Artist Profiles: Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine – Photo by Shigeru Suzuki

Andy Irvine is one of the great Irish singers, his voice one of a handful of truly great ones that gets to the very soul of Ireland. He was a member of two other groundbreaking groups, Sweeney’s Men and Planxty, and has worked closely with Paul Brady.

In his two years with Sweeney’s Men, the group ignited an interest in traditional Irish music that survives to this day. Their successful singles, “Old Maid in the Garret” and “The Waxie’s Dargle” landed at the very top of the Irish Hit Parade.

Andy left the band in 1968, and made his first trip abroad, hitchhiking in Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, earning his living as a street musician and absorbing the musical traditions of the Balkans. Returning to Ireland, Irvine united with Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn to form Planxty, fanning the flames of Irish Traditional Music well into the next generation.

Planxty took a break in 1976 and Irvine worked and recorded with Paul Brady, making the classic album Andy Irvine & Paul Brady. After a brief time with De Dannan, he rejoined the reunited Planxty from 1979 until its breakup in 1983. Andy’s his first solo album, Rainy Sundays…Windy Dreams, followed, as well as Parallel Lines, a duo album with the great Scottish troubadour, Dick Gaughan.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Andy formed Mosaic, a pan-European band that included Donal Lunny and Hungarian singer Marta Sebestyen. After one blissful summer traveling through Europe with this band, Andy returned to solo and duo work. This work soon grew into Patrick Street, featuring Kevin Burke (Bothy Band), Jackie Daly (De Dannan) and guitar maestro Arty McGlynn.

Patrick Street, originally billed as Legends of Irish Music, recorded three albums from 1987 to 1990. Andy then recorded his second solo album, Rude Awakening, and created the hugely influential Eastwind, an album of Balkan music, produced by Bill Whelan and featuring Davy Spillane on uilleann pipes. Patrick Street regrouped in 1993 with Kevin, Jackie, Andy, and Ged Foley. Patrick Street released eight recordings on the Green Linnet label.

Way Out Yonder came out in 2001. Early in 2002, Andy drafted some long-time musical friends and formed his dream band for a one-off tour of Australia. Calling themselves Mozaik, reminiscent of the earlier cross-genre group, Andy was joined by Donal Lunny, Dutch guitarist Rens van der Zalm, Hungarian bagpiper Nikola Parov and American fiddler Bruce Molsky.

October 2002 saw the release of Patrick Street’s Street Life.

In 2012, Sweeney’s Men, Mozaik, and Paul Brady got together to celebrate Andy Irvine’s 70th Birthday with a Concert at Vicar St, released in 2014 on CD and DVD as 70th Birthday Concert @ Vicar Street 2012.

Andy Irvine’s discography is quite extensive.He has recordings with Sweeney’s Men, Planxty, Patrick Street, Mozaik, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Maddy Prior & June Tabor, Mick Hanly, Dick Gaughan, Peter Ratzenbeck, Davy Spillane, Marianne Green, Rens van der Zalm, Luke Plumb, Usher’s Island.

Solo discography:

Rainy Sundays… Windy Dreams (1980)
Rude Awakening (1991)
Rain on the Roof (1996)
Way Out Yonder (Appleseed, 2000)
Abocurragh (Claddagh, 2010)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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