Rip the Calico

Rip the Calico is a high-energy contra dance band from North Carolina. Drawing heavily from Celtic influences (and origins), the Calicos will take you on a dance journey from dulcet circlings to mad romps across the dance floor. The band features Alison Arnold (Irish flute, Irish and Scottish whistles); Gordon Arnold (cello, guitar, banjo); Mairead Brady (fiddle); and Tyler Johnson (tenor banjo, guitar, mandolin). Celebrate Scottish and Irish culture and their contributions to North Carolina music at the NC Museum of History with Rip the Calico!

Alison Arnold is the force behind the band’s soaring melodies and rich harmonies. She is an accomplished ethnomusicologist on the music faculty at North Carolina State University who teaches diverse classes on music and culture. In addition to being fluent in Irish traditional music, Alison is an expert on Hindi film music, having traveled extensively in the remotest regions of the world in search of rare instruments and localized musics. She plays a Patrick Olwell Irish flute, a Copeland D whistle (Irish), and an MK Kelpie Low F whistle (Scottish).

Gordon Arnold is on the vanguard of bringing the cello back to the forefront of community dance music. He does so not only with the heart wrenching beauty that only the cello can render, but also with modern slap, funk, and groove that gets up under the dance floor and shakes the hall. Gordon is also an award-winning claw hammer banjo player. The band leans on him for old time music when Irish tunes are just too intellectual. He plays a Cape Breton cello by Otis A. Tomas, a carbon fiber cello, a Taylor guitar, and a Ray Alden 5-string banjo.

Mairead Brady provides Rip the Calico’s driving melodies and gorgeous harmonies on the fiddle. She hails from central North Carolina, where she grew up listening to Martin Hayes, Mark O’Connor, and Kenny Baker. She was classically trained but made the conversion to Irish fiddle styles and hasn’t looked back. Today, she plays a fiddle that is a replica of a Dalla Costa made of French barnwood.

Tyler Johnson handles the band’s fretted strings on tenor banjo, mandolin, octave mandolin, and guitar. He has more than 30 years of experience as a musician and provides a great deal of the band's chordal interpretation, texture, and mood. He plays a Deering custom Maple Blossom tenor banjo, a Martin DC-Aura guitar, and a handmade mandolin.

Rip the Calico

Rip the Calico is a high-energy contra dance band from North Carolina. Drawing heavily from Celtic influences (and origins), the Calicos will take you on a dance journey from dulcet circlings to mad romps across the dance floor. The band features Alison Arnold (Irish flute, Irish and Scottish whistles); Gordon Arnold (cello, guitar, banjo); Mairead Brady (fiddle); and Tyler Johnson (tenor banjo, guitar, mandolin). Celebrate Scottish and Irish culture and their contributions to North Carolina music at the NC Museum of History with Rip the Calico!

Rip the Calico: Alison Arnold on whistle; Mairead Brady on fiddle; Tyler Johnson wearing a kilt and playing mandolin; Gordon Arnold, sitting and playing cello.
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