Aaron Solomon - Band Leader- lead vocals, fiddle, mandolin, guitar
Aaron Solomon is a world class musician and performer based in the Toronto area. Cape Breton born, his passion for music and fiery fiddling style took root at the age of two when he asked for his first fiddle. He has been wowing audiences ever since as an energetic fiddle player, violinist, and multi-instrumentalist mastering an astonishing variety of styles including Jazz, Swing, Celtic, Rock, Blues, RnB, Quebecois, Acadian, Bluegrass, Folk, Ethnic, Old Time, Country, and Classical - ever increasing the versatility and dynamics of his performance. He brings his experience as a professional actor and impressive four octave range vocals to create a dramatic and memorable delivery every time.
Aaron has played on over two hundred recording sessions for albums, films and commercials. He has performed with pop sensation Shania Twain, rock band Big Sugar, blues legends The Holmes Brothers, jazzy Jeff Healey and modern classical a cappella vocal group The Star-Scape Singers. Through the 90s, he was heavily involved in the Toronto Celtic scene, performing in many pubs as a solo act and as a band member. He toured the US as a Celtic duo featuring violin, mandolin, button accordion, guitar, percussion, and vocals.
Steve Heathcote - Drums
Steve Heathcote has performed with jazz artists including Holly Cole, Joe Sealy, Guido Basso, Oliver Jones, Brian Hughes and the Stan Kenton Orchestra. His music has taken him across North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. His expert musicianship and willingness to play "outside the box" brings a fresh approach to Celtic rock drumming.
Russell Edward Williams - Lead Guitar
Russell Edward Williams is one of Toronto's most adaptable guitarists having performed blues with Dutch Mason, world beat with South Africa's own League of Nations, R&B with Bobby Soul (formerly of the Platters), and Creole French music with Levitation ( from the Caribbean). He has toured all sixteen Caribbean islands, Canada, United States, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Russia and Denmark. He continually amazes audiences with his guitar styling and musical prowess in Coole Park.
"Williams phrasing, tone, technique, rhythmic feel and overall economy of playing has the potential to make top-ranking guitarists like Don Ross and Lorne Lofsky say, 'Who's that guy?'"
"impressive, flawless...inspired guitar playing"-Whole Note magazine, February/March 2007
The Story of Coole Park
by Aaron Solomon
I’ve loved Celtic music from the first time I heard it. Being born in Cape Breton, it would have been hard to escape, not that I’ve ever wanted to. My Aunt Lucy played an album by Lee Cremo when I was two and I went crazy for it. Lee Cremo was a Mic Mac fiddler from Eskasoni on Cape Breton Island. He always had his own style, but like all Cape Breton fiddlers there was a Scottish influence. If you don’t move when you hear Lee Cremo play, go to the doctor and ask him to check your reflexes. Anyway, I have been hooked on the fiddle and on Celtic music ever since.
Another important musical influence of mine was Ryan’s Fancy. They were a trio of Irish musicians that moved to Canada to study east coast Celtic music. They were great singers and multi-instrumentalists and were hugely popular in Eastern Canada through the sixties and seventies. A couple of the songs covered on Coole Park’s “Water Journeys” album -“Fare Thee Well, Enniskillen” and “Rocky Roadto Dublin”, I first heard on Ryan’s Fancy’s “Newfoundland Drinking Songs” record.
I moved to Kitchener, Ontario when I was young. Although I was playing many styles of music, I only heard Celtic music at home. At that time, there wasn't Celtic music being played around Kitchener. When I moved to Toronto in the early nineties, I started playing in the Irish music scene. And it was great. I spent a lot of my time playing that music live in Toronto during that time.
I’d always felt there were interesting possibilities to be mined by fusing Celtic music and rock. When people referred to Celtic rock they often referred to a sound like that of the Pogues. And many bands copied that sound. But if you listen to bands like Capercaillie or Stockton’s Wing there are funk elements in their Celtic rock sound and they don’t sound like the Pogues. If you check out various rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, you can see how their fusion of the Celtic and Rock styles play out. None of them sound like the Pogues who drew from a more punk style of rock.
I decided I wanted to fuse rock and Celtic music together and see what I could come up with. All I needed was a band. I had been working as a professional musician most of my life and had done my share of road work. If this band was to be a traveling, touring band that I wanted to play with then not only would the musicians have to be excellent but they would also have to be the kind of people that I would love to hang out with. They were chosen with that those considerations in mind.
Russell Edward Williams (guitar), Chris Gartner (bass) and Steve Heathcoate (drums) along with myself made up the core of the band. I also recruited my friends Rick Bauer and Ray Caldwell, both multi-instrumentalists, to fill out the sound for the first album and in concerts.
Chris has decided to focus on his many other projects as a musician and producer and we wish him well. Check out his wonderful band, Tasa, for one.
P. S. What is Coole Park? Coole Park, in the early 20th century, was the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, co-founder of the Abbey Theatre with Edward Martyn of Tullira Castle and Nobel prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats. It became the centre of the Irish Literary Revival. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O' Casey all came to experience its magic. It inspired the following Yeats poems: Coole Park, 1926, The Wild Swans at Coole and Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931. My partner Lori discovered this information and we thought the history of the name and its edgy contemporary feel were a great reflection of the band.