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. Cantrip sprung from a local session in Edinburgh 15 years ago. Their driving music immediately caught the attention of the masses. 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 include Dan Houghton (bagpipes, flute, whistles, guitar, bouzouki, vocals). Dan was born in Ghana, but was 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). Over the years he increased his versatility as a multi-instrumentalist, becoming an accomplished player on the flute, bouzouki and guitar.
On fiddle and also on vocals is Jon Bews. A veteran of the fiddle, having 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 establish himself in the Scots music scene and carve a name for himself as a fiddler. A prize-winning graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 1994, he is widely recognized as a prolific composer and arranger.
Rounding out the trio is Eric McDonald (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals). As a U.S. native, Eric found his way to traditional music through the rich local music scene in his hometown Boston. Nearly a decade after studying at Berklee College of Music under world renowned musicians such as guitarist/mandolinist John McGann and cellist Eugene Friesene, he is now established as one of the USA’s premier accompanists in many styles. Eric cut his teeth playing for contra dances in New England, and can still often be seen from the dance floor. Nowadays he is an active session player, regularly recording and traveling with musicians of many stripes. Touring credits include The Outside Track, Andrea Beaton, Wendy MacIsaac and Katie McNally.
All three members of Cantrip are professionals in their own right, but when they come together the sum of the parts is a truly unique experience. With a storied and rich history, Cantrip has proven that it will be a presence for many years to come.
“Our loyal GNWCA audience and music fans in the region will enjoy this wonderful show at the Rialto,” said GNWCA’s Jordan. “If you’ve never been to one of our shows, be sure to come and find out what everyone’s been talking about.”
Tickets are available at the Rialto Theatre, 80 Main St., Lancaster; Fiddleheads, 110 Main St., Colebrook, or at the door on the night of the show. Tickets are $15. For more information on this and other GNWCA shows, find the Great North Woods Committee for the Arts on Facebook, visit www.gnwca.org or you can call 237-9302 or 246-8998.