Trouz Bras & Friends
Brittany in English, Bretagne in French, or Breizh in the Celtic language of Breton is the western half of France. It's a country of barren landscapes, Celtic myths and legends, megaliths and unique music and dance. Bretons dance at the "Fest Noz" or "Night Festival. These community dance events begin at around 11:00 pm on a Friday or Saturday night and continue until the early hours of the next morning. 'Festou-Noz' can have thousands of dancers at large, international festivals such as the one to be found in Lorient, or a hand full of local dancers at small community events at a far flung village. The music is driving, insistent and mesmerizing, and everyone from the youngest to the very oldest performs the spiral and circle dances. Until recently there were no musicians representing the fascinating music of Brittany in the USA. That all changed when "Trouz Bras" was born. Brought together by Ray Price, a longtime supporter of all things Breton, "Trouz Bras" can get any place jumping when they begin to play. "Trouz Bras" (True Brazz) means "Big Noise" in Breton, and they certainly make a joyful noise at the festivals, concerts and dances that they perform at. It's a sound led by the skirl of the Breton bagpipe, backed up by fiddle, bouzouki, bodhrán and bass. Add vocals to the mix and you've got the excitement of "Trouz Bras" - a little bit of Brittany in the US. Barry Hall, Mance Grady and Brian Rost join Ray on stage to create the "Big Noise." Each member carefully selected to add his own particular magic to the whole that is the band. Ray Price plays bagpipes and teaches the dance. As one of the leading proponents of Breton music and dance in the USA, Ray performs on the Breton veuze (bagpipe) and the English border bagpipe. He has led Breton dance and music workshops all over the world, and continues to derive great satisfaction from seeing his dance students begin to understand and perform this ancient form of dance. Ray discovered the music and dance of the 'Fest Noz' or 'Night Festival' in 1976 and hasn't been quite the same since. Many in Brittany consider him 'one of them,' due to his love for the culture and his skill and expertise in the performance of these fascinating Celtic tunes and dances. Mance Grady plays percussion. Mance is regarded as a Master Player of the Bodhrán, sanctioned by the National Endowment for the Arts through RISCA's Master / Apprenticeship Program in the effort to foster the preservation and perpetuation of the art of bodhrán playing. Mance is the first bodhrán player in the U.S. to receive this distinction. While recognized mostly for his chops on the bodhrán, Mance is a tasty percussionist on drum set, hand drums and a multitude of percussive instruments. Barry Hall plays fiddle, vielle and bouzouki. He is active in many types of music including medieval, Celtic, jazz, and new music. Barry's performances throughout the Americas and Europe have ranged from an exhibition of historical English folk music at the Smithsonian Institution to the premiere of a contemporary electric violin concerto at the World Music Days in Mexico City. Barry leads the Burnt Earth Ensemble, a group that performs on clay instruments, and is the author of a book and video on instrument building and playing techniques. Brian Rost has played both bass guitar and string bass in a wide variety of ensembles with an emphasis on folk dance for the last 25 years. He has worked with Cajun and Zydeco bands including the Boogaloo Swamis, River City Slim and the Zydeco Hogs, Magnolia, Krewe de Roux and Dirty Rice and has played for contradances with Roaring Jelly, the Polymorphous String Band and Monkey Island. Most recently Brian was a member of the Flexible Flyers String Band which performs a mix of Celtic music and bluegrass.