Michael Ballard, with Bodhran at Renaissance Faire
Michael Ballard, with Bodhran at Renaissance Faire

Michael's Music

I went to my first dance class (ballet) when I was not quite two years old. In Junior High, I gave in to social pressures and stopped dancing. In college, I started up again. Over the years I've studied ballet, tap, ballroom, disco, and many kinds of American and International folk dancing. In recent years my emphasis has been on Irish and a bit of Scottish.


I studied classical violin for about four years when I was in Elementary School. My instructor made it VERY clear that "the only POSSIBLE goal for a TRUE student of the violin is first chair, first violin in a major philharmonic orchestra and NOTHING LESS will suit." Suffice to say that, by that definition, I was NOT a TRUE student of the violin.


I've sung in church, community and school choirs since I was around 4 years old. I enjoy singing but I can't always trust my voice to do what I want it to do so I rarely sing in public in groups of less than 8-10 voices.


In 1983, I visited the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Agoura Hills, California and I got "shanghaied" into working there. I've worked there every spring since then. At the Faire, amongst all of the oddly dressed people, there was one group that was more odd than most and they put on a really fun show of Scottish and Irish music and dancing. I was hooked immediately. The group is called Clan MacColin of Glenderry. Through them I was introduced to two more styles of dancing and I was introduced to Rhythm Bones and Bodhran. I've been dancing and/or playing in their dance shows (and many other places) for more than 30 years.


In 1985, I noticed one Faire weekend when many musicians were missing. The following weekend they were all back so I asked where they had gone. That's when I found out about the California Traditional Music Society and their annual "Summer Solstice Folk Dance, Music and Storytelling Festival". I went to the 1986 Festival as a paying customer and found out about the benefits of being a volunteer. After being a volunteer for a few years, I was invited to join the staff as a teacher and as Artistic Director - Small Instruments/Percussion. I've been teaching, co-teaching or assisting in bones, bodhran and spoons classes since 1987. I've also learned a bit of clave, doumbek and djembe at the Festival.


Over the years I've played in innumerable pub sets and jam sessions, mostly in Southern California. I've played concert gigs with everything from classical orchestra to heavy metal and mariachi bands.


Highlights include:

  • Gigs with Silverwood, Kitchen Fire and The Shamrockers (all based in the San Diego area).
  • Playing with the San Diego Repertory Theater Company in their Christmas 2000 production of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".
  • Many years of playing on the streets of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire (and occasional other venues) with hammered dulcimer master Glenn Morgan.

Here are some relevant links:

Silverwood Music

The Rhythm Bones Society

Glenn Morgan & Fishbite Recordings

Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Clan MacColin of Glenderry

The Ceolas Bodhran Page


Here are the handouts for my bones and bodhran workshops:

Bones 101
Selection, session basics, 'how-to-play' image series
Bones 101.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [359.0 KB]
Bodhran 101
Selection, care & feeding, some session basics
Bodhrán 101.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [247.7 KB]
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