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The Celtic Fiddle Festival is actually a trio of musicians, not a musical gathering. The misleading name arose from the group's origins, when three dazzling Celtic fiddlers joined forces for what was meant to be a one-time U.S. tour in 1992. Their sold-out performances were recorded for Green Linnet, with resulting album sales so successful that the trio of fiddlers repeated their tour two years later.
Members of the group are Scotsman Johnny Cunningham, Irishman Kevin Burke, and Frenchman Christian Lemaitre. While the three fiddlers are definitely the main attraction during live performances and on their recordings, they did have some accompaniment. John McGann of Boston played guitar on Celtic Fiddle Festival's first release. He also penned one of the songs, "Canyon Moonrise." For the trio's second tour, Soig Siberill replaced McGann on guitar. Siberill also is a member of the bands Komog and Gwerz. Burke's parents came from Sligo, Ireland, although he was born in London. For a time following his stint with Planxty, he contributed his Sligo style of fiddle playing to works by Christy Moore. He has been a major Celtic fiddler since the 1970s, leading his own group, Open House, and with the highly regarded Bothy Band. He also played with the band Patrick Street and has recorded with Michael O'Domhnaill for Green Linnet. Cunningham was part of the group Silly Wizard until its 1989 demise. In addition he was a member of Nightnoise and Relativity. Lemaitre, who hails from France's Brittany region, fiddled for the group Fiddle Dee Dee in Paris before moving on to work with Pennou Skoulum and Komog. In 1996 a similar group known as Celtic Fiddle Festival II came on the scene. It is composed of Scotsman Brian McNeill, Irishman Martin Hayes, and Canadian Natalie McMaster. Contributing guitarists are Glasgow-based Tony McManus and Dennis Cahill of Chicago.