Nashville Ceili Band is Bill Verdier on fiddle, Bill Wolfe on flute, whistles, and accordion, Frances Cunningham on tenor banjo, mandolin, and bouzouki, and Anne Hoos on piano. The quartet joyfully performs tunes from Ireland, Scotland, New England, Appalachia, and Quebec with a crisp and lively rhythm, a visceral pulse, and a haunting sound as old as the hills; music to delight the soul and inspiring to dance to. These accomplished musicians have played for many years at concert halls, festivals, pubs, and recording studios from New England to Texas to Alaska. They were drawn to share their passion for traditional music as a dance band in 2000 and soon became a favorite on the Southeastern dance circuit.
Frances Cunningham is a born and raised Texan. She got her start into traditional music after many years in the classical world when she was invited to play the guitar for a contra dance band, and there learned the basics of chord theory. She became involved in the Irish session scene, picking up tunes and techniques and it wasn’t long before she changed her focus instrumentally to the Irish bouzouki. Frances was a founding member of the Irish rock band SixMileBridge and toured nationally and beyond, playing major festivals such as the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA and the Milwaukee Irish Festival. They released several albums during that time.
In 2001 Frances and husband Sean, flute and bagpipe player, relocated to Nashville. Frances has recorded with Rhonda Vincent, Steve Delopolous and others, adding an “Irish touch” to many albums and currently plays with several groups including the Nashville Ceili Band and Chicago area songwriter Luke LeFevre. She is also very interested in Old Time Appalachian music and has had the honor of bringing the bouzouki to the Grand Ole Opry stage, playing with the Mike Snider Band. Frances plays the tenor banjo and mandolin as well and is constantly looking for new tunes to play and fun people to play with.
Anne Hoos, keyboard, has played rhythm backup for several contradance and Irish bands over the past 10 years. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she studied classical piano through high school but followed the science and engineering path during college and let the piano collect dust and hold up drinks for many years. An interest in celtic music and dance, and her friend Bill Wolfe, eventually led her back to the keyboard, and from that vantage point she first glimpsed the world of contradance.
She lives in Nashville, Tennessee and splits her time between the keyboard and the dance floor .... oh yes, and her day job.
Bill Verdier has been performing Irish music on the fiddle for over 20 years. Bill began with classical violin studies, and focused on orchestral, chamber and solo performance through college. He first made a switch to American styles after hearing the David Bromberg Band and later to Irish Music after hearing a concert by Kevin Burke. The contra dance scene of southern New Hampshire in the late 70s and early 80s was an early experience in the direct communication between dancers and musicians, having lived in the Monadnock region during that time.
Originally from Philadelphia, and having spent many years in New York and New England working for an Irish recording label and hosting a weekly radio program, Bill moved to Nashville and quickly became active in the recording industry and performance of Irish music. He has performed and/or recorded with such diverse artists as Tim O’Brien, Maura O’Connell, Russ Barenberg, Phil Keaggy, Buddy Greene, Bryan Sutton, Michael W. Smith, Ric Blair, Michael Card, Claudia Nygaard, Mae McKenna, William Jackson, Isla, John Mock and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. In May of 2008, Bill was filmed for a small part in the recent Hannah Montana film being shot in Tennessee. His fiddling can be heard during the “market scene” playing an Irish jig.
In the Nashville area Bill co-hosts a weekly Irish session at McNamara's Irish Pub and performs with the The Nashville Ceili Band, Nosey Flynn, The Skip Cleavinger Band, Anne Hoos, John Mock and Jeff Taylor. He most recently completed an instrumental recording with Jim Prendergast entitled “…That’s an Irish Lullaby,” and is currently planning a solo release for 2013.
Bill Wolfe plays the old wooden flute in the old Irish style. He discovered traditional Irish music while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard in Juneau Alaska in the mid-1970s. After leaving the Coast Guard and entering the Geology program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Bill fell in with several fine Irish musicians who were members of the ex-patriot community of unionized Pipeline workers and their relations. Major musical influences from this period include box player Noel Higgins, the late, great, Joe "Banjo" Burke, flute player and singer Mick Mulcrone, banjo player and impresario John Walsh, and drummer Mickey Oaks. During the same time, Bill was a regular in contradance bands across Alaska, playing flute, whistle, and piano accordion. Through the mid- and late-1980s, while attending graduate school in Bloomington Indiana and Worcester Mass, Bill continued to play contradances, Irish sessions, and festivals in the Midwest and new England. In 1990, he moved to Nashville, TN to pursue a career in applied Earth Science. Since then, he has been a mainstay of the Nashaville Irish Trad and contradance scenes, playing in several local bands and co-hosting sessions. Bill can be heard on Candace Corrigan's recordings of English translations of songs by the legendary blind harper Turloch O'Carolan http://www.ocarolansongwriter.com/ He is a founder member of the Nashville Ceili Band.