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In the late ’60s, many things were born. The British Folk Rock movement, as it was called, was one. Trying to decide “how it started” is actually a little silly; victory has a thousand fathers, after all. But there is no doubt that Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, the Incredible String Band, and their many fellows introduced generations to music of the tradition. And, they did it well. Not incidentally, they and their individual members often performed and recorded “early music” as well.
Ayreheart blends the “art” and “folk” traditions so organically, we are reminded how artificial such a separation actually is. “John Barleycorn,” the witty view of brewing as an act of torture and abuse, is so perfect that Vaughan Williams himself wondered if it may have been created by “an antiquarian revivalist,” who then saw it pass “into popular currency and become ‘folklorised’.” Many in the folk-rock movement recorded the song, most prominently the group Traffic in their album named for the song itself. Ronn McFarlane was true to his ancestry then, and has kept that flame alive in creative and newly-evolving ways with Ayreheart. Is it art music? Is it folk? Could it possibly matter less?
Brian Kay (vocals, lute, komuz) is a modern-day troubadour. A critically acclaimed singer and instrumentalist, Brian performs throughout the US as a solo artist, and with a number of esteemed ensembles. His concerts have been hailed as “Far-ranging” and “Exciting” (cleveland.com). He has been featured at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Shriver Hall, and The Boston Early Music Festival. Radio appearances include NPR, Baltimore’s WYPR and 98ROCK, Boston’s WGBH, and Cleveland’s WCLV.
GRAMMY®-nominated lutenist and composer, Ronn McFarlane strives to bring the lute – the most popular instrument of the Renaissance – into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience. Ronn has been engaged in composing new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo CD, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY® Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album.
Willard Morris (colascione) was bitten by the classical music bug at 10 years of age. The violin became the first in a long line of instruments taken up by Willard and still remains ever close to his heart. In 2009 Willard took up the bass again to develop original music with Ronn McFarlane which combined the ancient lute with the modern electric bass, percussion and vocals eventually becoming Ayreheart.
Mattias Rucht percussion Mattias has been active in the Washington, DC music scene for over 25 years as a drummer/percussionist, playing in various rock, jazz, folk and world ensembles. He has also performed in theatrical productions and accompanied dancers and storytellers.