The “new” in the title of this fine compilation is not necessarily in reference to these being up-to-the-minute selections, but more so the spirit of innovation that many of them represent. When Celtic music crosses boundaries without going too far afield of the traditional elements that make it so distinctive (and in recent years, so popular), the results can be thrilling. This disc gives us Celtic sounds with pan-African overtones (Kila, Old Blind Dogs), rock and roll leanings (Wolfstone), bluegrass-meets-zydeco energy (Reeltime) and much more, along with tracks that stick closer to familiar ground. There’s tons of Celtic music available out there; this collection is a solid overview of some at it’s most vital.
Matto Congrio was one of the most important modern Celtic bands in Galicia (Spain) in the early 1990s. Its only album Matto Congrio released in 1993 was an exciting combination of Galician Celtic music with Irish music, rock, salsa, samba and reggae. The album was recorded in Dublin and featured top Irish musicians as guests, including Paddy Moloney on the uilleann pipes.
The group’s founders Carlos Núñez, Santiago Cribeiro and Anxo Lois Pinto were all graduates of the Obradoiro Escola de Gaitas e Zanfonas de Vigo (Vigo School of Bagpipes and Hurdy Gurdies) the most important school in the development of new Galician musicians. After Matto Congrio disbanded Carlos Núñez went on to become one of the most sought after pipers and flautists in international Celtic music. In addition to touring worldwide with The Chieftains he has recorded solo albums for major labels and is a frequent guest in many recordings.
Former Matto Congrio members Santiago Cribeiro, Anxo Lois Pinto and Isaac Palacin formed a new group called Berrogüetto which became one of the top contemporary Galician folk music bands.
Dennis Cahill is a virtuoso guitarist versed as well in classical, blues and rock as he is in traditional Irish music. A native of Chicago, he studied at the city’s prestigious Music College before becoming an active member of the local music scene.
Cahill’s innovative accompaniment is acknowledged as being a major breakthrough for guitar in the Irish tradition. In addition to his recordings and live work with Martin Hayes Dennis has performed with such renowned fiddlers as Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers and Kevin Burke.
Cahill and Hayes, along with singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and pianist Doveman, are the members of The Gloaming, an Irish-American supergroup
Malinky were Danny Kyle Open Stage winners at Celtic Connections in 1999. Their song-centered repertoire combines a deep appreciation of tradition with a vibrant freshness of approach taking in both classic ballads and outstanding original songwriting alongside sparkling instrumental sets.
Malinky’s current line-up features founding members Steve Byrne (vocals/bouzouki/guitar) Mark Dunlop (whistles/bodhran/vocals) Jon Bews (fiddle/vocals) and new members since 25 — Fiona Hunter (vocals/cello) Ewan MacPherson (mandolin/guitar/octave mandolin/tenor banjo/jaw harp/vocals).
A year on from winning the Danny Award Malinky released their debut CD Last Leaves to widespread acclaim. The album spent six months in the US Celtic Radio Chart Top 1. This success paved the way for a steadily accelerating tour schedule that has since taken Malinky throughout the UK and Europe with headline gigs including the Tonder, Lorient, Cambridge and Sidmouth folk festivals as well as several return visits to Celtic Connections and the prestigious Scottish Folk Festival tour of Germany where the band now tour annually in their own right.
Their 2002 album 3 Ravens earned the Scots/Irish five-piece rave reviews all-round. Malinky headed into the studio in summer 25 to record their third album once again on leading Scottish independent label Greentrax Recordings; Unseen Hours was released on 1st November 2005 and asserted their continuing position as Scotland’s leading young folk group.
Last Leaves (Greentrax, 2000)
3 Ravens (GreenTrax, 2002)
The Unseen Hours (Mad River Records, 2005)
Flower & Iron (Mad River Records, 2008)
Far Better Days (2015)
Born in Chicago to Irish parents Liz Carroll was a natural at the fiddle right from the start. At age 18 she amazed the Celtic music world by winning the All-Ireland Senior Championship. Raised in the close-knit South side Irish community she learned the fiddle from her father and other older Irish musicians tagging along with him to Irish,session” where such respected musicians as fiddler Johnny McGreevy and pianist Eleanor (Kane) Neary could be found. She wrote her first tune at age nine.
An original member of the group Cherish the Ladies Liz has performed with artists ranging from the late virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin to rock musician Don Henley. She has also performed with the String Sisters (with fellow fiddlers Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh of Altan Natalie Mac Master Catriona MacDonald from Scotland Annbjørg Lien of Norway and American Liz Knowles). The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Liz the National Heritage Fellowship the country’s top honor for the traditional arts in 1994. In 1999 Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley named September 19th,Liz Carroll Day, during the Chicago Celtic Festival.
Kiss Me Kate with Tommy Maguire (Shanachie 3412, 1978)
Trian with with Trian (1992)
Liz Carroll (Green Linnet, 1993)
Trian II with with Trian (Green Linnet SIF-1159, 1995)
Brought up in the Black Isle and now based in Glasgow, Lauren MacColl is the holder of the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2004.
Immersed in the rich culture of the Highlands, Lauren learned fiddle through the Feisean movement of Gaelic arts in Ross-Shire and it was at the Feis annual summer-schools that she was taught by the some of the Highland’s leading musicians: Iain MacFarlane, Allan Henderson and Alpha Munro. Her repertoire reflects her northern background and is greatly influenced by visiting tutor Aonghas Grant of Lochaber.
In the past few years her playing has taken her to Montana (USA), Italy France, Norway, Galway, Co. Mayo and across Britain and has given her various radio and television opportunities including Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk Radio nan Gaidheal MNE’s Beolach on BBC 2 Alba and as part of Donald Shaw’s Harvest commission on 24s BBC Hogmanay Live Show.
Her win of the Radio 2 award will this year see her play Cambridge Festival and Towersay Festival and record a session for the Mike Harding Show. Currently playing solo in duos and with the Tom Orr Dance Band Lauren combines her studies and performance with a passion for teaching as a resident tutor for Glasgow Fiddle Workshop RSAMD Youthworks.
Lau is a trio made up of fiddler Aidan O’Rourke, accordion-player Martin Green and Kris Drever who plays guitar and sings in the group. Aidan Martin and Kris have considerable experience and finesse that gives them license to play with a rare freedom. Despite the traditional music definition, their combined efforts make something new: great musicians doing something more than just showing their skills.
Lau pull together their influences which span most of the UK from the west coast of Scotland up and across to Orkney and down to the east of England. The combination is a modern sound with all the depths of these traditions backing it up.
Their debut album Lightweights and Gentlemen came out in early 2007.
Kevin Burke’s sparkling lyrical fiddle has earned him a reputation as one of the finest most influential players in music today. From The Bothy Band to Patrick Street he has defined Irish fiddling for a generation. His work with artists as disparate as Kate Bush Arlo Guthrie and Christy Moore has given him an audience that not only spans continents but defies attempts at categorization.
Born and raised in London England Burke picked up his first fiddle at age eight when his parents decided music studies were in order. “To this day I have no idea why they chose the fiddle except that it’s popular in County Sligo where the family comes from and where we spent our vacations ” he laughs. “For the next five years or so I dutifully diddled around on it. Then I discovered Irish music. Suddenly I was hooked. I spent my teens wandering into pubs waiting for a chance to sit in with the musicians.”
London in the 196s was a vibrant musical scene for the Irish emigrants could be heard playing the styles of Kerry Sligo Galway Limerick and Clare. And Burke was listening. Though he counts such masters of the Sligo style as Michael Coleman Paddy Killoran and Tom McGowan as primary influences he also points to fiddlers Bobby Casey (County Clare) and Brendan McGlinchey (Ulster) and to a wealth of Irish musicians on the London scene as important in his development. “I had access to it all whereas if I’d been living in Ireland I might not have been so lucky.”
Good fortune aside Kevin’s undeniable talents brought him to the attention of Arlo Guthrie in 1972 when he was invited to the United States to play on Guthrie’s Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys. Shortly after Christy Moore the great Irish singer/songwriter asked Burke to Ireland to play in his new band. He stayed with Moore two years before joining what would become one of the most influential Irish groups of all time The Bothy Band.
Hailed as “the Yardbirds of Irish music ” the Bothy Band boasts some of the finest musical alumni in all of Ireland including Matt Molloy (Chieftains) Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Tríona Ní Domhnaill (Nightnoise) Dónal Lunny and Paddy Keenan. Burke initially joined the band as a temporary replacement for fiddler Tommy Peoples but his role soon become permanent. His elegant impassioned fiddle was a cornerstone of the band’s legendary sound from 1976 until 1979.
During their years together Burke and guitarist Míchéal Ó Domhnaill discovered a rare musical rapport. When the Bothy Band parted ways the duo toured Europe and recorded the groundbreaking Promenade which was awarded the “Grand Prix du Disque” at the 198 Montreux Jazz Festival. They went on to record Portland named for the adopted hometown where Burke still resides.
In 1986 Burke joined an all-star cast of Irish musicians that included Andy Irvine and Jackie Daly for a tour that evolved into the legendary quartet Patrick Street. Eight albums and countless tours later the partnership is stronger and more electric than ever. In the late ‘8s Burke formed Open House his short-lived but critically acclaimed project with American musicians Paul Kotapish Mark Graham and Sandy Silva. Kevin created Open House to stretch beyond his Irish roots and explore music from all corners of the world.
As if that weren’t enough he is an active member of The Celtic Fiddle Festival a dazzling pan-Celtic ensemble that also features Scotland’s Johnny Cunningham and Christian LeMaitre of Brittany. Though the trio first came together for a one-off tour they went on to record two successful albums both highlighting the brilliant interplay between the fiddlers.
In Concert is Burke’s first solo release in 15 years. His fiddling tone and power are in mighty form as he sails through tunes drawn from throughout his remarkable career. “There are thousands of old tunes good ones that haven’t been played in years. When I find something I love I play it. And when I find something I like I bend it out of shape until I love it…Good music is good music. It should be heard.”
“A lot of people think Irish music is wistful and melancholy. That’s one side of it but there’s also a great rough resilient spirit in the music an element of joy underlying even the most plaintive melody. I grew up listening to musicians with that spirit and I value it. So much in music today makes people passive bored and boring: three things I never want to be.</em>”
In 2002 Burke won the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship.
Calan is one of the finest contemporary folk music bands from Wales. The group sings in Welsh and English and mixes traditional music with modern elements.
The opening features great vocal harmonies, superb instrumentation and attention-grabbing mesmerizing spoken word. The rest of the album is a mix of virtuosic instrumentals and lively songs with real singing and really cool beats that resemble an acoustic form of electronic dance music.
Calan’s sound is driven by the remarkable fiddle, accordion, harp and bagpipe interplay, outstanding vocals and unconventional rhythms.
The lineup includes Angharad Jenkins on fiddle and vocals; Alice French on harp and vocals; Bethan Sian Rhiannon on vocals and accordion; Sam Humphreys on guitar, percussion, vocals and effects; Patrick Rimes on fiddle and Welsh bagpipes, pigborn, whistle, hulusi and vocals.
Guests: Greg Sterland on saxophone; Josh Barber on trumpet; Lloyd Pierce on trombone; and Nigel Jenkins on spoken word.
Solomon is a remarkable, beautifully-crafted Celtic music album by the exceptional Welsh band Calan.
Johnny Cunningham was born in Portobello, Scotland on August 27 1957. He played fiddle since the age of seven and was known for his lightning-fast reels and hauntingly beautiful Scottish airs. He also delighted audiences worldwide with his wry humor and stories.
Johnny Cunningham was a founding member of Silly Wizard, the group that spearheaded the Scottish side of the Celtic revival in the 1970s and 1980s. He toured with his brother Phil Cunningham both as a duo and with the Celtic supergroup Relativity that also featured Micheal O’Domhnaill and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill of The Bothy Band.
Johnny not only enjoyed a successful career as a solo performer but was also greatly in demand as an award-winning record producer. Among other ventures he toured with blues-guitarist Bonnie Raitt, contemporary singer-songwriter and author Bill Morrissey and crossed over into the world of rock, appearing with Hall & Oates. His own alternative band Raindogs made two successful CDs for Atlantic/Atco Records Lost Souls (1990) and Border Drive-In Theatre (1991) and toured with artists such as Bob Dylan, Don Henley and Warren Zevon.
After completing a four-year stint with the successful Celtic music act Nightnoise, Johnny worked with acclaimed New York-based theater company Mabou Mines on their production “Peter and Wendy.”
Johnny composed the music and lyrics for this new version of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which enjoyed several sold out runs including the Spoleto Arts Festival in Charleston S.C. in June 1996; The Public Theater New York City in September of 1996; and The New Victory Theater on 42nd Street New York City in February 1997. The response of audience and critics alike has been overwhelmingly positive. Thesoundtrack album from the innovative production Peter and Wendy, winner of two OBIE awards was released in a special hardcover package by world music label Alula Records.
Johnny also recorded and produced “La Musgaña Live” on tour in the band’s native Spain for Ediciones Resistencia. In addition he collaborated with Thomas Moore, best selling author of “Care Of The Soul”. The result is a double CD set “The Soul Of Christmas” which through the heart of Celtic culture and Thomas Moore’s readings explores ways to spiritually re-interpret traditional Christmas music and thought.
In his final years Johnny Cunningham toured as part of the Celtic Fiddle Festival and with Irish singer Susan McKeown. He died on the evening of December 15th, 2003.
Silly Wizard with Silly Wizard (1976)
Caledonia’s Hardy Sons with Silly Wizard (1978)
So Many Partings with Silly Wizard (1979)
Against the Storm with Phil Cunningham (Shanachie 198)
Thoughts From Another World (Shanachie 1981)
Fair Warning (Green Linnet 1983)
Live In America, with Silly Wizard (1985)
Golden Golden, with Silly Wizard (1985)
A Glint Of Silver, with Silly Wizard (1986)
Relativity, with Relativity (1986)
Gathering Pace, with Relativity (1987)
Live Wizardry (1988)
Lost Souls, with The Raindogs (1990)
Border Drive-In Theatre, with The Raindogs (1991)
Shadow of Time, with Nightnoise (1993)
Celtic Fiddle Festival, with Celtic Fiddle Festival (1993)
To Warm the Winter’s Night, with Aine Minogue (1995)
White Horse Sessions, with Nightnoise (1997) Peter and Wendy (Alula Records 1998) Celtic Fiddle Festival: Encore, with Celtic Fiddle Festival (1998)
Rendezvous, with Celtic Fiddle Festival (2001) A Winter Talisman, with Susan McKeown (Sheila-na-Gig Music/Caledonian Musicworks 2001)
Live on 11th Street, with Casey Neill Band (2003)
Sweet Liberty, with Susan McKeown (2004)
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