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During the 19th century pioneer days of America, immigrants brought traditional European folk music to their new homeland, influencing the audio mélange that became country & western music by the 1920s and '30s. Half a century later, mandolin player Dave Wilkie attempted to bring authentic Celtic melodies back to the cowboy music they had influenced, on his Celtic Cowboy LP. He first began playing the mandolin in 1970 near his home in Victoria, British Columbia. Wilkie's first album, 1977's The Mandolin Player, showed no traces of country/Celtic fusion, however; it was straight-up country swing, as was 1985's Shoebox. Aside from his infrequent solo recordings, Wilkie also played with Ian Tyson, Amos Garrett, Maria Muldaur, and Jethro Burns during the '80s.

In 1989, Wilkie founded the Great Western Orchestra with vocalist Cindy Church and guitarists Nathan Tinkham and Stewart MacDougall. The group backed up Katy Moffatt, released four albums of their own, and in 1993, toured Great Britain with Moffatt. Inspired by the similarity between British folk songs and the country & western repertoire with which he was familiar, Wilkie decided to work on a country album with Celtic influences. Recording with the Edmonton Celtic band the McDades, he released Celtic Cowboy in 1996. ~ John Bush, Rovi