Will Woodson and Eric McDonald are two of today’s finest young proponents of traditional Scottish music. Their collaboration began during a chance encounter at a Boston session, and since then, they’ve spent countless hours playing music together, developing a meaningful and refined partnership. With an unusual blend of wind and plucked strings, they bring a welcome sensitivity to a tradition that is often known for its high velocity.
Since a young age, Will has made traditional Scottish music on the border pipes his life’s work. He spent years living in Glasgow, earning a master’s degree in traditional Scottish music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and immersing himself in the rich musical culture of the city. Following these endeavors, he returned to America to study and work under pipemaker Nate Banton, through which he has vastly expanded his knowledge of the instrument.
Eric grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, a hub for traditional musicians of all kinds. He’s well versed in the Scottish idiom and is known for performing with the trio Cantrip, Scottish fiddler Katie McNally and national Scottish fiddle champions Ryan McKasson and Brendan Carey Block. His scope is further broadened by his education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Together, Will and Eric weave their sounds into a textured and detailed fabric, fusing border pipes, wooden flute, guitar, mandolin, and voice to create a sound that is sweet but also wild, traveling from darkness to light.
The organic chemistry of the duo is omnipresent on their new album, The Sunny Hills featuring fourteen tracks of traditional music that pulls no punches. Almost exclusively made up of old tunes and songs from the Scottish and Cape Breton repertoires, roaring reels and lilting jigs give way to haunting ballads and poignant eighteenth-century waltzes. Will’s fluid and wildly inventive piping stands in balance with his powerfully rhythmic flute playing, and around it all swells Eric’s rich guitar and deftly played mandolin. Taken together, the sum is greater than its parts, making for a noteworthy debut of this lively new presence in the world of traditional music.