Distant Oaks, a San Francisco Bay area traditional Celtic band composed of Deborah L. White (vocals, guitar, citole, cittern, fretted dulcimer) and her sons Jared White (recorders, whistles, krummhorn, Scottish smallpipes, Border pipes, bodhran) and Shayne White (Celtic harp, Medieval harp, stepdancing) began as a group in 1992. Their venues have ranged throughout the western United States, and include participation in the Berkeley Early Music Festival, as well as the Hausmusik Concert Series, the Sebastopol Celtic Festival, the Camellia Inn Concert Series, the Cinnabar Theater Spring and Summer Music Festivals, and the Festival of Harps. They also perform regularly at Highland Games, festivals, fairs, and other special events. Distant Oaks is a teaching ensemble, dedicated to the continuance of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, and has taught music and language workshops at numerous festivals and on college campuses since 1996. They have traveled overseas to perform in Scotland and Ireland, as well.
Deborah White has been performing and recording both early and traditional music since the mid-'70s. Raised in a musical family, making music has become her lifelong practice. She graduated with honors in Medieval and Renaissance vocal music from Dominican College of San Rafael and went on to do extensive post-graduate work in the fields of both traditional and early music. In the early '90s she took up Scottish Gaelic, following that with Irish a few years after. She is extremely active, teaching music, language classes, and workshops throughout Northern California, as well as instructing online courses and conducting an active Internet mailing list for beginners of Scottish Gaelic called Gaidhlig 4 U.
Jared and Shayne both began their initial music training by studying the piano. In 1993, Jared commenced studying the recorder with master recorder player Kit Higginson of Ensemble Alcatraz. Soon afterward he added the Scottish smallpipes, followed by a number of other historical wind instruments, from the Irish wooden whistle, to the krummhorn, as well as the Scottish Border pipes, musically akin to the Highland bagpipes. He has been performing with Distant Oaks since 1994, the year that also saw the release of their debut CD, Dance to Bright Steel. Jared also designs websites professionally as GaelDesign, and records progressive electronic music with his brother Shayne. Shayne's harp studies began in 1993 with master harper Cheryl Ann Fulton, after his mother, Deborah, brought back a lap harp from a Medieval music workshop. He first took up Scottish step-dancing in 1994, at a workshop taught by Maggie Moore of Perthshire, Scotland, and went on to study stepdancing further with Sara Gratiot of Marina, CA, and Mary Janet MacDonald of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He has also been harping and dancing with Distant Oaks since 1994. 1996 saw the release of the band's follow-up album, Empty Your Heart of Its Mortal Dream, and later Against the Tide in 1999. Their sampler Byways came out through MP3.com in 2001. ~ Murrday Fisher