nell and Trish and their brother Matt Wilkie.

The strong vocal harmonies and percussive arrangements make this holiday album a joy to have. It has an almost African, Mid-Eastern and Reggae vibe to it. There are modern and traditional tracks. Oh Christmas Now is traditional but this is the first time I’ve heard of this one.It seems the artists behind Eclipse have this thing for the obscure. They also have this characteristic of delivering strong and crisp vocal mixes.

There are four official members but a total of eleven people contributed their talents in creating this album. The mixing is amazing because you can even hear the surface sound of every instrument. That is how crystal clear It’s Christmas Now ! is. I am really choosy when it comes to holiday albums because I like my music loud. And I like to bring it anywhere too. And I am a total show off!

I like a holiday album that doesn’t sound ‘like Christmas’. You know what I mean? It has to be something that you can play for all seasons and doesn’t sound out of place. It’s Christmas Now! is one example of an album that can be at home in any part of the year. And yes, listening to this one makes you feel warm and cozy.

Trivia: According to the band, they were particularly proud of Christmas in our Hearts “, (track 6), which they wrote for their family back in Edinburgh and their arrangement of “Auld Land Syne” (track 12)

Here is the link to the store where you can buy the CD:

You can also listen to the samples here:

Helpful links:

The CD is available at:

Visual Artist and Musician Eva McCauley: The Power of Light and Air (Interview)

Also in this edition: NUA

Eva McCauley & InVisible

A painter’s paradise: Eva McCauley talks about how in Ireland, “the air is infused with moisture, and because of that, there is a luminosity to the light  that is very unique, and an incredible thing for a painter to experience.”

Technology has a way of bringing visual artists and musicians together. Art has become multimedia. Eva McCauley explores the mystical side of painting and print making with her installation works. Inspired by technology’s ability to create something new and her love for evocative spirit of the Irish landscape, she created haunting and beautiful artworks. These are hanging illustrations rendered in a way that light and occasional wind play tricks on them. If musicians like Loreena McKennitt, Moya Brennan, Enya and Connie Dover have talents that can transport you with their voices and melodies, then Eva McCauley is the visual counterpart of such power.

Hi Eva, welcome to The Celtic Music Fan artist of the week edition! Your prints are fascinating. Can you give us a brief background on the things that inspire your work…these are beautiful ‘ghostly’ creations of paintings printed on scrims of fabric (silk oraganza) and hung from the ceiling in multiple layers to create an installation.

My recent print media installation “In/Visible”  was exhibited in Cork, Ireland this past August/September at the beautiful Wandesford Quay Gallery . As you say, the images are larger-than-life faces printed on transparent silk-like fabric (42” X 96”),  making them appear almost ephemeral, wafting in the breeze as people walk by.

The images are originally created as hand-pulled prints (monotypes & lithographs)  and then are digitally captured, enlarged and printed on fabric (PolyVoile) using a wide format Agfa Aquajet printer. The faces came to me as a result of my experience living in a pre-famine stone cottage on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the rugged southwestern coast of Ireland, where I was taking part in an artist residency in a very old village  called Cill Rialaig, which has become  an internationally renowned artist retreat, created by Noelle Campbell-Sharpe Although I wouldn’t consider myself to be superstitious, after  living and painting  in this  stone cottage  every day for a month,  I became aware of the invisible but tangible  presence of human beings, who may have lived in these stone dwellings in the past.

My show, called “In/Visible”, gave these “ghosts”, or apparitions,  a larger-than-life presence in the exhibition. The large faces were interspersed with large photographic images of the skies and water, so that they melded with each other, creating a multi-layered layered effect, so that the viewer could see through each ghostly image to what was behind.

 Your travels to Ireland inspired most of your artworks. What was the most memorable thing about your travels there.

As a a painter I was struck by the quality of the light. Since Ireland is an island, and it rains almost every day, the air is infused with moisture, and because of that, there is a luminosity to the light  that is very unique, and an incredible thing for a painter to experience. It really is  a painter’s paradise.  And the people in Ireland are the salt of the earth…incredibly kind, generous, always have time to talk and tell stories, in spite of the incredibly stress they are experiencing as a result of their tanking economy.

The other aspect of Ireland that influences my art is the music—I play traditional Irish music on the fiddle, mandolin and concertina, and when I’m in Ireland I become totally immersed in the local music session scene, and the local people who play the music have become great friends. I listen to the music continually when I paint, and it’s become an integral part of my work.

You have a strong affinity for things Irish/Scottish …. this is a strong influence in your art. Even your son Jacob is a world renowned Bodhran player. What was the earliest memory you have being exposed to the Celtic culture.

My father, Robert McCauley,  is the Irish side of my family. He plays the harmonica and Irish tin whistle by ear (and incredibly well!), and I grew up listening to him play. He took me to Ireland for the first time in 2002, and I was instantly smitten! Since then, I have been back to Ireland 4 times (and my son Jacob often flies over with me, and then takes off on his own travels in Ireland and Scotland) in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012 (for 6 week visits), and am looking forward to returning next summer for another artist residency in Cill Rialaig, Kerry. I then hope to return to the little village of Glendree (near Feakle) in East Clare for the music and to visit friends.

 You are presently the Founder & Director of Riverside Celtic College, Guelph, Ontario. What can students learn going to this place?

We offer classes in traditional Irish and Scottish music (Irish Fiddle, bodhran, Irish Flute, Scottish Smallpipes, Mandolin and Tenor Banjo, Guitar accompaniment, Tinwhistle, Introductory Violin and Celtic Song) as well as Irish Language and Irish Ceili & Set Dancing.  We also host  trad sessions for students, as well as traditional music concerts with musicians, (both internationally renowned and emerging), from all over the world. Often we’ll offer trad music workshops in conjunction with the concerts.

In 2012 we’ve had concerts with musicians like renowned fiddlers Tony Demarco & Patrick Ourceau, brilliant Galway fiddler Maeve Donnelly with guitarist Andy Hillhouse,  the amazing Irish flute player and singer Nuala Kennedy with fiddler Dana Lyn and guitarist Andy Hillhouse, and  look forward to upcoming concerts with the new trad trio Nua (fiddler James Law, guitarist Graeme McGillivray and bodhran player Jacob McCauley)  as well as a joint concert in December featuring Bua and North Atlantic Drift.

We have 52 mutual friends in facebook. And you are also very active in networking. But tell me, how effective is social network sites in terms of getting people to attend shows…especially in terms of those you invited within Ontario. 

I think that it’s a great way to get the word out, as more and more people are on Facebook.  And it’s an excellent way to keep people informed of what going on in one’s life and career, especially if you’re travelling, and touring around Ireland and having shows!

The Riverside Celtic Society is turning lots of heads these days. Can you tell us more about it?

I founded Riverside Celtic College in the village of Elora Ontario, in 2003, when I was first getting into learning how to play the fiddle. I was instantly addicted to the instrument, and traditional Irish  music, but was having trouble finding instructors to teach Irish fiddling.

I started the school, partly because I wanted to learn how to play, but also wanted to turn other people on to the music. I also found that after my trips to Ireland, I would come back to Ontario and crave the intimacy and richness of the Irish culture that I’d left behind me, and had a desire to create that same feeling of community in Ontario.

So, in addition to starting the school, my close friends and I started a traditional Irish pub session at the Shepherd’s Pub, in Elora, Ontario, Canada, that has been going for almost 13 years! Since then, the school has evolved into a really special and unique non-profit organization that seems to attract the most wonderful folks to its classes and events.

Riverside Celtic Society has recently received a major catalyst to its growth and evolution as an organization: we received a generous two year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which has proven to be a  very positive development, allowing us to offer  a new educational outreach series of  music/dance performances called the “Kitchen Party”, as well as hosting an exciting new concert series (including music  workshops),  called the RCC Traditional Music Concert Series “Live Trad at the Albion”.

We have also recently received generous donations from a group of former students, to create a a new traditional music scholarship, in memory of a dear former student who, sadly, passed away in June 2011, the Tom Kelly Music Scholarship.  Ar RCC, we’ve essentially put our energy towards creating a community of like-minded people,  who love the music and culture of Ireland and Scotland, and want to share that passion.

What albums are you listening to these days and what music would you recommend to us?

After spending time in East Clare this past summer, and going to the Feakle Festival (and spending time with my good friend Maeve Donnelly), I’ve been immersing myself in the music of Clare: “The Thing Itself” with Maeve Donnelly and Peadar O’Loughlin, “The Shores of Lough Graney” with Martin Hayes and P. Joe Hayes, the albums of Dennis Liddy and Michael Hynes “Waifs and Strays”, and “Spectacle Bridge”,  and I love John McEvoy’s album  “Traditional Irish Fiddle”, as well as the album “The Kilmore Fancy”, recorded with his sister, the brilliant Irish Flute player, Catherine McEvoy.

The most recent recording I’ve been excited about is the soon-to-be-launched EP of the new trad trio, NUA (full length CD to released in 2013), with fiddler James Law, guitarist Graeme McGillivray, and bodhran player, Jacob McCauley, which features some really exciting original music that, while grounded in traditional Scottish music, is really innovative and experimental in its approach.

Who is Eva McCauley as a mom and as a friend?

An artist and musician…equally addicted to both! 

Art samples:

Eva McCauley: Invisible

Eva McCauley:Invisible

Cill Rialaig Sky

Night Swimmers III




A addictive traditional brew is being served courtesy of  award-winning fiddle player James M Law, versatile & tasteful guitarist Graeme McGillivray and award-winning bodhrán player Jacob McCauley. Stylish, delicate at times and mostly energetic, Nua is a trio that’s sure to captivate and please listeners. I am a big fan of Jacob McCauley’s drumming style as he brings layers of expression to the bodhran. Graeme McGillivray’s wispy strums create an envelope of steady rhythm to the laser preciseness of James M Law’s fiddling.

NUA live in Guelph, April 2012. Original composition by NUA

NUA is an innovative new trad trio, bringing a fresh and unique sound to traditional music, creating their own distinctive flavour with both original and traditional compositions from Ireland and Scotland. Based in Toronto, Canada, NUA consists of three members: award-winning fiddle player James M Law, versatile & tasteful guitarist Graeme McGillivray and award-winning bodhrán player Jacob McCauley. The interaction between the three is what really makes the music shine, whether it be their soaring melodies or tasteful grooves. The trio is also well known for their exciting incorporation of odd time signatures and poly rhythms, which give the music an electrifying lift and spontaneity.

Each member adds their own distinctive sound and influence to the music. Although they are a trio with a sole melody player, the brilliant multi-tasking of each member is demonstrated countless times with perhaps a guitar-driven flat-picked melody, rhythmic fiddle playing, or melodic bodhrán playing to add to the mix. The ability for each member to take on multiple roles is one of the staples of NUA. This adds to a thrilling live experience, and a “you just don’t know what’s coming next” approach!

NUA is currently preparing for the release of their first E.P and their debut album to be released early 2013.

More of Nua here:

Hillside Festival and Riverside Celtic Society (Updated)



It is an exciting year for award-winning Canadian bodhran player/teacher Jacob McCauley. Apart from the upcoming album launch, his hands are busy playing and teaching:

Looking forward to teaching a Bodhrán workshop at the Hillside Festival this year! I’m also very happy to have some musical support from James M Law and Graeme McGillivray playing some good ol’ traditional tunes mixed up with some of our own modern compositions. Should be a hoot!-Jacob McCauley

Below is a slideshow from the recent Riverside Celtic Society Performance, plus some old pictures they have. According to Jacob:

“We sadly had a recent friend and musician pass away so we uploaded many of some old photos”.

And of course a nice update:

“My trio’s EP is releasing soon and I should have a track to post soon as well so I will let you know about that as soon as I have more info. I also have been testing the new drum. Fun times!”

They have a nice site:

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Christian Hedwitschak and The Evolution of The Bodhrán (Interview)

Christian’s drums have added a new glamour to bodhran making . The beautiful veneers  on his shells, the elegant fittings, and the high quality finishes make his drums a must-have item. He is one of the big innovators and is always seeking how to improve the bodhran into an ultra modern drum. He uses the latest materials in shell design to keep ahead of other makers. His ideas have had great influence on the bodhran as we now know it….an instrument equal in prestige to any other musical instrument.
– Seamus O´Kane

From a “percussive instrument” to a “tonal-like instrument” the heartbeat of Irish music has come a long way.

I know Christian Hedwitschak through his bodhran designs for Canadian award-winning percussionist Jacob McCauley. These are huge instruments. They are stunning in their unique designs. They also make deep tonal sounds. Any bodhran player will go gaga over the look and feel of the Hedwitschak bodhrans.

Christian has been a master cabinet maker before venturing into making bodhrans. Now his own line is known all over the world. His Philosophy states: “Being a master cabinet maker and also a bodhrán player, my aim is to build high quality instruments with several special features.

As an instrument manufacturer three things are important to me: the quality in the choice of materials and the construction of the instrument, the responsibility I have towards the environment and an individual service approach.”

He is celebrating his 10th anniversary in the business after making over 4,000 of them.

Why is the Hedwitschak bodhráns so different from the rest in the market?

I’d say I dig deeper, and go the “German” way in analyzing each part of the instrument. I do sound analyses in the sound studio. I work together with some of the best bodhrán players of our time and always want to improve every single part ;o)

As for the custom orders, I really want to fulfill the customer’s wishes in a way that makes sense. Some of the “custom makers” these days just do everything that the customer is asking for. Just because it’s possible to make. I always try to combine customers’ requests with the most logical construction / material of choice etc.

The first thing  I do when a customer comes up with a new idea is to find the core of his aim, what is the important thing we need and then  we start and build the whole drum around it. This can be about a specific sound, size or just an optical thing.

I also say `no’ if I see a customer is only looking for decorative things or don’t have the experience and just wants “the best” because it is the most expensive ;o)

Yea, I think this is good to point out which  may differ to most of the other makers. I still see there are lots of mysticism involved in bodhrán making and some of the makers use this as a part of their marketing strategy ;o) I’d say it’s all about the Physics, the Science, the experience and the craftsmanship which comprise a lot and maybe just 1 % mysticism ;o)))

Let us talk about the requests you get for customized bodhrans. This must be challenging in terms of design and time constraints?

Yes. For example the deep drum for Jacob McCauley ;o)

But the most challenging is to create a signature line bodhrán. Because it isn’t just about creating a drum which is fitting 100% for the customers, it also means that this drum is exactly in the same quality that has to be reproduced again and again. So when I am working on a signature line drum- which can be really a work for a couple of years with all the testing and experience until it can be launched- I have to keep in mind right from the start that I have to find techniques to copy exactly this quality again and again for over a period of few years.

So this also contains the means of finding the materials and keeping the suppliers consistent in the quality of materials and the ability to deliver the right measurements.

For example it was a huge challenge to get enough Lambeg skins for the RolfWagelsEdition bodhran.

Do you think the market for Celtic music instruments is more lucrative now compared to 5 years ago?

Well I couldn’t complain about the demand for my drums over the past 10 years to be honest. But I think it’s a different market and a different thing to what you might mean now. But what I see now is that big companies like REMO, Meinl, Waltons are entering the professional Bodhrán market now as well (not just tourist stuff). And this is a new development in the past few years. The bodhrán is right in the middle of the change from a special instrument to a world instrument. Also the amount of bodhrán players has increased unbelievably. So yes, in this case I would say the Celtic music market is more lucrative than say 10 or even 5 years ago.

Do you think, the style of playing has evolved as well to accommodate the new shapes and sizes? Before, there was one design. Now there are many designs.


Yes, definitely. I’d say the general development went from a “percussive instrument” to a “tonal-like instrument”. It means the drums made these days are (in general, of course) more civilized and more musical, more tonal than years ago. Bodhrán players are now listening to tune keys and key changes.

What is the most effective way of marketing your bodhrans? How do you go a step ahead of the game?

Recommendations from players!




Bodhrán Gigs with Jacob McCauley

Bodhran players have all the fun in the world as shown in this interview I did with award-winning Bodhrán player Jacob McCauley. He moved around a LOT in February. His numerous gigs in Europe proved to be an exciting story and I am capturing that spirit here and what he took with him in his travels.

1. So what  memorable things  happened during your European tour?

Well, it wasn’t exactly a tour since usually a tour consists of travelling from one city to the next. For this last trip I was primarily in Glasgow, Scotland during the Celtic Connections festival. Although I wasn’t officially booked to play this year, I had a variety of other things on the go during my stay. Besides doing a bit of guest playing at the festival, I had some planning to do for an upcoming Scottish album, and a variety of teaching. I will be back in Scotland in a few months to start work on a new project.

Lastly, I spent a few days in Germany visiting with my Bodhrán maker Christian Hedwitschak. We have had some new projects on the go and are working towards a very special goal…but I’m afraid that’s all I can say for now! 

2. March happened. What did you do last St Paddy’s day?

St Paddy’s day this year was another fun-filled day and night. I did two gigs with a new trio of mine. An afternoon gig at an art gallery and then a much less formal pub gig at night. This was a very nice change of pace to play a comfortable, easy-going pub gig as opposed to a big concert. A few years ago on St Paddy’s day I did a gig with The Chieftains at a huge concert hall in Toronto. As much fun as that was, I always enjoy the more easy-going gigs on Paddy’s day!

3. You are doing something in the studio again right? Tell me all about this facebook update about tinkering with your mic placement.

As you may have already noticed from many previous Facebooks updates… I am currently in the last few stages of Bodhrán testing for Christian Hedwitschak. I am testing his new TwinSkin innovation and seeing how they compare to his previous single skins, as well as how different skin combinations compare to each other. There are other small tests on the go comparing his latest Compressor tuning system as well. The mic placement update referred to working on finding the best mic placements for each specific TwinSkin drum. There are new sound samples that will be posted in a few days so take a look!

4.This month seems to be picking up for you with the Irish fiddler
Maeve Donnelly and Guitarist Andy Hillhouse in Concert.Tell us about your part in this wonderful event and how was it for you.
I was very pleased to open for my good friends Maeve Donnelly and Andy Hillhouse this past Saturday. Our new trio (of which I spoke of above) did a half an hour opening set which kicked of the show quite nicely. I enjoyed doing some playing with Maeve and Andy as well. It was a great evening! There should hopefully be some live video clips posted soon.

5. More updates?

The drum testing is currently the main focus for myself right now, but there are many other projects coming up and some smaller side projects. We have started work on the debut album for the new trio and will be posting a Single off the album in the coming weeks. So keep an eye out for that. I will be posting updated information with new projects as soon as time permits.


Pierre continues to be a great force in the propagation of Celtic music via facebook.

My special thanks  to Pierre Deragon for uncovering this old Gem that inspired generations of singers :

Irish Tradition : “Ailiu Ennai” sung by Mary O’Hara

Nice Tunes and Drum Magazine Feature


Neat Trad Group!

Hi guys, how are you doing? I am listening to The Ivy Leaf’. I never heard of them before but I saw my friend Jimmy posting the link to the band’s site. It’s refreshing to go back to traditional music and feel that toe tapping appeal that is only found in this kind of music.  My exposure to this kind of music goes all the way back to The Chieftains and Altan-the first bands who introduced me to the style. I learned that these guys are based in Boston MA. I also love the name they choose for their group. It sounds like Christmas. Just click the image below to go to their Reverbnation site.


Drum Magazine Feature

My friend Jacob McCauley got featured in Drum Magazine. He is flying to Scotland to give workshops in selected venues. He promised to update us from time to time. Way to go Jacob!

Jacob McCauley : All About Bodhrans(Interview)

Please visit :

Here is an interesting interview I did with Jacob McCauley which all started after my article about his performance. It’s done via facebook. It is not often you are able to get someone get back to you with the questions you sent in real time but hey the universe works in mysterious ways. Jacob granted me with all the answers about how the instrument works, the techniques, his upcoming projects and  a lot more. Join me in this wonderful insights into the heartbeat of the Irish music.

I sent him what I wrote and he got back with this:

Hi Baxter,

Thanks very much for featuring me in your blog. It’s always nice to see people taking a liking to the Bodhran, and appreciating how it is evolving. With it being such a young instrument, there is still much to be discovered, and that is one of the main goals in my career. To push the limits, invent new things, and most importantly bring that out into the world. Obviously Bodhran designs are another way that the instrument is evolving, and my work with Christian (Hedwitshchak) demonstrates that very well. I could go on.. but thanks again and feel free to ask any questions you may have.



The bodhrans I am seeing today are quiet revolutionary compared to say ten or twenty years ago. What’s with the heated up interest recently do you think?

To put it quite simply. As Bodhran techniques evolve, it is only natural that the instrument itself will also begin to evolve. The player needs a drum that can properly complement their playing style, and totally suit them. And thus we see the age of Custom Bodhrans, as well as a much larger range of different style Bodhrans. For example, since my back-hand technique is something new that I have developed, I require an extremely respsonsive Bodhran. I will always be striving for the Bodhran that complements me best. It is a never-ending quest in my career, but I am continually astonished by what has been made possible, and how that will further evolve.

People like you make the instrument a joy to listen with , with or without other instruments…tell me…what got you into this passion for this so-called the heartbeat of Celtic music?

I grew up in a house filled with Irish Traditional Music. I was exposed to music from a very young age. It wasn’t long before I had found the old Bodhran in the house and began to start beating the drum. It didn’t take long before I knew that this instrument would be the instrument for me. I was already interested in other instruments, but the Bodhran truly spoke to me as the right instrument. I felt I had a natural ability on it, and very much wanted to pursue that. And so it went from there… hours of practicing every day, striving to be the best I could be.

What are your plans for this year musically? I see a lot of projects and collaboration but that do you think is the biggest that waits for you so far?

I still have several projects to finish up this year. One of the largest projects being my Instructional Bodhran DVD, which I am currently filming. Another large project is an Experimental album that I have been working on since last year. It features some things that have never been done on the Bodhran, as well as the music itself being very unique. I have a couple more traditional albums to be recorded this year, as well as several other smaller projects. Touring is of course another thing to be expected in the near future. It is difficult to say what the largest upcoming project would be, but there are surely many possibilities for the future.

The albums! Yes I am interested what you have in mind . A full-length album or compilations? It would be interesting to devote an entire album with bodhran as the primary instrument .

Each recording for this year is a full-length (minus smaller projects and guest appearences). The Experimental album does feature the Bodhran a lot, as I am doing solos, as well as adding my own unique melodic approach to the music. But I have yet to create an album of which the Bodhran is the primary instrument. That is just another feat that could of course be accomplished in the near future.

As an instructor what are the challenges you faced in translating what you know to newbies?

I have to say that the most difficult challenge I face these days is essentially what I would call “damage control”. Many many new players today are influenced by or in some cases even taught by players who do not play with proper technique. The majority of players (and even many teachers) today still do not have proper technique. Without having the proper technique you first are limiting yourself, but are also risking possible health issues to your body (arm or wrist pain or worse). Every one of course has their own opinion as to what is proper and not. However, it has been my experience after many years of teaching and playing to realize what is beneficial to the player and what is not. So in short, many new students that come to me have either been influenced (by Youtube, session players etc) or taught wrong, and I need to help them break bad habits and form a proper technique. Lastly, I do not teach one style, or just my own style, I teach proper technique and allow the student to truly become their own player with their own technique that works for them.

That is a valuable information! What type of audience go to your sessions? And what are the preparations you do prior to conducting the sessions?

By sessions do you mean teaching workshops?

Or private lessons?

Good clarifications. Ok I will say for both teaching workshops and private lessons

Private lessons and Workshops are something I do all the time. In private lessons, the influx of new students usually range from either someone who has long been a fan of Irish Traditional Music, or someone who is new to this genre. In either case, my preparation and execution is the same. I first like the student to know the history of the instrument, have a good knowledge of the music, and then of course learning the proper technique and beginning to develop their own style. For workshops, depending on if they are beginner or advanced workshops, the students generally are already aware of the instrument and music. However, I still like to present them with some basic information and try and get a feel for the audience. I like to try and tailor my teaching to who is in the audience, as opposed to always teaching a workshop in the same manor. This of course depends on the size of the workshop and who exactly is in it, but I always like to get a general feel for what the attendees are interested in learning.

Being where you are now in your career, what do you think is satisfying part of it?

It is tough to say what is the most satisfying part of my career thus far. I would have to say it is a combination of things. First, teaching is incredibly satisfying because I love seeing new students learn this wonderful instrument and truly start to enjoy it for themselves. Second, performing always is satisfying because I love spreading my art of the Bodhran to many people and witnessing their enjoyment of it. Lastly, it is very satisfying to know that there is still a long way to go and at this point, the sky is the limit!

Thank you so much for your wonderful responses. It’s been a pleasure spending the time with you and putting into writing what you think. I will let you know when it is up OK? Enjoy your weekend Jacob.

You’re very welcome. I am always glad to share my experiences and help spread awareness of the Bodhran. I’ve done several interviews this year (and a few more coming up soon) so I am very comfortable with them.

Thanks and enjoy your weekend as well!



Jacob McCauley’s Bodhran Techniques

I admit I was baffled by all the bodhran designs I see these days. It has evolved from a traditional instrument  to a stylish one capable of different flavors. The styles have now became varied as the younger generations introduced their own way of playing .

  Jacob McCauley is from Toronto Canada( winning the Toronto Fleadh Music Competition, March 2008). He incorporates a lot of styles but his favorite tempos  are the 7/8 and 13/16.He is in the middle of working on his  Bodhrán Instructional DVD , an experimental album with guitarist Santiago Dobles & bass player Alan Goldstein of progressive Metal band “Aghora” and several other projects. Whoaa! Metal meets folk.

Being a versatile player, he already shared the stage with The Chieftains and Lau(award winning Scottish band). What makes looking at his instructional videos rewarding is his charismatic personality, and easy way of explaining and demonstrating.

I am starting to enjoy listening to the bodhran without other instruments. It is a very expressive percussion. It is capable of delivering many shades and even nuances that can never be found in other percussions .