Mara Shea has been playing with violins since her mother decided her child had a really good sense of pitch and enrolled her in music schools in Westport and New Haven, CT. After studying classical violin for 10 years and then taking a 15-year break, she discovered folk and dance music. Mara has been happily playing for dancers since the 1990s - various styles of English, Scottish, contra, ceilidh - and is frequently heard at balls, dance weekends and concerts in the US, Scotland, and Canada.
Mara has been on the music staff at Pinewoods, TAC Summer School, Ramblewood, Scottish Weekend, and at the John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, North Carolina. In 2014 and 2016, with Dean Herington, Mara led a three-day musicians' workshop for the Scottish country dance group in Lisbon, Portugal. She has a Scottish dance recording, Heather Hills, with Dave Wiesler, plus several Scottish dance recordings and a waltz album, In 3/4 Time, with Julie Gorka.
Dave Wiesler has been playing for Scottish country dancing since 1993, and dancing it since 1995. Dave is highly regarded for his deep knowledge and spirited piano playing of Scottish dance music, and he now performs regularly with his band Thistle House and with fiddlers Hanneke Cassel and Mara Shea, among others. He has played at concerts and dance and music camps across the country, and his music has taken him to Hawaii, Canada, England, Scotland and the Galapagos Islands. He appears on nearly 20 recordings, many featuring his own compositions. He is also a capable guitarist and singer, a writer of silly ceilidh songs, and a stay-home dad of two boys.
Dave is at home in a huge range of other styles of music and folk dance besides Scottish music -- including contra dance, English country dance, swing, vintage dancing, Viennese waltz, and couple dancing. He has been on staff at Pinewoods, Augusta, Ashokan, Buffalo Gap, Sierra Swing, Timber Ridge, and the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School, and has performed at the Kennedy Center and at the Smithsonian. Check out his book of original melodies, DaveTunes, and his CDs, including Cracks and Shadows and two Scottish dance recordings, Many Happy Returns with Hanneke Cassel and Heather Hills with Mara Shea.
Additional Class Musicians
Liz DonaldsonLiz Donaldson plays piano and accordion. She is known for her innovative back-up style, incorporating exciting rhythms, textures, and harmony lines in her music. Liz is a 2017 recipient of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society's Scroll of Honour. In addition to playing for Scottish, English, and American contra dances, Liz teaches all these styles and dances too! She is a member of Terpsichore, Waverley Station, Elegant Echoes and The New Hip Trio. Her recordings include A Dancer's Best Friend; Caledonian Muse; Terpsichore, Scottish Dance Music; Waverley Station - First Stop!; Memories of Scottish Weekend and More Memories of Scottish Weekend, as well as two English Dance CDs English Echoes and English Echoes II. Liz has two books of Scottish tune medleys and has taught and played at numerous dance weekends and music workshops, including Scottish Weekend, Pinewoods, and Asilomar. Her travels have taken her to Great Britain, Canada, France, and Japan.