I like all types of music, but I do have penchant for all things Celtic in nature. So when I heard of a new-to-me trio of musicians called Fodhla (made up of Boston-based fiddler Ellery Klein, Portland-based guitarist Bethany Waickman and Portland-based flautist Nicole Rabata), I knew that I had to learn more about their Nov. 17 show in The Chapel of the Somerset Abbey in Madison. I interviewed Rabata — who is on the music staff at both Colby College and the University of Maine at Augusta as well as having a private studio in Portland — by phone on Oct. 21 to learn more about the trio’s history, the music they make and, most importantly, how to pronounce her band’s name.

Rabata: “Foh-la.”

Q: And how did that come about?

Rabata: Well, Ellery, the fiddle player, and I go a long way back. We both actually lived in Ireland at the same time. She was in Limerick and I was living in Ennis, which is just about 45 minutes north, and we had met earlier in the states. In Ireland, we just started playing a lot together. When we moved back to the states, we put together this trio with Bethany who lives here in Portland, as well, and we’ve been a group for maybe three years or so.

Q: Do you have any recordings out?

Rabata: We do. We have an EP called “Notes from Millpond.” It’s available online.


Q: Is it original material or Irish tunes?

Rabata: Most of it is traditional Irish music, but we do have some original tunes on there as well.

Q: Are there any plans for a full-length album in the near future?

Rabata: Well, we’re working on it, yeah. I don’t know when that will be, but probably in the next year or so. We are working on putting together a full album. We just got back from a tour to California. We were there in late September, and we were actually right where those wildfires are happening now.

Q: Oh, no!

Rabata: Yeah, we were there right before that happened, which is crazy.


Q: Now, have you ever played up at the Somerset Abbey before?

Rabata: Never. No, this will be the first time.

Q: So, how do you go about picking the material that you perform?

Rabata: What we do, when we get together and rehearse, is just bring different tunes to the table that we are excited about, and we introduce them to the rest of the group. We rehearse them and then we arrange them into what they call “sets” in Irish music — it’s a medley of tunes that go together. We’ll then arrange the set as a group and rehearse it some more, but we do write our own tunes, as well. So if we’ve written one that we think would be a nice one to include in a set, we do that as well. So we do draw upon Irish, but also other types of Celtic music are included, as well. It’s a bit of a mix, but we’re primarily Irish.

Q: Do you ever do anything in the vocal line?

Rabata: Ah, no not right now. We’re doing all instrumental material.


Q: I know you just got back from the West Coast so I have to ask: Do you do much touring?

Rabata: Well, we don’t really tour much because I have a baby now. Ellery also has a couple of kids, and we all have other jobs, too. We also play with other ensembles as well, so this is just one of many projects that we all do. So yeah, we don’t really do a lot of traveling. We just keep it pretty local for the most part.

Q: Do you team up with the other members of Fodhla in any of the other groups you’re in?

Rabata: No, this is the only group that I play in with them, but I play classical music, as well. So I have a trio called the Bayside Trio, and then I do play Brazilian music, as well. So I have another ensemble that I do with that (Choro Louco). I also do a lot of freelancing and teaching and more specific stuff, so Fodhla is a part-time thing.

Q: Well, this way you won’t get bored.

Rabata: Sure, exactly — keep it interesting.


Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article about that upcoming show in Madison?

Rabata: Just to let them know about the show in case they haven’t heard about it before. Oh, and also we have a website, if you could mention it that would be great.

Q: And what is that website?

Rabata: It’s fodhlamusic.com — and it’s been lovely chatting with you.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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