"A quartet of dazzling virtuosos, Piper's Crow play a
treasure trove of jigs, reels, and hornpipes from the far-flung
outposts of the Celts. Their approach is bristling with energy and
distinguished by dynamic interplay...." —Rick Mason, City Pages
Piper's Crow is an innovative acoustic band featuring Laura MacKenzie, Dick Hensold, Karen Mueller, and Nathan Gourley. Their combined experience brings a fresh approach to Celtic music. The band specializes in traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, Galicia, Cape Breton Island, and Northumberland, artfully blended with original compositions in the traditional style. The group's repertoire centers on the lush sonic blend of smallpipes, fiddle, flute and guitar, and their musical palette ranges from MacKenzie's lovely vocals to dramatic greatpipe duels.
Is Piper's Crow a "Celtic band"? Certainly, but their
repertoire and approach go beyond the normal meaning of the term. One
could describe Piper's Crow as a band featuring bagpipes, and while
they do use four or five different types of pipes, this is only a part
of their sound. Laura MacKenzie's instrumental abilities and deep
understanding of the style are a vital part of the group, as well as
her singing. Dick Hensold's compositions combine his love of Scottish
and Irish music with a penchant for rich harmonies, colorful scorings,
and large-scale structures. Fiddler Nathan Gourley brings a touch for
traditional Irish music, and while most of Karen Mueller's work with
the band features driving guitar and bouzouki, her solos on autoharp
And what about the bagpipes? Piper's Crow has sets of tunes featuring smallpipes, greatpipes, pipe duets and all sorts of other combinations. In fact, a most memorable characteristic of the group is the wide range of expression made possible by all of these varying combinations of instruments. Some songs milk the sweet timbres of fiddle and low whistle to softly accompany Laura's vocals; in others, the smallpipes and flute combine with fiddle and guitar to create toe-tapping dance tunes. Violin adds a sprightly lift, and combinations involving the two greatpipes in harmony add still more excitement.
In short, Piper's Crow is a band devoted to traditional idioms, broad musical variety, and a love of rich acoustic sounds played with integrity and invention.
Dick Hensold(Northumbrian smallpipes, medieval greatpipes, low whistle, gemshorn, and recorders)
Hensold is currently one of the foremost Northumbrian smallpipers in North America. He has performed in Scotland and has taught Northumbrian smallpipes at workshops across the United States, Canada and Northumberland. He also plays Cambodian, Nordic, and early music.
Laura MacKenzie(wooden flutes, whistles, Scottish smallpipes, medieval greatpipes, concertina, gemshorn, and vocals)
"MacKenzie has received numerous honors and awards in traditional music, including being selected for the original Cherish the Ladies series, featuring noted women in Irish music in America, and recognition as a Master Folk Artist (Minnesota State Arts Board). Laura has enjoyed a richly varied career, from commercial projects to theatrical productions, and from Irish dance bands to national tours with a pop music ensemble. Laura also performs currently with Daithi Sproule (of Altan) and the Doon Ceili Band"
Mueller draws from over 20 years of guitar experience to supply sensitive accompaniment and driving rhythm to the band. Winner of the 1986 International Autoharp Championship, she also maintains a national touring schedule as a solo performer, instructor and school residency artist. She has recorded three critically acclaimed solo albums and is the author of Mel Bay Publication's Celtic Autoharp book. Karen also performs with Katie McMahon, original lead singer from Riverdance.
Nathan held his first fiddle at 2 years of age. At numerous fiddle and folk music festivals Nathan was exposed to fiddlers such as Martin Hayes, Liz Carroll, Alasdair Fraser, Brendan Mulvahill, Dale Russ and Laura Risk, and traditional Irish music has become Nathan's passion. Now settled in the Twin Cities, he is also a member of The Two Tap Trio and The Doon Ceili Band, in addition to being active in numerous Irish sessions.