• was on the Official Ballot for the 2008 Grammy Awards (Album of the Year -- Suantraighe: A Collection of Celtic Lullabies; Best New Artist --
  • sang live on Radio na Gaeltacht, a national Irish radio station, during an t-Oireachtas competition, November 2007
  • had feature article in Celtic Heritage magazine, November/December 2006
  • had feature article in the Boston Globe Jan. 2006
  • won five gold medals in the Columbus Feis 2005, and three in 2004, for Gaelic singing and poetry, and for harp performance
  • was a performer and honored guest of the New England Conservatory of Music at the Boston Early Harp Symposium June 2005

Mor Gwyddelig:

  • "Wake the Dragon" album nominated for 2004 OutMusic Award for best duo/group
  • "Wake the Dragon" song included on Global Rhythm magazine's world music sampler December 2005


Celtic Heritage magazine, November/December 2006

Harpist Sings and Teaches Traditional Gaelic
by Judy Buswick

If you weren't lucky enough to grow up singing and speaking Irish Gaelic, but
would like to learn, there's hope! Harpist Caera Aislingeach had to
learn, as an adult, both her instrument and the language she wanted to
sing. She found some methods that helped make her own journey easier.
Traveling to Ireland four times and presenting workshops at Celtic
festivals from Ohio to New England, she learned how to teach others.

"Aislingeach" means dreamer or visionary and is the name Caera took
once she
graduated from college. She uses the shorter name "Caera"
professionally. Growing up as the eldest child in an Irish family of six
children in the Boston area, she did not speak any Gaelic. She began
her study of Celtic languages in college and simultaneously fell in love
with the brass-string harp. She completed her degree in Anthropology in
1999 and graduated in the spring of 2000 from UMass Boston. As she took
language classes, learned individual songs, and attended festivals, her
musical repertoire grew so that she now sings songs in three Gaelic
languages -- Irish, Scottish, and Manx. There's a Welsh melody or two
thrown in, as well.

Caera recorded one CD (Wake the Dragon) with Myra Hope Bobbitt, under the band
name of Mor Gwyddelig, the Welsh name
for the Irish Sea that spans from Wales to Ireland. Myra Hope knew
Welsh, Caera knew Irish Gaelic and both musicians played harps. With a
two-year-long delay before the CD could be completed, Caera wrote and
played eleven new songs for a second CD, her solo debut, titled Through
the Misty Air. In 2004 both CDs were released on her own record label,
Gra is Stor (Love and Treasure), and then Caera was on to her next
project -- teaching Irish Gaelic through traditional children's songs.

Having a love of language, she continually strove to memorize new words and
learn as an adult, typically through conventional materials. But she
stumbled onto an aid for learning languages. Children's music is
repetitive and that helps in the learning process. Reading children's
books steadily improved her vocabulary. The pictures in books helped
cement the sounds she was hearing with the meaning of the words. When
attending musical workshops, Caera wanted the instructors to provide
sheet music or at least the words to the tunes, to help her recall the
songs after the workshop was over. Learning both songs and languages as
an adult, Caera had a good idea of how to teach others.

Of the several workshops she gives at Celtic festivals, "Singing for
is her most popular. Caera felt a simple presentation, "just a woman
singing to a child," would make it easy for CD-listeners to learn the
tunes and the language. She'd help the visual learners by adding
coloring book pictures. After some research, she found eleven
traditional tunes that she would sing without accompaniment. The
resulting endeavor, released in the summer of 2006, is Traditional Irish
Gaelic Children's Songs (Amhrain Gaelach Tradisiunta do Phaisti). It
comes in a booklet form with the CD inserted on the back page. The
booklet provides the lyrics and translations, lines of brief musical
notation, a pronunciation guide, visuals, and sources for other recorded
versions of each song.

Brian O'Donovan, WGBH radio host for "Celtic
Sojourn" in Boston, appreciated Caera's efforts
and told radio listeners about the CD. He said, "Caera Aislingeach has
succeeded in creating an amazing tool that can serve teachers, students,
parents of young children -- anyone interested in learning about the
songs that have entertained for hundreds of years in Gaelic-speaking
Ireland." He described her CD package as "user friendly, and most
important of all, a fun approach to this treasure trove of Irish

Caera writes that the songs are easy to learn and that "learning these
songs can also help build vocabulary for anyone
just starting to learn the Irish language" -- whether child or adult.
Bess Libby, a long-time friend of Caera, provided simple line drawings
so that children might color in the visual representations of the songs.
As planned, the illustrations will also provide adult visual-learners
with pictorial stimuli for vocabulary association.

Curiously, Caera has found in her workshops that Americans "expect to read
sheet music and they think they can't do without it." While, in Ireland
people expect to learn music by ear, she has found. Since Caera is
slightly dyslexic, she often learns by ear, though her harp teacher,
Charlotte Hallett of Haverhill, Massachusetts, taught her to read music.
Caera thus employs both approaches.

In 2004 and 2005 Caera won a total of eight gold medals in Gaelic singing,
poetry, and harp
performance at Ohio's Dublin Irish Festival. "This [Columbus Feis] is
the second largest Irish festival in the [US] and possibly in the
world," she reports. Caera sometimes sings in the Irish sean nos style
or in the puirt a beul (mouth music) singing tradition of Scotland. She
plays a clairseach, a 26 wire-string Dreamsinger Bard harp. Her Celtic
harp of cherry wood and brass strings was created by Muis Dreamsinger,
who modeled it after a medieval harp from Ireland.

At the 2003 Early Harp Symposium in Boston, Caera enjoyed seeing "every
kind of
harp," including the double strung, triple stung, pedestals, and even
electric harps. At the 2005 Symposium she performed on her
medieval-style, wire-strung harp. In describing the uniqueness of her
instrument, Caera explains that "the strings are closer together for the
fingernails to stroke them." The clairseach is played with a slanted
hand motion. Caera keeps her nails strong with vitamins and a good diet;
and she does her own manicures with an emery board or sometimes uses a
nail clipper on wet -- never dry -- nails.

Further explaining the differences between harps, Caera notes that the harpist
with a
nylon-strung harp has a larger instrument than hers. On that harp the
strings are spaced further apart for the fingers to reach in and pluck.
On a pedal harp typically found in an orchestra, the harpist must
stretch the hand stiff and pull hard. "The wire harp is rare but growing
[in popularity]," says Caera of her brass-stringed instrument.

In the process of collecting children's songs for her Gaelic Irish CD,
Caera found a number of lullabies. She has since collected Celtic
lullabies in Irish, Scottish, Manx, and Welsh for a new CD released in
October 2006, under the simple title "Suantriaghe" (an Old Irish
reference to soothing music, or lullabies). Caera recalls that some of
the first children's songs she sang were for her friend Bess's new-born
son, Ira. And now Bess has another child, a daughter Nonny, who will
benefit from both collections of songs for children. The Suantriaghe
cover features a lovely picture of the harpist with her friend's two
children, all encircled by her Dreamsinger harp.

Eliciting the beauty of Irish Gaelic and the soothing sounds of the
harp for global audiences has become a passion for Caera. She performs a
variety of Celtic songs from different countries and time periods,
including chants from the Middle Ages. Her wire harp aptly suits the
traditional music she presents. Caera says that to learn Irish Gaelic is
to learn "a beautiful language that is great for singers." She
appreciates "the way it works your throat and forces you to think in
poetry." It has been her goal in performance and in teaching "to make
the Celtic languages, especially Irish Gaelic, accessible and easy for
anyone to understand -- whether they only speak English or not, whether
they are familiar with traditional Celtic music or not, and whether they
have Celtic ancestry or not." She explains there are many lovely ways
of expressing things in Irish Gaelic. "It's heavy on the poetry."

For more information or to book an appearance, e-mail Caera Aislingeach at
(delete "NOSPAM") or phone her at (617)335-6063. Another CD of
songs written by Caera in English and Irish, titled Eist Le Mo Sceal
(Listen to My Story), was also released in October 2006. See her Website
for information on where to find Caera's music.

Judy Buswick is the co-author of a soon-to-be-released book _Slate of
Hand: Stone for Fine Art and Folk Art_
(formerly titled Slate Art).
Trafford Publishing of Canada will release
this art book of historical and international uses of slate in art
works. See
for more information.

Every Saturday from 12 noon -- 2 pm, A Celtic Sojourn explores the living
traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and France. On WGBH at
89.7 on the radio dial, A Celtic Sojourn has been aired since October
1986 and is now also available online, on-demand, at

Celtic Beat magazine, September - November 2006
review of "Traditional Irish Gaelic Children's Songs (Amhrain
Gaelach Tradisiunta do Phaisti)"
by Art Ketchen

This is a simple, direct, and delightful introduction for children to
singing in Irish Gaelic. Certainly for young children it would be a book
for a parent or teacher, but even for the uninitiated it is a model of
easy reading. With a pronunciation guide in the back and a fine CD with
it – what more could you really want to either introduce your children
or pupils to the traditional culture of Irish language and music.

The approach of teaching here is eloquent in its simplicity. Even to the
illustrations, where Celtic interlace works well with the Thurberesque
figures of Bess Libby.

I highly recommend this book and CD to anyone wanting to give children a basic
foundation in Irish Gaelic
speech, culture, and song.

Boston Globe feature (Globe NW calendar section, Jan 19 2006)

"With Gaelic Harp and Soul"
by Donna Novak (Globe Correspondent)

Combining her love of history, a strong interest in Gaelic culture, and a love
music, Celtic singer and harper Caera entertains audiences with songs
in the Irish, Scottish, and Manx languages.

Caera will be playing her clairseach (pronounced CLAR-shuck in Irish), an
instrument modeled
after medieval harps in Ireland, and singing traditional and original
songs tomorrow night at the Avalon Healing Studio in Chelmsford.

"The clairseach is a medieval harp with brass strings that is played with
the fingernails," said Caera. She explained that the clairseach has a
sound distinctly different from most harps, because modern Celtic harps
have nylon strings and orchestral harps are shaped differently and are
played with the pads of the fingers.

"I grew up really poor and couldn't get near any instruments," said
Caera, who is from Greater
Boston and lives in Chelmsford. "In my imagination, I thought that a
harp would be really pretty."

Caera (pronounced KEE-ra), who recalls singing a lot as a child, always knew
she wanted to be a singer.
"I realized that singers had more control over their music if they
could write music and play an instrument," she said.

It was not until after college that she discovered the clairseach. "In the
historical group I belong to, a couple of women did a presentation
contrasting the medieval harp with modern ones," she said. "It looked
really elegant, the way their fingers curled when they played with their

Caera was drawn to the beautiful sound and became interested in learning more
about medieval Irish music. Part of the
intrigue, for her, is the lack of well-preserved medieval Irish music.

Caera is not a native speaker of Gaelic and has never lived in Ireland,
although she hopes to move there someday.

"I work really hard in my pronunciation to sound like a native
she said. "I learned from a native speaker from Connemara."

Her hard work paid off in 2005, when she won five gold medals at the
Columbus Feis in Ohio. The awards were for Gaelic singing, reading
Gaelic poetry, reciting Gaelic poetry from memory, spontaneous Gaelic
reading, and playing harp.

Although many of her songs are sung in Irish, Scottish, or Manx (the Gaelic
dialect found on the Isle of Man),
Caera believes the music transcends the language barrier.

"People are not necessarily listening to every word of the music, they are
blessed out," she said. "If I'm singing very emotively, they can
to the emotion even if they don't understand the words."

In order to help the audience better understand her songs, Caera tells
stories throughout the performance about their meaning. She also gives
listeners a catch phrase so there will be something the audience can

"I'm always proud when people come up to me afterwards and they're getting
it, learning pieces of the language from
my songs," she said.

At tomorrow's performance, Caera will play songs from her new albums,
"Wake the Dragon" and "Through Misty Air," as
well as songs from three albums she is working on. She may also include
selections from her traditional Irish children's songbook and CD that
will be coming out soon. One or two Celtic lullabies also may be
included in the set list.

"For me, part of what moves me about it is the idea that music can come
from people and doesn't have to come
from a box," she said.

"A lot of what you hear on the radio can't be done live because there's so
much electronic enhancement."

Attending many open mike nights, Caera realized that most of the singers and
songwriters play guitar. She believes part of the clairseach’s appeal
for audiences is the change from the ordinary.
"I like being able to stand out that way," she said.

Saol, Aibrean 2006 (April, 2006)

Saol is an Irish-language newspaper distributed throughout the world.
was featured in an article about Americans learning Irish with the
organization Daltai na Gaeilge (students of Irish). Saol put a photo
of Caera and her harp on the front page.

Under her photo in the article, they wrote:
"Caera Aislingeach, ceoltoir agus clairseoir ag seinm ag ceolchoirm na
ndaltai." (English: Caera Aislingeach, musician and harper, playing at
the students' concert)

Henge Happenings (newsletter for members of the Henge of Keltria),
Lughnasadh 2005
Review by Ailim (also at

Music should possess the capability of taking you to other places. Caera’s
music does just that! Her combination of brass-string harp, modeled
after those used in the Middle Ages, and soothing vocal qualities moves
you out of the mundane world and into the Celtic realm.

Caera has two recordings presently available. Through Misty Air is a
solo work with a primary focus on original material, and Wake the Dragon
a collaborative effort with bandmate Myra Hope Bobbitt focusing
primarily on traditional songs. What differentiates Caera in her efforts
is her use of multiple languages. Collectively on these two works you
will find Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Middle French, and English.

Through Misty Air provides twelve songs that weave in and out of
English and Gaelic,
often within the same song. Caera provides translations as well as a few
thoughts on the motivation for each song. My personal favorites include
Carolan's Welcome, an excellent rendition of Turlough O'Carolan's air
#171, and Symbols, a tale of one's discovery of their personal power.

Wake the Dragon is a collaborative work between Caera and Myra Hope
Bobbitt. Songs are
in English, Welsh, Gaelic, and French and involve tales of warriors,
priestesses, love found, and life in the forest realm. The interplay
between Myra Hope's nylon-strung harp, Caera's brass-strung harp and
their respective vocal qualities makes this CD well worth listening to.
Personal favorites include the haunting In Fading Light and the Scottish
Buain a Rainich (Fairy Love Song) with intertwined vocal tapestry.

I strongly recommend both of these works not only for their artistic
quality but for their ability to move you beyond the mundane realm. They
are perfect for relaxing after work or for preparing the mind for
ritual. We are indeed fortunate to have a bard such as Caera to remind
us of the great stories of old.

Songsalive! interview, fall 2004:
(Also at )

Where are you from, originally and what brought you to Boston?

I was born in Boston and have lived all over the Boston area, but have
never really lived elsewhere. One thing music is doing for me is getting
me to see the rest of the world, both by giving me opportunities to see
places I had wanted to see before but couldn't, and by giving me
reasons to go to places I had never heard of before.

What style of music would you say you do?

Celtic music. I sing in Celtic languages and play a Celtic harp, and I play
some traditional music. I also write my own songs (in Irish Gaelic as
well as English), and some of them are obviously influenced by folk
music and other genres, but the Celtic influence is always there in my
music too.

What do you enjoy best - songwriting or performing and why?

Hmmm, I never thought about that. I probably enjoy performing more, just
because I'm somewhat of an extrovert and I like sharing the love with
other people. :) I do love songwriting; it can do a lot for me in my own
healing and growth, but it also makes me face things in myself that can
be uncomfortable. It's good, but not always fun.

Who are your musical influences?

I have a whole lot of influences. Almost any song I hear will influence
my writing or composing in some way or another. My major influences
include Enya, Maire Brennan and Clannad, Loreena McKennitt, Ani
diFranco, Rachael Sage, Stevie Nicks, Capercaillie, the Indigo Girls,
Iarla O' Lionaird, and Turlough O'Carolan, for example.

Describe your favorite song you have written and why is it so special
to you?

I would pick Failte a Run as my favorite song I've written (for now).
It's very closely based on a traditional Irish song, Siuil a Run, which
is yet another sad and pretty much hopeless traditional Irish song
(there are quite a few of those). Siuil a Run is a very pretty song, but
very sad, and I was listening to it one day while I was already feeling
sad and a little hopeless _before_ I had put on some Irish music to
listen to. I started thinking about my own problems in the context of
the many historical problems for Irish people throughout time, and I
thought, "What if, for once, a happy Irish song seemed to more
accurately reflect the lives of Irish people?" I thought I would put
that idea away for a while because "I was busy", but it kept bugging
Then I got a musical riff stuck in my head so I got on my harp to catch
it, and then words started hitting me for Failte a Run. I got really
obsessed with that song as it was being written, a process full of
interruptions that took four days, but when it was done, I was really
happy with it. It matches Siuil a Run very closely, but turns the whole
thing around to make it a happy song with a lot of hope for the future. I
like looking at life that way better than just seeing all the misery
we've already come from.

What are your goals for the next 5 years musically speaking?

Well, I definitely want to make more albums. I have my next three albums
planned out already. :) I'd also like to be making significantly more
money, and to play my music in more areas I haven't been to yet,
including on other continents (so far I've played on North America and
in Ireland but not the rest of Europe). I also want to gain more skills
and more confidence on my clairseach, or brass-strung harp. It's a
beautiful instrument, but there's so much to learn as far as technique
is concerned that I fully expect to keep learning for the rest of my
life. I would also like to see my record label get successful enough and
big enough that it could really offer other musicians a lot of support
for their careers too.

Tell us about your recordings and what's in store next.

So far I have two albums done, "Wake the Dragon" and "Through
Misty Air".
"Wake the Dragon" was done with a bandmate, who could write and sing
Welsh and who played a nylon-strung Celtic folk harp. We have songs in
Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, and even a medieval French song on
that album. I really love the songs on "Wake the Dragon" and how that
album sounds, but the band has broken up somewhat badly. I've gone solo
as a result. "Through Misty Air" was my first solo recording, and was
really done under a lot more pressure than I hope to ever have to work
under again. I love the songs on this one too, but it has a much more
bare, and I guess a more personal approach to it. I feel like people who
listen to "Through Misty Air" really get to know a lot about me, which
is sometimes scary. I guess all songwriters go through that. I wrote a
couple of songs on "Wake the Dragon", but I wrote almost all of the
songs on "Through Misty Air".

My plans for the future include an album of lullabies, which I have started
working on, an album of early
music (medieval and probably some early traditional music), and another
album of almost completely original music. I've also thought about
trying to collaborate again, or possibly just add guest musicians to
give a more full sound, though sometimes I really like the stark solo
stuff too, so we'll see what that brings.

Where can we buy your music?

I almost always have CD's on me and in my car, so if anyone physically
finds me they can get CD's from me directly. :) They are also available
so far through
and will likely be available through other
internet sites soon. Legal downloads are also available through
and some of the major sites for downloads, like
iTunes. Of course I always have CD's at gigs too. There are several
smaller merchants who tend to work at festivals I have played at who
also carry some of my CD's, like Ha'penny Imports in Dublin, Ohio, or
Special Creations in Salem, MA. I may put a list together at my website
to help people find them.

What are your views about where the music industry is heading in your
community, or on a global level?

I really like what the internet has done for independent music, and for
widening people's options for music they want to hear. I'm also glad
that right now recording and manufacturing music is relatively cheap and
easy compared to how it used to be, so that people who are really
determined can get out there and make their own music and try to be
successful with it, instead of never even getting a chance because of
prohibitive costs and not enough alternative outlets to play to. Of
course, the downside of all this is that things have gotten easier for
everyone, so there's a whole lot more competition than there ever has
been, and getting people's attention has gotten more tricky. I'm trying
to be optimistic and think that viable opportunities will continue to be
available to the people who really work at it, and who really have
something to offer in their music.

Anything pertinent you'd like to say about Songsalive!

You guys are awesome, thanks!

Songsalive! reviews of "Through Misty Air" and "Wake the
by toni k.
(also at )

The beauty in listening to the two cd's by Elite member Caera, is in the
simplicity of arrangements with vocal harmonies to enhance music from
medieval times until today - a language all it's own - and fortunately,
well-defined lyric sheets to translate the music's words into reality.
Caera mentions influences including "Moya Brennan, (Maire Brennan - the
proper spelling of her name, though she now uses a phonetic spelling for
English speakers, like her sister, Enya (Eithne)." Also, Loreena
McKennitt, a major Celtic harper and Sileas, a Celtic harp duo from
Scotland whose work Caera truly loves. As Caera says "I love good
songwriting in other genres, especially folk or folk-like music, and
Suzanne Vega is defnitely one of my favorites."

The first cd is Caera's initial solo project, "Through Misty Air",
with 12 songs
inspired by tradition as well as the artist's own life experiences.
Caera's primary instrument is a "clairsleach", a medieval-style,
brass-strung Irish harp, "based on Irish harps from about the
The title track, "Through Misty Air" features Mayer Lipman on
Caera performs the track "Ceile" on a bray harp borrowed from Babz
Schilke. All tracks were recorded by Rob Ignazio at Porter Square
Studios except "A Promise Unbroken", which was recorded by Neil Marsh
Lepus MediaNet. Rob also handled the mastering duties. It's a beautiful
cd, from start to finish with cover art gracefully drawn freehand to
express the variety of worlds that Caera dwells in.

"Through Misty Air" is an ethereal album, with all tracks written and
composed by
Caera except "Failte a Run", "Einini", and "Carolan's
Welcome", which
are based on traditional Irish tunes. The song, "If I'd Only Known"
is a
heartbreaker, with Caera's voice mesmerizing you with the story of
first love found, and lost. Her musical journey with each song guides
you past rivers of life while Caera's soprano vocals lead you through
each melody as lightly as butterflies on a meadow's wildflowers. The
liner notes are good reading, letting you know a bit of personal
insights to the artist's creativity and passion for her music. Two
tracks on this solo venture, "A Promise Unbroken" and "Lullaby
Eileen", also appear on Caera's second cd she sent us for review.

The second cd is a collaboration with harpist Myra Hope Bobbitt under the
name, Mor Gwyddelig, which the liner notes explain is "the
Welsh-language translation for "Irish Sea", the body of water
from the Hebrides to Tintagle, and from Wales to Ireland." To know this
sets the mood for the music the artists perform on this first cd
released together as a group.

From the beginning harmonious vocal sounds set the tone of Mor Gwyddelig, the
cd titled "Wake the Dragon".
Caera, performing on a brass-strung harp, with Myra Hope Bobbitt on
nylon string harp, and both sharing vocals, express their feelings of
being transported to another place and time in each song. Close your
eyes and see the villages, lose yourself in the forest of magic, hear
the languages, the poetry, the mysticism of places steeped in folklore
and pageantry. The harps are beautifully woven together to compliment
the other. Lyrics by both artists reveal that time does little to alter
what is important to all mankind - relationships, loyalty, honor, faith,
hope and love.

Myra Hope mentions "when Caera introduced herself to me at Harper's
Retreat in 1999, I had just finished massacreing a
tune in front of 150 of my peers - Caera was completely complimentary,
friendly and unfazed by my performance. For that kindness, and for her
lovely sporano voice, I asked Caera to sing with me...." Thus began a
musical friendship that begat a wonderful cd, featuring "historical,
traditional, and original music in Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic,
English and even Middle French (circa 1555.)"

The listener sets sail across an ocean of music, which you want to hear several
times to
really get the images that the music and vocals solicit from your
speakers. Title track "Wake the Dragon" begins with luscious
and makes you want to dance and feel joyous. "Sing to praise the Mother,
Dance to wake the Dragon, write poetry to transform the self into
verse...." This is a cd with lyrics and music to inspire, and refresh.

Track 6, Lullaby for Eileen, is Caera's "first song I composed on the
It's a sweet sound that emanates from the harps; dreamy, and comforting
to hear. Other tracks on this cd are produced with a simplicity that
honors the tradition of the music that captures these two artists in the
purest form. Another track to highlight, "In Fading Light", was a
collaboration with Caera writing the lyrics and Myra Hope balancing with
the music. The harps are subtle, like soft feathers dancing on the air -
I love the vocals - gentle, romantic and soothing to a tired warrior
after a long day's battle - whether in the forests of Avalon or on the
streets of a metropolitan city somewhere here in the new world as we
know it.

Take a moment, relaxing in your backyard, driving down a country road or
walking with your headphones, you'll enjoy these cd's
that take you far from the world of MTV and into a space that explores
another world, another time, so delightful, magical and spiritual. toni

Continued below...

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Replies to This Discussion

Celtic Beat magazine, Jan. 2005
interview by Art Ketchen

Question 1: How was NEMO? It looked like you both had a great time and made some major advances in your visibility as an artist and in reaching your market.

Well, the market there was actually pretty different. As far as I know, I was the only "Celtic" musician there. NEMO did an "Irish Invasion" this year [2004], but I was told that was all rock music, it was just that the bands were from Ireland. I didn't meet any other Celtic musicians there, but I did meet a lot of people who've worked in the music industry for years and don't know anything about Celtic music, so I was their introduction to it. In a second showcase I got because of my NEMO showcase, I asked the audience if they wanted to hear a song in English or in Irish Gaelic, and they picked Irish Gaelic. Then after I got off the stage a whole lot of them told me they had never seen someone who writes in Irish Gaelic, and some didn't even know it is a living language. Many of them had never seen a harp before either. So I was also glad to sort of raise awareness of the kind of music I really love.

NEMO is designed for independent musicians, though, and by having a showcase there I got a lot of exposure throughout the music industry, and got a lot of support for advancing my career as an independent musician. I did have a great time; there were a bunch of other musicians there who were fun to meet and talk to and share experiences, and some of them were also showcase musicians so I got to hear their music, which was excellent.

Question 2: You perform at a lot of Pagan Festivals and "New Age" events. Do you see a stronger bond with true traditional music with adherents of these events than among those who consider themselves "traditional" in a more conventional sense?

Well, I guess it depends on which aspects of tradition you're looking at. I do have a personal interest in pre-Christian Irish and Celtic traditions, both in spirituality and in other aspects, such as language and poetry. At Pagan Festivals I'm more likely to find other people who are interested in those particular traditions, though I've also found that I seem to draw those people anywhere I go, just by doing what I do, and because I think it is getting pretty popular in general.

On the other hand I'm much more likely to find people who know traditional Irish music better at an Irish Festival or Celtic Festival, or through organizations like Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. I also went straight to the living tradition in a sense and spent some time in Connemara this past August. Most of the people I met there are Catholic, but that's where I met people who've been speaking Gaelic all their life, sean nos singers who grew up in that tradition, and amazing musicians and dancers who just grew up surrounded by these traditions. I have a great deal of respect for people who intertwine their spirituality into other aspects of their life, like singing, as long as the result is an expression of love and devotion, and not one of alienation.

Question 3: What musical background do you come from in Celtic music? Did you grow up with Celtic music?

I didn't grow up with it, and in fact didn't really get into Celtic music until college. My parents weren't into any Celtic music at all. My mother loves musical theater and my father played popular music on the radio, but that was it. Neither of them sing or play any instruments. I do have one memory of my grandmother, my mother's mother, singing something to me when I was very, very young, to calm me down, and what little I remember of it sounds like sean nos. She never actually taught me any Irish songs, though she was very involved in other Irish heritage events near her home in Dorchester, MA, and it was through her that I picked up a sense of pride in our heritage. I still didn't have much access to Irish music as a child, though. I used to sing constantly; anything I heard I would just sing it over and over. I would sing songs from the radio or a tv show, or sometimes I would make stuff up to sing. I always wanted to be a singer, and I sang for my church from when I was 15 to when I was 19. I was never given lessons in anything musical except some voice lessons I got myself for a few months in high school. My father really didn't support my love of music much, and wouldn't let me pursue it seriously.

It was actually through hearing Enya, first on the radio and then when a friend had one of her CD's, that I first heard the Irish language. The language just woke something up in me. I wanted more, and that got me into anyone else I could find who sings in Irish Gaelic, and that spilled over into Scottish Gaelic, and that's really how I got into Celtic music in the first place. I was in college by then. I also got into medieval music in college, and discovered the medieval Irish harp. I fell in love with that too, and got my own harp and eventually found ways to learn to play it. I've learned a lot from CD's, but I have also pursued Gaelic lessons, Gaelic singing classes, and harp lessons from other singers and musicians all over the U.S. and Ireland. There's a lot more you can learn from a good teacher than you can on your own.

Question 4: We saw Maire Concannon listed among the credits on your latest CD. Did you learn Irish Gaelic from her? What of your source for Manx and Highland Scots language and traditions?

I did learn Irish Gaelic from Maire, and I also sent her all of the songs I wrote in Irish on "Through Misty Air," to make sure they sounded right to a native speaker, before I recorded them. She is really an ideal teacher for the Irish language: she is a native speaker of the language and still uses it everyday so her command of the language is excellent, but she also actually is a teacher; that's what she does for a living and she's very good at it. So she can make the language easier and more fun to pick up, and still give helpful answers to any questions you have, from basics to really complicated stuff.

I learned Scottish Gaelic from several sources. Thomas Leigh really got me the furthest with the language, and it's from his wife, Maggie, that I learned a lot of songs in Scottish Gaelic, and one (The Selchie) in Scots. I actually see them advertising their Callanish School in Celtic Beat all the time. I learned from them when they still lived in Dorchester, but they moved to Cape Cod and meanwhile I moved further north, so now we're several hours apart and don't see each other very often. I've met with Thomas to go over both "Buain na Rainich," the Scottish song on "Wake the Dragon", and another one I'm working on for my next album. I also considered taking actual lessons in Manx Gaelic from Thomas, since he's one of the only people I know who can teach that, but I couldn't afford private lessons and there wasn't enough demand for a class. I got one once out of what supposed to be a Scottish Gaelic class, when my classmates were all absent one night, but then we went back to Scottish Gaelic. I mostly only learn Manx songs from CD's. Manx is much trickier to read because it's alphabet is completely different from the other two Gaelic languages, so I don't assume I can pronounce it correctly by reading it, without hearing it.

Question 5: "Failte Arun" is a welcome back song-the same tune as "Shule Aroon" which is a song of resistance and war. A bit of background and history on these two contrasting pieces?

"Failte a Run" is one of my favorite songs that I've written. "Siuil a Run" is a very pretty song, but very sad. One day while I was already feeling sad, abandoned, and a little hopeless, I put on a CD of some Irish music to listen to. That day when "Siuil a Run" came on, I got mad. I started thinking about my own problems in the context of the many historical problems for Irish people throughout time, and I thought, "What if, for once, a happy Irish song seemed to more accurately reflect the lives of Irish people? And what if, for once, someone cared enough to come back, instead of just abandoning the woman in one of these songs?!" I thought I would put that idea away for a while because "I was busy", but it kept bugging me. Then I got a musical riff stuck in my head so I got on my harp to catch it, and then words started hitting me for "Failte a Run." It took me four days to finish it, but when it was done, I was really happy with it. It matches "Siuil a Run" very closely, but turns the whole thing around to make it a happy song with a lot of hope for the future. I like looking at life that way better than just seeing all the misery we've already come from.

Question 6: Between Highland Scots, Irish, and Manx music and language-what are some important distinctions?

Well, first of all Scots is not a Gaelic language at all -- it's a Germanic language that borrows a little from Gaelic as well as from other Germanic languages. That's why it looks and sounds a lot like English except where it doesn't. Irish and Scottish Gaelic are close enough that you can tell they are related, but they are now two different languages, like Spanish and Portuguese. Manx sounds closely related to the other two Gaelic languages when it is spoken or sung, but on paper it looks completely different. That's only because of its alphabet, which is based on English phonetics rather than Gaelic phonetics. Otherwise it is closely related, and all three modern Gaelics go back to a common ancestor language, academically called Old Irish.

For musical styles, especially singing, I know a lot more about Irish and Scottish Gaelic singing. For Manx I have only found lullabies so far. All three Gaelic languages still have exquisitely beautiful lullabies. Irish sean nos singing has noticeable similarities to singing Scottish Gaelic slow airs, but there is a lot of regional variation within each country as well as between the two. I first learned mouth music, puirt-a-beul, from Scottish and Cape Breton singers, but have since found that there is a similar style in Irish as well, though again with some variation. It feels sort of like looking at a family portrait: you can tell they're all related, but they each have distinguishing features so you can usually tell which is which, especially if you know them.

Question 7: Tell us a bit about Mor Gwyddelig(Irish Sea)? Here there is also Welsh in the repertoire. Do you and Myra Hope Bobbitt join up again for performances by Mor Gwyddelig?

Myra Hope and I met at a bardic competition held by the Society for Creative Anachronism. We both competed that year, and we were both impressed by the other one's entry. We also both played Celtic harps, but were influenced by medieval music as well. My entry that year involved singing in Gaelic, and after hearing that Myra Hope approached me to tell me that she had worked out a new tune for the Welsh classic, "Ar Hyd y Nos," but she needed a soprano who could sing in Welsh. She asked me if I could do it. I hadn't sung in Welsh before, but I told her if she would go over it with me I would be happy to. When she taught me "Ar Hyd y Nos" I loved it, and have had a lot more interest in Welsh language and music ever since.

Then we got to be friends and started putting more music together. I had written "In Fading Light" as a poem but couldn't figure out music to it, so I gave it to her and she put the music to it. Then she wrote "Wake the Dragon," another Welsh language song that I love. Eventually we started performing, and recording for a CD. She came up with our name, Mor Gwyddelig, since it's the Welsh name for the Irish Sea, the water between Ireland (my heritage) and Wales (her heritage).

When we were almost done recording for that album, Myra Hope said she needed to quit music for a little while, and she hasn't approached me to seriously start up again. That was when I went solo, about two years ago. A lot has changed in both of our lives since then, and I don't think it's very likely that we will become a band again, though it is possible.

Question 8: Your music-particularly with the metal strung harp, is haunting. We sense an oriental influence here. What musical influences from oriental sources do you credit?

On "Through Misty Air" I would say most of my influences on my harp are Irish, or medieval. However, one of those Irish influences is sean nos singing, which is traditionally unaccompanied, and even now when any of the singers I learned from sing with instruments, they are very clear that the singing is foremost in importance and instruments should merely support the singing, not guide it or take it over. That's been a very strong influence for me.

I have read both historical and recent writers compare Irish singing to singing in India. I have also worked at two different yoga centers and another singing style I love is Kirtan, which is a type of devotional chant from India, so that influence is probably there in my music too. I can see the similarities I read about between the chanting style in Kirtan and some sean nos songs. I also can be influenced by almost anything I hear, but I can't think of any other Eastern music I listen to regularly, other than maybe some of the crossover or fusion bands in Celtic music that blend with Eastern music, like some of Susan McKeown's accompaniment.

Another important thing that might remind you of oriental music when you hear my harp is its tuning. Most Western modern music uses a scale called even tempered tuning, in which the half step between each note is the same length for every note. I tune my harp in what is called Pythagorean tuning, which is used a lot in medieval music and is more accurate for the medieval harp, plus it sounds significantly better then even tempered tuning on a wire-strung harp. It does result in a different scale, and with notes that sound somewhere in between where you would expect them to be in modern music of the West. Oriental music, on the other hand, uses a similar scale to what I use, and you get those in-between notes there as well. Pythagorean tuning is European, and is named for Pythagorus, the Greek mathematician who first wrote it out precisely, based on the hexatonic scale of ancient Greek music.

Question 9: Speaking of the metal strung harp: Is that your preference nowadays? It certainly seems to be your medium. What, to you, are the advantages of the metal strung harp?

Oh, I could go on about this all day. My friends have joked with me that my harp is not my primary instrument -- my voice is. They do have a point, but the wire-strung harp is definitely my preference among other instruments. For the first few years after I got my harp I had a very hard time learning how to play it, because almost no one knows. That's the disadvantage of the wire-harp, or clairseach (clarsach in Scottish). I approached some teachers of nylon-strung Celtic harp, and they all told me they couldn't teach me wire technique, since it's really completely different, and as with any instrument if you do it wrong you can eventually cripple yourself with things like repetitive strain injuries. Eventually I got Ann Heyman's _A Gaelic Harper's First Tunes_. It helped, but after searching the U.S. and Ireland I still had a lot of trouble finding a teacher I could get lessons from. Eventually about a year and a half ago I approached the Irish Music Center at Boston College, and a few weeks later they had found Charlotte Hallett, another wire-harper in Haverhill, MA. I started lessons with her and now I'm very excited about learning to really play this instrument the way it was meant to be played.

The wire-strung harp has a lot of merits. It's an extremely beautiful instrument, both in appearance and in sound. The sound of wire harp strings is very distinct, and I prefer it to the sound of nylon harp strings. It can ring like bells and has a very long sustain. It also feels better in my hands, since the strings are closer together than on a nylon-strung harp so my little tiny hands can still reach octaves fairly easily. This is because it's played with the fingernails, so you don't need room to get your actual finger between each string. I have strong fingernails, and I love playing an instrument where I'm not supposed to cut them off in order to play, though I do have to keep them reasonably short so I don't trip over them if I play a dance tune. I also still really want to recreate the sound of medieval Irish harp music, and medieval Irish and Scottish harps had metal strings and sounded more like wire-strung harps than like nylon-strung harps.

Question 10: Your latest CD is a beauty. What sort of reception has it gotten so far?

Thank you. Overall it has gotten a pretty good reception, and I've gotten many compliments on it from people who have heard it. I would like to see it do better in sales, but for a brand new independent release it has done reasonably well so far. It sells pretty well whenever I have them at a live performance, but it has barely moved otherwise. I'm pretty sure that's a marketing problem; I've been overwhelmed with other things in my life, and haven't kept up with things like radio campaigns or advertising. They also came out in July, in the middle of festival season. I sold a lot of them at the festivals where I had them, but I lost a lot of festivals in the first half of the season because they weren't ready yet. I expect they will do better once I get moving on proper marketing.

Question 11: What is next on Caera's agenda?

Well, I am working on my next album. It's going to be all lullabies. Several of my friends are pregnant, and really want this CD soon, but it probably won't be ready until late summer 2005. I'd also like to do a CD of early historical music, and another one of mostly original music. And of course I'm always learning more about Gaelic singing, the wire-strung harp, Gaelic poetry, and Irish and Celtic history, and I will continue to pursue more educational opportunities to enhance my music and my teaching.

Thank you, Caera.

Thanks again, for all the support you've both given me and my music at Celtic Beat.

Celtic Beat magazine, Jan. 2005
review of "Through Misty Air" by Art Ketchen

When we search out tradition sometimes we bring something very new and unique from it. When I heard this CD I knew I had rapport with it. So it is with the new CD of Caera Aislingeach.
In one aspect, indeed referencing Caera's reference to Pythagorus (who, it is said, the Druids admired) I have a rapport here, because of the geometry of Celtic Art. And in some of the pieces here she has geometric and hypnotic persona in her singing and playing. As in "A Promise Unbroken." Which reminds me of the eternal pattern of a Celtic spiral. Also haunting here are the treatment of "Sidhe Beag Sidhe Mor," and the moving "Ceile."

Musically there I sense a psychological link to oriental work. This is another CD that reminds me of Japanese woodcuts as much as anything out of the Celtic realms.

In a rather less esoteric vein, "Failte a Run" is a great counter to that song of desperation and war "Siuil a Run." Once in a while something upbeat is needed for Celtic song.

Caera Aislingeach is doing just fine with her chosen instruments. She uses the past right, with her own Voice.

Chelmsford Independent, Oct. 7, 2004
In Celebration of Irish Heritage
by Elizabeth Sembower, staff writer

Caera recalls always being drawn to her heritage.

"I knew there was something out there," she said.

Born in Boston, and raised in surrounding towns, the eldest of six children, she did not hear her family's native tongue spoken at home.

"My mother experienced a time and place where it was often difficult to be Irish," said Caera. "But it was important to her mother that we knew we were Irish and wanted us to learn the language. She instilled that pride in me. There is a lot a language can tell you about where you came from."

The Chelmsford resident is now in her mid-20's, fluent in three Gaelic languages, Irish, Scottish, and Manx; a singer-songwriter; and an accomplished musician on the clairseach - the Irish harp with nearly a 1,000-year-old tradition.

Audiences can see and hear Caera perform a rich repertoire of songs from a myriad of time periods and places in a concert on Friday, Oct. 15, at Yoga with Robin in Tewksbury.

Her chosen art, undergoing a renaissance since the 1970's and 80's, is fiercely popular with a small segment of devotes, which Caera terms "a niche." But traditional Irish music has gone relatively unnoticed among general audiences - something Caera is determined to change.

She was inspired at an early age by the magical and moody sounds of Enya and the group Clannad from the heart of Ireland. She decided, however, to pursue an education in Cultural Anthropology at Regis College and UMass Boston, where she received her degree.

A life threatening illness caused her to stop and take stock of the direction her life was taking.

"I always loved singing, but didn't feel my voice was quite right for most music written for sopranos," she said. "I tried the guitar and classic harp, but my hands seemed too small."

Then she met her harp. "I fell completely in love," she said.

The clairseach, so steeped in Irish culture that it is the stuff of legend as well as immortalized on the nation's coins, is a small triangular shaped instrument with wire, usually brass, strings. Played by the fingernails, it produces a bright metallic sound that some liken to bells. The ancient vocals that it accompanies call for a throaty sound.

"I could see that I was bred through generations to play this type of music," said Caera. "The songs felt good in my throat. They seemed to be written for my kind of voice."

Her small hands also fit the instrument, and she began to study in earnest the mythical music of her ancestors.

This also included learning the languages. An auditory learner, she listened to CD's and started on her own to master the three forms of Gaelic language as well as Spanish.

Caera was surprised to discover that despite a strong Irish presence, Boston offered few opportunities for learning the Irish language or its musical history. She finally found solace in the huge and active Boston branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international group dedicated to researching and re-creating pre-17th century European history.

The society of like minded enthusiasts encouraged her to regain her heritage, and three trips to Ireland embellished this.

"I love Ireland," she said, "and hope to move there one day." She also plans to search for lost relatives.

In the meantime, she pleases local audiences, which she finds steadily growing in appreciation of Celtic music.

Earlier this month, she was selected to showcase her performance at several venues in the New England Music Organization (NEMO) Festival, presenters of the Boston Music Awards.

"I noticed they were lacking in Celtic musicians," she said, "so I tried out."

They welcomed her with open arms.

Last August, Caera won awards in three categories at the 24th Annual Columbus Feis in Ohio, celebrating the culture and heritage of Ireland and the Irish people. She has recorded two CD's - "Wake the Dragon" with a group, and "Through Misty Air," her first solo effort whose release she celebrates at the Oct. 15 concert.

Caera's intimate and interactive performances reflect her interest in the sean-nos singing tradition of Ireland, allowing a wide variety of emotional expression through vocal control, and the puirt-a-beul or mouth music of Scotland.

She introduces each of her selections, written in both English and Irish Gaelic, and cherishes comments from her audience, including "Now I know the angels sing in Gaelic."

Six Nations, One Soul (the newsletter of the Celtic League American Branch), Spring 2005
review of Caera's first EP, "Go Raibh Maith Agat", by Alexei Kondratiev

This demo CD from Boston-area artist Caera Aislingeach reveals a welcome new talent who has genuine roots in the Celtic World. Unlike so many "Celtic" musicians, Caera has actually taken the trouble to study Irish and to acquire an authentic pronunciation. Her clear, supple voice can accomodate itself to a wide range of singing styles, as can be appreciated by contrasting her performance of the traditional lullaby "Einini" (the tune also known as "The Eagle's Whistle") with her more modern approach in her own composition "A Promise Unbroken". Her simple but sensitive accompaniments on the brass-strung Celtic harp create a marvelously fresh and magical atmosphere. Caera also includes songs in Scots Gaelic and Manx in her repertoire, and her fascination with the Celtic heritage is palpable in all her playing. Those who live in the Boston area should watch for her public appearances. More information on Caera, her performing schedules, this CD and her subsequent ones is available at :

Celtic Beat magazine, Jan 2004
Festival reviews: NOMAD
by Art Ketchen

...At her workshop Caera performed "In Fading Light" beautifully followed by a fine "Boys of the Lough." Caera is at her best on her brass strung harp in an ascetic mode. Caera had the audience singing along to "Jug of Punch." Caera was asked about "Road the Isles" as to words, but another person said there had been more information in a manuscript owned by their mother. Caera announced that she would sing a happy song in Gaelic to prove that indeed, they do exist. "The Road to Claddagh" was upbeat and well sung in Caera's soft voice. Caera spoke about Turlough O'Carolan and sources on his life, including Art Edelstein's biography. She then performed a light, delicate but colorful rendition of "Carolan's Concerto" on the brass strung harp.

Release Review: Caera Aislingeach, Go Raibh Maith Agat
by Art Ketchen

We met Caera at NOMAD. She is a well known harpist locally in northeast Massachusetts. Her quiet approach on this album works well with her brass strung Clairseach.

"Failte a Run" is a different take on the sardonic or sad "Shule Aroon." Caera's singing along with her harping makes one think of looking out on a calm lake -- very contemplative. Indeed while listening to the Gaelic/English words, that is exactly where my mind meandered off to. "A Promise Unbroken" is ethereal -- so in keeping with Caera's style.

"Song to the Storm (Amhran Chuig an Stoirm)" with it's spare harping and repetitive song is almost oriental -- nice appropriate touch with storm in background.

Caera's style is very spare -- austere in fact. A favorite of mine that illustrated well her use of the harp is the final cut here: "Lullaby for Eileen."

Caera Aislingeach sets you in a contemplative mood -- with a less is more approach -- but with a lot of more in the less.



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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.


Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.


Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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