McKasson and McDonald

Mar 03, 2018 (Sat) / 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
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Venue: Phinney Center Concert Hall, Brick Building, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle

Ryan McKasson and Eric McDonald are masters of tradition who purposefully explore the dark corners floating on its edges. Their individual artistry is enhanced when together. The result is an alluring complexity, full of spontaneous musicality. An air of mystery pervades a sound compelling enough to transcend boundaries and appeal to music lovers of all stripes.

The music this duo creates is to share, and live performance is the forte. The two have been good friends ever since they met, and this is present in their live performances, which are full of organic banter and good humor to go along with the music. They create an environment of their own design, drawing in listeners without pretense.
Ryan McKasson has gained a strong reputation as a performer, composer, collaborator and teacher. In 1994, he began attending Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School (VOM), which led him deep into the world of traditional music. In 1996 he became the youngest ever to win the US National Scottish Fiddle Championship and in 1997 he was awarded a Merit Scholarship for Viola Performance from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Donald McInnes. Ryan’s professional career took a step forward when in 2004 he spearheaded the formation and development of The McKassons. Over the years Ryan has recorded with a number of influential artists, namely his playing appears on fellow US Scottish fiddle champion Hanneke Cassels three albums “Silver” (2006), “For Reasons Unseen” (2009), and “Dot the Dragons Eyes” (2013), as well as Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haass recording “Highlanders Farewell” (2011). In addition to McKasson & McDonald, other current projects include MAC, Ensemble Galilei and The Syncopaths.


Eric McDonald found his way to traditional music through the rich local music scene in his hometown Boston. Nearly a decade after studying at Berklee College of Music under world renowned musicians such as guitarist/mandolinist John McGann and cellist Eugene Friesene, he is now established as one of the USAs premier accompanists in many styles. Eric cut his teeth playing for contra dances in New England, and can still often be seen from the dance floor. Nowadays he is an active session player, regularly recording and traveling with musicians of many stripes. Touring credits include The Outside Track, Andrea Beaton, Wendy MacIsaac and Katie McNally. In addition to McKasson & McDonald, he can currently be seen touring with the lively trio Daymark, Scottish powerhouse Cantrip, and award-winning singer/songwriter Connor Garvey. In addition to guitar accompaniment, Erics debut solo album “Rove” features his unique style and approach to tunes on the mandolin, as well as carefully crafted deliveries of traditional ballads on voice and guitar.


Devon Leger of Hearth Music says, “This duo really shows how two masterful musicians listen and play off each other”.

McKasson and McDonald are clearly exponents of tradition with the inventiveness to add their own brand of musical exploration to create their own sound. There’s a certain spontaneity at work as the two musicians alternately contest and duel, combine and coalesce to bring their talents together. There’s an ongoing and burgeoning source of tradition-orientated musicians, which is something to applaud, with this album McKasson and McDonald set themselves among the best.

-Tim Carroll,

Scottish fiddle style player Ryan McKasson and vocalist and guitarist Eric McDonald teamed up to release their first full-length album, “Harbour”. The narrative power of McDonalds vocals joins the darker riffs of McKassons fiddle for an album with pluck, depth, and good reels aplenty The jigs on Harbour are a delight, prone to sparking impromptu kitchen ceilidhs.

“Strathspeys and Reels” begins with a steady beat that dissolves into the sort of reel that leaves you breathless after furious twirling McKasson and McDonald set out to explore the dark corners floating on the edges of tradition, which they achieve beautifully in Harbour My favourite track on the album, “Geordie” exemplifies this exploration, the synthesis between old music and new voices, dark tones and joyful reels.

-Rachel Lynne Wilkerson, Folk Radio UK

Ryan and Eric create music together that is at once energetic, sublime, pensive, thought provoking and jubilant. Frets and bow come together to create seamless performances. Lovely arrangements and quality recording and mixing make for a most listenable and enjoyableexperience. Check it out for yourself!

– Steve Behrens at