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About Us 

Band Photo 2016, variation 1

Stephanie Taylor
Hammered Dulcimer
Irish Whistle Recorders

Bodhran

Melanie Beck
Fiddle
Bouzouki

Vanessa Green
Irish Whistle
Bodhran

Esther Sooter
Cello
Vocals

David Magers
Guitar
Hammered Dulcimer Djembe

Red River Breeze is an instrumental acoustic instrumental quintet that plays traditional Celtic, Renaissance, Old-Time and World music.   The group, which has been in existence for over sixteen years, is based in Clarksville, Tennessee and plays traditional instruments including hammered dulcimer, fiddle, penny whistle, Renaissance recorders, bouzouki, guitar, bodhran and djembe.  Current members of the group are Stephanie Taylor, the founder of the group and the hammered dulcimer, Irish whistle and recorder player; Melanie Beck on fiddle and bouzouki; Vanessa Green on Irish whistle and bodhran; Esther Sooter on cello and vocals; and David Magers on guitar, hammered dulcimer and djembe.


Red River Breeze was created around 1999 when Stephanie Taylor began playing Celtic music on recorders and penny whistle with guitar accompaniment in local restaurants and coffee shops in Clarksville, TN - a dream she had had for many years. When Stephanie "discovered" the hammered dulcimer in 2004,  the instrument quickly became her primary interest and so she began asking her daughter, Sarah Clark, to join the group on penny whistle and recorder.  Sarah, as a good daughter should, finally agreed!  As fate would have it, the band grew quickly after this with Byron Dumas joining on fiddle, Steve Jones on upright bass and followed in rapid order with Dixie Jones on guitar, David Elder on mandolin, Melanie Beck on fiddle, and last but not least, David Magers on guitar and occasionally (when Stephanie lets him...), on hammered dulcimer.  Over time, the band has added and said goodbye to members as life's other responsibilities had to take priority.  We've said goodbye to Steve and Dixie Jones, David Elder (twice!) and Sarah Clark.  Currently, Red River Breeze is made up of Stephanie Taylor, Melanie Beck, David Magers, and new members Vanessa Green on Irish whistle and Esther Sooter on cello.

Red River Breeze's first album, "Friday Night Favorites", was recorded in May 2006 with Stephanie Taylor, Sarah Clark, Byron Dumas, David Elder, Steve Jones and Dixie Jones.   The band's second album, "Morgan's Song", was recorded in October 2009 with Stephanie Taylor, Sarah Clark, Byron Dumas, Melanie Beck, David Elder, Dixie Jones, David Magers and Steve Jones.   The band's third album, "The Wren at the Window" was recorded in October 2011 with Stephanie Taylor, Melanie Beck, Byron Dumas, David Magers, and guest artist, Graham Burris.  The band's fourth album, "The Bird Whisperer" was recorded in October 2014 and was released June 2015 with Stephanie Taylor, Melanie Beck, David Magers and David Elder.  The band also recorded and released in 2015 their Christmas album, "The Babe of Bethlehem", recording it in June and releasing it in December.

 "Morgan's Song", "The Wren at the Window", "The Bird Whisperer",  and "the Babe of Bethlehem" are available for purchase.  See the Recordings Page for more info!

Stephanie Bio Photo
Stephanie Taylor began her musical journey as a clarinetist when she was eleven.  She discovered recorders and Renaissance music as a teenager and later the Irish whistle and Celtic music.   In 2005, Stephanie decided to purchase a hammered dulcimer and quickly fell in love with the instrument.   The hammered dulcimer has become Stephanie’s primary instrument in the band and is the focus instrument of Red River Breeze.

Melanie Bio PhotoMelanie Beck joined the band in the spring of 2008.  Melanie began playing the violin when she was eight years old.   She focused on classical music in high school but became more interested in country music and traditional fiddle tunes after moving to Nashville to attend college.   Melanie's interest in Celtic music has grown considerably since joining Red River Breeze and her pure, sweet fiddle sound greatly enhances the band's acoustic flavor and provides the melodic platform for all of the musical sounds produced by other members of the band.   Melanie also teaches both violin and piano to many young students.

 David M Bio Photo

 David Magers plays rhythm guitar and hammered dulcimer and joined the band in the fall of 2008.  David has enjoyed a life-long passion for music, but only in his recently "retired" state, has he fulfilled the dream of performing.  David came to Clarksville from Peoria, Illinois, by way of the June 2008 Kentucky Music Week, where he met Stephanie Taylor in a hammered dulcimer class----and, as they say----the rest is history! David's rhythmically solid guitar playing is the linchpin that helps bind the band's unique sound.  And once in awhile, Stephanie will let him play the hammered dulcimer on a tune or two!  David is also a very talented piano player and he can be heard around Clarksville and at Vanderbilt in Nashville donating his music.

 Vanessa

Vanessa Green fell in love with Celtic music as an adolescent in rural southern Indiana after seeing a Celtic guitar/Irish whistle duo in a restaurant where her mother worked.  This instilled a love for all things guitar, folk and Celtic.  In August 2015, after Vanessa heard Red River Breeze perform, she reached out to Stephanie for Irish whistle lessons, and did so well so quickly that Stephanie asked her to join the band in May 2016.  Vanessa is also a part-time guitar faculty member of Austin Peay State University and owns the Vanessa Green Guitar Studio in Clarksville, TN where she teaches guitar with her husband, Kevin.

 

Esther

Esther Sooter began playing the cello at a very young age.  Along with being a very talented instrumentalist, Esther is also a wonderful vocalist and graduated from Austin Peay State University with a masters in vocal performance.  Esther teaches music as well as performs regularly for various local orchestral and vocal ensembles. Red River Breeze featured Esther as a guest cellist for our 2015 Christmas concert at the Roxy Regional Theatre and loved the depth and warmth of the sound Esther's cello playing added to our sound.  So we talked her into staying in the group permanently!

 

 








Former Members:

Sarah ClarkSarah Clark, joined the band before Christmas of 2005.  Sarah played penny whistle and recorder, and her playing added musical variation and embellishment to the traditional music played by Red River Breeze.  Sarah began her musical journey playing flute and oboe in middle and high school as well as playing recorders in duets with her mother (Stephanie) during that period.   Sarah can be heard on the first and second of the band's albums.  Sarah has been on leave of absence from the group starting in the summer of 2009 with rare guest appearances for special concerts and events.








Dixie JonesDixie Jones plays rhythm guitar and joined the band shortly before Christmas 2006.  Besides being a terrific rhythm guitarist, Dixie has played most traditional stringed instruments at some time in her life and, along with her husband Steve,  is well known locally as a member of the Dixie Volunteers and String Legacy bands, two popular Old-Time bands in the area.  Dixie's playing helped give the band that "old-time" feel on the traditional early American tunes it plays and her finger-picking style was a wonderful addition to slow Celtic airs.  Dixie can be heard on the first and second of the band's albums. Dixie left Red River Breeze in April of 2011.





Steve
Steve had played the upright bass for about ten years when he joined Red River Breeze in the summer of 2006. Along with his wife, Dixie, Steve is a member of the Dixie Volunteers and String Legacy bands, two popular local Old-Time bands.  Steve's bass provided the foundation for the band's rhythm section and was a wonderful addition to the band's sound.  Steve can be heard on the first and second of the band's albums. Steve left Red River Breeze in April of 2011.





Byron Bio Photo

Byron Dumas joined the band in February of 2006 after coming to hear the band and sitting in for the evening.  Byron’s playing added the unique fiddle sound found in Celtic and Old-Time music.  He started playing classical violin when he was twelve and discovered traditional and gospel music in the 1980’s.  Byron plays his fiddle daily on his rounds as a hospice chaplain and is also a founding member of his church string band called the Gasper Strings. Byron left Red River Breeze in the summer of 2014.




David ElderDavid Elder joined the band in January 2007. David started his musical education at age 10 as a piano player but decided that he preferred other instruments, playing trumpet and guitar through high school.  David has played in a variety of groups including jazz, Latin and rock bands and currently plays guitar, bass and keyboards in several church groups. David joined the band as a guitar player but "discovered" the mandolin soon after.   The addition of David's  mandolin playing  added new depth and dimension to the band's music.  David left Red River Breeze in early 2011 but rejoined the band in 2014 as the bass player. David left the band for a second time in late 2015. David can be heard on the first, second, fourth albums as well as the Christmas album.