Equal parts Northeast Scottish and Cape Breton dance hall, Ed's playing is a rich
expression of the multi-faceted Boston Scottish music scene, a scene that he played
a central role in creating. Ed directed the Boston Scottish Fiddle Club for 18 years,
after cofounding it in 1981. During this time, he led monthly workshops, an annual
concert series called the Scottish Fiddle Rally, featuring soloists from Scotland
and Cape Breton (highlights CD available from Greentrax and www.paddledoo.com), tours
to Cape Breton, and other events, including the Celtic Festival at Boston’s Hatch
Shell, which Ed founded and directed, presenting the best in the Boston area’s Irish,
Scottish and Cape Breton musicians and dancers to an audience of some 7,000 annually.
Fiddle Club soloists and workshop leaders included Alasdair Fraser, Buddy MacMaster,
Aly Bain, Natalie MacMaster, Jerry Holland, John McCusker, Joe Cormier and many more.
Working closely with so many masters of Cape Breton and Scottish fiddling put Ed
in a unique position to be influenced by both traditions. The result is a fiddle
style deeply rooted in both Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, reflecting the rich
musical heritage of the Boston area.
He has taught countless students in private lessons, classes, workshops, and music
camps including Ohio Scottish Arts School for 16 summers, Maine Fiddle Camp, Pinewoods
music and dance camps, Blazin-in-Beauly fiddle camp in Scotland, Swannanoa Celtic
Week, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, and Ashokan Celtic Week. On this website, you’ll
find Ed’s unique tunelearning pages for people to learn tunes online, as well as
his patented Finger Finder, which helps students learn how to finger violin notes
Ed has composed music for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and Burns’s
Tam o Shanter, and performed for many theatrical productions including musicals,
plays and dance performances.
Ed’s first solo album, Boston Hospitality, with Beth Murray on piano, and several
guest musicians, was released in 1987 on LP, and on CD in 2007, offering both listening
music and music for RSCDS dances written by prominent Boston area teachers. Comments
included “milestone album for the Boston Celtic community” (Boston Globe) and “precious
artistic jewel” (TACtalk Canada).
His first CD with Neil Pearlman is On the Edge, with Scottish traditional and some
original tunes, featuring exciting accompaniment by Neil Pearlman on piano. Ian Green,
founder of Scotland’s Greentrax Records said of Ed & Neil’s album that it is “a cracking
album of tunes on mainly fiddle and piano. It demonstrates clearly the love that
Ed and Neil have for the music of Scotland, Cape Breton and elsewhere, with Neil's
jazz influences shining through. A real gem."
His most recent CD (2013) is American Scottish, again with Neil Pearlman. This father-son
duo will envelop you with powerful tunes from Scotland and Cape Breton. Ed's rich
and expressive fiddling taps deep into tradition, while Neil’s piano playing weaves
an astonishing tapestry of innovative harmony and rhythm.
Ed has been the music columnist for Scottish Life magazine since 1996.
In 1991, Ed started a distribution company in 1991 called Portland America Distributing,
to address the lack of available recordings from Scotland and Cape Breton in the
USA. Portland America ended up distributing most of the artists and labels from
Scotland and Atlantic Canada as well as selected titles from Ireland, Brittany and
Wales, to stores of all sizes, from Mom & Pop shops to large chain stores, throughout
the USA. He passed this business to an interested new owner in January 2003 in order
to focus on his own music and family band.
As you can hear on the International track of the On the Edge CD, Ed has also enjoyed
learning and working with other styles of music: classical, pit orchestras for musicals,
klezmer, jazz, Hungarian, bluegrass, and contra dance music. He has played for countless
dancers: Highland, Cape Breton step, Scottish country, and contras. He has composed
music for musicals, Scottish dramatic presentations, and for several plays, including
Miss Julie by Strindberg, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. His original training was with
Everett Zlatoff-Mirsky (Chicago Fine Arts Quartet), Perry Crafton (Chicago Symphony),
Dan Stepner (Yale, Boston Museum Trio), Roger Shermont (Boston Symphony), but he
has specialized the past 30 years in fiddling, particularly that of Scotland and
Ed competed in Scottish fiddling in the 1980s, achieving 3d in the US Nationals at
a time when John Turner and Alasdair Fraser took 1st and 2d. He went on to become
one of America’s most experienced Scottish fiddling judges, adjudicating at countless
competitions throughout the US, including 5 US Nationals. He served a term as president
of US Scottish Fiddling Revival (FIRE).
Ed Pearlman has performed, taught, and promoted fiddle music, particularly that of
Scotland and Cape Breton for over 30 years. He has worked with many of the top fiddlers
from Scotland and Cape Breton. He tours often as a duo with his son Neil, an accomplished
professional pianist who seamlessly melds Scottish traditional tunes with Latin,
funk, and jazz (info on Ed and Neil as a duo). Ed’s wife, Laura Scott, is a Highland
dancer who incorporates Cape Breton step, Highland folk, and creates improvs and
new choreographies. Their family band (www.highlandsoles.com) includes their son
Neil, along with Lilly, an excellent fiddler and dancer, and Jesse, who plays whistle
and dances. Ed has toured with Highland Soles throughout the USA and in Canada and