Biography

The Belle Star Band takes its name and inspiration from Belle Starr, a famous female outlaw of the American Wild West.  With nonstop gigs since 1995, our band presents a refreshing dance experience, rooted in the Scottish ceilidh idiom, but reflecting influences as diverse as: Canadian Cape Breton, New England contradance, and Jewish klezmer. Performing all over Scotland, but taking the music further afield to Germany, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, and England, the Belle Star Band creates a great dance experience for all, whether you are a seasoned ceilidh dancer, or someone who doesn’t know a Gay Gordons from a Dashing White Sergeant!

Fiddle-night-sky-150x150Jenny Gardner -fiddle.

Jenny is a member of the Pathhead Music Collective, recent Creative Place Award winners. She has worked as a freelance musician since 1987. She plays fiddle, bass, percussion and many other instruments, and has toured and recorded with numerous bands including The Poozies, Rock, Salt and Nails, Salsa Celtica and The Belle Star Band. She has also worked on a variety of theatre productions. Jenny is an experienced composer and arranger and released her own CD, named  ‘Cho Chuk’  in 2002.

As a teaching artist and community musician, she founded and co – leads  Fun Fiddle with fellow musician Gica Loening. Jenny has worked for the Scots Music Group, Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin, Wester Hailes Arts and Leisure Education, Paragon Music Ensemble, LGBT, and First Step Community project. She founded and leads ‘KaBoodle’ street band in Pathhead where she lives with her partner and two boys. 

Gica Loening, fiddle             image001

Gica started playing the violin when she was 8 and was taught by Colin O’Riordan, who so inspired countless city children. She joined the Ceilidh Collective dance band in 1989 which rode the crest of the wave of the newly emerging urban ceilidh dance scene. In 1995 she founded the Belle Star Band, and they have been playing together for nearly 20 years and have been the social glue of many a party and festival across Scotland and Europe.

Gica also performs Klezmer- Eastern European Jewish wedding music, and 2004 founded Celter Schmelter klezmer band, playing regularly for the Scottish Jewish community .In 2011 she launched the Ladies Guerilla String Quartet which performs unexpected repertoire in unusual places!

Gica has taught fiddle since 1998 and joined forces in 2004 with fellow band member Jenny Gardner to lead the Portobello Fun Fiddle project   which is now in its eleventh year and offers fiddle tuition for adults and children. In 2008 she completed an MSc in Music in the Community and continues to use music to work with vulnerable groups in Edinburgh. She has 3 boys and a partner who are all musicians and perform with rival ceilidh bands!

Sarah McFadyen fiddle – 039

Sarah McFadyen, originally from Orkney, has been swinging fiddle with The Bellestars for a few years. Playing for dance is one of her favourite things to do, and she plays with a few other dance bands; The Highfield Reels Band, The Dwarfie Stane Dance Band & The Squashy Bag Dance Band. She also plays, writes and sings with The Little House Of L; a band specialising in children’s entertainment. She plays her own self-made fiddle, and is currently carving out number two.

Lynn Sampsell, bass                          020

Lynn’s first acquaintance with ceilidh music was listening to her grandparents’ Jimmy Shand records in Rochester, New York. After moving to Brooklyn, Lynn studied bass with Ron Petrowsky, a student of Sal Mosca. In Scotland, Lynn played in the Ceilidh Collective and was in the original line up of the Celtic rock band, Burach.

Lynn’s community music work includes teaching at The Adult Learning Project’s Scots Music Group, The Edinburgh Chinese Community School, and the OOSHLA Project at Towerbank School.

Lynn is the founder of the Electric Avenue Band, an ensemble performing rock, jazz, and Chinese music. The band takes its name from the street where Lynn’s grandparents lived, where she listened to those Jimmy Shand records so long ago.

 

 Cathy Wood, guitarist and callersoul fest and the camino 032

Cathy is one of the founder members of the band. She has been involved with ceilidh music and playing for dancing over a many years and currently also plays with her husband Eric Wood in ‘The Lairds o’ the Dance’ and the more recently formed ‘Pousette Riot’.  She is the caller and guitarist with the Belles and teaches ceilidh dancing every week at Dancebase.
When she grows up she wants to be famous and help people!!