Tag Archives: fiddle

Artist Profiles: Gregor Borland

Gregor Borland

Gregor Borland has had the good fortune of being the only current performing fiddler to have been taught by both Hector MacAndrew of Cults, (whose grandfather was a pupil of James MacIntosh of Dunkeld, the last pupil of the famous Neil Gow) and Donald Riddell of Clunes, who was the leader of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society, also a prolific teacher in the Inverness area. Both these fiddlers are now legendary in Scottish traditional fiddle

Gregor has also had much success in competitions, winning the Daily record Junior Golden Fiddle Award in 1978 and then going on to win as many as eight Scottish Championships throughout Scotland over the next five years, including the “Henry Williams Trophy” at the Scottish Championship Contest, held in Inverness.

He has recorded and toured with many bands and artistes, including the Kathryn Tickell Band, Burach, Caledon, (With Davie Steele) and also Jim Malcolm to name but a few.

Gregor currently is living in Spain with his family where he has started a Traditional Scottish Fiddle School, in the beautiful town of Biar, north of Alicante. He is also a fully qualified piano tuner. Gregor has also recently started making fiddles, he now faithfully plays one of them on tour.

The CD Bowstroke demonstrates Gregor’s versatility. He is a traditional fiddler, but also has a contemporary side, as he has played with some of the best British folk groups, Kathryn Tickell Band and Burach to name a couple and this contemporary element comes out on the new cd. He is accompanied by Julian Sutton on melodeon & Ian Stevenson on guitar and harmonium.

For the traditional portion, Greg has three pianists, James Gray, Morag MacAskill, and last but not least Bob Turner. They all add a different flavor with their wonderful playing and it all adds up to a very enjoyable mix of old and new.


Artist Profiles: Seán Keane

Seán Keane

One of the early members of The Chieftains, master fiddler Seán Keane joined in 1968, making his band debut at the open-air Edinburgh Festival. His first recording experience with the band was The Chieftains 2 (1969).

Keane was born in Dublin in 1946 into a musical family. Both of his parents were fiddlers, but he chose to start out on the pipes. Keane began exploring the fiddle when he was five years old and was sent to a violin teacher a year later. He entered the Dublin College of Music to study classical music. However, by the time he was in the seventh grade, he abandoned his classical studies and began playing traditional music in pubs and at house parties.

At the age of 14, he was in several performing bands, and by 16, he had quit school. A year later Keane entered a fiddle competition and came to the attention of Seán Ó Riada, who invited him to join the Irish band Ceoltóirí Cualann. This not only got him accepted into the Dublin music scene, but also got him acquainted with Paddy Moloney who was a member of the band at the time.


The Chieftains 2 (Claddagh Records CC 07, 1969)
The Chieftains 3 (Claddagh Records CC 10, 1971)
The Chieftains 4 (Claddagh Records CC 14, 1973)
The Chieftains 5 (Claddagh Records CC 16, 1975)
The Chieftains 6: Bonaparte’s Retreat (Claddagh Records, 1976)
The Chieftains 7 (Claddagh Records CC 24, 1977)
The Chieftains Live! (Claddagh Records CC 21, 1977)
The Chieftains 8 (CBS 35726, 1978)
The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early (Claddagh Records CC 30, 1979)
The Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe (Claddagh Records CC 33, 1981)
The Year of the French (Claddagh Records CC36, 1982)
The Grey Fox (1982) (soundtrack to The Grey Fox)
Concert Orchestra (1982)
The Chieftains in China (Claddagh Records CC 42, 1985)
Ballad of the Irish Horse (Claddagh Records CCF, 1986)
Celtic Wedding (RCA 6358, 1987)
In Ireland, with James Galway (1987)
Irish Heartbeat, with Van Morrison (Polydor 834496, 1988)
The Tailor Of Gloucester (WD-0710, 1988)
A Chieftains Celebration (RCA 7858, 1989)
Over the Sea To Skye: The Celtic Connection (1990) (with James Galway)
The Bells of Dublin (RCA 60824, 1991)
Another Country (RCA 60939, 1992)
An Irish Evening (RCA 60916, 1992)
The Celtic Harp: A Tribute To Edward Bunting, with The Belfast Harp Orchestra (RCA 61490, 1993)
The Long Black Veil (RCA Victor 09026-62702-2, 1995)
Film Cuts (RCA Victor 09026-68438-2, 1996)
Santiago (RCA Victor 09026-68602-2, 1996)
Long Journey Home (1998)
Fire in the Kitchen (1998)
Silent Night: A Christmas in Rome (1998)
Tears of Stone (1999)
Water From the Well (2000)
The Wide World Over (2002)
Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions (2002)
Further Down the Old Plank Road (Arista/BMG, 2003)
Live From Dublin: A Tribute To Derek Bell (2005)
The Essential Chieftains (2006)
San Patricio, with Ry Cooder (2010)
Voice of Ages (2012)


Artist Profiles: Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes

Born in Ireland, Martin Hayes plays in the slow, lyrical style of his native East County Clare. He grew up playing traditional music with his father, P.J. Hayes, leader of the famed Tulla Ceili Band. The younger fiddler has a great reverence for the old players, “whose music contains the longing and essence that moves you at the level of your soul.” Martin brings the same intensity to his own playing, rendering it unique with passion and intimacy.

Martin frequently performs with guitarist Dennis Cahill, whom he met in Chicago when he first moved to the United States in the 1980s. They formed a jazz/rock/fusion band called Midnight Court, in which they experimented with a variety of new music styles. Eventually, though, they both turned back to their traditional roots, and after recording two acclaimed solo albums, Hayes began a new musical relationship with Cahill. In 1997 they released The Lonesome Touch (Green Linnet).

Our allegiance is to the spirit of the moment,” says Hayes, “Our primary wish is that the musical experience be one that lifts our spirits and those of the audience.”

Martin Hayes has recorded several albums with Dennis Cahill and founded the Celtic music supergroup The Gloaming.


Martin Hayes (Green Linnet, 1992)
Under the Moon (Green Linnet, 1995)
The Lonesome Touch, with Dennis Cahill (Green Linnet, 1997)
Live in Seattle, with Dennis Cahill (Green Linnet, 1999)
Welcome Here Again, with Dennis Cahill (Green Linnet, 2008)
The Blue Room (2017)

With The Gloaming:

The Gloaming (Real World Records, 2014)
2 (Real World Records, 2016)
Live at the NCH (Real World Records, 2018)


Artist Profiles: Gerry “fiddle” O’Connor

Gerry “fiddle” O’Connor

Gerry was a founding member of highly regarded 4-member group Skylark, and with them recorded four albums for the Claddagh Records label. He then went on to form his own very distinctive band La Lugh, which featured the acclaimed singer/composer Eithne Nf Uallachain. La Lugh have toured extensively throughout Europe and collaborated with Anuna and Cooney and Begley at the major Breton Festival de Cornuaille, Quimper. They have recorded four albums.

Independently, Gerry has participated in projects with such prominent musicians as Donal Lunny, Breton guitarist Gilles ie Bigot, Irish flute /alto sax player Gerry O’Donnell and Italian pianist Antonio Breschi as well as a number of solo performances. The “West Wind” project, involving twelve prominent Breton and Irish musicians was one of the creative highlights of L’lmaginaire lrlandais in France in ’96. in July.

In addition to being a fiddle player of considerable ability with a bow hand admired by many, Gerry is also a trained violin maker and an experienced and enthusiastic fiddle teacher who has given master classes to students of Traditional Music in over 16 countries on three Continents. With Desi Wilkinson he has developed an entertaining and informative schools Concert / Lesson program “About Traditional Music”, based around the fiddle and flute, and he is presently designing a course to facilitate the introduction of Traditional music by second level music teachers to their music students.


Journeyman (Lughnasa Music, 2002)
In Concert, with Gilles le Bigot (Lughnasa Music, 2005)
White Raven: The Place where Life Began (2006)
Jig Away the Donkey (Lughnasa Music, 2011)
Merry Merry Time of Year, 2011 (The Irish Rovers, 2011)
Oirialla (Lughnasa Music, 2011)
Merry Merry Time of Year (The Irish Rovers, 2011)
Companach (2018)

With Lá Lugh:

Cosa gan Bhróga (Gael Linn, 1987)
Lá Lugh (Claddagh Records, 1991)
Brighid’s Kiss (Lughnasa Music, 1996)
Senex Puer (Sony Music, 1998)
Bilingua (Gael Linn, 2014)

With Skylark:

Skylark (Claddagh Records, 1987)
All of It (Claddagh Records, 1989)
Light and Shade (Claddagh Records, 1992)
Raining Bicycles (Claddagh Records, 1996)


Artist Profiles: James Kelly

James Kelly

A native of Dublin, James is one of the greatest Irish traditional fiddlers alive today. He received the 2006 TG4 Irish Traditional Musician of the Year award in recognition of his outstanding musicianship and contributions to Irish music.

James has an extraordinary discography, including his recently released solo album, Melodic Journeys.

Now living in Miami, James continues to tour and record with some of Irish music’s leading accompanists.


John & James Kelly (Tara Records)
Crooked Road (Gael-Linn)
Star Of Munster (Gael-Linn)
Is It Yourself (Bowhand)
Spring In The Air (Shanachie)
Words And Music (Warner Bros)
Sail Og Rua (Gael-Linn)
Up The Airy Mountain (Green Linnet)
In Our Time (Bunnan Bui)
Capel Street (Bowhand)
Irish Times (Green Linnet)
My Love Is In America (Green Linnet)
The Ring Sessions (Claddagh Records)
James Kelly (Capelhouse Records)
Melodic Journeys



Artist Profiles: John Daly

John Daly

Born in Burnfort, near Mallow in Co. Cork in 1963, John Daly first learned the fiddle at age 12 from Limerick music teacher, Sean O’ Carroll.

He was introduced to Kerry fiddle player Johnny Cronin by his father in the 80’s, and around the same time became interested in the playing of Andy McGann from New York and Longford man Paddy Reynolds who has spent over 50 years in New York.

The early Sean McGuire recordings grabbed John’s interest too, and Leitrim’s Charlie Lennon and Chicagoan Liz Carroll are currently among John’s favorite composers in the Irish style.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s John became aware of Shetland fiddle master, Willie Hunter, who soon became his strongest influence in the playing of Scottish and Shetland slow airs.

John has played concerts and conducted workshops in Iceland, Scotland and the Shetland Islands, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. He now lives in Chicago where he runs the ‘Live Tradition’ concert series which has featured Tommy Peoples, Liz Carroll, Jimmy Keane, Kieran O’Hare, Brian Conway, Liz Knowles, the Baltimore Trio of Sean McComiskey, Cleek Schrey and Matt Mulqueen as well as many others.

John’s first album, simply titled, John Daly, features old, tried and tested tunes from many years ago sitting comfortably among John’s own compositions, and features the harmonies of Liz Knowles on viola and violin, and no fewer than five different piano players. John Shine, Marty Fahey and Cleek Schrey from Chicago, Kevin Brehony from Sligo and Davie Keith from the Shetland Islands all lend their own distinctive supporting piano styles. ‘This album is an hour’s joy and harmony in a topsy-turvy world‘, said Tommy Peoples.


Irish Traditional Fiddle (Celtic Grooves)


Artist Profiles: Kevin Crehan

Kevin Crehan

Although Junior Crehan’s original tunes are played by many in sessions around the world, Kevin Crehan is his only direct descendant to be playing the fiddle. Kevin has recorded a number of his grandfather’s tunes and presents them in a very special performance that honors Junior and his contemporaries who kept traditional music alive in Ireland through trying times.

Kevin is the seventh generation of musician in his family. Born in Ireland, he was raised in Co. Wexford listening to the music of his father, the Clare concertina player, Tony Crehan. Through his father and his grandparents. Junior and Cissie Crehan, he had access to the rich hinterland of traditional Irish culture in West Clare.

He had been studying and learning traditional Irish music since the age of 7, but now has dedicated his efforts to the West Clare fiddle style and recording and cataloguing many of the aspects of rural life which contributed to the culture and shaped the music.

Kevin is an award winning fiddle player, and has performed in festivals and concerts throughout Ireland and The United States. Some have described him as a modern day Seanchaf (storyteller), rich in the folklore, history and music of a bygone era that was alive with imagination and creativity. Today that era still incites our imaginations through Kevin Crehan as he remembers and shares the magic of Ireland with his music, story and song.


An Bhábóg sa Bhádóg – Music from West Clare


Artist Profiles: Liam O’Connor

Liam O’Connor

Liam was born into a musical family in Dublin. His father Mick is a renowned music historian, flute-player and former member of the Castle Ceili Band.

Liam absorbed much music in the home and at the age of 8 began fiddle lessons with Seamus Glackin with whom he credits having developed and sustained his deep interest in traditional fiddle music. He has won 5 All Ireland fiddle and slow air championships, and the Oireachtas fiddle competition at junior and senior levels.

Liam is also in much demand as a teacher having taught at the Willie Clancy Summer School, Scoil Acla, The Frankie Kennedy Winter School and The Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshanbo. He has toured and played extensively in Ireland in combination with Sean McKeon, Liam O’Flynn, Noel Hill and Harry Bradley and has played concerts in the USA, France and Italy. Television appearances include ‘The Raw Bar’ and ‘Fleadh Cheoil’. In 2002 Liam was awarded the prestigious TG4, “Young Traditional Musician of the Year”.


Dublin Made Me, with uilleann piper Seán McKeon (2009)
The Loom (2017)


Artist Profiles: Frankie Gavin

Frankie Gavin

Frankie Gavin’s virtuosic and fiery fiddle playing has inspired and influenced players of traditional music throughout the world. He is equally compelling as a solo performer, with an accompanist or with an entire band. Gavin’s playing has been the backbone of De Dannan“>De Dannan since he founded the group in 1973 at the age of 17.

His unique style is evident in all their music and the arrangements of it. In his own words De Dannan’s music “highlights tightly percussive melody lines set against a flowing, contrapuntal background.”

A veteran in the studio, Frankie Gavin has recorded numerous albums with De Dannan and several solo albums. He has appeared as a guest on albums with the late jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, American banjoist Earl Scruggs, Yehudi Menhuin, The Rolling Stones (Voodoo Lounge), and Keith Richards (Wingless Angels), and he arranged and recorded the original soundtrack for the television series The Irish R.M.

Frankie Gavin is honored to have been invited to play for numerous State officials including President John F. Kennedy French president Francois Mitterand and England’s Prince Charles. Of a special event in America, United States Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith performance said “The best all ’round performance of the entire week at Kennedy Center was by De Dannan, who included the best of Gospel and Klezmer to their wonderful show.”

His Hibernian Rhapsody lineup featured guitarist Tim Edey, pianist Carl Hession, accordionist Derek Hickey, vocalist Michelle Lally and special guest Rick Epping on harmonica.

Frankie Gavin has recorded with Alec Finn, Andy Irvine, Elvis Costello, Stéphane Grappelli, The Rolling Stones, Arty McGlynn & Aidan Coffey, Sharon Shannon, Hibernian Rhapsody, Rick Epping & Jim Foley, and Paul Brock.

Selected discography:

Up and Away (1995)
Frankie Gavin (1997)
Frankie Goes to Town (Green Linnet, 1999)
Shamrocks & Holly: An Irish Christmas Celebration (1999)
Fierce Traditional (Tara Records, 2001)


Artist Profiles: Cora Smyth

Cora Smyth

Cora Smyth’s professional career started when she performed with The Druid Theatre in their awarding winning production of’ The Black Pigs Dyke’. She then played violin in the group which represented Ireland and won the Eurovision song contest with “The Voice” written by Brendan Graham. After this she was chosen to be one of the original violinists in Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance”. She has performed with the show to thrilled audiences worldwide, at venues including Radio City (New York City), Madison Square Garden (New York City), Hyde Park (London), Wembley arena (London), The Kremlin Palace (Moscow), and to over 80,000 people in Budapest with ‘Feet of Flames’.

Cora is featured on various DVDs including Lord of the dance , Feet of Flames, Gold‘, The Celtic Tiger Starring Michael Flatley and Water from the Well, The Chieftains – Live Over Ireland “. She was also featured on The Chieftains’ album of the same, Water From the Well, title which was nominated for best world music album in the 2001 Grammies.

Cora has also performed on numerous TV shows over the years including “The Late Late show”, “Saturday Live”, “Kenny Live”(RTE), “Richard and Judy” BBC, “The South Bank Show” C4, and has appeared on PBS and the FOX Channel in the USA.

Over the years Cora and her sister Breda have performed together many times and now have finally collaborated to record an exciting album which represents the music they’ve loved and shared together.