Tag Archives: Celtic music

Artist Profiles: Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane, of County Clare, Ireland, plays the uilleann pipes, an unusual Celtic bagpipe whose bellows are held under the arms and inflated by wing-like motion. He was the featured instrumentalist in the original production, album and video of Riverdance. Spillane was a founding member of Moving Hearts, and has recorded with Van Morrison, Steve Winwood and Elvis Costello, among others.


Atlantic Bridge (Tara Music, 1987)
Out of the Air (Tara Music, 1988)
Shadow Hunter (Tara Music,1990)
Pipedreams (Tara Music, 1991)
EastWind, with Andy Irvine (Tara Music,1992)
A Place Among The Stones (1994)
Calman The Dove, with Savourna Stevenson (1998)
The Sea of Dreams (Covert Records, 1998)
Forgotten Days, with Kevin Glackin (2001)
Deep Blue Sea (2004)
Between Longing & Belonging (2016)

With Moving Hearts

Moving Hearts (1981)
Dark End of the Street (1982)
The Storm (1985)
Live Hearts (1986)
Live in Dublin (2008)


Artist Profiles: Aoife Clancy

Aoife Clancy

Aoife Clancy had little idea of the extent other father and uncles’ international stardom as The Clancy Brothers while she was growing up in the small Irish town of Carrick-on-Suir in County Tipperary. Sure, she was taught to play banjo and guitar by her father Bobby by the time she was ten and started singing in pubs with him by age 12. “He was and still is a great inspiration and always encouraged me to continue singing…I owe him a lot,” she says. And, yes, after a year of studying drama in Dublin at the Gaiety School of Acting, she was invited to tour Australia, singing at festivals and concerts that featured some of Ireland’s greatest musicians, including Christy Moore and The Furey Brothers.

And then there was the Caribbean cruise performing with The Clancy Brothers, Aoife’s first appearance at the Milwaukee Irish Festival (the world’s largest gathering for Celtic music) and a seven-week tour of the United States with the renowned Paddy Noonan Show. But it wasn’t until Aoife moved to the United States in 1992 that she understood the full measure of her family’s widespread popularity. “In Ireland, they were well known but didn’t tour there much,” she says. “But after coming to the States, I realized just how famous they actually are.”

Even if The Clancy Brothers’ renown came as a surprise, Aoife’s career choice was environmentally, and perhaps genetically, predetermined. “There was always plenty of music around when I was growing up,” she told the Boston Globe. “I suppose I have it in me; I can’t help it.” Other family members felt the musical pull as well.

Her brother Finbarr toured with The Clancy Brothers, her cousin Donal Clancy played with Solas, cousin Robbie O’Connell has his own solo career as well as playing with Clancy O’Connell Clancy and many other groups, and cousin Colm Power is also a professional musician and songwriter. After Aoife’s relocation to the United States of America, she recorded her first solo album, It’s About Time, for Rego Records in 1994, and embarked on a promising solo career.

She was soon invited to fill the lead vocalist’s role in the unique, all-female Irish-American sextet Cherish the Ladies, with whom she toured and recorded between August 1995 and April 2000. Aside from singing on five Cherish the Ladies albums released by RCA, Green Linnet, and their own Bigmama Records, Aoife and the group also contributed to the Boston Pops Orchestra’s 1998 Grammy-nominated The Celtic Album.

Early in her stay with Cherish, Aoife found the time to record a second solo record. Soldiers and Dreams. When Aoife left Cherish the Ladies to renew her solo career, she retained that guiding musical vision, amply displayed on her Silvery Moon CD. Whether the songs she sings originate in the United Kingdom, Australia or Appalachia, Aoife’s seemingly effortless blend of warm, natural vocals, genre-defying instrumentation, and repertoire of classic and modem material deserves to make this Clancy Daughter a worthy inheritor of an iconic family name and an even broader following. Ireland Europe


It’s About Time (Rego Records, 1994)
Soldiers and Dreams (Rego Records, 2002)
Silvery Moon (Appleseed Recordings, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Eamonn Coyne

Éamonn Coyne

Éamonn Coyne, who now lives in Edinburgh is originally from Dublin (Ireland). He learned his playing from a variety of sources and is a member of the younger generation of Irish musicians.

In the music scene he has performed and recorded with a vast array of people including Siobhan and Tommy Peoples, The Wrigley Sisters (cds ‘Hunterland’ and ‘Mither o’ the Sea’), Eileen Ivers (Ex Riverdance), Sharon Shannon, Jonny Hardie (Old Blind Dogs) and Gavin Marwick (cd Blue Lamp), Russell’s House (cd ‘Russell’s House‘), and most recently Scottish international band Salsa Celtica (‘El Agua De La Vida‘ & ‘El Camino‘).

Along with traditional Irish music, Éamonn has a keen interest in other types of music including American country, old-time music, and jazz. His connection with the internationally renowned jazz/bluegrass 5-string banjo astronaut, and recent Grammy winner Alison Brown and her fabulous Quartet has embodied some of these interests.

Éamonn has played and toured with the Alison Brown Quartet (ABQ) over the last number of years at events including Celtic Connections 2001-2006, Shetland Folk Festival 2001 & 2005 a July 2001 tour of Ireland and an August 2001 tour in the USA. He also joined ABQ for Cambridge Folk Festival 2002 and Celtic Colours 2002, which Éamonn was returning to after playing at the first one in 1997.

His connection to country music was highlighted almost a decade ago when he met for the first time and recorded with notable bluegrass musicians, Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas. Also associated with that project, a Nashville special for TV, were renowned Irish musicians, Davy Spillane, Seán Keane (The Chieftains), and Philip Donnelly (Ex John Prine band & Nancy Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra).

Éamonn has toured extensively with solo projects and with different bands in places such as Russia, Estonia, United States of America, Cape Breton (Canada) and throughout Europe. As well as performing and touring regularly with Salsa Celtica, he has in the past toured with Russell’s House, Darth?n, and Stockton’s Wing.

Éamonn’s first solo CD, Through the Round Window, on Compass Records, was released in the US on 13th August 2005. It is a work of banjo music and more featuring Éamonn on tenor banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar, 6-string guitar and tenor national steel guitar. Accompanying him on the CD are a host of luminaries of the Irish music scene and beyond including: Alison Brown, 5-string banjo; Dermot Byrne and Ciarán Curran of Altan; Kevin Doherty of Four Men and a Dog; Michael McGoldrick of Capercaillie; Tom Morrow of Dervish; and Ethna Coyne (nano) his grandmother.

Other guests on through the round window are: Kendrick Freeman, from California on snare; Jimmy Higgins of Galway also on snare drum; Russell Hunter of Edinburgh on piano; Pat Marsh from Clare on bouzouki and guitar; Paul O’Driscoll of Clare on bass; and Sandy Wright from Edinburgh on guitars and dobro.

Éamonn has also recorded with Russell’s House, a band based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Their first cd Russell’s House, was released in 1999. The band are Simon Bradley on fiddle, Éamonn Coyne on banjo, Sandy Wright on guitar & vocals and Russell Hunter on piano & fiddle. More info from www.russellshouse.co.uk.

Most recently Éamonn has been touring and recording with Salsa Celtica and their 4th album, El Camino.

Éamonn & Kris Drever (guitars, vocals, mandolin) have just finished a new CD ‘Honk Toot Suite’ which is due for release in Summer 2006.


Through the Round Window (Compass, 2002)
Honk Toot Suite (Compass, 2007)
Storymap (Reveal Records, 2013)


Artist Profiles: Celtic Fiddle Festival

an early lineup of Celtic Fiddle Festival

Celtic Fiddle Festival was initially Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, Christian LeMaître, and Soig Siberil, representing Ireland, Scotland and Brittany. Burke, Cunningham and LeMaître were three of the finest fiddlers in the Celtic world, together with Brittany’s hottest guitarist, Soïg Sibéril, as accompanist .

In 1996 a completely new group was formed under the name Celtic Fiddle Festival II. The new group was formed by Martin Hayes (Ireland), Natalie MacMaster (Cape Breton, Canada) and Brian McNeill (Scotland), with guitarists Dennis Cahill and Tony McManus.

The original line-up of Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, and Christian LeMaître came back in the year 2000. The onstage camaraderie of these three attracted and delighted leagues of new fans all over Europe and the USA, from Folk to Classical enthusiasts. Cunningham performed the most incredible feats of digital acrobatics on his fiddle whilst at the same time delighting audiences with his huge sense of fun. Burke’s dryer sense of humor was nevertheless relentless as he feeds the audience a feast of Irish delicacies with his fluid finger work, and Le Maître’s seductive Breton dance tunes, both rhythmic and beautiful were backed delightfully by Sibéril.

After the unexpected passing of founding member Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham, in December 2003, fiddlers Kevin Burke (Ireland) and Christian Lemaitre (Brittany) along with guitarist Ged Foley were left with an unimaginable hole to fill in their hearts and in their lineup. The band made the difficult decision to play on, and invited the young French-Canadian fiddler Andre Brunet (of La Bottine Souriante) to join them. “The news of Johnny’s death was heartbreakingly sad and it did not seem possible that the Celtic Fiddle Festival could continue without him,” said founding member Kevin Burke. “Yet once the initial pain and sadness subsided a little, we started to think that Johnny would have been horrified at the idea of us calling it quits! After much soul searching we decided to ask Andre if he would like to join us on the upcoming tour.

On tour, Brunet’s lively Quebecois dance tunes and contagious enthusiasm lifted both tempos and spirits. At the end of a tour in March 2004, the group recorded three shows in Portland, Oregon. The result was a new CD, Play On (Green Linnet GLCD 1230), the fourth album by Celtic Fiddle Festival. It is dedicated to the memory of Johnny.

“Once the tour got under way,” Burke continues. “It became quickly evident that inviting Andre along was an inspired decision. There was great excitement in the music, we enjoyed each others playing immensely and it was evident from the audience response that they too felt they were witnessing something special.

Celtic Fiddle Festival in 2014


Celtic Fiddle Festival (Green Linnet, 1993)
Celtic Fiddle Festival: Encore (Green Linnet, 1998)
Rendezvous (Green Linnet, 2001)
Play on (2005)
Équinoxe (2008)
Live in Brittany – 20th Anniversary Concert (2013)
Storm In A Teacup (Loftus Music, 2016)


Sharon Shannon’s Globetrotting Songs

Sharon Shannon – Sacred Earth (Celtic Collections, 2017)

Irish accordionist is a masterful musician who is comfortable playing traditional music as well as exploring the musics from various world traditions. On Sacred Earth, Sharon Shanon collaborates with guitarist Justin Adams and kora player Seckou Keita who introduce an African element, incorporating West African sounds and Saharan blues.

There is still plenty of lively and melancholic Celtic music from Ireland and other lands as well, such as the wonderful Frenchie’s Reel that comes from northeastern North America and features the 6 great Shetland fiddlers.

Sacred Earth also features unexpected songs like the nostalgic American country-inspired “He’ll Have to Go” featuring Finbar Furey; an annoying hip hop song; and a great blues track featuring bluesman Greg Guy (Buddy Guy’s son), Australian duo Hat Fitz and Cara and harmonica Majiec Zawarone.

Sacred Earth is a masterfully-crafted album where traditional virtuoso Irish accordion meets the sounds of the globe.

Buy Sacred Earth


Golden Harps of Galicia

Rodrigo Romaní Trío – Fios de ouro no ár (Altafonte, 2018)

Spanish musician Rodrigo Romaní is one of the leading harp players in Galicia. He’s one of the pioneers of contemporary Galician folk music, who co-founded the seminal band Milladoiro. On this occasion, he appears with a trio that includes fellow harp player Beatriz Martinez and Xulia Feixoo on percussion.

The album Fios de ouro no ár (Golden strings in the air) features original pieces and traditional songs as well. It’s a superb melodic album where folk harp meets classical music and contemporary acoustic music.

The exquisite chamber string quartet Cuarteto Novecento appears on two of the musical pieces.

Although the majority of the album is instrumental, two guest vocalists appear on two tracks: Inés Lorenzo and Guillerme Ignacio Costa.

Fios de ouro no ár is beautifully-constructed recording by one of leading composers in the Galician folk music scene.


Artist Profiles: Kerstin Blodig

Kerstin Blodig

Kerstin Blodig was born in Berlin and has Norwegian roots. She is a leading vocalist and guitarist in the German acoustic scene. Her band Touchwood, with Irish singer Cristina Crawley, has an album distributed in Ireland.

Kerstin studied musicology and Scandinavian languages and cultures in Berlin and in Bergen (Norway). She is involved in a wide variety of different projects, ranging from studio work, German folk-pop and theater music productions to the Celtic groups Norland Wind and Talking Water. She made a world music album, Valivann (with Mick Franke), combining her own Scandinavian/Celtic influenced compositions with traditional lyrics and modem grooves.

In her solo performances, Kerstin presents her arrangements of traditional Norwegian and Celtic songs as well as her own material.

In 2011 she released Trolldans, the debut album by Huldrelokkk, an all-female trio featuring acoustic folk music from Norway, Sweden and Denmark as well as their own material. The band includes Kerstin Blodig on vocals, guitar, bodhrán; Mia Gunberg Ådin (Sweden) on vocals, fiddle, nykkelharpa; and Liv Vester Larsen (Denmark) on vocals, fiddle, percussion.


Atlantic Driftood – Harp Music & Song From The Celtic Northwest, with Norland Wind ‎(Slow Motion Records, 2000)
December Journey, with Norland Wind ‎(Alula Records, 2002)
Valivann (Alula Records, 2002)
Kelpie (Alula Records, 2002)
From Shore To Shore, with Norland Wind ‎(Laika Records, 2004)
Nordisk Sjel
Var det du – var det deg? (2007)
Kelpie: Live! (2010)
Trolldans, with Huldrelokkk (Westpark Music, 2011)
Desember måne – December Moon (2012)
Storm in a Teacup (Laika, 2013)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P08LJZW?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&camp=1789&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=B00P08LJZW, with Huldrelokkk (Westpark Music, 2013)
Out of the Woods (Stockfisch, 2015)


Artist Profiles: The Breath

The Breath

The Breath is a Manchester-based innovative folk band inspired by Celtic music, rock, ambient electronic, and other influences. The group is led by vocalist, lyricist and flute player Ríoghnach Connolly and guitarist and composer Stuart McCallum. They met through MySpace in 2010 when McCallum was looking for a singer.

Ríoghnach Connolly was born in Armagh (Northern Ireland) and is currently based in Manchester. She is known for her work with Afro Celt Sound System and Honeyfeet. Ríoghnach has an extraordinary voice.

Stuart McCallum was born in Manchester. He is an exploratory guitarist, known for his masterful loops and effects. He worked with Cinematic Orchestra and released various solo albums.

The other two members of the original The Breath are drummer Luke Flowers and pianist John Ellis.

The group attracted a lot of attention in 2016 with its debut album Carry Your Kin on Real World Records, recorded in Manchester and at Real World Studios, mixed by Tchad Blake.


Carry Your Kin (Real World Records, 2016)
Let The Cards Fall (Real World Records, 2018)


The Breath Release Music Video and Announce New Album Let The Cards Fall

British band The Breath, featuring guitarist Stuart McCallum and vocalist, lyricist and flutist, Ríoghnach Connolly has released a music video for ‘Let the Cards Fall.’ Thesong is the title-track from their second album, scheduled for release in September 2018 on Real World Records.

The song is partly inspired by Queen Macha, an ancient Irish legend and the namesake of Armagh, Ríoghanch’s birthplace.

The video for ‘Let The Cards Fall’ was directed by Luca Rudlin.


Artist Profiles: Soig Siberil

Soig Siberil

Soig Siberil was born February 1, 1955 in Paris, France. He is a name that keeps coming up in the Breton folk music scene. After recording with Sked, he founded Kornog together with Jamie McMenemy of the Battlefield band and two additional musicians.

Soig Siberil later became a member of Gwerz, another legendary Breton band. Since then he has toured and recorded with Pennou Skoulm, Orion, Les Ours du Scorff, Kemia, Den and Alain Pennec.

Solo Discography:

Digor (Gwerz Pladenn, 1993)
Entre Ardoise et Granit, Maen Glas… (Gwerz Pladenn, 1996)
Gwenojenn (Gwerz Pladenn, 1999)
Gitar (Naïve Records, 2001)
Du côté de chez Soïg! (Siam Production, 2003)
Lammat (Coop Breizh, 2006)
Tan Dehi, kan ha gitar, withc Lors Jouin (Coop Breizh, 2009)
Botcanou (Coop Breizh, 2009)
Red, with Nolwenn Korbell (Coop Breizh, 2007)
Noazh (Coop Breizh, 2010)
Dek (Coop Breizh, 2014)
Habask (Coop Breizh, 2017)