“Cantrip has shown themselves to be a crowd favorite here in the North Country when we’ve hosted them in Colebrook and Lancaster in recent years,” said GNWCA President Charlie Jordan. “We’re glad to be able to bring them back to the Tillotson Center.”
The name Cantrip is an old Scots word meaning a charm, magic spell or piece of mischief and it aptly describes the unexpected twists and turns in their musical arrangements, likewise the compelling potency of their musicianship. Originally formed as a quartet, Cantrip sprung from a local session in Edinburgh 15 years ago. Trimming itself to a trio, the band tightened its arrangements while expanding its influence. New inspirations began creeping into the sound, complementing the traditional foundation of the band. The enhanced sound has been catching the ear of listeners and concert goers all over again.
Members of the band include Dan Houghton, who plays bagpipes, flute, whistles, guitar, bouzouki. Houghton was born in Ghana but transported to Scotland shortly thereafter, where he was surrounded by the indigenous music. He began his career with the whistle at age seven and started playing bagpipes in the early 1990s, proceeding to win the Scottish Lowland and Border Pipers' Society Open Borderpipes and New Composition events (multiple times), as well as the Maitre de Cornemuse at St. Chartier.
Jon Bews, who plays fiddle in the band, started at age four. Jon came to Scots music from a classical education by way of Goth rock. But it didn’t take long for him to entrench himself in the world and carve a name for himself as a fiddler. A prizewinning graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 1994, he has performed and recorded with such diverse artists as Malinky, James Yorkston, Mikel Urdangarin, Ranarim, Deaf Mutes and Samling. In addition to Cantrip, he currently plays with renowned Edinburgh ceilidh band Callanish and critically acclaimed Indie rock quintet The Last Battle.
On guitar, mandolin and bouzouki is Eric McDonald, a U.S. native who found his way to traditional music through the rich local music scene in Boston. He studied at Berklee College of Music under world renowned musicians such as guitarist/mandolinist John McGann and cellist Eugene Friesen. He is established as one of New England’s premier accompanists in many styles. Known for his tasteful approach and quick ear, he can be heard on recordings by many artists such as Cape Breton and Scottish fiddlers Katie McNally and Brendan Carey Block. His string pieces have been performed by orchestras in the United States and Canada, and his work as a music director for Boston theatre company Actor's Shakespeare Project has been praised by major critics. In addition to Cantrip he performs with Scottish lowland piper Will Woodson, master fiddler Ryan McKasson and the contemporary string trio the Knockbox Stringband.
All three members of Cantrip are well professionals in their own right, but when they come together the sum of the parts is a truly unique experience.
Tickets are $15 and available in advance at Fiddleheads, 110 Main Street, Colebrook, and at the door on the night of the concert. For more information on the Great North Woods Committee for the Arts, upcoming shows and how you can become a supporting member of the GNWCA’s ongoing programming, visit www.gnwca.org, call 237-9302 or 246-8998.