Artist Profiles: Niall Vallely

Niall Vallely

Armagh-born Niall Vallely has established himself in recent years as one of the most original and distinctive voices in Irish music. A member of Corkbased band Nomos, he has been acclaimed throughout the world as one of Ireland’s greatest concertina players. Niall began learning the concertina at the age of seven, taught by his parents Brian and Eithne Vallely, founders of the Armagh Pipers’ Club, and over the years he has developed a unique approach to playing the instrument.

A resident of Cork since 1988, Niall completed a degree in music at U.C.C. in 1992. As a student he was involved in various musical projects with composer/pianist Micheal 0 Suilleabhain, including Ekiego, The Johnny Patterson Travelling Circus and Hiberno-Jazz. In 1992 Niall was featured on the highly acclaimed BBC/RTE television series ‘A River of Sound’ and the Late Late Show ‘River of Sound’ Special, and had a track included on the Virgin album and BBC video which accompanied the series.

In 1990 Niall formed Nomos who have gone on to become internationally recognized as one of the most important Irish bands of recent times. Their debut album 1 Won’t Be Afraid Any More’ was released in 1995 to widespread critical acclaim – it was included as one of Folk Roots magazines albums of the year and topped the Hot Press Roots Chart. The May 1997 release of ‘Set You Free’ confirmed the band’s position as Ireland’s most exciting traditional act. Nomos are currently recording their third album.

As well as touring constantly throughout Ireland, Europe and North America with Nomos, Niall has appeared regularly on TV and radio both in Ireland and abroad, and performed both in solo capacity and with musicians such as Mícheál O Suilleabhan, Paddy Keenan, Mel Mercier, Karan Casey and others. Recently Niall appeared at the World Accordion Festival in Montmagny, Quebec, and completed a four-week tour in the US and Canada with English concertina player Alastair Anderson and Scottish accordion player Sandy Brechin.

In June 1999 Niall released his debut solo album, Beyond Words. The recording features a mixture of new compositions by Niall and arrangements of new and traditional tunes from Ireland and Scotland. Guest musicians featured alongside Niall’s concertina, include: Nomos colleagues Frank Torpey and Gerry Mc Kee; bassist Noel Barrett and drummer Gerry Culloty; Niall’s brothers Cillian and Caoimhin on pipes and piano respectively; percussionist Mel Mercier and banjo-player Paul Meehan.

In 2003 he released Callan Bridge, a collaboration with his brother Cillian (of Lúnasa>) on pipes.

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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