Family that plays, stays together
By Kym Byrnes

Ken, Stephanie and Ryan Koons have turned their love for music into a family affair.
The husband, wife and son trio, known as Wherligig, will perform traditional Celtic and Nordic music in celebration of the Summer Solstice this Thursday, June 21, at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster.
Initially formed in 1985, Wherligig has evolved over the years in the type of music the group plays, the instruments they use and the members who play in the band.
Ken and Stephanie have been the core of the band since its inception, and several years ago son Ryan joined them to make it a family gig. In addition to creating their own music based on the traditional sounds of Nordic and Celtic music, Ken also hand crafts many of the unique instruments they play.
"We are really excited that Ryan will be playing the nyckelharpa at the concert. This is one of the oldest continually played instruments in the world," said Ken. "It is an unusual instrument, shaped like a violin but with keys on it. It took me a year to build it and just hours for Ryan to play notes on it."

According to Ken, music is a passion for the entire family, an opportunity to spend time together doing something they love. He said the pursuit of music is full time for the family -- they are constantly working on music and instruments and preparing for upcoming shows.
When they're not performing or preparing, Ken is a photographer and Stephanie is a kindergarten teacher. Ryan will be starting his sophomore year at Dickinson College in the fall.
"Wherligig is full time as far as effort, we are always working and preparing for the next job," Ken said.
He said that Wherligig has also been a musical journey for the family over the years.
Each genre they have played led them to something else; Ken said they were always searching for the roots of the music they were playing.
They started in American Old Time music, transitioned to Celtic, then Nordic.
"For us, it's all about the instruments. When we perform we mix in all elements and take the time to explain the importance and influence of each," Ken said. "We are lucky that Ryan is in college in Pennsylvania, he's close enough that we can still play together," said Ken. "The music is really good for the family and the family is really good for the music.
"Our goal is to have fun. We enjoy it because we're together, and I think the music shows that," Ken concluded.

For more information about Wherligig, visit
Wherligig will perform a Summer Solstice Concert on Thursday, June 21, at 7 p.m. at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for CCAC members, seniors and students 18 and younger. Tickets can be purchased through the Arts Council by calling 410-848-7272.

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