Rainbow’s End formed as nod to traditional Celtic and Scottish heritage

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The newly formed local band, Rainbow's End, is a trio made up of Katharine (Kate) Brown, Marie (Maury) Dunkle, and Dave Stewart.

Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

A newly formed local musical trio, Rainbow’s End, will be playing Saturday at the Gazebo at 11 a.m. and at the Rathskeller at 12:30 p.m. during the Cherokee/Scottish Heritage Celebration. Performing traditional Scottish and Irish music, the three musicians will kick-off the weekend festival by introducing their music at Rathskeller on Thursday, June 17, from 7-9 p.m.

Band members are Katharine (Kate) Brown, singer, who also plays the bodhran [Irish drum]; Marie (Maury) Dunkle, who plays the fiddle and mandolin and sings; and Dave Stewart, a guitarist and vocalist. 

Brown is also the current president of the Nantahala Hiking Club, and she explained that she wanted to do more than sing in the band, so she borrowed a bodhran from Dunkle a few months ago and took to the instrument. “I know enough to add to the authenticity of the band,” she said, “and I’m really enjoying playing it.”

Stewart said the band’s name has meaning. “The rainbow conjures up Leprechauns shamrocks … Irish kind of things. Plus there’s a pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow.” 

The motivation for the group centered on Dunkle’s interest and involvement playing for local Ceilidhs, which conveys Irish or Scottish social gatherings. “These were happening before the pandemic and we played together, so we knew each other. We all decided to try a Celtic band,” said Stewart.

Stewart noted that people living in and around Macon County, and particularly throughout Western North Carolina, are often drawn to Scottish and Irish heritage and music because they are descendants from the first Scottish and Irish immigrants to America. Author Sharyn McCrumb, who writes about the Appalachian Mountains, wrote about the reason in Appalachian Voice: “Originally from Scotland and the north of England, they left the eastern seaboard to venture into the wilderness of the Appalachian frontier because they wanted highland vistas, land, and as few neighbors as possible.”

“The music dates back to 300 A.D. Much of it can’t be traced before 1600’s. So it’s very old and part of western civilization. And, Appalachian music has roots in Celtic,” said Stewart. “Since the Scots and Irish settled this area, we also plan to learn old-time music, which was played here long ago and is still alive in this culture.”

For people who are not drawn to Celtic music, Stewart assured that Rainbow’s End will also be presenting their twist on songs by The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash, as well as various acoustic folk/rock tunes. 

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