Hailing from Dundee, Scotland, Bill took to music at the young age participating in family parties with many music-filled celebrations. Those “beginnings” and formative years led to Bill performing on his own and in various bands in Scotland, the Netherlands and ultimately here in the USA, where he has been living for the past six and a half years. Bill has been playing mainly as a house draw at Maher’s Irish Pub but also at other pubs, restaurants and private events. To watch Bill perform is a guaranteed good time. He insists on engaging his audiences with clap-a-long, sing-a-long songs and even mixes in contemporary songs as well.
About Bill Bill was born and raised in Dundee, Scotland in the mid-1950s (so that makes him about 35) in the middle of all sorts of great Scottish and Irish music (and a lot of other crap). With Grandfather Paddy Kelly from Dublin and Grandmother Annie McPherson, from Glasgow, Bill is a real Celt (Celt roughly translated as “he who partakes of the golden liquid, foaming brew and deep-fried haggis with chips”). Surrounded by music all his growing years, Bill taught himself to play the guitar by the age of 12 (too mean to pay for lessons) and was performing at the (in)famous Gibson family parties, learning traditional Scottish and Irish songs from his highly musical neighbors (also Celts (see definition above)). By the age of 16, Bill was playing regularly around Dundee and a few years later all over Scotland. As a weekend musician, Bill played folk music, rock music or pop music… as long as it was music (and payed money) until the age of 29 when he moved to Aberdeen, Scotland to further his business career.
In 1986, Bill moved to the Netherlands where he discovered (much to his wife’s horror) that his next musical instrument would be the bagpipes. He joined the 48th Highlanders of Holland (yes… highlanders, in a country which is flat and partly below sea-level) and after a year of wrestling with the (#$@*&) primitive instrument, he was marching with them and playing with grace (and other men in skirts) in many places in Europe. He played in the 50th anniversary D-day celebrations in Normandy, France ; the national Liberation parade in Apeldoorn, Netherlands and many other locations including Vienna and the Millennium Pipes record where 10,000 pipers and drummers marched through Edinburgh in the year 2000.
In the Netherlands, Bill also started playing in the folk duo “Keltic Fire” with his Irish friend Feargal MacConuladh. They shared the same keen interest in folk music (and the wonders of drink), played regularly around the Netherlands and recorded two CDs (while almost sober). Bill moved to the USA in 2007, again for work, and is now settled in Lake Oswego, near Portland in Oregon. After one of the Keltic Fire gigs in Kells in Portland in 2008, Bill was approached by David Maher of Mahers Irish pub who eventually convinced Bill to start playing solo in Mahers, Lake Oswego in January 2010. Since then David has purchased a new hearing-aid and remarkably, Bill’s solo musical career has gone from strength to strength.
His Instruments Bill, with his strong Scottish accent, sings a mean folk song and his voice is highly praised (“oh my god - what’s that!”) wherever he appears . He likes to vary his sound by playing several instruments during his set. Bill plays his 12-string guitar which brings a lovely full sound to his solo performance (which is a bonus as he only bought the 12-string as it was cheaper than 2 six-string guitars). He also picks and rocks a 6-string guitar. His 6-string baritone guitar with it's deep, rich tones are the perfect compliment to the slower more emotional, tear-jerkers that make your eyes water and your nose run unattractively. When in tune, his 5-string banjo is a happy accompaniment to some traditional Irish songs, when not in tune it gives a noise that would turn milk sour. His deep-shell 14 inch bodhran adds a haunting beat to traditional touching Scottish melodies (such as “there’s somebiddy thumpin’ at the door” or “whut’s a’that bangin”). His low G-whistle makes the hairs on the back of your neck rise as you shiver (with pleasure?), and of course, the great highland bagpipes get your feet tapping as the tune sweeps along, or your eyes weeping as your eardrums implode.
His Music Bill plays many of the old-Irish favorites and has introduced a good number of old Scottish songs he learned as a boy into his repertoire (because he’s too old to remember any new stuff). Bill believes that there is a story to be told behind each song and is very happy to tell it as long as there’s anybody interested in listening (in other words, don’t look interested or he’ll bore the pants off you). You can expect to leave one of Bill’s performances feeling happy that you heard something new (probably an old classic which was just plain unrecognizable), laughed at some stories which tickled your fancy (I beg your pardon missus) and the overall impression that you were entertained by a real musical Celt (remember that definition a few paragraphs ago). Sláinte!