With driving groove and a smooth, open sound, fiddler and tunestress Sumaia Jackson is a quintessential modern West Coast fiddler. Jackson weaves together Celtic, Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass traditions with an easy virtuosity and melodic elegance.
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, Jackson studied classical violin, surrounding herself with many innovative and inimitable coastal string players. During her teenage years, Jackson’s musical path widened as she sought out roots music communities in Scottish, Appalachian, Jazz, and Bluegrass traditions, and spent years soaking up tunes and styles at vibrant fiddle camps. She still attends camps and workshops in the roles of student, teacher, helper, coach, or organizer. On a full scholarship, she holds a Bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music in the American Roots Music department.
Now living in the Bay Area, Jackson tours North America, Europe, and the UK with Jayme Stone’s Folklife and Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards—playing at the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Celtic Connections, Planet Bluegrass, and the Edmonton Folk Festival, and much more. She is also a member of the Real Vocal String Quartet (recipients of a 2017 Gerbode Special Grant in the Arts) and plays duo with award-winning Canadian fiddler, Adrianna Ciccone.
Violinist Maura Shawn Scanlin and guitarist Conor Hearn unite to form “Rakish.” The pair gets their namesake from the traditional Irish tune Rakish Paddy, an origin that aptly suits the duo and their shared background in traditional Irish and Scottish music. Yet “rakish” itself also suggests something strikingly unconventional in its appearance, and Maura and Conor knowingly embrace this wealth of connotation in their music, drawing on the music they grew up with and performing it with their own slant.
In a performance that is something more akin to concert music, Rakish explores tunes and songs from Irish and American folk traditions in a way that reflects their shared interest in and love for chamber and improvised music. Maura Shawn, a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion and a winner of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Competition, wields the technical range of an accomplished classical violinist and the deep sensitivity of a traditional musician. Conor, a native to the Irish music communities of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, makes his home in Boston playing guitar for a number of traditional music acts and bands.
Rakish has performed on Front Row Boston, Brian O’Donovan’s 2020 “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” the Burren Backroom Series, and they can be heard on broadcasts of GBH’s “A Celtic Sojourn.” They have appeared at esteemed festivals including the Boston Celtic Music Festival, the Bellingham Irish Music Festival, and the Rockport Celtic Music Festival. Rakish is a recipient of the 2019 Iguana Fund Grant generously supported by Club Passim.