Tag Archives: bagpipe

Artist Profiles: Liam O’Flynn

Liam O’Flynn

Master uilleann piper Liam O’Flyn, also known as Liam Óg Ó Floinn, was born  September 15, 1945 in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland.  to musical parents.

Liam O’Flynn was born into what he described as “a very definite thing.” His father was a schoolmaster and fiddle player and his  mother, who played and taught piano, came from a family of famous musicians from Clare.

After a time on the tin whistle and a short period ‘scraping’ at a small violin, Liam finally got started on the uilleann pipes. He had an obvious gift for this most  complicated instrument, and was encouraged by all around him, notably by the Kildare piper Tom Armstrong. At the age of eleven, he received master-classes with Leo Rowsome.

In his teens, Liam and his pipes began to attend music sessions in the Kildare village of Prosperous. There, for the first time, he met many of the people with whom he would later make his name and tour the concert-halls of the world. These were musicians like Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine with whom, in the early seventies, Liam formed the legendary folk band Planxty. One of Ireland’s most important and influential groups, Planxty brought a style, innovation and ‘cool’ to Irish music which was to lead directly to the many Irish musical success stories during the decades that followed.

Behind the innovation and experimentation, Liam O’Flynn always managed to remain true to the great piping tradition. He took his instrument into previously unexplored territory – be it as a member of Planxty, as a soloist with an orchestra or working with artists as diverse as John Cage, The Everly Brothers, Van Morrison and Kate Bush.

Liam O’Flynn was one of Ireland’s greatest musicians . He died March 14, 2018.

Discography:

Planxty (Polydor, 1973)
The Well Below the Valley, with Planxty (Polydor, 1973)
Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, with Planxty (Polydor, 1974)
The Planxty Collection (Polydor, 1974)
After The Break, with Planxty (Tara, 1979)
The Woman I Loved So Well, with Planxty (Tara, 1980)
Words and Music, with Planxty (WEA, 1983)
Liam O’Flynn (Tara Records, 1988)
The Fine Art of Piping (Tara Records, 1991)
Out to an Other Side (Tara Records, 1993)
The Given Note (Tara Records, 1995)
The Piper’s Call (Tara Records, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: Calum MacCrimmon

Calum MacCrimmon – Photo by Lindsay Addison

Calum MacCrimmon is a Scottish multi-instrumentalist born in Canada. He plays bagpipes, whistles, and bouzouki.

Calum MacCrimmon began learning the bagpipes at the age of 9 under a local piper and family friend in Edmonton, Canada. In 1991 Calum and his family moved over to a small town in the East of Scotland where he furthered his piping in and around many junior competitions with much success in the North and Southeast. Some of Calum’s tutors include Anne Spalding, Lindsay Ellis, Norman Gillies, John D. Burgess and Alan MacDonald of Glenuig.

In 2000 Calum was accepted in the traditional music course at the RSAMD in Glasgow. During his time in Glasgow, Calum has pursued the whistle, guitar, smallpipes, and Gaelic song. He has also taken a great interest in teaching classes in the National Piping Centre, Glasgow over the last two years.

Calum became involved with the Scottish Feisean movement as a tutor of pipes and whistle, he is also a member of the 52nd Lowland Regiment Pipe Band in Glasgow and Hamish Moore’s Na Tri Seudan, based in Edinburgh. Calum assisted the musical production of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland as a pipe teacher and accompanying musician alongside Paul Warren (director) and Brian McNeil (producer).

He has participated in various bands, including Breabach, Mans Ruin, The Unusual Suspects, Seudan, RTK9000, Knobsquad, and Saxon Pop.

In 2007 Calum MacCrimmon won the Dewar Award.

Discography:

The Big Spree, with Breabach (Vertical Records, 2007)
Man’s Ruin (Box of Chocolates Records, 2009)
The Desperate Battle of the Birds, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2010)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (Big Bash Records, 2010)
String Theory, with Mike Vass (2010)
Seudan (Greentrax, 2011)
Bann, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2012)

Seudan, with Seudan

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Artist Profiles: Xuacu Amieva

Piper Xuacu Amieva was born October 12, 1954 in Llanes, Spain. He’s one of the acknowledged figures in the field of Asturian traditional music. His extended career as a much awarded piper, teacher of piping and multi-instrumentalist in several folk bands has garnered him an excellent reputation both in his native Asturias and the rest of Spain.

His repertoire runs a wide range of songs and melodies from the Asturian tradition including not only pipe tunes but also pieces originally played on the rebec, the hurdy-gurdy or the flute or coming from the vocal tradition.

Xuacu started his career in 1975 by doing ethnographic research and taking part in folk fairs together with bands such as Raigañu and Urogallos.

In 1980 he started to impart piping lessons in Oviedo, an activity which has taken him to other places in Asturias and continues to this day. In 1984 he and Francisco Ortega co-authored the first Asturian bagpipe method. In 1987 his piping school in Oviedo spawned a pipe band called Narancu for which he acts as musical director.

He was a founder member of folk groups Beleño (1983) and Ubiña (1985) until they disbanded in 1989. Either with these bands or as a soloist he took part in many festivals and traditional music gatherings both in Asturias and the rest of Spain and Europe.

Starting from 1990 he embarked on a solo career playing a lot of festivals in Europe with different accompanying line-ups.

He has been writing music for television documentaries and short films. He also wrote the script for a documentary on Asturian musical instruments. Xuacu Amieva is passionate about disseminating Asturian traditional music. He collaborates with several schools playing multi-instrument concerts with bagpipe, rebec, hurdy-gurdy, flutes, percussion and vocals.

Xuacu Amieva’s album Tiempo de mitos contains pieces based on some mythological figures from the Asturian folklore.

He collaborated with The Chieftains singing and playing rebec on a track of their Grammy-awarded album Santiago.

Discography:

Metodo de Gaita (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana 1984)
Onde l’agua az (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana 1986)
Ubiña (Fonoastur 1988)
Xostrando (Fonoastur 1989)
Lluna caldia (Gau Records 1992)
Tiempo de mitos (Ediciones Resistencia 1999)
Al Son del Fueu (Piraña Family Producciones 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Tommy Martin

Tommy Martin

Tommy Martin was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently lives in the United States. He took his first uilleann pipes lesson from Dublin piper Mick O’Brien, a cousin, in 1984 at the age of 12. By 1988 with the great help of Mick’s tuition and guidance he won first place at the Annual Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in the 15-18 age group uilleann pipes competition and again in 1991 in the senior competition.

From his late teens Tommy has been very much involved in encouraging traditional Irish music especially uilleann pipes by teaching younger musicians around Ireland at Tionol and Scoil Eigse.
His professional career started in 1996 when he took a job organizing and playing at Irish music nights in Irish pubs in Hong Kong. This led to more work in Asian cities such as Kuala Lumpur Jakarta Singapore and Tokyo over the following years.

A highlight for Tommy was playing support to Shooglenifty at the Hong Kong Folk Festival in 1996.

Back in Europe Tommy’s talent and experience took him to perform in almost every mainland country. Performances have varied from solo uilleann pipes performances to playing with 5 piece folk bands and have been as diverse as being an uilleann pipes tutor in New Zealand to performing with “Riverdance” in New York to performing with the Chicago Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra.

Tommy is also an experienced uilleann pipes teacher. He has tutored students all over Ireland England New Zealand and now the US. Tommy was teacher of the advanced uilleann pipes class in Na Piobairi Uilleann Dublin up until he moved to St Louis, Missouri in 2003. His first solo CD Uilleann Piper was released in 2000 and Tommy can be also heard on 12 other albums as a guest musician.

Tommy’s second album, Shady Woods came out in December 2005. That month he also toured as a guest with traditional band Teada as they celebrated their Irish Christmas in America tour. Other guests were Grainne Hambly on harp and singer Cathie Ryan.

Tommy now lives in St. Louis, where he now teaches fiddle flute and uilleann pipes. He also makes tin whistles and uilleann pipes.

Discography:

Uilleann Piper (2000)

Shady Woods (2005)

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Artist Profiles: Finlay MacDonald

Finlay MacDonald

Finlay MacDonald was born in 1978. He is a Scottish bagiper and composer.

Finlay MacDonald started learning the highland bagpipe at the age of ten with his father, Pipe Major Iain MacDonald and later from Duncan Johnstone and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald.. Finlay was one of the first bagpipe players to receive a BA in Scottish music and piping from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

He formed The Finlay MacDonald Band, where he played bagpipes and whistles along with Chris Stout on fiddle, Kevin Mackenzie on guitar, John Spiers on bass and Fergus MacKenzie on drums.
He has worked with many leading artists in the traditional music scene including Fred Morrison, The Unusual Suspects, La Banda Europa, Old Blind Dogs and Chris Stout.

Discography:

Pressed for Time (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2003)
First O’ the Darkenin (2004)
Reecho (Greentrax, 2007)
The Cauld Wind (2013)
Finlay Macdonald (2014)

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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: Gordon Duncan

Gordon Duncan

Gordon Duncan began piping at the age of 8. Taught by his father, he was a prolific Junior Winner at various competitions and stopped competing by the age of 17. He was one of Scotland’s most innovative, skillful and exciting pipers. For two years he was a MacCallan winner at the prestigious Celtic festival in Lorient, France.

He was featured as a member of many bands includingCeolbeg Wolfstone Tannahill Weavers, and Dougie Maclean Band. He has also been a member of The Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, Scottish Power Pipe Band, and most recently Drambuie Kirkliston pipe band.

Duncan composed many pipe band tunes, which have been recorded by many folk and pipe bands across the world.

Gordon Duncan died in December of 2005. He was 41.

Discography

Just for Seamus (Greentrax, 1994)

Circular Breath (Greentrax, 1997)

The Piping Centre 1996 Recital Series, Vol. 4 (Temple Records, 1998)

Thunderstruck (Greentrax, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Ged Foley

Ged (pronounced “Jed”) was born in County Durham in the North East of England. Ged is a superb guitarist, a singer of distinction with a spare, unornamented style and a player of both the fiddle and the Northumbrian smallpipes.

A one-time member of Scotland’s The Battlefield Band and a founding member of The House Band, Ged also worked in a duo with the excellent English singer/songwriter Jez Lowe. He replaced originalPatrick Street member Arty McGlynn in 1996, and joined the Celtic Fiddle Festival after an initial tour with the band in 2001. He lives in the USA.

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Artist Profiles: Fred Morrison

Fred Morrison – Photo by John Slavin

Fred Morrison is widely regarded as one of the greatest Scottish pipers alive today. His performances on the Highland, bellows blown and uilleann pipes and on the low whistle have taken the world music scene by storm. His approach is firmly rooted in the musical tradition of the Hebridean islands of Scotland but he constantly pushes the boundaries, creating a fresh new sound that is forever evolving. Fred began taking lessons from his father at the age of nine. His father, a noted piper, was from the small remote island of South Uist – which is to be found off the north-west coast of Scotland – a wild, beautiful place with a particularly rich tradition in piping.

He taught using cainntearachd, a unique singing style where notes and rhythms are given particular sounds. Before long, Fred had won most of the top international prizes of the piping world. The immense technical expertise required to compete in such events was to provide the foundation to allow him to experiment musically and he began to develop his own sound

Fred was soon playing support, solo, to Capercaillie and Runrig – two of Scotland?s best known bands. Before long, he was touring Celtic Europe – especially Spain and Brittany – where he earned the name The King of the Pipes. He went on to play with Clan Alba and spent 3 years touring and recording with Capercaillie. He also appeared in and was involved in arranging music for the Hollywood blockbuster, Rob Roy.

At this time, Morrison began to play the bellows-blown Border pipes. He has since performed on the Border pipes on the major stages across the world and can be credited with popularizing this instrument which is played by so many contemporary pipers.

He joined forces with master of the bouzouki, Jamie McMenemy (Battlefield Band, Kornog). The duo released an album, Up South, that received exceptional reviews, as did their live performances. Most of the pieces played by the duo were composed by Morrison.

Fred was voted by the public as Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2004 Scottish Traditional Music Awards.

Discography:

Outlands

Sound of the Sun

Up South

The Broken Chanter

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Artist Profiles: Fraser Shaw

Fraser Shaw learned the bagpipes from the renowned piper Fred Morrison of South Uist, and latterly from the Tiree piper Kenny MacDonald. At the age of 16, Fraser moved to Skye to study at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and became immersed in the trad music scene. He co-founded four-piece band Cluanas with whom he has toured extensively. He has recorded with Farquar McDonald and Aidan MacEoins and appeared on Radio Scotland’s Pipeline.

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