Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Carolina Celtic

Posted February 11, 2010 10:15 a.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2010 8:27 a.m. EST

I’ve had a number of recent emails from people asking me to describe my music. My answer is never short. There are definite folk and Celtic influences. I grew up loving folk music on the radio. This love inspired me to play the acoustic guitar. At the time I was ready for a break from brass. I played cornet and tuba in the middle school band. The Celtic connection came later after a trip to Scotland when I heard a whistle player performing some haunting tunes in the Highlands. That was an amazing trip captured best in the lyrics of a song I wrote for Bragh Adair called Celtic Soul.

Reviewer R.J. Lannan classifies my music as Appalachian Celtic. I like that description. I also like Bill Binkelman’s description of Celtic fusion. The fusion part is a big umbrella. I know some of the hymns I heard growing up in the Episcopal Church have found their way into my chord progressions. Carolina Celtic may be the best description. Most of my music is inspired by the beauty of NC's landscape from Roan Mountain to Ocracoke.

Like most young kids I also enjoyed pop music. I remember hearing Rhythm of the Rain on the juke box as a youngster and playing it over and over again because of its sweet and mournful beauty. In fact I am dedicating a song on my new album to the wonderful man who wrote that song – John Gummoe. So at times I’m a little Celtic Pop. And maybe a wee bit Cajun considering the tune Pungo Gumbo!

There are also some jazz influences in my music. They probably showed up more when I was with Bragh Adair. And chamber music. I love the warmth of several stringed instruments blending together in a sonata. Mattamuskeet from the Peaceful Journey album falls into this category. So does Moravian Gift from Christmas in Carolina.

I love plunging into heavy orchestration as I did on Tall Ships from the album I Am a River and Linville Gorge on Blue Ridge Reunion. Currently I’m in the planning stages of a big orchestral album on New Zealand.

So it’s hard to find a single category that fits. By the way, I have a country music song I wrote many years ago called Cast Iron Heart. I’d love to play it for you some time.