Allan’s background in the Cape Breton musical tradition is the foundation of his ability to accompany fiddlers like Jerry Holland for dances and ceilidhs and new generation fiddlers like Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton and Shelly Campbell.
Growing up in Halifax (Nova Scotia), Allan’s first thirteen years consisted of regular visits from Dave MacIsaac and anyone else who came to the city for a Cape Breton dance. He started using the acoustic guitar, playing for his sister on fiddle and mother on piano.
Around the age of 8, he started to play along on the piano while his mother would play solos or to a tape playing on the stereo sound system. He was instructed to “do it right if you are going to do it at all“. That is all it took for encouragement. There was no formal training of any sort. Allan learned by ear and he attended every concert, dance and house party he could.
Moving to Antigonish at age 13 was the best thing that could have pushed this interest forward. It was a focal point at that time for fiddlers coming to town to take lessons and it was close to Cape Breton.
He soon became a regular every summer playing for local dances and “filling in for a set” to give the piano player a break. Allan has toured around the world with Jerry Holland, Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster and Troy MacGillivray, absorbing all genres of music along the way.
Born in Co. Roscommon in 1972, Alan Kelly grew up in a house steeped in traditional music and dance. His grandfather was a fiddler; his grandmother, a melodeon player; his father, Frank Kelly, a piano accordionist from Fourmilehouse in southern Roscommon.
Alan chose to follow in his fathers’ footsteps and learn the piano accordion. Very soon, Alan had forged his own inimitable style influenced mainly by his father Frank and local musicians such as Paddy Ryan, John Carlos, Patsy Hanly and Frank Jordan.
In his early music years, Alan went on to win All-Ireland titles on piano accordion and piano, and also with brother John in duets and neighbor and life long friend John Wynne in trios.
Determined to become a full time musician Alan moved to Galway in 1993 where he quickly became part of the thriving traditional music scene, forging an excellent reputation for himself.
In 1994 he landed a part in the Druid Theatre’s award winning production of Vincent Woods’ ‘At the black pigs Dyke’ and spent the next 12 months performing in Dublin, Galway, Glasgow, Toronto and Sydney. He also toured with Druid’s and Vincent Woods production of ‘The Yellow Bittern’ in 1995.
Back in Galway, Alan decided to concentrate on his debut solo album and in 1997 he released Out of the Blue (BBM 001) on his own label Blackbox Music. Co-produced by Alan and Steve Cooney and featuring a host of Ireland’s top musicians, the album received ecstatic reviews from the critics, earned him a ‘Best Newcomer’ award from Irish Music Magazine and launched Alan on his solo career.
Extensive touring ensued, especially in the United States of America and Canada where ‘Out of the Blue’ was released on the Kells label.
However, it wasn’t long before theatre beckoned again and towards the end of 1997, Alan was invited by New York’s awarding winning avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines to join their production of Peter and Wendy in Los Angeles and has since performed with them in New Haven (’98) San Francisco (’99) Dublin Theatre Festival in 1999 and New York 2002.
Also, in 1997, he was invited to become a member of the house band for Sibin, a weekly music program for TG4, performing with artists such as Matt Molloy, Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, Kieran Goss, Mick Hanley, Sean Tyrell, Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey.
During January 1999 Alan toured with Music Network’s “Best of Irish” nation-wide tour alongside Michael McGoldrick, Karen Casey and Cathal Hayden playing to full houses all over the country. In the same year he also featured on Michael McGoldrick’s groundbreaking album ‘Fused‘ and continues to tour regularly with this band appearing at festivals such as Lorient 1999, Celtic Connections 2000 and Cambridge 2001 as well as many others.
In 2000, Alan released his second solo album Mosaic (TARACD4011) with a concert at the Galway Arts Festival featuring an 8 piece band with a line-up which included guitarist, Arty McGlynn, saxophonist, Richie Buckley, trumpeter, Danial Healy and Sean Smyth on fiddle. Produced by guitarist Arty McGlynn, Mosaic features many new compositions from both Alan and Arty, as well as traditional music from Scotland, Finland and, of course, Ireland.
Alan Kelly and the Mosaic Band quickly established itself as one of the hottest live acts on the Irish scene with its exciting blend of traditional, salsa and jazz rhythms, and propelled Alan onto the World Music stage.
Also in 2000 he worked with the award winning Lyric Theatre in Belfast for their production of Brian Friel’s “Wonderful Tennessee.
Alan’s other recording credits include appearances on Niamh Parsons’s Loosely Connected in 1992, Michael McGoldrick’s Morning Rory in 1996 and Fused in 2000, and Sean Keane’s Seansongs in 2002. He guested with Lunasa on their Irish tour promoting their album Otherworld and also collaborated with Alison Brown, the Grammy award winning banjo player on her Irish tour in 2001. During July 2002 Alan toured with Ireland’s legendary De Danann in Canada.
Alan’s most recent recording project has seen him return to his Roscommon roots for a duet album with his brother John. The album titled Fourmilehouse (BBM 2003) is traditional music served straight up, with no need for studio sweeteners or sleight of hand.
Today Alan is credited with single-handedly reviving the piano accordion in Irish traditional music.
Aine Minogue has been studying and playing the harp since she was 12 years old. Her albums feature ethereal vocal and instrumental Irish and Scottish traditional music as well as original compositions full of Irish mysticism.
Born in Borrisokane, County Tipperary, Ireland, to a large musical family, Áine was introduced to all types of music and instruments at an early age. She has toured extensively as a harp player, composed soundtracks for television and has several solo recordings, in addition to her numerous collaborations. Aine currently lives in the United States of America.
In 2012 she released an album of Irish lullabies titled Close Your Eyes, Love.
Vicente Amigo is one of the finest Flamenco guitarists in the world. He was born in Guadalcanal in 1967, a small town in the province of Sevilla, though he grew up in Córdoba. It was there where he had his first guitar lessons. “I believe that flamenco has always been something for adults, not just for children. To understand flamenco, you need maturity. You can play the guitar as a child You understand the technique. But the essence of flamenco is something that requires maturity.” Amigo became a professional very quickly. Then, he joined Manolo Sanlucar’s band in which he played guitar for five years.
In 1989, Amigo began a solo career and earned first prize in guitar at the prestigious Festival Nacional del Cante de las Minas de la Unión. Shortly thereafter, he won the Contest of Extremadura. He became part of the Flamenco Guitar elite when he won the “Ramón Montoya” award in May 1989 as well as the first prize in guitar at the XII National Concert of Flamenco Art in Córdoba.
Amigo has accompanied flamenco singers Luis de Córdoba and Carmen Linares, among others. He also recorded with Brazilian composer Wagner Tiso and Spanish pop stars Miguel Bosé and Nacho Cano.
Vicente Amigo is a guitar player with an obviously strong personality, a natural sense of modern flamenco as well as the traditional forms. Flamenco’s wealth and diversity give him an extraordinary opening to all kinds of music. “I love flamenco music as a foundation because it allows me to tell a story in a very different, non-linear fashion,” says Amigo. “The organization of that tale is less important than the feeling of it. I can start at the end or the beginning and explore and insert many themes upon the main theme, adding little messages along the way. There can be many hidden meanings within the main storyline as I change melody and harmony. There doesn’t have to be a specific ending. It’s just a matter of following my soul when I find something good to express in the song.”
The Ciudad de las Ideas (City of the Ideas) album title was taken from a verse by classic Greek poet Kavafis. In the early stages of recording, Amigo became enamored of Kavafis and especially a poem titled “The First Step.” “The piece is about an old poet in conversation with a young poet. The youngster brags that he’s written a masterpiece that can never be surpassed, but the older man puts him in his place and tells him he has so much to learn, that such talk is foolish. The young man eventually realizes the wisdom of this and says thank you. With City of Ideas, I related to the young poet, opening myself up to new experiences and new influences. Each song is like a big ‘thank you’ to all the life experiences I’ve had to draw from. I see music as a realm with no frontiers and each project allows me to explore even further.”
The CD is dedicated to Andalusia and it includes pieces like the bulería Ojos de la Alhambra (Eyes of Alhambra), that is sung by the renowned Algerian singer Khaled. There are also vocals by Diego El Cigala, Argentine singer Pedro Aznar, Montse Cortes and Lin Cortés. On percussion you can find three of the big names of Spanish and flamenco percussion: Tino di Geraldo, Chaboli and Echegaray Street. Mino Cinelu is on drums, Alfredo Paixao on bass.Recorded at the Filigrana Studios in Cordoba (Amigo’s adopted hometown) and mixed in Madrid, the collection is orchestrated and conducted by Joan Albert Amargos.
Ciudad de las Ideas won the 2001 Latin Grammy for Best Flamenco Album and was the first album by Amigo to be released in the United States.
“Making music for so many years has carried me deep into the heart of myself, to the place where I have come to understand what it means to be a fully realized human being,” says Amigo. “Music plays a very important part in the world today, and it’s wonderful to be a part of bringing that joy to people. When people listen to me play, they know it’s coming from a very real and truthful place inside me.”
After five years without publishing a solo album, Vicente Amigo returned in 2005 with Un momento en el sonido. The album features Tino di Geraldo and Joan Albert Amargos as well as singers Antonio Villar and ‘Potito’.
Paseo De Gracia, released in 2009 was produced by Vicente Amigo and features many friends and guests including the entire Morente family led by the “patriarch” Enrique Morente together with Estrella,” Soleá and Enrique Jr. Other stars include Niña Pastori, pop singer Alejandro Sanz, Rafael de Utrera,” Pedro Heredia, Miguel Ortega, José Parra,” Lin and Nani Cortés. The band on the album includes Tino di Geraldo (drums and percussion)”,” Antonio Ramos “Maca” (bass)”, Alexis Lefevre (violin) and Paquito Gonzalez (percussion).
In 2013, he released Tierra, composed completely by Amigo with music that combines flamenco and Celtic music traditions. It debuted at Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow in 2013. the album was recorded in London ad features musicians from Mark Knopfler’s band and the Scottish folk supergroup Capercaillie.
Billy Jackson has been a major figure in traditional Scottish music for many years, and was a founding member of the influential folk group, Ossian. A native of Glasgow, Billy often visited Donegal in his youth and his music reflects this mixture of Scottish and Irish influences.
In addition to his reputation as a harper, Billy has made quite a name for himself as a recording artist and composer, with a dozen albums to his credit. In 1990, he formed The Scottish Orchestra of New Music, combining classical and traditional musicians to perform his compositions. He premiered his major commission for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, A Scottish Island, and appeared as a featured soloist on uilleann pipes with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
In 1999, his song, Land of Light was selected as the winner of The Glasgow Herald’s year-long Song For Scotland competition to select a ‘new anthem for a new era in Scotland.’ Billy is also a trained music therapist specializing in work with autistic children.
Karen Matheson is widely recognized as the acclaimed vocalist of Celtic band Capercaillie. Karen started performing as a child in her local village hall in Argyll on the West coast of Scotland. She was brought up listening to traditional songs that have been her inspiration for over 30 years.
With Capercaillie, Karen has enjoyed tremendous success. Capercaillie have sold more than a million albums. The group composed the music of the movie ‘Rob Roy’, with Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange, in which Karen appeared, singing a Gaelic lament.
As a solo artist, Karen has been involved in various projects of collaboration worldwide including the award-winning BBC series Transatlantic Sessions, where she filmed tracks with artists like James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, The McGarrigle Sisters, Nanci Griffith, and various esteemed Scottish musicians. Her many collaborations include Algerian singer Idir, Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz and Portuguese star Dulce Pontes.
In December 2010 she was presented with an Honorary degree in music from the Robert Gordon University – another achievement to add to her OBE and award of “Best Gaelic singer” from the inaugural Scottish folk awards – just some of the many plaudits earned from an astonishing career.
Her 2015 solo album Urram is a musical love letter to her families’ Hebridean roots, with a collectionset of timeless Gaelic songs that draws out the character of Island life, through waulking songs, love songs, lullabies, mouth music and evocative poems to the surroundings. The album features international guest musicians including Seiko Keita (Senegal) on West African kora, Soumik Datta (India) on sarod, Scotland’s McFall’s chamber on strings, Innes White & Sorren MacLean on guitars, and long-timemusical partner Donald Shaw on piano.
The Tannahill Weavers are one of Scotland’s leading traditional bands. Their diverse repertoire spans the centuries with fire-driven instrumentals, topical songs, and original ballads and lullabies. Their music demonstrates to old and young alike the rich and varied musical heritage of the Celtic people. These versatile musicians have received worldwide accolades consistently over the years for their exuberant performances and outstanding recording efforts.
Born of a session in Paisley, Scotland and named for the town’s historic weaving industry and local poet laureate Robert Tannahill, the group has made an international name for its special brand of Scottish music, blending the beauty of traditional melodies with the power of modern rhythms. The Tannahill Weavers began to attract attention when founding members Roy Gullane and Phil Smillie added the full-sized highland bagpipes to the on-stage presentations, the first professional Scottish folk group to successfully do so. The combination of the powerful pipe solos, Roy’s driving guitar backing and lead vocals, and Phil’s ethereal flute playing breathed new life into Scotland’s vast repertoire of traditional melodies and songs.
Three years and a dozen countries later, the Tannahills were a Celtic music sensation in Europe, having won the Scotstar Award for Folk Record of the Year with their third album, The Tannahill Weavers.
Since their first visit to the United States in 1981, the Tannahills’ unique combination of traditional melodies on pipes, flute and fiddle, driving rhythms on guitar and bouzouki, and powerful three and four part vocal harmonies have taken the musical community by storm.
Over the years the Tannies have been trailblazers for Scottish music, and their tight harmonies and powerful, inventive arrangements have won them fans from beyond the folk and Celtic music scenes.
1994 saw the release to critical acclaim of Capernaum, which won the Indie Award in the USA for Celtic Album of the Year from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and Manufacturers (NAIRD, now AFIM).
Tannies veterans Phil Smillie, Roy Gullane, John Martin and Les Wilson are versatile musicians who have received worldwide accolades over the years for their exuberant performances and outstanding recordings. From reflective ballads to foot stomping reels and jigs, the variety and range of the material they perform is matched only by their enthusiasm and lively Scottish spirit.
The lineup that appeared on 2006’s Live and In Session featured Roy Gullane on guitar, vocals; John Martin on fiddle, viola, mandola, mandolin, cello; Colin Melville on Highland bagpipes, Scottish small pipes, whistles, guitar; Phil Smillie on flute, whistles, bodhran, vocals; Les Wilson on bouzouki, keyboards, vocals. Guests included Douglas Millar on keyboards and Hugh (Shuggie) MacCallum on assorted percussion.
In 2011, Tannahill Weavers was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, and in 2014 they were joined by innovative piper Lorne MacDougall.
Are Ye Sleeping Maggie (Hedera Records HRCD11, 1976)
The Old Woman’s Dance (Hedera Records HRCD12, 1978)
The Tannahill Weavers (Hedera Records HRCD13, 1979)
Tannahill Weavers IV (Hedera Records HRCD14, 1981)
Capercaillie is the band that created a stir like no other Scottish band since Silly Wizard. Capercaillie plays groundbreaking contemporary Celtic music featuring the ethereal, yet powerful Gaelic vocals by Karen Matheson, intricate rhythms, and a combination of traditional Scottish and electric instruments.
The original founders of the band, vocalist Karen Matheson, accordionist Donald Shaw and multi-instrumentalist Marc Duff, met at school in Oban, their hometown in northwestern Scotland. Matheson’s voice was described by acclaimed actor Sean Connery as having “a throat that is surely touched by God”.
Capercaillie sold over a million albums worldwide. These include three silver and one gold album in the UK, and the first Gaelic Top 40 single. Capercaillie also wrote the music for the 1995 Hollywood movie “Rob Roy.” Karen Matheson appeared in the movie, singing the song “Ailein duinn”.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Capercaillie, Survival Records released the double CD anthology “Grace and Pride – The anthology 2004 – 1984” on September 13, 2004. The album collected 38 tracks from each of the band’s 15 albums, including previously unreleased and rare tracks.
In 2013, the band released an album titled At the Heart of It All. The Capercaillie lineup at that time included Karen Matheson (vocals), Donald Shaw (keyboards), Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Manus Lunny (guitar), Ewen Vernal (bass), and Michael McGoldrick (flute/pipes), all of whom are some of the finest musicians in the Celtic music scene. The list of guests on At the Heart of It All includes: vocalists Julie Fowlis, Kathleen MacInnes, Darren MacLean, Sineag MacIntyre and Kris Drever (Lau). The instrumentalists include Irish banjo virtuoso Gerry O’Connor, masterful uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson, fiddler Aidan O’Rourke (also from Lau), percussionist James Mackintosh, and jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith.
Battlefield Band plays Scottish music of rare passion and joy. Inspired by their rich heritage of Celtic music and fired by the strength of today’s Scottish Cultural scene (which they themselves have done much to create and fuel), Battlefield Band mix the old songs with new self-penned material, and perform them on a unique fusion of ancient and modern instruments – bagpipe, fiddle, synthesizer, guitar, cittern, flute, bodhran and accordion.
This is the gold standard, the band against which all others are measured. After 3 years they still lead the way for Scottish music — introducing new musicians, new music; always involving their ever widening audience, as they travel the world.
In 22 the band welcomed back Pat Kilbride. A member of the band in the mid-seventies, and featured on the classic album At The Front, this was his second stint on the Battlefield. In the intervening years, this fine musician and singer has toured with Kips Bay and recorded a highly regarded solo CD.
Dookin’ was released in 27. Dookin’ is the Scottish word for what you do at Halloween – as in ‘dookin’ for apples. This is a reference to what Battlefield Band has been doing for all these years, Dookin’ into the great pool of Scottish and Irish music and song.
Battlefield Band founder Alan Reid describes the group’s 29th album Zama Zama… Try Your Luck: “This album started as a collection of songs and tunes about gold. But as we searched, like the alchemists of old, it turned into a wider idea. In the process we saw the greed, disasters and victories inherent in the search and exploitation of various sources of wealth in this world. Then, as if by demonic serendipity, along came the worldwide economic crisis. We watched the major banks, insurance companies and Hedge Funds etc., implode, discrediting the entire financial system and many of its managers and advisers – but there was still more to come. We, in Britain, could only stand and watch aghast as many Members of Parliament, and the House of Lords at Westminster, the Mother of Parliaments’ were exposed for their cynical misuse of the expenses system, often amounting to fraud. As we put this album together we have been amazed, angered, depressed and hilariously horrified.”
Line-up came out on the 18th August 2011. The musicians featured in the recording include a new member, fiddler and piper Ewen Henderson, from the Highlands of Scotland. The lineup at the time was Sean O’Donnell on Vocals, Guitar, Cittern; Ewen Henderson on Fiddle, Bagpipes, Vocals, Piano; Alasdair White on Fiddle, Whistle, Bouzouki, Bagpipes; Mike Katz – Bagpipes, Whistles, Bouzouki, Guitar, Bass, Vocals; and a special appearance on harmonica from Scottish bluesman Mike Whellans
Battlefield Band (1977)
At the Front (Temple Records, 1978)
Stand Easy (Temple Records, 1979)
Preview (Temple Records, 198) Home is Where the Van Is (Temple Records, 198)
The Story So Far (Temple Records, 1982)
There’s a Buzz (Temple Records, 1982) Anthem for the Common Man (Temple Records, 1984)
On the Rise (Temple Records, 1986)
Music in Trust Vol 1 (Temple Records, 1986)
After Hours: Forward to Scotland’s Past (1987)
Celtic Hotel (Temple Records, 1987)
Music in Trust Vol 2 (1988)
Home Ground – Live From Scotland (1989)
New Spring (Temple Records, 1991)
Quiet Days (Temple Records, 1992)
Opening Moves (Topic Records, 1993)
Farewell to Nova Scotia (Escalibur, 1996) Threads (Temple Records, 1995)
Across the Borders (Temple Records, 1997) Live Celtic Folk Music (Munich, 1998) Rain, Hail or Shine (Temple Records, 1998) Leaving Friday Harbor (Temple Records, 1999) Happy Daze (Temple Records, 2001) Time and Tide (Temple Records, 22)
Best of Battlefield 1976 – 2003 (Temple Records, 2003)
Out for the Night (Temple Records, 2004) The Road of Tears (Temple Records, 2006) Dookin’ (Temple Records, 2007) Zama Zama… Try Your Luck (Temple Records, 2009) Line-up (Temple Records COMD214, 211) Room Enough For All (Temple Records, 2013) Beg & Borrow (Temple Records, 2015)
Battlefield Band – Live in Concert at the Brunton Theatre (Temple Records, 2008
Ialma has evolved into of the finest exponents of contemporary Galician folk music. The core of the group are four women based in Belgium who have Galician ancestry. Galicia is the northwest region of Spain, where there is a rich tradition of female ensembles who sing and play tambourines (pandeiretas in Galician).
The album’s title indicates their musical route: Camiño de Bruxelas a Santiago (the trail from Brussels to Santiago). The group’s style revolves about strong vocal harmonies backed by tambourines, guitar and accordion.
Camiño de Bruxelas a Santiago features traditional lyrics and melodies as well as original compositions by members of the ensemble and a few other authors. Although the majority of the pieces have deep Galician roots, Ialma has brought in other traditions such as flamenco palmas (handclap percussion), Basque chalaparta and a song by Italian songwriter Lucilla Galeazzi.
The lineup includes Verónica Codesal on vocals and pandeireta; Magali Menéndez on vocals and pandeireta; Natalia Codesal on vocals and pandeireta; and Marisol Palomo on vocals and pandeireta.
The band’s regular instrumentalists are producer and arranger Quentin Dujardin on guitars, bass, bodhran, percussion and backing vocals; and Didier Laloy on diatonic accordion.
Guests: Esteban Murillo on vocals and palmas; Ross Ainslie on whistle; a children’s choir; Jonathan De Neck on diatonic accordion; Olivier Hernández on chromatic harmonica; Sebastien Taminiau on violin; Rémi Decker on bagpipes; Raf De Backer on Hammond organ; Iñaki Plaza on chalaparta; Boris Schmidt on double bass; Fred Malenpré on percussion; Stephan Pougin on percussion; Philippe Mobers on snare drum; and Nicolas Scalliet on drums.
Camiño de Bruxelas a Santiago is a superb album rooted in Galician music traditions performed by one of the finest Galician music ensembles in the current music scene.