Kantara’s origins lie in the Maghreb city of Tunis, where lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Brennan Gilmore met oudist and composer Riadh Fehri in 2005. Two strangers from half a world away brought together by circumstance found something shared in the rhythms and recollections of their past. Together the two worked to create a unique synthesis of two distinct musical traditions, those of Appalachian and Tunisian music. The intersection of these two traditions leads to a third path, not yet walked, where the melodies of the Scots-Irish seeking a new life in the Americas meet the musical tradition of Iberian Muslims expelled during the reconquista of Spain and Portugal.


Each brought new members into the fold – Brennan introduced fiddle player Ann Marie Calhoun and bass player Zach Blatter, long-time collaborators from the U.S., while Riadh rounded out the group with renowned Tunisian percussionist Lassaâd Hosni and vocalist Amel Boukhchina.


Around twilight in the lonesome valley and in the high desert of North Africa, the beat is set, the cadence is called; the voices of the mandolin, the oud and the fiddle are tuned as one. From the dark hollows of the Blue Ridge and down into the wadi, beside mountain brooks to the banks of the Mejerda, Kantara’s music travels down the years, echoing the ways of two traditions while striking out on a new course toward that which is unknown, yet mysteriously and reassuringly familiar.


KANTARA (2014)


Kantara’s long-awaited full-length debut, now available »