Tag Archives: Celtic music

Artist Profiles: John Williams

John Williams

John Williams was born in Chicago in 1967. He is a third generation concertina and button accordion player from both sides of the family. His father Brendan and his grandfather Johnny Williams were noted musicians in their native Doolin County Clare where concertina is most often the instrument of choice. There was no shortage of traditional music around the house as he was growing up. He began playing in sessions around Chicago encouraged by such musical residents as the late Johnny McGreevy flutists Seamus Cooley and Kevin Henry and uilleann piper Joe Shannon.

John developed a maturity in his playing rarely heard in one so young. The adjudicators sensed it in 1989 when they awarded him the Senior All-Ireland championship for concertina making him the first American ever to win that honor. His subsequent summers in Doolin served to widen his repertoire and associate him with some of Ireland?s most respected musicians.

As a founding member of the groundbreaking band Solas Williams received wider recognition playing to sold out audiences internationally and earning two NAIRD (later called AFIM) awards and Grammy nominations for the ensemble’s 1996 and 1997 releases Solas and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers.

The Irish national broadcasting network RTE has featured Williams as the subject of the radio program The Long Note the television series The Pure Drop and the Christmas special Geantrai.

His album Steam features Dean Magraw and Randal Bays former Solas bandmates Seamus Egan and John Doyle fiddler Liz Carroll as well as Chicago jazz greats Larry Gray on bass and Paul Wertico on percussion.

Outside traditional music John has collaborated on productions with Gregory Peck Doc Severinson Studs Terkel Mavis Staples jazz pianist Bob Sutter bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien director Sam Mendes the London Symphony Orchestra and the Irish Chamber Ensemble. Audiences nationwide recognize Williams from numerous appearances on Mountain Stage A Prairie Home Companion and The Grand Ol’ Opry as well as guest performances with The Chieftains Nickel Creek and Riverdance.

On film he appears as a bandleader music consultant and composer in Dreamworks’ classic Chicago thriller Road to Perdition. Centrally featured in the Academy Award-Nominated score by Thomas Newman Williams’ autumnal Perdition Piano Duet was released on the 22 Universal soundtrack album as performed in the film by stars Paul Newman and Tom Hanks.

In August 2003 Chicago Magazine selected Williams in their annual Best of Chicago issue as one of the city’s finest instrumentalists. He recorded a collaborative album Raven with composer and guitarist Dean Magra.

Discography:

John Williams (Green Linnet Records 1157 1994)

Whistle on the Wind, with Joanie Madden (Green Linnet 1994)

Solas with Solas (Shanachie 1996)

Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, with Solas (Shanachie 1997)

Steam (Green Linnet 2001)

Raven (Compass Records 2006)

website: www.johnwilliamsmusic.com

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Artist Profiles: John Munro

John Munro was born in Glasgow in 194. He moved to Adelaide, Australia in 1965. John Munro has made a name for himself as an inspiring and talented songwriter best exemplified by his two historical song cycles The Kelly Collection and The Eureka Suite, the latter recorded by Festival Records in 1999. Having toured most of the world with fellow Scotsman Eric Bogle from 1980 until the present day, John has become recognized as being one of the elite of the Broitish folk world. He is known as one of the best bluegrass mandolin players around performing with the legendary Country Express for many years as well as being a fine guitarist and singer.

John’s recording credits include 8 albums with Eric, four with Country Express nine with Colcannon, three with Gordon Mcintyre and Kate Delaney, two with Mike Quarmby and one with Margaret Christl (Canada), Mary-Jane Field (Sydney), Irene Petrie Denis, and Lynne Tracey as well as countless guest appearances. His experience extends to production as well as performing.

John has won two Celtic Music Club Awards for Guitar and one for Mandolin two Folk Federation awards and two SAMIA (South Australian Music Industry) awards with Colcannon – the latter being for Most Outstanding Contribution to Folk Music. He has also won the SCALA-run Songwriters Event (songwriter award) in 1990 and 1996.

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Artist Profiles: Jerry O’Sullivan

Jerry O’Sullivan

Uilleann piper flutist and whistler Jerry O’Sullivan has been at the very heart of the traditional Irish music scene in New York for many years and is always the first to help when a member of the community needs it. A gifted performer he has worked with many groups in the area as well enjoying an enviable career as a solo artist.

He has amassed a substantial discography with appearances on over sixty albums. He has been a music teacher for many years at The Tara Circle and many Irish arts weekends and has always been happy to share his time and talent.

Discography

The Invasion (Green Linnet 1997)
The Gift (Shanachie 1998)
O’Sullivan Meets O’Farrell (2005)
O’Sullivan Meets O’Farrell: Volume II (2010)

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Artist Profiles: James Grant

James Grant

James Grant’s career began in the early 1980ss when he formed Friends Again with Chris Thompson (The Bathers). Although short-lived their influence was huge helping to define the emerging sound of the Scottish bands that followed them.

It was in Love and Money that James found more widespread recognition; four albums several hit singles a world-wide following and silver discs in the UK helped seal his reputation as one of the best songwriters in the country.

In 1996 he contributed four songs to the solo album of Capercaillie vocalist Karen Matheson, The Dreaming Sea, including the title track The Dreaming Sea. This in turn led to him working with musician and producer Donald Shaw the result being James’ stunning debut album Sawdust in My Veins followed by the equally acclaimed follow-up My Thrawn Glory.

In October 2004 James released Holy Love on Vertical Records featuring Karen Matheson, Monica Queen and Jerry Douglas.

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Artist Profiles: James Graham

When James Graham won the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year award in 2004 James was not only the first Gaelic singer to win, he was also the first male winner. James who also plays the pipes grew up in a household where music was an essential part of family life. Although his mother an accordionist is the only other family member who plays an instrument James’s father and sister are good singers and were always singing around the house and at weekends, friends and family members regularly gathered for ceilidhs.

James began singing Gaelic at competition level at the age of ten and quickly became a prize-winner at both local and national Mods the Gaelic music and poetry festivals. By the time James moved on to Ullapool High School he was playing the bagpipes under the tutelage of Norman Gillies. He continued piping as a subsidiary study when he went to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in 1999 with singing as his principal study.

Coached and encouraged by his tutor at the RSAMD the well-known singer and immensely knowledgeable Gaelic scholar Kenna Campbell James became increasingly passionate about singing and he credits Kenna Campbell with giving him the confidence to enter the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition.

While studying at the RSAMD where he gained his BA (Hons) in Scottish Music James researched the songs of his home area Assynt for his dissertation talking to the few remaining native Gaelic speakers and collecting songs from them. He feels emotionally tied to these songs and is dedicated to keeping them alive. He is also passionate about singing pibroch which he learned from the brilliant piper and folklorist Allan MacDonald.

Discography:

Siubhal

Greisean Greine [Sunny Spells] (2007)

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Artist profiles: Ian Melrose

Ian Melrose

Ian Melrose was born in Middlesbrough, England. As a youth he moved back to Ayr in Scotland with his Scottish parents and younger brother Ian’s father was/is a member of the Scottish fiddle orchestra so traditional music was always present. His early influences were the famous figures from the “British school of guitar-playing” i.e. Davey Graham, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, and John Martyn.

After doing a degree in Law and German at Keele University he moved to Berlin in 1981 where he started doing solo work. In 1982 he founded Twilight, an acoustic folk-jazz trio which thanks to the unusual arrangements was winner of the 1985 folk group competition at the Edinburgh folk festival. A record deal with the Scottish company LISMOR followed.

As a founder member of the German folk-pop band Be Mine Or Run and as guitarist and arranger with the Celtic project Norland Wind (featuring Thomas Loefke and Kerstin Blodig) he has made a name for himself on the German acoustic scene. He has done extensive tours of Germany Holland and Norway and has done studio jobs for many well-known artists. A tour through Germany in 1996 with Norland Wind brought the contact to Noel & Padraig Duggan of Clannad, who in turn suggested Ian for the job of lead guitarist with Clannad for the May tour of Ireland, Great Britain and Holland. They were obviously pleased with him and offered him the rest of the “World Tour ’96” which included Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

You can hear Ian playing on the Clannad album Landmarks. In his solo concerts Ian plays pieces from his critically acclaimed album Wolves and from his album Between the Sighs. His guitar compositions show a strong leaning towards his “Celtic roots” where elements of Irish & Scottish dance tunes and ballads mix easily with South-American rhythms and jazz harmonies.

www.MelroseAcousticGuitar.com

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Artist profiles: Ian Carr

Ian Carr

Ian Carr is a Welsh guitarist known for his work with Kathryn Tickell, The Old Rope String Band, Simon Thoumire, Syncopace and has guested on recordings by John McCusker, Kate Rusby, Gordon Duncan and several others. He is a member of Anglo-Swedish band Swap and Alan Kelly Gang.

Discography:

Swap (Amigo/NorthSide NSD612, 1998)
(Sic) (Amigo/NorthSide NSD642, 2000)
Fyace, with Karen Tweed (Compass Records, 2000)

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Artist Profiles: Hanneke Cassel

Hanneke Cassel

Raised on the Oregon Coast, Hanneke Cassel began playing violin at eight years-old, but a local fiddle competition inspired her to take up traditional fiddling. A few years later, at fourteen years old, she entered a Scottish fiddle contest, winning the national title. Years later, after numerous trips to Scotland, and studies with the great fiddlers Alasdair Fraser and Buddy MacMaster, she moved to Boston and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. Going to Berklee in the early days of their groundbreaking strings program, Hanneke has since been at the forefront of a national fiddling revival, helping define the instrument for a new generation.

As a fiddler, Hanneke’s sound is a blend of Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, as well as some early roots in Texas fiddling. But she also draws heavily on experiences working with street kids in Kenya (many of the songs were commissions for them), her numerous trips to China (she lived and taught in Shanghai for a while), and her friends and relationships built around the scene in Boston.

In 214 she released Dot the Dragon’s Eyes, where she is joined by cellist Rushad Eggleston fiddler/violist Jeremy Kittel, cellist Mike Block (her husband), and New England guitarist Keith Murphy. The album also includes vocals from Aoife O’Donovan.

In addition to her solo act, Hanneke tours regularly with Baroque/Celtic group Ensemble Galilei, and has performed with the Cathie Ryan Band, Cherish the Ladies, Alasdair Fraser, and Matt Glaser and the Wayfaring Strangers. She is an active member of Boston-based band Childsplay (featuring over 2 fiddles made by Bob Childs) and co-founder (with Laura Cortese and Lissa Schneckenburger) of Celtic female band Halali.

She teaches regularly at Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and Sierra Fiddle Camps, Boston Harbor Fiddle Camp, and the Club Passim School of Music.

Hanneke’s awards include1992 and 1994 U.S. National Jr. Scottish Champion, 1996 Berklee U.S. Scholarship Tour Award, 1996 Oregon State Texas-style Grand Champion 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, 1998 Berklee College of Music Strings Award, and 28 USA Songwriting Contest (1st place Instrumental and 3rd place Overall).

Discography

The Wee Hours: Future of Scottish Fiddling in America (Gargoyle Records, 1998)
Diary of a Fiddler, with Darol Anger (Compass Records, 1999)
My Joy (Cassel Records, 2001)
Many Happy Returns (Cassel Records, 2003)
Halali, with Halali (Footprint Records, 2003)
Some Melodious Sonnet (Cassel Records, 2004)
The Farthest Wave, with Cathie Ryan (Shanachie, 2005)
Silver (Cassel Records, 2006)
In the Moment, with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2007)
From the Edge of the World, with Ensemble Galilei (2007)
Calm the Raging Sea, with Christopher Lewis (Cassel Records, 2007)
Notes From Across The Sea, with Ensemble Galilei (Ann Mayo Muir, 2009)
Waiting for the Dawn, with Childsplay (Childsplay Records, 2009)
For Reasons Unseen (Cassel Records, 2009)
Dot the Dragon’s Eyes (Cassel Records, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Grey Larsen

Grey Larsen

Grey Larsen discovered Irish music in the early 1970’s and then embarked on a passionate and devoted journey that continues to this day. In the ensuing decades he has become one of the United States’most highly regarded flute players. His accomplishments in the field and compositions in the tradition are equally respected by musicians in Ireland, the United States, and across the globe. He has written a comprehensive book series on the art of Irish flute and tin whistle playing for Mel Bay Publications exploring both techniques and philosophies of playing and presenting his own new notation system for flute and whistle ornamentation.

Grey was a longtime member of the renowned group Metamora with Malcolm Dalglish and Pete Sutherland, with whom he recorded three albums and toured extensively. His collaboration with French Canadian singer, guitarist and foot percussionist Andre Marchand resulted in their award winning album The Orange Tree.

Grey Larsen offers concert performances, master classes, lecture-demonstrations, seminars, residencies, curtain talks and private lessons. He also demonstrates the hosting of traditional Irish music “sessions”, the social institution that more than any other keeps the Irish musical tradition alive.

Grey is at home on half a dozen instruments and in several musical styles. He currently records, produces, and masters recordings, scores films, and edits music for various books and for Sing Out magazine.

Grey Larsen plays Irish flute, tin whistles, Anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ, and piano.

Discography:

Banish Misfortune, with Malcolm Dalglish (June Appal Records 1976)

The First of Autumn, with Malcolm Dalglish (June Appal Records, 1978)

Thunderhead, with Malcolm Dalglish (Flying Fish Records, 1983)

Metamora, with Metamora ( Sugar Hill Records, 1985)

The Gathering (Sugar Hill Records, 1986)

The Great Road, with Metamora (Sugar Hill Records, 1987)

Morning Walk, with Metamora (Windham Hill Records, 1988)

Helpless Heart, with Maura O’Connell (Warner Brothers Records, 199)

The Orange Tree, with Andre Marchand (Sugar Hill Records, 1993)

The Green House, with Paddy League (2001)

Dark of the Moon (Sleepy Creek Music, 2003)

Les Marionnettes (Sleepy Creek Music, 2004)

Cross the Water (Sleepy Creek Music, 2007)

website: www.greylarsen.com

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