KPBX Kids' Concert: Celtic Dance Party with Floating Crowbar 2015
Young and Auld alike had a grand time at the March KPBX Kids' Concert, the Celtic Dance Party with Floating Crowbar. Three of the band's members -- James Hunter, Don Thomsen, and Rick Rubin -- kept the jigs, reels, and hornpipes coming from the stage of the Riverside Place Auditorium.
The group focuses on traditional and contemporary Irish music played with uilleann pipes, flute, banjo, mandolin and guitar. These musicians come from a variety of backgrounds and musical interests to bring a unique perspective to their music. Their passion for music blends with fun, mutual respect and friendship for a show to be enjoyed by Celtic music fans of all ages.
The Winter KPBX Kids' Concerts are free thanks to event donors Morning Star Community Services, Numerica Credit Union, and Rocket Bakery. SPR also gets support from the Florence Wasmer Fund for Arts & Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Thanks also to Jaye Nordling, and SPR Members, and the outstanding SPR Volunteers.
James Hunter (flute, uilleann pipes, whistles, bodhran, vocals) still has he accent of his birthplace, London, but it's tempered with influences from all over the world, particularly southeast Asia. His musical experiments include reggae, jazz, and classical Japanese music.
James started to dabble in Irish music in the early '90s, when he accidentally bought a whistle in a music shop on Portobello road in London. The shop owner convinced him that he'd need some guidance, so he also purchased a book to teach him. From the first note of "Sean sa Ceo", he was hooked. Before long he was deep into Irish flute, bodhran, and uilleann pipes.
James' day job is professor of applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language. He works at Gonzaga University and his research interests include corpus linguistics and second language acquisition.
Rick Rubin (guitar, bodhran, vocals) was born in Oceanside, California and lived all over the USA as the son of a Marine Corps officer. From a young age he showed a musical curiosity. He has a photo of himself wearing chaps and a cowboy hat, holding a broom as if it were a guitar. His parents finally gave in and got him his first guitar when he was 12 and since then he's continually had his hands on one fretted instrument or another.
He always had an avid interest in European art and music and as a child was fascinated by pictures showing lutes and other early instruments. He studied Renaissance lute with Donna Curry while living in Los Angeles in the 1970's. Around the same time he decided to study lutherie and began a career that he practices to this day. He's built a fair number of lutes and has repaired fretted and bowed stringed instruments since 1975.
He was introduced to British Isles music while living there in the late 1960's and to an active interest in Irish music by his good friend Jack Lindberg of Toppish in the 1980's. He explored DADGAD guitar tuning while transitioning from lute back to guitar and uses it exclusively in his playing with Floating Crowbar. He feels that Irish music is a deep well full of expression and humanity and knows he has barely scratched the surface of it. He's deeply grateful for its influence and the joy it brings.
Don Thomsen (banjo, mandolin, flute, whistles, vocals) grew up in Michigan as part of a musical family; his mother played violin, his father was an instrumental music teacher, and his older brother played tuba. His first instrument was a small melody flute, followed with piano, then trombone in school band. He heard many kinds of music around the house, from jazz and swing to the classics. As a teen, he studied at Western Michigan and at Interlochen School for the Arts.
The family moved to California when he was 15, right around the corner from Buck Owens. His musical palette expanded to include country and bluegrass, learning first on his mother's fiddle, then expanding to mandolin shortly after. The early '70s brought his first exposure to Irish Music; as he moved to Washington State, he developed a real passion for the Music of Ireland.
The current Floating Crowbar band began with Don and Rick playing as a duo. The fourth member of the group, Morgan Andersen, was unable to play at the March 7 concert.