Susan Worland Bentley is a California-based Scottish dance fiddler, with a past in the New England area, and an even further past as a student at Carleton College, so she is extra tickled to be back to play in Minnesota! Ah, if only she'd known about country dancing back in her student days!
Susan has played classical music all her life, starting on the piano at age three and the violin at nine, but didn't go beyond the classical realm until she was in her 20s. Post-college, living in Boston, she joined a folk dance performing group as a musician, which turned out to be a major turning point in life -- she met so many great musicians, including Barbara McOwen, who had just recently moved to Boston. Susan's first music trip to California was at Barbara's instigation, she brought the whole band Tullochgorum, of which Susan was a member by then, to play at Asilomar. Susan played a lot of Polish music back in her east coast days, and maintains an interest in various forms of Eastern European music, including seven stints as band leader at the prestigious Stockton Folk Dance Camp. She also teaches violin in after school programs, and plays in the Santa Cruz Symphony.
The Red Thistle Dance Group, based in Palo Alto, California, had a pivotal role in the big life changes that brought Susan to the west. She was recruited to play for the dance group's tour to Norway in 1998, where she met bodhran player Michael Bentley. The rest is now history, they were married in 1999. And one of the perks is she gets to play with Lyle Ramshaw many times a year!
Lyle Ramshaw has an identical twin brother Lance, and this seems worth mentioning because confusion sometimes results. They both enjoy Scottish country dancing (SCD) and play backup piano for SCD, but Lance also teaches SCD and plays fiddle. While Lance lives near Boston, Lyle lives near San Francisco, where he plays piano in the bands Red Thistle Music and Fiddlesticks & Ivory, backing up the fine fiddling of Susan Worland-Bentley in both cases. Lyle strives for dance music with spirit, in the Scottish idiom. He and Susan have played at many events of the San Francisco Branch of the RSCDS since Susan moved to the Bay Area early in the new millennium, including the Valentine's Ball, the Jean Patrick Memorial Dance, and the Kim McGarrity Memorial Ball at Asilomar. They have also played for events in southern California and as far away as Maine. Check out their recordings at Red Thistle Music.