Old New

“It’s impossible to get away from the wealth that is modern American musical culture,” says Elias Alexander, second from the right. “Everything is fair game.”

The enthusiasm is palpable when piper, fiddler and vocalist Elias Alexander speaks of The Bywater Band’s unique take on traditional Irish, Scottish and Celtic music.

“When the band formed in 2013, what drew us together was a love for merging traditional music with our own creative, modern individuality,” Alexander says. “It’s a very exciting time right now for traditional music.”

Alexander refers to the practice as “embellish and preserve.”

Present are the expectedly gorgeous pipes, guitar and fiddle unisons with parallel harmonies of the Irish and Scottish schools. But present also are decidedly modern accoutrements like American Appalachian folk-like vocal melodies, neo-bluegrass instrumental jaunts, and even a smattering of jazz and rock chordal explorations.

The band’s name was culled from Alexander’s most reliable creative influence – sitting in nature by running water.

“The sounds of the moving water just seem to make melodies emerge in my mind,” he says. “I don’t write from an intellectual place at all. The main melodic themes often arrive unrequested. I just have to listen deeply.”

Alexander grew up in Ashland, Oregon, but he first visited Scotland as a teen when his mother went to a school reunion there. Many trips ensued.

“I remember waking up there for the very first time and having a very powerful feeling of connectedness,” Alexander says. “It felt as if I had arrived home.”

Educated by home schooling, Alexander had the luxury of being able to delve deeply into ancient cultures for a year’s worth of intensive studies.

“Eamon Sefton [guitar] is both Irish and Scottish, in terms of musical influences,” Alexander says. “Glenfiddich fiddling competition champion fiddler Maura Shawn Scanlin and I are purely Scottish. And Patrick Bowling [flute, whistle, bodhran, step dance] is pure Irish, both Old World and New World.”

Alexander previously visited the Monterey Peninsula as a member of the trad fusion supergroup MAC, which gigged here in 2016.

“We’re definitely trad but with our own individual styles,” Alexander says. “Anyone who likes Molly’s Revenge will like us as well.”

ELIAS ALEXANDER AND THE BYWATER BAND 6:30pm Wednesday, Sept. 25. St. Mary’s By-The-Sea Episcopal Church, 146 12th St., Pacific Grove. $20/in advance; $23/at the door; $10/children in advance; $12/children at the door. 373-4441, celticsociety.org.

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