The Kennedy Center

Zan McLeod


Zan McLeod's musical heritage began with his grandfather, Ed Stacy, who played Appalachian music on the banjo and mandolin. But, it wasn't until he heard The Beatles on Ed Sullivan that he knew where his first musical steps would lead him. Mr. McLeod started his music career playing in the style of the great southern rock bands of the early 70's. The blues rock synthesis of bands like the Allman Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band influenced his style and compositions. His band called Skinny opened for many national acts in coliseums and auditoriums throughout North Carolina. Mr. McLeod continued to pursue writing and performing his original music in his bands Hummingbird and Skylite

After moving to Chapel Hill in 1976, Mr. McLeod started playing acoustic music. He recorded and toured with local Chapel Hill favorite, Mike Cross. In 1979, on a trip to Nashville, Mr. Cross and Mr. McLeod met Triona NiDhomnaill of the legendary Bothy Band. Together Ms. NiDhomnaill and Mr. McLeod formed the innovative and groundbreaking band Touchstone. Touchstone recorded and toured for five years. Then in 1985, Mr. McLeod heard his electric roots calling and segued into the trio called Fun Addix. The band Fun Addix was influenced by the inspirational Reggae/Rock sounds of Bob Marley and the driving rhythm of the Police. In 1988, Mr. McLeod moved north to Washington D.C. There he connected with his Irish musician friends again and began an exciting and hectic ten year period of touring and recording.

Mr. McLeod recorded his solo CD Highland Soul and its success inspired him to become an audio engineer. Upon graduating from the Omega School of Recording in 1997, he created and established his own home studio, Tonehouse. He has produced over 20 CD's at Tonehouse for Washington's emerging local artists. Most recently Mr. McLeod performs as a freelance musician with many of the most talented and innovative musicians around.
Mr. McLeod's creativity has received many music industry accolades, including his collaboration on: Grammy winning CD, Celtic Solstice with Paul Winter; Grammy Nominated CD's Journey With The Sun (Paul Winter and the Earth Band), and The Long Journey Home (with the Chieftains and others). Touchstone's The New Land won the NAIRD award for best Indie album of 1981 and Highland Soul won a WAMMIE in 1995. Mr. McLeod has recorded on several film soundtracks including: Edward Burns' The Brothers McMullen, Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil, Sam Shepard's Far North and James Horner's Back to Titanic.

Mr. McLeod is also a respected and experienced workshop leader and instructor. He has taught for years at Augusta Heritage, Gaelic Roots, Common Ground, and Swannanoa. In 2001, he released an instructional video on the Irish Bouzouki for Homespun Tapes.

Though Mr. McLeod's musical road appears already very long and winding, it feels as if it has just begun. Today, Mr. McLeod's creative spirit reveals new jazzier harmonies and less defined resolutions: a sign of more unexpected things to come.

Watch Past Performances

Video 12/30/2017: Celtic Holiday

Zan McLeod and Friends present a Celtic Holiday program of traditional Irish music with step dancing featuring top dancers Joe Duffey and Erika Neilsen.

Video 12/28/2016: Celtic Holiday

Zan McLeod and Friends present a Celtic Holiday program of traditional Irish music with step dancing by the Teelin School of Irish Dance featuring Maureen Berry,and Joe Duffey.

Video 5/31/2016: Skylark (Washington, DC)

With fiddle, flute, and guitar, Skylark’s songs conjure the enchantment of Celtic music. Alexander Mitchell, Elise Kress, and Zan McLeod are joined by dancers Joe Duffey and Erika Nielsen for driving rhythms, poignant songs, and a contagious energy.

Video 12/4/2015: An Irish Christmas with Zan McLeod and Friends

Zan McLeod and Friends present An Irish Christmas, an evening of traditional Irish music and step-dancing. The performance features a quartet that includes Irish flute, guitar, fiddle, and bodhran (Irish drums), as well as four dancers from the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance.

Video 12/29/2014: Zan McLeod’s Celtic Holiday

Enjoy traditional Irish music and step-dancing as guitarist Zan McLeod collaborates with the group Skylark, comprised of Elise Kress (flute and vocals) and Alex Mitchell (fiddle, mandolin, and vocals), and with the Culkin Irish Dancers.

Video 12/26/2013: A Celtic Holiday

Zan McLeod and Friends play traditional Irish music with stepdancing by the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance.

Video 12/31/2011: A Celtic New Year

Celebrate with guitarist Zan McLeod, accordionist Peter Brice, fiddler Rosie Shipley, and the New Century Dancers.

Zan McLeod