Irish music has become a staple of the Washington scene, and on Friday internationally known fiddler John Cunningham will make a compelling argument for this city to open its arms to Scottish folk music as well, when he performs at the Washington Ethical Society. Cunningham, a founding member of the marvelous traditional Scottish band Silly Wizzard, went solo a year ago. His debut album is just a few notches below Silly Wizzard's latest... and that one's the No. 1 folk album in the British Isles.
He'll be sharing the stage (and some songs) with uillean piper Timothy Britton and will be trying to show both the commonness and uniqueness of Irish and Scottish folk styles. "A lot of the music crosses over [the sea channel between the two islands]," Cunningham explains. "That's why a lot of people find it difficult to tell the difference. But Scottish fiddle has a distinct snap to it, while the Irish fiddle is more flowing."
To further explain the distinctions (and to demonstrate solo Celtic fiddle playing and group or dance playing), Cunningham will host a Saturday workshop at the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park at 11 a.m. Britton will give a 1 p.m. workshop on stylistic elements of the Irish woodwinds on uillean pipes, flutes and tin whistles. For information on the workshops, call 270-0222.