History of Wherligig



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Wherligig was created in 1985 when Stephanie and Ken Koons met John Winship at the Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention, in Maryland, and started playing Celtic Music together. Each of them had been performing American Old Time Music but was slowly moving towards the Celtic sound. Stephanie played hammered dulcimer and Ken guitar, both instruments; he had built shortly after they were married in 1979. John brought his fiddle, concertinas and, many songs to the band and they performed together until late 1987, recording one album titled "Early Years" before John decided to leave the band.

Stephanie's brother Mark Yount, a hot mandolin player with a voice one listener described as "awesome" then joined the band making Wherligig a family endeavor.

Over the years the family performed together regionally in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and, West Virginia. All the while Ken experimented by building new instruments as each member learned to play other instruments. Mark the octave mandolin, Stephanie the harp and harmonium and Ken the tin whistle, small pipes, mountain dulcimer, hurdy gurdy and Bodhran.

They recorded "Beyond the Beck", a collection of songs and tunes from Ireland, England and Scotland, first released on Cassette tape in 1991 and later on CD.

All this time Stephanie and Ken's young son Ryan traveled with them to performances, sitting behind them and reading and listening to the music. When he was about 10 years old he asked his father if he could try out one of his dad's tin whistles.

Suddenly he was playing a tune he had heard, so many times over the years, while his parents performed.

Thus he started a natural progression, of first, playing a few tunes with his family and then joining the band, learning to play not only the whistle but also fiddle and squeeze box too.

After Ryan became fully ingrained in the band, Wherligig recorded their third album "Return from Fingal" and they continued to perform regionally with wide selection of instruments.

In 2005 Mark decided to leave the band because of his heath. So once again Wherligig became a trio.

In January of 2006 Ryan put together a two hour concert of music from the northern hemisphere featuring Wherligig and friends and the Westminster Vocal Ensemble. Called Northern Chord, it was a huge success, standing room only, and a DVD and CD were produced from the concert. Ryan added his skills on the bowed and plucked psaltery and wooden flute to this show.

Ryan Koons, Wherligig & Friends performed at "Northern Chord" in January 2006 - Click here for the publicity flyer for this great concert.

In 2006 the band became interested in traditional Nordic music after Stephanie came home with a few Swedish recordings. This led Ken to build a nyckelharpa that year; Ryan began playing it at gigs a short time later.

Over the years several Celtic bands have used the Wherligig name, all using other spellings. But we predate them by many years, using the original spelling of Wherligig from the 1600's.

If you would like to purchase Wherligig's recordings they are available on this website.