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Alison Helzer was born in Eugene Oregon in 1992 and started playing tenor banjo at the age of ten.  At thirteen she started the five-piece Celtic band Tonn Nua with fiddle player Ansel Dow.  Tonn Nua recorded two CDs: Eye of the Wind in 2006 and Tonn Nua Live in 2007.  Tonn Nua performed extensively in the Pacific Northwest from 2005 to 2009.  In 2009 the Garcia triplets (Zoe, Daphne, and David) left the band to attend college.  Alison and Ansel continued to perform under the name Tonn Nua Trio, backed by guitarist Glen Waddell.

In 2006 Tonn Nua recorded the traditional Scottish song Gradh Geal Mo Chridhe in Scottish Gaelic. The song quickly surged past 50,000 views on YouTube and earned praise from around the world.  In 2010 the song was remixed, adding more guitar and bass, for Alison’s solo CD, Carolan’s Welcome.

Although Alison is best known as a tenor banjo player she is also accomplished on tenor guitar, six-string guitar, and octave mandolin. In addition to traditional Celtic music she occasionally performs bluegrass, classical, and American folk music.  In high school Alison was a competitive chess player winning Oregon All-State honors all four years of her high school career.  She currently attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where she continues to share her enthusiasm for traditional Irish music.

 

The Amazing Carlow

 



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