Tag Archives: Celtic music

Artist Profiles: Burach

Burach

Burach is one of the most innovative and popular bands to come out of the new wave of Scottish musical inventiveness combining Celtic music and contemporary rock influences to create a unique sound that is popular with young and old alike.

Formed in the autumn of 1994, Burach won the 1994/95 Scottish Folk Group Competition. Since the release of their first album, The Weird Set, Burach have been making a name for themselves with tours to Scandinavia, Brittany, France, Holland and Italy, they have played as far as Turkmenistan in Central Asia and shared the stage with a number of prestigious performers including Big Country, Alison Moyet, Nils Lofgren and Goat’s Don’t Shave and have appeared on MTV, the BBC, and Russian television.

Burach is a Gaelic word colloquially meaning a mess, or more formally, “a delving in the earth.” The band’s second CD Born Tired, was released in 1997. Tracks from both albums have been licensed to several compilations albums, such as The Electric Muse II, EMI’s Folk ‘n Hell, and the Scottish Arts Council’s recent release, Seriously Scottish.

Band members include: Doug Anderson on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Eoghain Anderson on drums and percussion; Gregor Borland on fiddle and background vocals; Sandy Brechin on accordion and background vocals; Alison Cherry on lead vocals and whistle; Roy Waterson on bas and background vocals.
mp;Backup Vocals

Discography:

The Weird Set (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX93, 1995)

Born Tired (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX136, 1997)

Deeper (Greentrax Recordings, 2000)

Unstoppable (Brechin All Records, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Bodega

Bodega

Bodega were Gillian Chalmers (Fraserburgh – pipes, whistle and fiddle); Ross Couper (Shetland – fiddle); Tia Files (Oban – guitar, bass guitar and percussion); Norrie Maclver (Isle of Lewis – lead vocals, accordion and guitar) and June Naylor (Isle of Skye – clarsach). The band formed in March 2005 and met while they were attending The National Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music, Plockton, Ross-shire. Late in 25 they won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and early in 2006 the Band signed to Greenstrax Recordings. Their debut album is titled simply Bodega.

Jack Evans, who produced the album, wrote – “Bodega is highly talented and versatile and together their music has a kind of fierce energy, imagination and joie de vivre, that you just don’t hear very often. They do songs brilliantly. They do tunes superbly. They sing in Gaelic and English.

They’re funky, yet respectful of traditions. They have clever arrangements. They improvise. Individually they’re among the very best young musicians we have today. Collectively, they may just be the future of traditional music. Get into Bodega now, because where they lead others will follow.”

Bodega disbanded at the end of 2011.

Discography:

Bodega (Greentrax CDTRAX 295, 2006)

Under the Counter (Greentrax, 2008)

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Artist Profiles: Vamp

Vamp in 2016 – Photo by Edgar G. Bachel

Vamp was formed in 1990 by Øyvind Staveland, Calle Øyvind Apeland, Paul Hansen, Bjørn Berge, Odin Staveland and Tore Jamne. It is one of Norway’s best-known and most popular groups in the field modern folk song. The group’s unique blend music has resulted in three Spellemannpris awards so far. Vamp preserves the best of Norwegian modern folk song tradition, and its Celtic music-influenced sound evokes the band members’ close connections to countries bordering the North Sea.

Vamp’s songs are built around the concepts of longing and belonging, and the lyrics are the group’s main focus. Poet Kolbein Falkeid, who has collaborated with Vamp for many years, deserves a special mention. Vamp tours in Norway and Denmark, and the group draws full houses everywhere it plays.

Discography

* God morgen, søster (Majorselskapet MSCD 1114, 1993)
* Horisonter (Majorselskapet MSCD 1121, 1994)
* 13 Humler (Majorselskapet MSCD 1131, 1996)
* Folken (MajorStudio MSCD 1135, 1996)
* Flua på veggen (Majorstudio MSCD 1138, 1998)
* Ei med alt (Majorstudio MSCD 1146, 1999)
* En annen sol (2000)
* Camomile (Emi Fujita, 2001)
* Månemannen (2002)
* Siste stikk (2005)
* Tir n’a noir 1992 (2006)
* I full symfoni (2006)
* Velkommen inn (2008)
* På Bredden (2008)
* St. Mandag (2008)
* Liten fuggel (2012)
* To me alt (2013)
* Populas (2015)

web site http://www.vamp.no

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Artist Profiles: Téada

Téada

Founded by Sligo fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, Téada was formed in 2001 to make an appearance on the innovative Irish television series ‘Flosc’. Téada (meaning ‘strings’ in the Irish language) emerged as one of the most exciting and traditional young Irish bands of recent years. Since 2001, Téada has evolved to frequent headline performances at major music festivals throughout the United States of America, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

The original line-up included Oisin Mac Diarmada (fiddle), John Blake (guitar, flute, piano), Seán McElwain (guitar/bouzouki), Tristan Rosenstock (bodhrán) . With engaging textural arrangements, Téada, meaning “strings” in the Irish language revels in the vibrant traditional music of Ireland. Deftly playing up its structural intricacies while preserving the contagious energy inherent in the repertoire, the group strives to capture a sense of the rawness and individuality of the solo artist, within a modern group context.

The band released its debut album in Dublin and it reached the No. 1 position at Celtic Note, Dublin’s largest Irish Music store. A notable highlight was a headlining appearance to a 30,000-audience in Brittany during 2006, a year which also saw the band launch a hugely successful CD/DVD Inné Amárach, released by released by Gael Linn and Compass Records.

Téada won Irish Music Magazines Best New Traditional Irish Band of the Year Award for 2003.

2008 proved to be an extremely eventful year for the group, with a performance at Edmonton Folk Festival in Canada and a headlining appearance at the Penang World Music Festival in Malaysia. The group also received an invitation from the Irish Embassy in Rome to perform at a commemorative event marking the 400th anniversary of the landmark event in Irish history known as “The Flight of the Earls”.

Band Members in 2010: Oisin Mac Diarmada (fiddle), Paul Finn (button accordion), Damien Stenson (flute), Seán McElwain (guitar/bouzouki), Tristan Rosenstock (bodhrán)

Discography

* Teada (Ceol Records CEOCD 002, 2003)
* Give us a penny and let us be gone (Green Linnet 1228, 2004)
* Inne Amarach (Yesterday Tomorrow) (Gael Linn/Compass Records, 2006)
* Ceol & Cuimhne – Music & Memory (Compass Records, 2010)
* Ainneoin Na Stoirme – In Spite Of The Storm (2013)

Web: teada.com

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Music for St. Patrick’s Day 2017

There’s always a bit of a letdown when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around. Instead of celebrating a culture filled with the Celts’ vibrant art and mythology, grand writers and even grander musicians, I get goofy leprechaun graphics, cheap, green beer specials and dreadful Irish brogues hawking everything from Celtic-inspired party favors to get lucky sweepstakes.

The general theme, whether it is a car dealership sale or your local St. Patrick’s Day parade, seems to dictate everything be painted bright green, decorated with dippy looking leprechauns and the occasional fake pot of gold. Now, I’m okay with taking on faeries, because little people with wings flying around are just wrong. Get a fly swatter or a can of Raid because I’m pretty sure faeries are carriers or rabies or Lyme disease. Unfortunately, much of the music doesn’t get much better with cheap knockoffs of pub bands or the not quite Enya singers. The good news is that I can do a little something about music with a few suggestions for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Tara Music has re-released Fuaim by Clannad. Hailing from County Donegal in North West Ireland, this is the real deal in Celtic music. This reissue allows listeners to revisit Clannad’s early years and wallow in the goodness of “Na Buachailli Alainn,” “La Brea Fan Dtuath,” “Strayed Away” and “The Green Fields Of Gaothdobhair.”

 

Clannad – Fuaim

 

Speaking of re-releases, Real World Records has pulled some goodies off the shelves for reissue like Peter Gabriel’s Big Blue Ball. Guess as the founder or Real World, Mr. Gabriel has got a fair amount of pull. While more of a world music fusion project than a strict Celtic recording, Big Blue Ball slips in some offerings like “Deep Forest,” “Rivers” and “Altus Silva” that are well worth snagging.

 

Big Blue Ball

 

Pulling some other gems from the shelves Real World has reissued Anatomic, Seed, Volume 1: Sound System, Volume 2: Release, Volume 3: Further in Time, Capture 1995-2010 and Pod all from the Afro Celt Sound System catalog. Again, there’s a good deal of musical cross pollination with other genres, but don’t overlook tracks like “When I Still Needed You,” “Beautiful Rain,” “Mother,” “Drake,” “Seed,” “Nevermore,” “The Other Side,” “Colossus” and “Go on Through.” The Afro Celt Sound System sound remains timeless.

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Volume 1: Sound System

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Volume 2: Release

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Volume 3: Further in Time

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Seed

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Pod (remix album)

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Volume 5: Anatomic

 

Afro Celt Sound System – Capture 1995-2010

 

This Day Too: Music From Irish America by Terence, Michael and Jesse Winch has a friendly Irish bar feel. Out of the Washington, DC area, the Winch brothers get some help by way of fellow musicians and singers Patrick Armstrong, Tina Eck, Eileen Estes, Brian Gaffney, Conor Hearn, Seamus Kennedy, Nita Conley Korn, Zan McLeod, Brendan Mulvihill, Connor Murray, Dominick Murray and Madeline Waters. And just by the names, that’s a whole lot of Irish. This Day Too: Music from Irish America offers up tracks like “The Wonder Hornpipe/Austin Tierney’s/The Thunder Reel,” “Lally’s Alley/Cat’s Tail & Gravy,” “Earl’s Chair/The Green Groves of Erin/Sailor on the Rock” and “In Memory of Michael Coleman/Hughie’s Cap/Forget Me Not.”

 

Terence, Michael and Jesse Winch – This Day Too: Music From Irish America

 

Arc Music has put out Celtic Mystery with tracks by artists like Ron Korb, Altan, Noel McLoughlin and Golden Bough.

 

Various Artists – Celtic Mystery

 

Real World Records has another reissue on tap this year with Martyn Bennett’s Grit. This was a stunning release and time hasn’t diminished it in any way. Fierce and explosive, Grit is razor-edged fusion that astonishes as much as it entertains. You should check out tracks like “Blackbird,” “Chanter,” “Why” and “Ale House.”

 

Martyn Bennett – Grit

 

Looking for something on the sweetly folksy side, you might want to check out Midnite String Quartet’s Celtic Heartstrings out on the Roma Music Group label. There are some sweet string versions of “The Blood of Cu Chulainn,” “The Irish Rover” and “Carrickfergus.”

 


Midnite String Quartet – Celtic Heartstrings

 

This year seems to be the year of the reissue and as luck would have it Robin Williamson’s Glint At The Kindling/Five Bardic Mysteries/Robin Williamson reissue is out this year. Tracks off the Glint at the Kindling featuring Mr. Williamson, as well as Sylvia Woods, Chris Caswell and Jerry McMillan or better known as the Merry Band and tracks from his 1985 spoken word release Five Bardic Mysteries sports such tracks as “The Road the Gypsies Go,” “The Woodcutter’s Song,” “Lough Foyle,” “The Dialogue of the Two Sages” and “Three Celtic Nature Poems.”

 

Robin Williamson – Glint At The Kindling/Five Bardic Mysteries/Robin Williamson

 

Golden Bough wraps up their sound in the goodness of Celtic harp, violin, accordion, mandolin, bouzouki, guitars, tin whistle and bodhran. Their offering Celtic Festival jaunty nod to St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Golden Bough – Celtic Festival

 

If that’s not to your liking you could always check out Noel McLoughlin’s Song for Ireland is out on re-release.

 

Noel McLoughlin – Song for Ireland

 

As if The Dubliners needed any additional introduction, Arc Music has the goods on this Irish standard and has put out a special 2-CD set of The Dubliners with Luke Kelly. This compilation features such tracks as “Song for Ireland,” “The Sun is Burning,” “Free the People,” “Donegal Danny,” “Now I’m Easy,” “Whack Fol de Diddle” and “Irish Rover.”

 

The Dubliners – The Dubliners with Luke Kelly

 

Newfolk Records has put out Beoga’s Before We Change Our Mind and Tallymoore’s Drive for your listening pleasure. Either by single track or full recording, these two bands shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

Beoga – Before We Change Our Mind

 

Tallymoore – Drive

 

Celtic music favorite Kila’s Kila Alive out and is a kick in the pants and will have dancing on the tabletops faster than the green beer special with offering like “Mutatu,” “Electric Landlady,” “Babymouse” and “Raise the Road.” If that weren’t incentive enough Alan Doherty is a guest on the recording.

 

Kila – Kila Alive“>Kila Alive

 

Released in 2016 Deliverance by The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc is a stunning CD. Combining the fiddling traditions of Norway, Sweden and the Shetland Islands, Deliverance is simply spectacular with tracks like “Talons Trip to Thompson Island,” “Flinken” and “Da Scallowa Lasses/Lorna’s Reel” to snare your inner fiddler.

 

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc – Deliverance

 

The clever Celtic band West of Mabou put out West of Mabou in December of 2016, but shouldn’t be overlooked. The group offer up jaunty numbers like “Rannie MacLellan,” “The Foxhunter,” “Slip Jigs” and a plummy “Temperance Reel/Devil’s Dream.”

 

West of Mabou – West of Mabou

 

For you hard rocking Celtic fans The Rumjacks’ latest release Sleepin’ Rough was release last year, but you might want to check your local music scene because the band is on tour in the US in March and April.

 

The Rumjacks – Sleepin’ Rough

 

Finally, there is the double CD/DVD set Affinity by Atlas. Lovely and atmospheric, Affinity is a lushly masterful collection of music by guitarist Cillian Doheny and concertina player Cillian King with fellow musicians Maria Ryan, Lucia Mac Partlin, Sean Warren, Michael Shimmin and Nicky Scott.. Don’t miss this one.

 

Atlas – Affinity

 

Should you find yourself sitting in a bar somewhere wearing a cheesy shamrock hat, surrounded by paper leprechauns and drinking green beer while listening to a Celtic Goth band murder “Whiskey in the Jar,” just remember that the Celtic spirit takes many forms. And, if approached by faeries grab a shoe!

Sláinte mhaith, my friends.

headline photo: Beoga

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Artist profiles: Marc Duff

Marc Duff – Photo courtesy of Iain Thomson Band

Born in Ontario, Canada and raised in Argyll Marc Duff co-founded the Celtic band Capercaillie with whom he has toured extensively and made many successful recordings. His time spent at the Guildhall School of Music has given him an eclectic taste in music and a distinct style of playing which has kept him in demand as a session musician and a teacher.

Since leaving Capercaillie in 1995 to pursue his own career, he has worked with many prominent artists, such as Def Shepherd, Fish, Iain Morrison, Dick Gaughan, Billy Bragg, Iain Thomson, and Wolfstone, playing low D whistle, bodhran, bouzouki and wind synthesizer.

In addition to his work as a musician, Marc is also a researcher and teacher.

Discography

* Cascade (Etive Records ERLP 333, 1984)
* Crosswinds (Green Linnet, 1987)
* Sidewaulk (Green Linnet, 1989)
* Delirium (BMG UK in Europe, Green Linnet in USA, 1991)
* Get Out (BMG UK in Europe, Green Linnet in USA, 1992)
* Secret People (Survival Records/BMG SURCD 017/Green Linnet in USA, 1993)
* Capercaillie (Survival Records SURCD 018, 1994)

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Artist Profiles: Lunasa

Lúnasa in 2008

Ireland’s all-star quintet Lúnasa has become one of the most sought-after bands on the international Irish music scene. The band’s inventive arrangements and bass-driven grooves are steering Irish acoustic music into surprising new territory. Lúnasa made their worldwide Green Linnet debut in October 1999 with their release Otherworld.

From the start, Lúnasa met with instant acclaim. Their first, self-produced album became an immediate best seller in Ireland, topping Hot Press’ folk charts. International festivals across Europe, Japan and Australia included a main-stage performance in summer 1999 at London’s Guinness Fleadh. On their first American visit, word-of-mouth led to sold-out shows and rave reviews.

Named for an ancient Celtic harvest festival in honor of the Irish god Lugh, patron of the arts, Lúnasa is indeed a gathering of some of the top musical talents in Ireland. Its members have helped formed the backbone of some of the greatest Irish groups of the decade.

Bassist Trevor Hutchinson was a key member of The Waterboys, and later he and guitarist Donogh Hennessy would form the dynamic rhythm section of The Sharon Shannon Band. Fiddler Seán Smyth is an All-Ireland champion who has played with Dónal Lunny’s Coolfin; and Kevin Crawford, considered to be among the finest flutists in Ireland, also plays with the acclaimed traditional group Moving Cloud.

Add to this Otherworld’s guest performers (and original Lúnasa members) uilleann piper John McSherry (Coolfin) and flutist Michael McGoldrick (Capercaillie), and touring member piper Cillian Vallely (of the same talented musical family as brother Niall Vallely of Nomos) and you have the makings of a powerful new band.

Like the younger generation of Nashville musicians such as Béla Fleck or Edgar Meyer, pushing the boundaries of bluegrass into jazz and beyond, Lúnasa arehave been redefining Irish music by going right to the heart of its rhythms. With its distinctive use of the upright acoustic bass — brought front and center by Hutchinson’s remarkable playing — teamed with Hennessey’s percussive guitar, the group seeks out the essential heartbeat of a tune.

There are lots of great melodies in Irish music but often people don’t hear the rhythms underneath,” says founding member Seán Smyth. “We try to relate the swing or energy out of the music, using new rhythms, letting each instrument add its own unique layer. We’ll play the same tune over and over searching for the groove, exploring it. We let the music find its pulse.”

The result is a sound that, though distinctly Irish in flavor, touches on jazz and other improvisational music forms. Inspired by Ireland’s great 1970s group The Bothy Band, Lúnasa use melodic interweaving of wind and string instruments, pairing flutes, fiddle, whistle and pipes in often breathtaking arrangements.

I had a vision of the type of music I wanted to create,” says Seán. “In my books, the most influential band was the Bothy Band, who were flute, pipes and fiddle based.”

Lunasa live in Japan

Seeds for Lúnasa were planted when Seán hooked up with Trevor and Donogh for a short tour of Scandinavia in late1996. The trio clicked so well that back in Ireland, they brought in John McSherry and Michael McGoldrick to record some concerts. A tour of Australia in January 1997 brought Kevin on board, and the band began to take off.

The response when we started playing at home was just great,” adds Seán. Within several months, they were filling venues with spellbound audiences in Ireland, and began to expand their tours to other parts of the world. After a particularly memorable concert at Matt Molloy’s, a renowned music pub in the West of Ireland, owned by the former-Bothy Band and Chieftains flutist. Molloy himself gave the new band his blessing, remarking “they remind me of a band I used to play with!”

At the end of 1997, the band released their first CD Lúnasa, a mix of concert and studio tracks gathered from their prolific year together. It was immediately hailed as one of the finest, freshest recordings of Irish music in years, called “moving, pulsating, and thrilling to the very marrow” by Folk Roots and “a true must-have disc” by the Irish Voice.

Otherworld, the exciting second album from Lúnasa, is a stunning cycle of instrumentals that captures all the performance intensity for which they’re widely acclaimed. The album impressively fulfills the promise of its title, taking listeners to a realm of Irish music full of imaginative leaps and blazing skill.

Lúnasa in 2016

original members were Seán Smyth on fiddle and whistle; Kevin Crawford on flute, whistle, and bodhrán; Trevor Hutchinson on bass; Donogh Hennessy on guitar; and Cillian Vallely on uilleann pipes and low whistle. Guitarist Ed Boyd replaced Donogh Hennessy in 2012.

Discography

* Lúnasa (1998)
* Otherworld (Green Linnet Records 1200, 1999)
* The Merry Sisters of Fate (Green Linnet 1213, 2001)
* Redwood (Green Linnet, 2003)
* The Kinnitty Sessions (Compass Records, 2004)
* (Compass Records, 2006)
* Lá Nua (2010)
* Lúnasa With The RTÉ Concert Orchestra (Lunasa Records, 2013)
* Cas (Lunasa Records, 2018)

Web site: www.lunasa.ie

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Artist Profiles: Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt

 

Loreena McKennitt was born and raised in Morden, Manitoba, a town of Irish, Scottish, German, and Icelandic inhabitants in the middle of the Canadian prairies. The most vigorous Highland dancer in her rural community, she was raised by her mother, a nurse, and her livestock-trader father. “It was a very modest community. People came from immigrant stock. Survival was the order of the day and in some ways broad cultural exposure was limited. Although my family’s ancestors on the most part came from Ireland, there was very little overt ‘Celticness’ to my upbringing in the sense of music or storytelling.”

After an adolescence spent in Morden, McKennitt was eager to move into a wider world. She was first exposed to the Celtic folk boom in a Winnipeg folk club. “The first step for me was Celtic music. The whole sound drew me in an almost instinctive way and it became this vehicle to pursue history in a way I could never have imagined,” she recalls.

In more cosmopolitan Winnipeg, she briefly studied to be a veterinarian, before moving on to finally settle in Stratford, Ontario, where her composing and performing skills were soon appreciated in the lively scene around the city’s internationally renowned Shakespearean Festival. McKennitt still makes her home there, living in a rural farmhouse.

Already in love with Yeats and the music of Breton harpist Alan Stivell, Planxty and the Bothy Band, McKennitt could sense the lyricism of Irish folk music. When she made her first journey to Ireland in 1982 she was to find a similar lyricism in the contours of the land and the spirit of the people.

 

Loreena McKennitt – Photo by Ann Cutting

 

Back home, she put her newly stirred Celtic fervor into an interpretation of Yeats’s “The Stolen Child.” Inspired by a D.I.Y book called How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording, by Diane Sward Rappaport, she set up her own record company, Quinlan Road, in 1985, and recorded Elemental, a nine-song cassette. She ran off copies and began selling them from her car while meeting the public on the most immediate level, as a busker.

As McKennitt’s mailing list grew, word of mouth in cafés and bookshops built her a significant audience. Her growing audience empathized while McKennitt explored the traditional canon, always seeking the reverberation that would make an ancient voice harmonize with her own. She’s particularly proud of tracking down “Bonny Portmore,” included on The Visit. An obscure ballad mourning the loss of ancient British stands of oak, once worshipped by pre-Christian tribes, it has a contemporary relevance to today’s fight to save old-growth forests.

McKennitt followed Elemental by cutting a seasonal perennial in the Christmas carols of To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987), and made her first steps towards cross-cultural fertilization in the subsequent Parallel Dreams(1989). It was at this time she was commissioned to score music for the National Film Board of Canada’s acclaimed film series “Women and Spirituality.”

A pivotal moment for McKennitt’s evolution occurred in 1991 in Venice, Italy, at the largest ever exhibition and collection of international Celtic artifacts. “Until I went to that exhibition, I thought that Celts were people who came from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany,” recalls McKennitt.

Seeing the unimagined riches and variety in the centuries of Celtic art gathered from as far afield as Hungary, Ukraine, Spain and Asia Minor, she recalls, “I felt exhilarated. It was like thinking that all there is to your family are your parents, brothers and sisters, and then you realize there’s a whole stretch of history that is an extension of who you are.” That epiphany transformed McKennitt’s music.

The primeval sounding tambura drone that introduced her next album, The Visit (1992), announced a new direction with its bold, cinematic interpretations of Shakespeare and Tennyson, and an unusually edgy take on the Henry VIII-penned ballad, “Greensleeves.” This process reached a dramatic flowering on 1994’s The Mask and Mirror. McKennitt’s new staging post on the voyage was in Galicia, the Celtic corner of Spain, and then on into 15th-century Spain itself when the cultures of Islam, Christianity and Judaism merged to produce what is still remembered as the Golden Age, a time of profound cultural influence on the evolution of Western civilization.

 

 

The distinctiveness of McKennitt’s musical vision is matched by the independence with which she has approached the music business. “I think coming from a farming and rural background gave me the insight into being self-sufficient. You become familiar with creative problem solving. If you want something badly enough, you will roll up your sleeves and start chipping away.”

When McKennitt decided the time was ripe to move toward the industry establishment, she signed a unique deal with the Warner Group for the world. It is a deal which has been very fruitful indeed as her recordings have gone on to sell in the millions in over 40 countries. Beginning with The Visit, Warner distributed her work, while she controlled every aspect of creation and promotion.

Her album The Book of Secrets was conceived over several journeys, including one taken via the legendary Trans Siberian Express, in which the self-managed singer and record company head found the quiet she needed to reflect and prepare the album.. Finally, she had the time to read Dante’s The Divine Comedy, echoes of which appear in the album’s closing track, Dante’s Prayer. “As with the last three recordings, this one is also a document of my own path of exploration through the vehicle of music and history. There are a lot of mechanisms within our contemporary society that seem to dilute and diminish our sense of identity. As a result, I think there is a heightened need to understand who you are, what your roots are, and where they are connected.”

Her seventh full-length studio album, An Ancient Muse, was released on Quinlan Road in November 2006. An Ancient Muse was produced by Loreena McKennitt and co-produced by Brian Hughes, and was recorded at Real World Studios in England. Its nine tracks continue her exploration of Celtic themes on a journey that sweeps across time and musical genres, from the British Isles to ancient Greece and Byzantine- and Ottoman-era Turkey.

Musical collaborators include Brian Hughes, Donald Quan, Hugh Marsh, Caroline Lavelle, Stefen Hannigan, Rick Lazar, Hossam Ramzy, Annbjorg Lien, Nigel Eaton, Manu Katche, Charlie Jones, Ben Grossman, Jason Hann, Tal Bergman, Tim Landers, Clive Deamer, Ed Henley, Haig Yazdjian, Panos Dimitrakopoulos, Sokratis Sinopoulos and Georgios Kontogiannis and percussion ensemble Krotala.

In celebration of the 2008 holiday season, Quinlan Road released Loreena McKennitt’s A Midwinter Night’s Dream. The holiday themed album features eight new songs alongside five tracks from McKennitt’s 1995 EP, A Winter Garden: Five Songs For The Season, that were completely re-mastered for the new release. This holiday collection features an array of influences ranging from Celtic to classical to Middle Eastern. McKennitt’s eclecticism shines through in the mysticism of “The Holly and the Ivy,” the exotic Eastern arrangements of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” the Latin-sung “Emmanuel” and “Noël Nouvelet!” sung in Old French.

 

Loreena McKenitt – Photo by Richard-Haughton

 

McKennitt recorded A Midwinter Night’s Dream at Peter Gabriel’s Real World recording studio near Bath, England following a highly successful European tour. With McKennitt providing vocals as well as accompaniment on the piano, accordion and harp, the record features a diverse instrumentation that includes oud, fiddle, cello, viola, percussion, hurdy gurdy, Greek lyra and Greek lute.

Not only did I want to recapture some of the frankincense and myrrh in this music,” McKennitt explains, “but the process was a fresh reminder of the diversity of so many traditions when it comes to music of the winter season. The songs are rich with abundant references to the natural world and connections to our spiritual and religious bearings; it is clear that people have used winter as a time of reflection.”

In 2009 she released A Mediterranean Odyssey, a two-disc collection that commemorated Loreena’s 2009 Mediterranean tour and combined newly recorded live performances of audience favorites with previously released studio recordings, all inspired by the tones, textures and rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.

The first disc, From Istanbul to Athens, features 56 minutes of concert highlights from the tour, including several songs that have never before been recorded live. It also includes a 24-page booklet with lavish illustrations and photos from the tour.

The second CD, The Olive and the Cedar, consists of 11 conceptualized studio versions of songs personally selected by Loreena from her catalog. The disc focuses on her musical travel writing approach to the studio recording process and her inspiration in relation to the history of the Celts around the Aegean, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the near East.

As a composer, McKennitt has written music for productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and the National Film Board of Canada. She has three feature length film scores to her credit and has contributed to several soundtracks for both film and television, the most recent being Disney’s fall 2008 DVD release Tinker Bell.

In 2007, McKennitt was nominated for a Grammy Award and was the recipient of a North American Folk Alliance Award. She has also won two Junos, Canada’s premier music award, in addition to a Billboard International Achievement Award.

 

 

As founder of The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety, she has been recognized for her civic and community service, raising nearly four million dollars through the sale of Live in Paris and Toronto to advance water safety education and research. McKennitt has also established The Three Oaks Foundation, a fund which supports cultural, environmental, historical and family groups.

 

Discography

* Elemental (Quinlan Road Productions, 1985)
* To Drive the Cold Winter Away (Quinlan Road Productions, 1987)
* Parallel Dreams (Quinland Road Productions, 1989)
* The Visit (WEA, 1991)
* The Mask and Mirror (Quinlan Road, 1994)
* A Winter Garden: Five Songs For The Season (Quinlan Road, 1995)
* Live in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts (Quinlan Road, 1995)
* The Book of Secrets (Quinlan Road, 1997)
* Live In Paris & Toronto (Quinlan Road, 1999)
* An Ancient Muse (Quinlan Road, 2006)
Nights from the Alhambra (Quinlan Road, 2007)
* A Midwinter Night’s Dream (Quinlan Road, 2008)
* A Mediterranean Odyssey (Quinlan Road, 2009)
* The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Quinlan Road,2010)
* Troubadours On the Rhine (Quinlan Road, 2012)

Videos

* No Journey’s End (Verve, 2006)
* Nights from the Alhambra (Verve/Quinlan Road, 2007)

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Artist Profiles: Liam Bradley

Liam Bradley

Keyboardist Liam Bradley from Tobermore, Co. Derry is known throughout the world for his music for Irish dancing. He has produced recordings and provided accompaniment for major Irish Dancing events, including the All Ireland, American and Australian National Championships and the World Championships.

His music has been used for many shows and performances, from the Royal Albert Hall, Áras an Uachtaráin and the White House, to a ‘Barney the Dinasaur’ DVD. He also arranged the music for the RTE television series “Rising Steps”

He is a member of acclaimed Irish band Beoga.

Discography

* A Lovely Madness (Compass Records, 2004)
* Mischief (Compass Records, 2007)
* The Incident (Compass Records, 2009)
* How to tune a fish (2011)
* Before we change our mind (2016)

Web site: www.beogamusic.com

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Artist Profiles: Karan Casey

Karan Casey – Photo by Robert Hakalski

As a member of Solas for several years, Karan Casey has been critically acclaimed from Japan to the United States as one of Ireland’s greatest singers.

In 1993 Karan emigrated to New York City and began a jazz degree in Brooklyn’s Long Island University. Making the rounds of the sessions in New York she was asked to join Atlantic Bridge. Later she joined Seamus Egan, Winifred Horan, John Doyle and John Williams to form the group Solas.

The band recorded three albums in just four years, and won NAIRD (former independent record industry association) indie awards for each. They played with Bela Fleck, Iris De Ment, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, The Chieftains, Donal Lunny, Sharon Shannon and Paul Winter while touring extensively in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Karan Casey’s solo career has flourished since her separation from the band Solas. Casey’s voice is among the most beautiful in Irish folk music, and she is a wonderful interpreter of both contemporary and traditional material. Her use of grace notes and vibrato has become remarkably subtle.

Her album Chasing the Sun successfully combines traditional but sharp-tongued songs – such as the epic unaccompanied ballad “Jimmy Whelan” – with contemporary material that reflects Casey’s rising status as one of Ireland’s most politically-charged singers.

Her own compositions reveal increasing confidence and incisive social awareness, not least “When Will We All Be Free”, which attacked Ireland’s policies on immigration.

Karan Casey won awards for ‘Best Folk Album’ and ‘Best Folk Female’ from Irish Music magazine and was nominated for the BBC Folk Awards and the Danish music awards. She has performed on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion on public radio in the United States, and appeared at many prestigious venues and festivals.

Discography

Solas (Shanachie, 1996)

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

Songlines (Shanachie, 1997)

The Words That Remain, with Solas (Shanachie, 1998)

Seal Maiden (Music Little People, 2000)

The Winds Begin to Sing (Shanachie, 2001)

Distant Shore (Shanachie, 2003)

Chasing the Sun (Shanachie, 2005)

Reunion: A Decade of Solas, CD & DVD, with Solas (2006)

Ships in the Forest (Compass Records, 2008)

Two More Hours (2014)

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