Sileas

More than a decade since Scottish harpers Patsy Seddon and Mary MacMaster's first collaborations, their duo, Sileas (pronounced: She-less) remains the only duo of its kind. While they remain rooted in traditional Scottish folk music, Sileas' combination of nylon-strung acoustic harp and brass-strung electro-harp creates a lively, exciting and contemporary sound. Although Seddon and MacMaster have recently focused their attention to the Poozies, the eclectic band that they share with accordionist Karen Tweed and guitarist Kate Rusby, their harp duo has been a regular feature of The Poozies' concerts.

The inspiration for Sileas was initially conceived when Seddon, who studied harp for four years with Alison Kinnaird, and MacMaster, who was mostly self-taught, played together in a short-lived band, Sprangeen. Named after a 17th century female poet who wrote in Gaelic, Sileas released their debut album, Delighted With Harps, in 1986. Produced by Freeland Barbour, the album showcased the two women's unique harp playing and their silken vocal harmonies with songs sung in both Gaelic and English. Sileas' second album, Beating Harps, released in 1988, continued the high-quality of its predecessor. The duo's third album, Harpbreakers, released in 1990, was their weakest effort, concentrating too heavily on an electronically-enhanced sound. Six years passed before the release of Sileas' fourth album, Play on Light, in 1996. Produced by Jim Sutherland, the album signaled a return to the acoustic sound of the duo's first two albums and included a medley of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and MacMaste 's instrumental composition, "The Flawless Juggler."

Seddon and MacMaster recorded an album, Sail On, with Clan Alba, a band of Scottish musicians assembled by Dick Gaughan, in 1996. Play on Light followed three years later. ~ Craig Harris

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