A brief history of Fire in the Glen

1999 - Fire in the Glen begins, the product of the overactive imaginations of Tom Knapp and John Varner, who in the late 1990s used to get together to play Irish music. The fledgling duo gravitated to Irish/Celtic music, and some days they'd pitch names back and forth, answering the optimistic question, "What would we call our band, if we started one?" Tom came up with Fire in the Glen, but rapidly dismissed it as a pipe dream.

Early in 1999, they were attending a performance by an Irish duo at J.M.'s Bistro, a little French place down the block from Tom's house, and while Tom visited the restroom, John slipped the bartender Tom's number and said she should call if she ever needed an Irish band. A few weeks later, she called -- and asked Tom about hiring his Irish band. "What Irish band?" he asked. "Fire in the Glen," she responded -- that apparently being the only name John could remember.

Bowing to fate, he booked a gig, and Fire in the Glen was born. Their first gig was, appropriately enough, on March 17, 1999. John sang lead and played guitar, while Tom played fiddle and bodhran and provided backing vocals.

2000 - Fire in the Glen makes its international debut when Tom and John attend the Festival Club at Celtic Colours in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and by a twist of fate end up performing. Tom and John release a CD, On the Road to Lisdoonvarna.

During this period, Fire in the Glen opens for concerts by Great Big Sea, Lunasa, Kieran O'Hare and Tarras.

2001 - John goes in another direction, at which time Tom decides to keep the project moving forward. He scouts around for a replacement singer and finds one in Chet Williamson, who takes over vocal and guitar duties. Their partnership proves fruitful, further defining the FitG sound and lasting more than seven years -- the longest-lasting incarnation of the band to date.

During this period, Fire in the Glen gets a national audience through three appearances on the QVC home shopping network, at one point playing with the Irish Tenors. They also expand their playing area, with shows as far afield as northern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

The band also begins writing its own material. Songs from this era include Tom's "The Susquehanna Pirate" and "From Amish to Irish," and Chet's "I'd Stop Drinkin'" and "Scots-Irish." (Some of Tom's compositions, such as "Guinness and Viagra," fail to find traction.)

2002 - Tom and Chet release a CD, Pirates, Wakes & Whiskey.

2005 - Tom and Chet release their second album together, Let the Wind Blow High.

2009 - When Chet, drawn to the siren song of the stage, moves on, Tom finds his new partner, singer/guitarist Jason Mundok, living across the street. Jason, a native of western Pennsylvania, had lived and performed in Ireland and Nashville, Tennessee, and he uses his experience to help guide Fire in the Glen onto a more professional plain.

2010 - Tom and Jason produce the band's fourth CD, Shout 'Til the Break of Day, which they record in Jason's snazzy basement studio.

During this period, Fire in the Glen performs with Fil Campbell, Aoife Clancy and the Stray Birds.

2011 - Tom and Jason decide to expand the band into a trio, adding singer/percussionist Aaron Gagne, a Vermont native, to the mix for a fuller sound.

Fire in the Glen adds Celtic Christmas shows to its repertoire, blending traditional holiday songs with less familiar Irish and Scottish melodies.

2012 - Jason steps down and is replaced in the lineup by Michael Filippo, a singer and wizard guitarist from Sleepy Hollow, New York. For the first time, Fire in the Glen employs guitar as a lead melody instrument.

Aaron opts out a few months later; Michael now shares lead vocalist duties with the band's newest member, local singer-songwriter Amanda Wells, who also plays guitar, harmonica and percussion. The band, now with two lead singers, begins incorporating stronger vocal harmonies into their sound.

This incarnation of the band performs with Barleyjuice, the Kilmaine Saints and the Ogham Stones. The trio records but, unfortunately, does not release an album.

2014 - Michael is replaced by Durelle Leaman, who plays guitar and fiddle and is a regular performer with Amanda in her other band, Amanda Wells & the Fargo Wagon.

During this period, Fire in the Glen performs with Enter the Haggis and Burning Bridget Cleary.


Bell-Bottom'd Trousers

The Ferryman

Lily the Pink


2015 - Amanda and Durelle decide to focus in a different musical direction. Tom reforms the band with singer/guitarist Dave Pedrick and singer/cellist Melissa Brun. Melissa, a world-class performer, delights in exploring new sounds with her cello.

This incarnation of the band proves short-lived.

Amanda and Durelle graciously agree to return to keep the band going while Tom reforms the group.

A few months later, the 9th incarnation of Fire in the Glen is unveiled. Joining Tom on stage are Mick Mullen, a native of Dublin, Ireland, who sings and plays guitar, and his wife, Megan Mullen, who sings and adds keyboard to the FitG sound.