A Celtic music group with a passion for hard-driving fiddle and whistle tunes, heart-teasing waltzes and poignant ballads and broadsides will perform April 14 [SATURDAY] at East Central University.
Finnegans Awake, which includes Ada’s own Susanne Woolley (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the Dorothy Summers Theatre. Admission is $5.
The group plays Irish, Scottish and English music and American folk, pop and blues, along with some French and Hungarian songs. The five musicians also perform some of their own songs and have even put to music several songs from the plays of William Shakespeare. They have produced two CDs, “Finnegans Awakening” in 2005, and “Still Awake” in 2009.
Finnegans Awake also includes Tulsans Tom Tomshany (guitar, vocals), Kristal Tomshany (whistles, flute, bodhran), Lenora Gauldin (bass) and Jeanine Loubier (banjo).
Susanne Wooley grew up in Ada and began studying violin with Fern Gant at age 11. She earned her second college degree, in violin performance, at the University of Tulsa and played in an avant-garde musical group called Vitreous Body while the poet Anne Weisman read her poems. In 1984 she and friends formed "Country Heart," one of Tulsa's favorite folk groups for two decades.
Wooley bought some Irish fiddle books and started learning Celtic fiddle tunes, which Country Heart pulled into its repertoire. In the early 1990s, she started playing even more Celtic music with Tom Tomshany while still playing in Country Heart, and they created a Celtic Group, Green Strings.
After Green Strings disbanded, the bass player for Country Heart began playing Celtic music with Wooley and Tomshany. They added a banjo player, and when Kristal Zwayer, who was playing penny whistle, Irish flute and bodhran with the Celtic group Ceoltori of Tulsa, joined them in 2001, the band Finnegans Awake was born.
Wooley moved back to Ada in 2006 with her four children and is an adjunct string teacher at ECU. She also teaches private lessons.
Tom Tomshany, who teaches English and works as a freelance writer and editor, and Zwayer were married in 2007.
Kristal Tomshany bought her first Fedog whistle and a beginner's book the day after hearing the penny whistle for the first time. She picked up the Irish flute around 2003 and enjoys its lower, mellow tone as a compliment to the sharp, bright sound of the whistle.
She is an adjunct art professor at Tulsa Community College and a painter whose work can be seen at M.A. Doran Gallery in Tulsa, as well as in various regional exhibits and shows.
Jeanine Loubier started playing the banjo in her 20s and now plays all her instruments – guitar, mandolin, fiddle and drums – for Finnegans Awake. She's played with gospel groups and with the LaClaire family in Maine and New England for 17 years. She also has been playing with a bluegrass and gospel music group in northeast Oklahoma. She joined Finnegans Awake in February 2011.
Lenora Gauldin moved to Tulsa in 1995 and joined Finnegans Awake this year. She played several instruments, but fell in love with the stand-up bass when she saw one in a music store. She is the bassist for the North Texas bluegrass band 14th Street Reunion. She played a short stint as bassist for the jazz band Deja Bleu in Tulsa and is the bassist for the Tulsa Community College orchestra class.
The Finnegans Awake concert is sponsored by the Ada Arts Council.