Like a fine Scotch whisky, Peat & Barley's music is complex, inviting and always goes down smooth. Their special Celtic blend of Bill Mitchell's hammered dulcimer and Becky Ross's fiddle - trading melody, rhythm and harmony - draws the listener into the ebb and flow of the music in a centering and refreshing way. The duo, based in the Washington D.C. area, has two CDs available on CDBaby; their new CD release, Silver Lining and their previous CD "On the Brink" (2002).
"On the Brink," is a pleasing collection of Celtic and original tunes ranging in mood from darkly mysterious to playfully lighthearted and includes toe-tapping jigs and reels as well as lyrical airs and waltzes. Peat & Barley's stylish arrangements of traditional Celtic tunes highlight the interplay between the hammered dulcimer and fiddle - each contributing structure and melody in turn.
Bill is a self-taught player and was inspired to play after his first experience of hearing a hammered dulcimer. He is particularly noted for his strong accompaniment skills that incorporate the full range of his hammered dulcimer from the shimmering sparkle of the highest treble notes to the depth and power of the lowest bass notes. He is also a composer of tunes in the Celtic style. Several of his pieces are included on each of Peat & Barley's CD recordings.
Becky was classically trained on violin as a child and began playing again after discovering Celtic fiddle music. She is known for the rich tone of her playing and her sensitive emotional connection to the music, whether that is a sorrowful Scottish lament, a majestic march or a driving reel. She is a long-time Board Member and Treasurer of Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, a non-profit group promoting Scottish fiddle music. Becky also plays regularly for Scottish and English country dancing and teaches Scottish fiddle lessons. She has released (with Liz Donaldson and Colleen Reed) a CD of English Country dance music entitled "English Echoes"
Bill and Becky have been playing together as Peat & Barley since 1996 and recorded their first album, "Reflections on Big Moose Lake," in 1998 (out of print). In addition to their performances as Peat & Barley, they also perform as members of the Celtic group The Homespun Ceilidh Band, who have released two CDs, "Spinning Reels" (2002) and Home (2006) (also available on CD Baby). They are longtime active members of the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, a non-profit group promoting Scottish fiddle music.