Traditional Celtic and American Music
The first time Linda Keen heard the violin was in Sacramento when her music-loving father built a stereo system from a do-it-yourself-kit in the late 1950's. As he eagerly tuned to a local FM station for the first time, Linda sat on the living room floor, transfixed by the other-worldly resonance of wood, rosin and cat gut (sorry, but strings were made out of those back then :-( She was eight years old and by the time she turned nine, Linda knew she had to play the violin at all costs, which she accomplished by being chosen to join her elementary school orchestra. Growing up, the faeries had undeniably taken her, as her parents had needed regularly to tell her to put the violin down and stop practicing.
From 1970 to 1977, Linda played in several Bay Area traditional bands - most noteworthy at weekly performances at the Starry Plough with legendary Irish accordionist, Kevin Keegan and his Graineog Ceili Band, including some live radio performances on KFBK. Kevin passed away in December of 1978.
In the spring of 1977, on her way to Ireland, Linda stopped off in the Netherlands for what she believed would be a couple of weeks, but the short visit turned into sixteen years.
Back in the summer of 1977, Linda had traveled to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, meeting up with renowned Shetland fiddler, composer and teacher, the then-67-year-old Tom Anderson and his 31-year-old fiddling cohort and long-time friend, Aly Bain, who at that time was also a member of The Boys of the Lough.
Tom offered Linda an invitation to study fiddle music in Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, the hometown of both band members. Linda made plans to spend a month during the Christmas holidays in Lerwick – and the following year as well - eagerly soaking up - next to great whiskey - the local culture and unique Shetland fiddling, often accompanied by extraordinary pianist and accordionist, Violet Tulloch, and the adventuresome jazz guitar sounds of Peerie Willie Johnson, who left behind his mortal coil in 2007.
She never made it to Ireland – until many years later - on short holidays while still living in Holland with her Dutch-born husband and four children. Linda and her family eventually emigrated from the Netherlands to Oregon in 1993 and later to her old hometown of Sacramento in 1998 where she has since remained.
Stepping Stone, founded in June of 2012, is a dream unfolding as Linda and her band members pay homage to the precious gifts of older musical traditions and to the industrious and magical people who were successful in keeping them well and alive.
Stephen Davis grew up listening to folk songs that his mother used to sing to him at an early age, and he has been singing ever since.
Some of his earliest influences included Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Simon and Garfunkel and of course, the Beatles.
Stephen started playing guitar at the age of eleven and became an avid listener of early English folk songs and tunes from the Renaissance and Medieval period.
In the 1970's and '80's his influences included Ian Anderson, Norman Blake, Martin Carthy, Duck Baker, and Dick Gaughan. Besides guitar, Stephen has also played banjo and dulcimer.
For the past five years, Stephen has been a back-up sessions guitar player and is where he first met up with fiddler, Linda Keen.
Stepping Stone evolved out of Linda and Stephen's love for and commitment to the richness of traditional folk music of the British Isles and early America.
Multi-instrumentalist James Wilson enjoys a good tune. His road to Stepping Stone has been a long and winding one. His affinity for Irish music comes from his parents Jim and Patricia who immigrated to the United States in the late 1950’s. His father played a small one-row Hohner button accordion called a melodeon, and his mother sang; thus, James grew up listening to homegrown music in addition to the Clancy Brothers, Irish Rovers, and, of course, The Chieftains.