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GiveWay at Paschal Winery

When four Scottish sisters combined their musical abilities to form the band they call GiveWay, a fresh, contemporary slant on traditional Celtic music was born.

The Johnson sisters, all in their 20s, began studying music at an early age at their home in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eldest sister, Fiona, has been playing violin since she was 5 years old. Kirsty has played accordion since she got one for her fourth birthday. Amy started learning to play the accordion when she was 5 years old but switched to percussive instruments when she was 13, and Mairi — Amy's twin — started playing keyboard at age 6. Each of the sisters sings.

"It was just a natural progression for us to start as a group," said Fiona.

The sisters have been performing as a band since 1998 and generally play Scottish music with Celtic rock and jazz influences. Fiona said their band name was inspired by the U.K. version of the British traffic sign to yield the right of way, which reads "Give Way," and means roughly, "watch out, coming through."

Fiona said playing as a family group has its challenges, but "we're all really used to each other and how the others play."

The group is on its second West Coast tour, which began in Colorado and will end in Oregon this week. It's final show will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent.

"We like the weather (on the West Coast) especially because it rains a lot where we're from," Fiona said. "It's nice to see a little bit of sun."

Phil Kavanath, presenter for Morpheus Promotions, said the band is a relatively new entity to this part of the world but is very popular in Scotland.

"Their show at Paschal will be more acoustic than they traditionally perform," Kavanath said. "They will be playing the piano, accordion, fiddle and drums. It also will be a more intimate setting than the stages they've been performing on," he said.

"GiveWay plays a modern, very contemporary take on traditional Scottish music. They bring in elements of folk and jazz so their arrangements are more upbeat."

The girls' talent was first recognized when they won the Danny Kyle Open Stage Award at Celtic Connections — a Scottish music festival — and the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards.

"People saw us playing at those shows and that's how we got the opportunity to tour the U.S.," Fiona said. "Touring the states is something we've always wanted to do, and we feel lucky to have been doing so over the past three years."

GiveWay has completed several tours along the East Coast and through Europe and the U.K., playing at venues such as Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall in Scotland, the Fairport's Cropredy Convention Festival in England, the Tonder Festival in Denmark and the Cambridge Folk Festival in England.

"They're places we would never have gotten to see if we hadn't been performing as a band," Fiona said.

GiveWay has released three albums, including "Full Steam Ahead" (2003), "Inspired" (2005) and their newest, "Lost in This Song," released last spring. "Lost in This Song," produced by Scottish accordionist and former Silly Wizard member Phil Cunningham, is a mix of instrumental and vocals that verges on country, Fiona said.

About 25 percent of their songs are self-composed, and many of their songs have been revised to fit their style. Two of GiveWay's most widely-recognized songs are "Western Highway" and "The Water is Wide," which was recorded as a single in 2008 and can be heard at www.myspace.com/givewaymusic.

Admission to their performance at Paschal Winery is $20. Call 499-2511.

Reach Mail Tribune intern Teresa Thomas at 776-4464

The Johnson sisters found forming a band a natural progression of their family unit. - Photo courtesy of Real Good Musi