Celtic music headed into town

Iona: At the Theatre in Washington April 16.

From contributed reports
The high-energy pan-Celtic band Iona will take the stage at the Theatre at Washington for the first time at 8 Saturday, April 16.
The Washington, D.C.-based Iona describes its shows as offering “traditional Celtic material . . . original acoustic arrangements . . . [and a] lively entertaining presentation.”

The group was established in 1986 by lead singer and instrumentalist Barbara Ryan and Bernard Argent who heads the wind section. In addition to Ryan and Argent, the group now includes Jim Queen on fiddle, banjo and vocals; Chuck Lawhorn, vocals and bass guitar; and Kathleen Larrick who plays percussion, adds vocals and performs dance — including the Irish step, Highland dance and Appalachian clogging.

The upcoming concert at the Theatre will include a selection of songs, tunes and dances from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Appalachia, Quebec and Cape Breton. The haunting songs, toe tapping dances and humor of the Celtic peoples from Scotland to the Canadian Maritime Provinces form the basis of Iona’s appeal. All the members of the band play several instruments, often switching within a piece to achieve their unique blend of sound.

A folk singer in the ’60s, Barbara Ryan began to accompany herself on guitar when she was 12 years old, and acquired her first bodhran Irish drum) back in 1983.

Bernard Argent is Iona’s historian and yarn spinner. He studied music at university in England. He performed in several orchestras on trumpet before venturing into the realms of folk music as a blues guitarist. He later took up the tin whistle and the wooden flute, which have become as much a trademark of Iona’s sound as Barbara’s vocals.

Iona’s bassist, Chuck Lawhorn, “owns just about every kind of bass guitar conceived by mankind.” He considers the bass guitar to be both a support and a melody instrument that just happens to have a lower range. He describes himself as “mostly responsible for low notes and low humor.”

Jim Queen joined Iona following a career of 30 years performing with the Air Force Band. Master of many instruments, his primary contributions are fiddle and vocals, although he brings a touch of banjo and guitar to the mix as well. As a member of the Air Force Band, he performed all over the world and in just about every state, for presidents and heads of state.

Dancer Kathleen Larrick adds a distinctive visual dimension to Iona’s performances. She is a graduate of George Mason University, where she studied modern dance. With Iona she performs Irish step, Highland dance and Appalachian clogging.

Tickets for the concert are $20 ($10 for students 17 and younger). For reservations, call 540-675-1253 or email theatreva@aol.com.

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