Kejafi’s music stems from their love of traditional folk tunes and songs that celebrate our cultural traditions and the deep connections between Australia and Scotland. Their music re-imagines older tunes and songs, some of which have strongly influenced folk music in Australia and bring original material that contributes to the living tradition that is folk music in Australia.
Interwoven dual fiddles, playfully switching between countermelody and unison accompanied by octave mandolin bring a fresh and modern interpretation to traditional folk music, connecting to the present time and place.
The band released their first album ‘Coast’ in late 2019 and have performed widely, including at the 2022 National Celtic Festival in Victoria, 2021 Baltimore Fiddle Fair filmed live in Sydney Harbour, the 2019 Australian Celtic Festival and multiple times at the St Albans Folk Festival, Yass Irish and Celtic Festival and Sydney Folk Festival. They have also shared the stage with fiddle player Manus McGuire, piper Chris Gray and Susan O’Neill.
Meet the band
Kejafi brings together the musical styles of three accomplished and respected musicians from Gadigal Country (Sydney, Australia) with Fiona McVicar on fiddle and vocals, James Gastineau Hills on fiddles and Ken O’Neill on octave mandolin. The trio formed in early 2018 after successfully establishing a monthly Scottish music session in Sydney in 2017. The tunes and songs session is inclusive and all are welcome.
Fiddle player Fiona McVicar is a well-respected and sought-after musician and teacher, with many years experience in playing traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle music in both Australia and Ireland. She currently performs in several traditional and folk groups including Seanchas and Blackwater. Having previous played the bagpipes in pipe bands and also once a highland dancer, Fiona brings a west coast and piping rhythms to her fiddle playing.
James Gastineau-Hills is a fiddle player and music teacher who fell in love with Scottish dance music. He has spent over twenty years playing traditional music in Scotland and Australia in sessions and for ceilidhs and country dances. His recordings include an album “Burns with a Fiddle” with performer Neil Morrison, an album collaborating with Scottish Trio “Luce Women” and most recently with Sydney world/jazz group “Broadland Trio”. James is passionate about sharing the tunes and craft of Scottish fiddle playing on both violin and viola, and currently leads the Sydney Scottish Fiddlers.
Ken O’Neill is an accomplished guitar and octave mandolin/Irish bouzouki player based in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in Co. Tipperary, Ireland and started his musical life playing guitar in rock bands in Clonmel with the band Uforia, performing a mixture of covers and original material within an alternative/rock/blues genre. Since moving to Australia in 2001, Ken has focussed solely on traditional and folk music, accompanying Irish and Scottish sessions on DADGAD guitar and octave mandolin. In addition to being part of Kejafi, he is also a member of the folk band Seanchas and has played at the National Folk Festival amongst many others.