Musicians for the TAC Summer School 2023
 
Kathy Fraser-Collins (Director), Judi Nicolson, Ian Muir,
Fred Collins, Gary Thomas, and Don Wood

 


     Class Musicians Summer School 2023

Kathy Fraser-Collins (Director)

Ste. Anne de Prescott, Ontario

    Kathy was born in a rural farming community near the Scottish settlement of Glengarry County, Ontario. She began playing the piano at age 5. She would eventually spend 35 years performing with Bobby Brown, the Scottish Accent, and Cape Breton Symphony Fiddlers for many tours, workshops, dances, broadcasts, and over 20 recordings. With degrees from McGill and the University of Toronto, she taught high school music from 1980 to 2009, retiring from her hometown school in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. Kathy was inducted into the Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame in 2014, and along with her husband Fred, she remains very involved in the music scene in their area. They are members of the Quigley Highlanders Pipes and Drums, E.H. Gospel Sound, and enjoy promoting young local musicians through their own Torridon Scottish Dance Band. They recently have been privileged to work with outstanding musicians Judi Nicolson and Ian Muir and were thrilled to collaborate with them as ‘Tartan Ties” on their CD ‘Fire Away!’ Kathy first played for TAC summer school at Brock University in 1979 with Bobby Brown. She was honoured to be named Music Director for the 2015 and 2016 TAC Summer Schools and is happy to be taking on that role again for Summer School 2023 in Halifax.

 

Judi Nicolson

Denton, Texas

 

   

Scottish fiddler Judi Nicolson, originally from Scotland, performed throughout Scotland after winning three major Open Scottish Fiddle Championships. Judi played with some of Scotland’s finest dance bands recording numerous sessions for radio as well as television and theater appearances. Judi has been teaching Scottish fiddle since the 1980s, and in 2002, while teaching throughout Schools in Aberdeenshire, she qualified as a violin and viola teacher. In addition to her teaching career, Judi has published two of her own composition books and adjudicated in numerous fiddle competitions.

In 2008, Judi moved to Katy, Texas, with her husband and family. A consummate performer, her dynamic fiddling, engaging stage presence, and deep understanding of Scotland’s music has created a demand for her to play throughout the Americas, Canada, Australia, and the UK both as a solo fiddler and with other talented musicians in various groups. She is a past Musical Director for TAC Summer School and Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School.

Along with two of Canada’s finest musicians Kathy Fraser Collins on piano, and Fred Collins on drums, she recorded a solo album called ‘FiddleMyStyle’; later, with the addition of Ian Muir, Scottish renowned accordionist, and friend, they formed the band ‘Tartan Ties.’ They have performed throughout America, Canada, and Australia and released their first album in January 2020 entitled ‘Fire Away!

 

Ian Muir

Prestwick, Scotland

 

   

Ian Muir has played for Scottish dancing in all its forms for the past 40 years.  Scottish Country Dancing, Ceilidh, and Old-Time dancing have been the mainstay of his long music career.  As well as playing for dancing, he has performed solo in Scottish Variety theatres throughout the country and has toured extensively in Europe and the Middle East.  He formed his own Scottish dance band in 1984 and has been a regular contributor on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Take the Floor’ programme as a bandleader He was the programme’s presenter for two summer seasons.

He combines playing duties with his tutorial role as Principal Accordion Tutor in the Scottish Music Department at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a post he has held for 23 years.

Since 2012 Ian has been on staff at four TAC Summer School events in Portland, Oregon, Bishops’ University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, UBC in Vancouver, and last year in Calgary, Edmonton.  He played at the Vancouver Branch’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, the San Francisco Branch’s Asilomar weekend in California in 2013 and 2022, and the Edmonton, Alberta weekend school.

Recent studio recordings include RSCDS Book 51, a commission by Bill Little for part of his Carlingwork Collection, and a recent collaboration with Judi Nicolson, Kathy Fraser-Collins, and Fred Collins in the album “Fire Away!”

 

Fred Collins

Ste. Anne de Prescott, Ontario

    Drumming was an early passion for Dundee-born Fred Collins, and the opportunity came when joining the Boy’s Brigade at age 12. Fred soon became a member of the competitive MacLeod Pipe Band performing at highland games throughout Scotland. With members of his Boy’s Brigade, he formed a SCD band, “The Gie Gordons,” while also being called upon to play with such bands as Jimmy Shand, Angus Fitchet, and John Ellis. On a “holiday” to Canada in 1954, Fred was immediately recruited by the Toronto Scottish Pipe Band. He shortly thereafter joined Ed Brydie & “The Four Scots,” providing music for the first SCD class in Toronto. After two years back in Dundee, Fred returned to Canada in 1964 and, over the years, performed and recorded over 23 albums with a variety of dance bands and soloists, including Ed Brydie, Stan Hamilton, Angus MacKinnon, Don Bartlett, Alex Jappy, Rudy Meeks, Graham Townsend, Alasdair Fraser and, of course, Bobby Brown & the Scottish Accent and the Cape Breton Symphony Fiddlers. Along with his wife Kathy, he is currently enjoying performing and recording with “Tartan Ties” alongside great musicians Judi Nicolson and Ian Muir. Fred’s ‘other’ life has included a managerial position with Shell Canada, his own renovation company, percussion tutor and repair technician, and last but not least............farmer!!!!

 

Gary Thomas

Santa Rosa, California

     

Not long after moving to California in 1989, Gary Thomas began playing piano for Santa Rosa Scottish Country Dance classes, followed soon after for the Dunsmuir Scottish Dancers, a performance team, and Ron Wallace’s step and highland classes.  He has also participated in numerous workshops as a musician, including TAC Summer School (most recently as a solo pianist for the examination course), Prague, Vienna, and Asilomar, to name a few.  “I even played with Bobby Brown’s band so Muriel Johnstone could dance at her birthday party.  What a treat!”

Gary’s former band, “Hook, Wink & Swagger,” played for many Southern California Scottish events and local events until the untimely passing of Steve Wyrick. His new band, “Flindrikin,” includes Lisa Doyle and Ron Wallace.

Over the years, Gary has composed numerous tunes, which can be found in the dance publications “From the Redwood Forest,” “The San Andreas Collection” (Scottish), and “The Bishop’s Ranch Collection” (English); as well as in “Dunsmuir Dances.”  A new book of dances with music, “Give it a Whirl,” is currently available as a download, as well as “The Thomas/Wallace Collection,” music composed by Gary and Ron, including dance music, waltzes, airs, and more. These books can be ordered through the website www.a-scot-in-time.org.  The band currently has two recordings, “Dancers Dream” and its newest creation, “Mother’s Garden,” for step dancing or listening. More are in the works. Stay tuned!

Don Wood

Toronto, Ontario

   

Don Wood began playing piano as a young boy in Nova Scotia, accompanying his father, who played fiddle and button box. His exposure to all the old reels, jigs, and strathspeys, admittedly with a "maritime" flavour, would stand him in good stead later in life.

After playing guitar for several local Rock and R&B bands, Don was lured away in 1966 to play bass with Stan Hamilton's Flying Scotsmen, where he met his lifelong friend Bobby Brown. Don became the original pianist for the Scottish Accent and has made many recordings with the Scottish Accent and fiddlers Alasdair Fraser, Graham Townsend, and Rudy Meeks.

Don has made brief sojourns into blues, country, rock, folk, and gospel music, but he is never far away from his Scottish musical roots. He continues to play piano and bass with Scotch Mist and the Torridon Scottish Dance Band across Canada and the United States.