Songwriter Kate MacLeod will return to Riffs for concert and workshop |

Songwriter Kate MacLeod will return to Riffs for concert and workshop

Singer and songwriter Kate MacLeod will hold a Celtic fiddle workshop and perform a concert at Riffs Acoustic Music on Sunday, March 16. (Photo by CLC, courtesy of Kate MacLeod)

Salt Lake City-based singer and songwriter Kate MacLeod remembers her first appearance at Riffs Acoustic Music last year.

She conducted a songwriting workshop during the afternoon and capped the day off with a concert that evening.

"It’s my favorite kind of place to play," MacLeod said during an interview with The Park Record. "Everyone has a great seat, and, since it’s a listening room, I can play any kind of song I want to. It’s not like a festival where I have worry about playing a certain type of music."

Park City audiences will get a chance to hear MacLeod again when she returns to Riffs on Sunday, March 16.

Like last year, the musician will host a workshop at 3 p.m. and perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. Both will feature a traditional Irish flair in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

"This time we’re going to do a Celtic fiddle workshop that musicians who play the violin, cello or mandolin can attend," MacLeod said. "I’ll talk about what it’s like to play the fiddle if you play classical music, because sometimes people are curious about that."

MacLeod plans to spend time discussing the history of the fiddle and it’s tone.

"That’s the biggest difference between classical and Celtic playing," she said. "Fiddle players play a style of music that existed before the fiddle was invented. So they play a sound that echoes the tones of the bagpipes and the flutes.

"Along the same lines, the fiddle music we hear now is derivative from the dance tunes from that culture," MacLeod said. "These are the basis of the fiddle repertoire, and once you begin to identify those sounds, it’s easy to understand."

One of the myths that MacLeod will address in the workshop is whether or not having a classical-music background hinders Celtic fiddle playing.

"I have played the violin since I was 7 and am really glad I had some classical training, because it focused on tone, precision and good technique," she said. "But sometimes studying classical hampers the freedom of thought when it comes to fiddle playing, because you’re not taught how to improvise when you’re playing. You learn the notes exactly how it’s composed and there is not real variation there. So, during the workshop, we talk about moving around within the melodies."

During the evening’s concert, MacLeod will perform on the fiddle and her acoustic guitar. The set list will feature some of her favorite Celtic folk songs as well as compositions from her new album, "Kate MacLeod at Ken Sanders Rare Books," which was recently released on Waterbug Records.

The songs on the album were culled from two live performances at Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City.

"That came about when I leafed through my notebooks and realized I had a whole collection of songs that were inspired by books," MacLeod said. "Each song was inspired by a different book I had read. I thought it would be fun to put that on a project and do something fun with the concept."

The songwriter knew she wanted to record the songs in a bookstore with an audience.

"The trick was that I had to figure out what bookstore to do it in," she said. "I knew Ken Sanders had, for years, hosted book signings by musicians and authors. So I thought it would be fun to showcase that."

The two concerts were recorded in a day — one in the afternoon with a small group of people, and one in the evening with a sold-out audience.

"I picked the best cuts between the two concerts," she said.

The 12-song track list includes "Love In and Out of Time," inspired by Audrey Niffenegger’s "The Time Traveler’s Wife," "Butch Cassidy Was Here," which was sparked by MacLeod’s reading of Richard Patterson’s "Butch Cassidy: A Biography" and "Lucy of Littletown" based on Beatrix Potter’s children’s book, "The Tale of Mrs. Twiggy Winkle,"

"Some of the books had a certain passage that spoke to me that made me want to write a song," MacLeod said. "In other songs, I tried to capture an entire essence of the whole book in a single song. I am looking forward to performing them."

Singer and songwriter Kate MacLeod will present a fiddle workshop at Riffs Acoustic Music, 1205 Iron Horse Dr., on Sunday, March 16, at 3 p.m. The cost is $40. To register, call Riffs at 435-649-1940. That evening at 7 p.m., MacLeod will perform a concert. Tickets are $20. RSVPs are strongly advised. Call 435-647-1940. For more information, visit

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