by Lorie Lewis Ham
This Valley is filled with talented artists of various kinds–painters, musicians, actors, writers, etc. Here at KRL we enjoy putting the spotlight on them and this week we chatted with Karana Hattersley-Drayton who is the lead singer/keyboard/bodhran and business manager for local band Pipe On the Hob from Fresno, who happen to be performing a Christmas concert at Woodward Library next weekend.
KRL: When did Pipe on the Hob first come together?
Karana: Pipe on the Hob has been playing music in Fresno for the past 40 plus years. The band was founded by Donn Beedle with Sean MacEinri and Kent Steadman and they played regularly at a downtown Fresno Irish pub, Finn McCool’s. Sean was from County Sligo in Ireland, and he brought his cultural history to the ensemble.
KRL: Where did the name come from?
Karana: Pipe on the Hob is the name of an Irish jig. The “hob” is the bench next to the fireplace in a traditional Irish cottage; the hearth was/is the heart of the Irish home.
KRL: How many are in the group and has it changed through the years?
Karana: We are a quartet and yes, there have been changes through the years although the current ensemble is unchanged since 2006 or so.
KRL: What are their names and what do they play/sing with the group?
Karana: Donn Beedle (fiddle/viola), myself Karana Hattersley-Drayton (lead singer/keyboard/bodhran/spoons), Carl Johnsen (hammer dulcimer/penny whistle(s), and Kathryn Johnsen (Celtic harp/keyboard/harmony vocals).
KRL: Where are you all from?
Karana: Donn was born and raised in Fresno. I am originally from the Bay Area, Carl Johnsen was raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, and Kathryn Johnsen is originally from La Verne, California.
KRL: What type of music do you play and why?
Karana: We play predominantly “Celtic” music, thus the music of the Celtic speaking peoples of Great Britain and Europe: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Bretagne (French) but we also play English, French-Canadian and American tunes and songs.
KRL: I understand you have a Christmas concert coming up at Woodward (Park) Library-can you tell us about that? What songs will you be playing, how long, is there a cost?
Karana: This is one of our FAVORITE gigs, which was interrupted during the pandemic. We will play a few Scottish and Irish instrumental medleys, but all songs, except one, are secular or sacred Christmas songs like Christmas in Killarney, I Saw Three Ships etc. We encourage the audience to sing along, as appropriate! The show is one hour and is free.
KRL: How do you go about picking your songs and tunes?
Karana: We choose tunes and songs based primarily on their melodic contours… the nice thing about Irish and particularly Scottish music is that it has a wide range and can be challenging. The music is also haunting, beautiful, uplifting, fun! As one concert goer to the Rogue posted, ”There were truly moments when the mix of instruments transported me to another place and time.”
KRL: Where can people find you online?
Karana: Pipe on the Hob.com
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Karana: We are proud of the CD we made in 2007, which was recorded here in Fresno at Maximus Media. We also thank and acknowledge the community of musician friends who contribute so much to all aspects of traditional music here in the Fresno area. There are few venues to hear this music, alas.
The annual Harvest Home: A Festival of Traditional Americana Music was founded five years ago at the River Center to present and celebrate traditional music whether bluegrass, old-time, Celtic, blues etc. There is also a Celtic music jam on the second Sunday of the month outside at La Boulangerie in Fig Garden Village from 1 to 3.
Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. And don’t miss out on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where we feature mystery stories read by local actors!