Fortunate Strangers combines the experience of Celtic performers Celia Ramsay, Joe Bly and Kathy Bly. Celia’s sweet, haunting voice, Joe's rich corduroy vocals and organic flute & whistles, blend with Kathy's fine guitar colorations to create a varied musical experience that swings from lush and full, to stark and angular.
In 2010, Celia and her husband were touring the Irish town of Dingle, and decided to visit O'Flaherty's pub, known for its music sessions. Across the room, Celia saw familiar faces. She wasn't sure how she knew these people, but headed over to figure it out. Joe was thinking the same thing, and after a moment, they put it together: Joe, Kathy and Celia were all denizens of Lark Music Camp in Mendocino, California. Over a couple rounds of beer, Kathy and Joe explained that they were hiking the Dingle Way. It was an unexpected, but fortunate small-world meeting of folks who became fast friends - and bandmates!
Traditional Irish and Appalachian music were woven into the fabric of Joe's youth in North Carolina, and he plays a variety of instruments. He began playing gigs in old-time string bands and blues bands from high school through college, but quickly learned that playing banjo in a dorm stairwell was a terrible way to meet girls. He has since dived deeply into Irish traditional music, learning from diverse masters, including Mary Flower, Shay Black, Cathie Ryan and Kevin Crawford. Joe has released three CDs with his band Cíana: Cíana, Loneliest Road and Rubicon.
Although she discovered that stringed instruments are her true calling, Kathy boasts a long musical career as a jazz and classical woodwind player. She performed professionally with the Colorado Springs Symphony, the Tucson Symphony, several jazz combos, and was Operations Manager at the Virginia Symphony. For the last ten years, she has turned her attention to Irish music, and crafted her skill by listening to other extraordinary Irish accompanists with her keen ear. She and husband, Joe, are key players in Nevada's high desert Celtic band, Cíana.
In childhood, she sang such kindergarten hits as "Here We Go Loopty-Loo", but Celia's passion for Scottish songs surfaced when she was a teenager, and it continues to dominate her music life. Her sweet, supple voice navigates the sometime sad, often humorous ballads from the land of her heritage. She has performed with the Black Brothers as a guest artist, and has made four recordings: Songs of My Father's People, Singer's Request (duo album with Shay Black that Celia produced), I'll Just Lie About It (Celia as jazz chanteuse/songwriter), and Carmony: Learn to Sing Harmony While You Drive (with Libby McLaren.)