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Ryan McKasson and Eric McDonald are masters of tradition who purposefully explore the dark corners floating on its edges. Their individual artistry is enhanced when together. In short, the sum creates a greater whole.
The result is an alluring complexity, full of spontaneous musicality. Pulling from parallel strands of influence, they create a swirling level of intensity that traverses darkness, light, and everywhere in between. An air of mystery pervades a sound compelling enough to transcend boundaries and appeal to music lovers of all stripes. Devon Leger of Hearth Music says, “This duo really shows how two masterful musicians listen and play off each other.” The music this duo creates is to share, and live performance is the forte. Their mutual attitude stretches beyond the music. The two have been good friends ever since they met, and this is present in their live performances, which are full of organic banter and good humor to go along with the music. They create an environment of their own design, drawing in listeners without pretense. Despite both living active musical lives thousands of miles apart these two musicians have committed to working together to forge a new musical path.
Ryan McKasson has gained a strong reputation as a performer, composer,collaborator and teacher. In 1994, he began attending Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School (VOM), which led him deep into the world of traditional music. In 1996 he became the youngest ever to win the US National Scottish Fiddle Championship and in 1997 he was awarded a Merit Scholarship for Viola Performance from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Donald McInnes. Ryan’s professional career took a step forward when in 2004 he spearheaded the formation and development of “The McKassons”. This group released two critically acclaimed albums, Tall Tales (2004) and Tripping Maggie (2006). Over the years Ryan has recorded with a number of influential artists, namely his playing appears on fellow Scottish fiddle champion Hanneke Cassel’s three albums Silver (2006), For Reasons Unseen (2009), andDot the Dragon’s Eyes (2013), as well as Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas’s recording Highlander’s Farewell (2011). In addition to McKasson & McDonald, other current projects include MAC, Ensemble Galilei and The Syncopaths.
Eric McDonald found his way to traditional music through the rich local music scene in his hometown Boston. Nearly a decade after studying at Berklee College of Music under world renowned musicians such as guitarist/mandolinist John McGann and cellist Eugene Friesene, he is now established as one of the USA’s premier accompanists in many styles. Eric cut his teeth playing for contra dances in New England, and can still often be seen from the dance floor. Nowadays he is an active session player, regularly recording and traveling with musicians of many stripes. Touring credits include The Outside Track, Andrea Beaton, Wendy MacIsaac and Katie McNally. In addition to McKasson & McDonald, he can currently be seen touring with the lively trio Daymark, Scottish powerhouse Cantrip, and award winning singer/songwriter Connor Garvey. In addition to guitar accompaniment, Eric’s debut solo album Rove features his unique style and approach to tunes on the mandolin, as well as carefully crafted deliveries of traditional ballads on voice and guitar.