IONA's music is a unique, acoustic weave of the traditional music of
Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany (France), the Isle of Man,
Asturies and Galicia (Spain), as well as their transplants in America.
Blending songs, dance tunes, and aires into a rich and stunning
tapestry, their style is outstanding in an arena where these traditions
are seldom intertwined.
Conceived in 1986, IONA was the musical offspring of lead singer,
bouzouki, guitar and bodhrán player Barbara Ryan and
wind section, Bernard Argent. With fiddler Jim Queen
(banjo and vocals as well) and bass guitar player Chuck Lawhorn,
IONA has become the leading Celtic group in the Mid-Atlantic region.
They are all seasoned performers: entertainers who involve their
audiences with the history and cultural backgrounds of the music, with
teaching words to the songs -- even those sung in a Celtic tongue, with
leading simple Breton dances, with humor, and with every emotion in the
An IONA show is known for:
- Traditional Celtic Material The haunting songs, toe tapping
dances and the humor of the Celtic peoples from Scotland to Brittany provide
IONA with an incredibly varied repertoire
- Original Acoustic Arrangements All the members of the band
play several instruments, often switching within a piece to achieve their unique
sound. They weave tunes from different countries around their songs, pursuing
complex rhythms with deft professionalism.
- Lively Entertaining Presentation Above all, IONA's
performances are FUN! Barbara and Bernard teach audiences words to their songs
(some in Celtic languages!), lead them in clapping and even encourage them to dance!
Barbara Tresidder Ryan
|Barbara's vocals have been described as "smooth and sweet as
honey". A folk
singer in the 60's, she studied voice for 10 years, and has been a
vocal coach ever since. Barbara's vocals are IONA's mainstay. She has
accompanied herself on guitar since she was 12,
and enjoys experimenting with different tunings. In 1983 she acquired
her first bodhrán
(Irish drum). Now the proud owner of 3, she is a skilled and effective
Her most recent instrumental contribution is a four course Celtic
bouzouki. Barbara has
performed throughout the British Isles and Brittany, at concerts and
festivals all over the U.S.
with IONA, and has sung for Voice Of America broadcasts, and
for the National Geographic Explorer Special. She and Bernard
have gained international
recognition as the founders of the Potomac Celtic Festival. They also organize
the Winter Concerts at the Old Brogue.
| Bernard Argent is IONA's charming historian and yarn
spinner. He studied music
through much of his youth and at university in England. After
performing in several orchestras
on trumpet, he ventured into folk realms as a blues guitarist. Inspired
by the renaissance of
Celtic music in the ‘70's, he took up the tin whistle and progressed to
wooden flute, which
have become as much a trademark of IONA's sound as Barbara's vocals.
Bernard also backs the
group on doumbek and occasionally on guitar. He is the bass in IONA's
pretty" harmonies. He and Barbara travel extensively through the Celtic
material for their repertoire and his scholarly interjections...
|IONA's bassist not only owns just about every bass guitar
conceived by mankind, but plays
them all expertly. Says Chuck,"My approach to the bass has been as both
a support and a
melody instrument that just happens to have a lower range than most."
He also dabbles in
whistle and sings a mean tenor harmony with the group, although he
describes himself as mostly
"responsible for low notes and low humor".
Born in Washington, DC, Chuck grew up in Maryland, where he started
playing bass in 1967,
and where he lives still. Over the past three decades as a bass
guitarist, he spent 13 years
travelling all over the country in different dance and show bands, and
was a member of the Fabulous Potato Heads from 1995-2001.
|Jim Queen comes to IONA as a veteran of 30 years performing
with the Air Force Band. Master of many instruments, his primary
contributions are fiddle and vocals, although he brings a touch of
banjo and guitar to the mix as well. Having performed all over the
world and in just about every state, for presidents, heads of state and
luminaries in every field, Jim continues to entertain as a soloist and
teaches in Accokeek, MD. He has played just about every fiddle/violin
style in the book, from Mozart to mariachi, but his fascination with
Irish and old timey make him the perfect foil for this band of Celtic
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