A Special Musical Event: The Fiddlers of Catan!

Sep 07, 2012

Appearing at this year’s World Wide Championship of Catan (WWCC) finals will be a special musical act: The Fiddlers of Catan! The Fiddlers of Catan have introduced the world to the music of the island of Catan and have played at coffeehouses, bars and music festivals across the East Coast of the United States. Playing celebratory selections of old-time irish and celtic folk, the Fiddlers of Catan will provide a musical accompaniment to the final act in a massive two-year competition that will crown the best Catan player in the world!

Here’s a look at the unique musical talents that make up the Fiddlers of Catan:

Joey Damiano

Joey Damiano is a world-class bass fiddle player with over 30 years’ experience playing upright bass and rhythm guitar. An enthusiastic and high-spirited musician, Joey is skilled in bluegrass, old-time folk, country and rock music. He has played with a plethora of great musicians including: Vassar Clements, John McKuen, Mando Mafia, Nothin' Fancy Bluegrass Band, Alvin Breeden & the Virginia Cut-ups, the Virginia Ramblers and the late Don Reno.

Karl Hepler

Karl Hepler is an award-winning flat pick guitar player and singer/ songwriter from Virginia who consistently delivers fun, high-energy performances mixing old-time, newgrass, folk, and celtic music genres with his signature style of New Traditional American Music. Influenced by everything from traditional old-time and celtic melodies, to modern bands and performers, Karl has created an original, yet familiar, sound in his music. Karl Hepler's music has something different, which stems from the roots of traditional American old-time music.

Stuart Jackson

Stuart Jackson was born into a musical family and majored in classical percussion at university. Along the way he learned to play just about every instrument that could be played by hitting it. When he’s not taking care of the sheep on his farm, Stuart enjoys teaching music workshops and going on tour with his pipes and drums.

Melissa Kruse

Melissa grew up just outside Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, a city known for cathedrals, symphonies universities. Immersed in this vibrant culture, Melissa gravitated to the violin, a love that stayed with her the rest of her life. Along the way Melissa also discovered a love for The Settlers of Catan™ and eventually, through the Fiddlers of Catan, Melissa found a way to bring her two passions together.

Olivia Johnston

Olivia Johnston is a long-time viola player who recently went over to the Dark Side and acquired a violin. She plays her viola for the University of Virginia Klezmer Ensemble, but she has also thrown herself headlong into old-time fiddling. She recently won her first fiddling competition ribbon, much to her surprise. It was at music festivals however, that Olivia met the musicians that would allow her to explore the music of an imaginary land: the island of Catan.

Rhys Jones

Rhys Jones has been playing traditional Appalachian, French-Canadian, and Irish fiddle music for over 30 years. Born in Chicago, he began his fiddling at age 7 in the fertile environment of the Chicago Barn Dance Company. Soon after, his family moved to southern West Virginia where he learned from the older generation of fiddlers, including Ernie Carpenter, Melvin Wine, Glen Smith and Wilson Douglas. Rhys continued his musical education while living in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, and has now played for concerts, dances, workshops and festivals across the United States and Europe. He has won both fiddle and band contests at The Appalachian String Band Festival (Clifftop), and is regarded as "one of the bright lights of the current generation of traditional performers."

Rhys has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Royal Scottish Concert hall. He and has toured extensively through both Europe and the United States performing traditional Appalachian fiddle music.

Cleek Schrey

Cleek Schrey was just an average kid born on a Leap Day until he discovered his love of the fiddle. Cleek Shrey grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he studied Irish fiddle with Brendan Mulvihill, Brian Conway, Marty Fahey and Billy McComiskey. Regular visits to the home of Paddy Reynolds, the great Longford County fiddler, helped to intensify Cleek’s interest in the fiddle playing of the 78 rpm era. He has performed and taught internationally at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair in County Cork, Ireland, the Vancouver Folk Festival, and the Shetland Fiddle and Accordion Festival in Shetland, UK. In addition to concerts and workshops, he has played and created much music for dance. As a fiddler and dancer for the Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, he has toured around the country presenting different dance and music traditions, with a focus on the American South. He was the fiddler for the Irish dance and music show, Celtic Legends, and has also played for the legendary Bill T. Jones Dance Company. He earned first place at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in 2010 with The Bigfoot String Band.

Cleek is the Artistic Director at the Blue Ridge Irish Music School, and has taught for many years at The Augusta Heritage Center, Catskills Irish Arts Week, The Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering, The Washington Irish Folk Festival, BACDS American Music and Dance Week, the Shepherdstown Music and Dance Weekends, The Washington Irish Folk Festival, and the University of Chicago Folk Festival. For the last two years he has given a lecture and demonstration on old-time music styles at the Spanish Peaks Celtic Festival in La Veta, Colorado.

Karen Wade

Karen Wade grew up singing, but found guitar later in life. Her very first guitar smelled like cigars. Inspired by the music of the southern mountains, she took up playing and singing one weekend and never looked back.  Fortunately, she met up with some like-minded folks. They played feverishly fun contra-dance music as The Woodticks for many years. Karen loves to play at music festivals, which is where she first encountered The Settlers of Catan, and also where she met her husband, bass player for the Fiddlers of Catan, Joey Damiano!

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