Alison Perkins and Nicolas Brown are one of the brightest Irish music duos in America.
They have been playing music on the uilleann pipes, flute and fiddle together for close to a decade. Since the recent release of their debut album, All Covered With Moss they have been bringing their close musical partnership to the stage. As individuals, they have performed at festivals and concerts across the North America. Together, they research forgotten settings of obscure tunes and introduce them to audiences with a style that is at once unapologetically old fashioned, fresh, vibrant and spirited. Following the release of their CD, they have brought their signature sound to audiences on tours throughout the country.
All Covered With Moss was released in October 2016, to much critical acclaim. They have been praised as “one of the best fiddle and uilleann pipes albums of the past ten years.” (Irish Music Magazine), "a duo that listens to each other, responding in the moment with structure and spontaneity; blissfully at one in their loose and elastic athleticism" (Songlines Magazine UK), as well as "a grand duo and a lovely racket." (The Irish Echo)
The two met at the 2007 Goderich Celtic festival, where Alison was performing with the Irish singer Sean Keane. Not long after they began dating, and five years later they got married at a musical barn wedding in Alison’s hometown. Instead of a first dance, they had a first tune, “Johnny Cope”, which is included on their album.
Alison and Nicolas have both taught and performed at many popular Irish festivals across North America, including the Goderich Celtic Festival, O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, Michigan Irish Music Festival, North Texas Irish Festival, and CelticFest Mississippi. They have also performed at top concert venues and folk festivals, such as the Ark, Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Blissfest, and Concert of Colors.
”An excellent piper who incorporates smart, subtle touches in his ornamentation and regulator work to yield a smooth, gentlemanly style.”
— The Irish Echo
Nicolas Brown was born in Illinois and raised in Ontario, and first started playing Irish music when he was in his late teens. A friend lent him a practice set of uilleann pipes, with which he proceeded to torture his extremely patient and understanding parents. Norman Stiff (a student of Dublin born Chris Langan) started teaching him and gave him two CDs: one of Willie Clancy and one of Seamus Ennis. Nicolas proceeded to listen to these two recordings on repeat for the next year. Eventually, he got his own set of pipes and a flute (and some more CDs!) and set out on his journey down the Irish music rabbit hole.
In the 2 decades since he first picked up a tin whistle at the Fergus Highland Games, Nicolas has not only become a very proficient musician, but has also developed a vast knowledge of Irish music history, about the old musicians, tune histories, Irish music in America, and more. Nicolas has performed and given workshops at venues and festivals throughout Canada and the United States. He plays a hybrid concert pitch “D” set of uilleann pipes, a Joe Kennedy flat pitch “B” set of union pipes, and John Gallagher flutes in F, D, and B, the latter of which is the first modern 8-keyed B flute, as far as he’s aware!
"A brilliant fiddler who sometimes flashes an aggressive drive”.
— The Irish Echo
Alison Perkins grew up in a household filled with music in Detroit, Michigan. The daughter of musicians, she attended her first concerts before she had taken her first steps. Her parents regularly took her to musical events in the city's vibrant folk and Irish music scenes, and she routinely fell asleep inside of her dad's guitar case, lulled to slumber by live music.
As a child she learned the fiddle from Irishman Mick Gavin, whose lovely Clare fiddling can be heard echoed in Alison's playing. As a teen and young adult, she became deeply interested in the older generation of Irish musicians, counting luminaries such as Tommy Potts, Seamus Ennis, Paddy Carty, Bobby Casey and Paddy Cronin as influences. During her teenage years, Alison had success in music competitions, winning the gold medal at the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil fiddle competition for six consecutive years before "retiring" at the age of 18, and traveling overseas to compete in the All-Irelands.
In more recent years Alison has been performing and teaching full time. She has toured extensively across North America with her family band, Finvarra’s Wren, as well as touring with Irish singing legend Sean Keane in Canada and the United States. In 2015, she co-founded a much-loved and popular local Irish concert series, The Strayaway Child. She is highly sought after as a teacher, and has taught fiddle at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, The Riley School of Irish Music, The Detroit Irish Music Association, The Austin Celtic Festival and many more.