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Band Folk Celtic


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"Castlebay at The Saco Coffeehouse"

Bob McKillop keeps an eye - and an ear - on Portland's local acoustic music scene.

Different, enchanting, and inspiring; these are the words that remain with me a day after enjoying the music of Castlebay at The Saco Coffeehouse this past Saturday night.

The original and traditional songs were memorable for their poignant stories, authentic characters, and lilting melodies and harmonies. But the aspect of this performance that I found most impressive and distinctive was the musicianship displayed by Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee, the two Mainers who make up this entertaining acoustic duo.

Add the homey, intimate, and friendly atmosphere of this classic New England church coffeehouse, and what you get is a completely enjoyable folk music experience, which I highly recommend.

During the break before Castlebay’s set, we enjoyed some delicious home-made baked items, all of which were available for a dollar. A very friendly crowd made us feel right at home as we waited for the main attraction to begin.

Castlebay then took the stage and launched into their program of sea shanties, Celtic music and songs of Maine and its environs. Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee have been performing together for over twenty years as Castlebay, which originally included three other vocalists and instrumentalists. This long musical partnership has resulted in the two musicians’ uncanny ability to play and interact almost as one entity. Fred is an accomplished 12-string guitarist, fiddle player, and penny-whistler; Julia plays the celtic harp as if it were a part of her, and is knowledgeable about it’s history and heritage. Fred’s vocals have an impressive range and a more subtle, harmonic quality. They perfectly compliment Julia’s strong, assertive voice with its interesting Celtic inflections.

The stories in the songs are fun and intriguing, and draw you in; my favorite was “The Old Liars”, which recounts the entertainment, education and supervision that a very young Julia and her brother received from a motley crew of old fisherman on the docks near her childhood home in New Harbor, Maine. The song relates the “tall tales” told by these old men and others who frequented the fishermans’ co-operative shack.

“Oh, what has become of the old liars all,
Julian and Manley and Frankie and Paul?
Down at the co-op when fish weren’t so few
They’d lie through their teeth and they’d swear it was true”

The song is sung with affection and nostalgia for this time in the past when children could run freely among trusted adults who would pass on oral traditions, some more true than others, and who would watch out for them and keep them out of trouble. The last line of the song sums it up: “Their tales were as true as the tide and the breeze / My children will never hear stories like these”.

If you enjoy stories of the Maine seacoast, music laced with haunting Celtic melodies and vocals, and first-rate musicianship and songwriting, you should try and catch up with Castlebay when they come back to the area. You can check their full schedule at their webpage. I can also recommend their new live CD, “Islands in Time”, which is available through iTunes.

- In Tune


We currently maintain 17 CDs in our catalog. Sound clips are available on our web site and on
Ae Fond Kiss - Romantic Scottish Songs
Our music is frequently featured on Highlander Radio ( and had been played on "The Thistle & Shamrock"
Sound Clips
Islands In Time - Castlebay Live In Concert
Sound Clips



Castlebay has been musically weaving together the timeless traditions of Maine's nautical legacy and it's British Isles heritage since 1987. Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee have loved and researched traditional music for most of their lives and blend history, legend and experience into their personable performance style. They support their fine, expressive vocals with Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle, and woodwinds, as well as playing evocative instrumental selections, treating the audience to a musical journey through time and across the Atlantic. The duo occasionally presents special theme concerts on various aspects of Celtic lore, nautical life or Colonial America.

"Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee shared more than their talent with our audience. They shared as well their keen sense for Maine humor and their love for the music they perform."
(The U’n’I Coffeehouse, Springfield, MA)

“What captivated [the audience] were Julia and Fred's musicianship, the apparent casualness with which they weave their listeners into magical worlds of storytelling, song, and harp, and their down-to-earth (and sea) Maine coast and Celtic tunes, tales, and salty humor”.
(Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke, MA)

Although they are known for their intelligent arrangements of traditional music, Gosbee and Lane compose their own musical works, many of which have their roots in the Celtic tradition, expressing an intimate experience with the elemental. Gosbee's narrative ballads are finely crafted and celebrate the dignity and humanity of ordinary people.

“Few on the Maine coast are as adept at evoking the feeling of the region as Fred Gosbee..”
(FACE Magazine)
Lane is known for her imagery and beautiful melodies

"excellent sense of environment, capturing the feel of coastal lands in the melody, accompaniment, and lyrics."
(Folk Harp Journal)

In the time-honored art of meaningful songwriting, they give new voice to an ancient tradition. Together, they have composed a suite for quintet of folk instruments inspired by a tour of the Scottish island of Skye. The Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association commissioned them to compose a similar suite for that region. Sang O the Solway was performed in Scotland several times in 2000, 2001, and 2002, culminating with a performance at the prestigious Celtic Connection Festival in Glasgow.

CASTLEBAY has toured the Eastern U.S., Ireland, England and Scotland playing at festivals and arts centers, as well as on radio and television. The duo maintains a commitment to cultural education, exchanging music and lore with colleagues and providing folklore and music programs for schools, museums, libraries and Elderhostels. The duo has released 27 recordings including original Maine-inspired songs, traditional songs, Christmas harp recordings, and the “Tapestry” collection, a 6-part instrumental series.