Tag Archives: Irish folk music

Artist Profiles: Ballycotton

Ballycotton

Ballycotton started at the beginning of 1996 with a temporary band called Glakijamus. Three members this stayed together: Matthias Jakisic (fiddle), Alexander König (bouzouki, mandolin, banjo, guitar) and Harald G. Binder (percussion). They played Irish, Spanish Russian Folk standards and gave themselves name Ballycotton after small fishing village in South Ireland. A few months later Alex, headed to Liverpool (England) to join the Paul McCartney School. A substitute had be found. Gernot Strauß (guitar) was chosen.

He fit so well into the band that after Alex returned, Gernot also stayed. The quartet chose to create original music: Irish Folk with a lot of its own modern folk influences. In November of 1996 Ballycotton started to record its first CD Joanna’s Wedding, which was released in February of 1997. That same year, the first international tour led Ballycotton to Germany and Holland, playing mainly as street musicians or in pubs for food an accommodation.

As a Christmas present, Ballycotton’s label released the Maxi-CD My Little Drummer Boy featuring the original song by David Bowie and Bing Crosby and a song from the Ballycotton album Fairytale.

In 2005, the band released the concept album “Eyla.”

Discography:

Joanna’s Wedding (1997)
Fairytale (1997)
A la cut (2001)
Mondland (2003)
Eyla (2005)
Jenseits vom Ende der Zeit (2009)

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The Masterful Irish Craft of Usher’s Island

Usher’s Island – Usher’s Island (Vertical Records, 2017)

Usher’s Island is a new superband that brings together some of the greatest contemporary Irish folk music musicians. Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle have played with the most iconic Irish and Irish American bands: Planxty, Bothy Band, Lunasa and Solas.

The majority of the compositions on Usher’s Island are traditional songs and tunes rearranged by the band, along with a handful of originals by Usher’s Island members.

The way the album was made connects with Irish tradition as well. Mike McGoldrick bought a cottage in County Galway, western Ireland that had been used by musicians in the past to hold sessions. McGoldrick turned it into a recording studio for three days.

Throughout Usher’s Island the listener is treated to fascinating storytelling songs and delightful ensemble pieces with superb instrumental interaction and superb solos weaved in. Irish music at its best.

Personnel: Andy Irvine on vocals, mandola and harmonica; Dónal Lunny on vocals, bouzouki, baritone bouzouki, bodhran and keyboards; Paddy Glackin on fiddle; Mike McGoldrick on wooden flute, low whistle and uileann pipes; and John Doyle on guitar, bouzouki and vocals.

Usher’s Island features masterfully-crafted Irish music with dazzling acoustic interplay and exceptionally expressive vocals.

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Artist profiles: Solas

Solas in 2006

Solas is the most important Irish music band based in the United States. The group plays fiery instrumental medleys for which they’ve become famous as well as evocative songs.

In September 2005 Solas performed a very special 1th anniversary concert in Philadelphia proving that even after a decade they were still as fresh and edgy as ever. 2006’s live CD release Reunion: A Decade of Solas vividly captured what many described as a once-in-a-lifetime show.

In 2008, Deirdre Scanlan replaced original vocalist Karan Casey, who left to pursue a solo career. From Nenagh County Tipperary Deirdre is an All-Ireland champion vocalist whose solo debut in 1999 Speak Softly confirmed her status as one of Ireland’s most accomplished singers.

Solas in 2010

About Solas’ founders:

Born in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, Seamus Egan won All-Ireland championships on flute, tin whistle, mandolin and banjo, and wrote a score for the Irish stage show Dancing on Dangerous Ground.

New York fiddler Winifred Horan is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and was a member of both Cherish the Ladies and the Sharon Shannon Band.

Dublin guitarist and singer John Doyle performed previously with Susan McKeown and the Chanting House and has recorded with Eileen Ivers, James Keane and Liz Carroll.

From Callan County, Kilkenny, Mick McAuley plays button accordion concertina low whistle and also sings for Solas whom he joined in 1997 after touring and recording with Niamh Parsons and Ron Kavana.

In 2010, vocalist Niamh Varian-Barry from Cork replaced Mairead Phelan as lead singer of the band. In 2013, Niamh was replaced by Noriana Kennedy.

Discography:

Solas (Shanachie, 1996)
Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers (1997)
The Words That Remain (1998)
The Hour Before Dawn (2000)
The Edge of Silence (2002)
Another Day (2003)
Waiting for an Echo (2005)
Reunion: A Decade of Solas (2006)
For Love and Laughter (2008)
The Turning Tide (2010)
Shamrock City (2013)
All These Years (2016)

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Rising Celtic Fiddle Talent Matt Tighe

Matt Tighe – Matt Tighe (Greentrax Recordings, 2017)

Matt Tighe is an excellent fiddler from South London in the UK. On his self-titled album he delivers an impressive set of original and traditional tunes highlighting his talent as a fiddler. The selection ranges from lively tunes and dances to mesmerizing slow airs.

On most of the tunes, Matt Tighe uses a fiddle and rhythm guitar format although a fuller ensemble featuring piano, percussion, bass and concertina also appears in some of the pieces. There is also great interplay between the fiddle and concertina on “Cronin’s” and the piano on “Clancy’s.”

Tighe is deeply influenced by of County Clare in Ireland and the Scottish music he was exposed to at the Cambridge Folk Festival and Glasgow.

Occasionally, Tighe treats the listener to beautifully-crafted fiddle overdubs that are best enjoyed with a good sound system or headphones.

Personnel: Matt Tighe on fiddle, octaive fiddle, and harmonium; Tad Sargent on bouzouki, guitar, mandocello, bodhran, piano and harmonium; Chris O’Malley on piano and harmonium; James Lindsay on double bass; Luke Daniels on button accordion; Brian McNeill on concertina; and Jock Turner on shaker.

Overall, an outstanding Celtic music album by a talented young fiddler.

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Artist Profiles: Michael McGoldrick

Michael McGoldrick

Inspired by Irish parents and encouraged by the thriving traditional music scene in his home town of Manchester, England, multi-instrumentalist Michael McGoldrick began playing Irish music at the age of 8. By the age of 15 he already had already won numerous All-Ireland Championship and became well-known as a member of influential Manchester-based Celtic rock band Toss the Feathers. He later performed with leading Celtic and folk music acts Capercaillie, Flook, Lunasa and Kate Rusby.

On Fused, McGoldrick teamed up with members of Capercaillie and Flook to create a sound that borrows as much from ambient trance as it does from traditional Irish music. Guests on the record include Karan Casey formerly of Solas and Karen Matheson and Manus Lunny of Capercaillie.

In 2010 he performed at Celtic Connections with the Future Trad Collective along with Ian Fletcher and Andy Dinan. The band released a self-titled album in 2011.

Discography:

Live at the 32 Club with Toss the Feathers (1988)
Rude Awakening with Toss the Feathers (Magnetic Music, 1993)
Columbus Eclipse with Toss the Feathers (Magnetic Music, 1989)
Awakening with Toss the Feathers (1991)
TTF’94 Live with Toss the Feathers (1994)
The Next Round with Toss the Feathers (Magnetic Music, 1995)
Flook! Live! with Flook (Small, 1996)
Morning Rory (Aughgrim Records, 1996)
Lunasa, with Lunasa (1997)
Otherworld with Lunasa (Green Linnet GLCD12 (1999)
Fused (Vertical Records, 2000)
At First Light, with John McSherry (Vertical Records, 2001)
Wired (Vertical Records, 2005)
Aurora (Vertical Records, 2010)
Future Trad Collective (Vertical Records, 2011)
Live, with John McCusker & John Doyle (Vertical Records 2012)

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Dónal Lunny to Receive Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award

Dónal Lunny

Acclaimed Irish musician Dónal Lunny will receive a Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award a during a special ceremony held during The ExChange, a Micro-Conference that is taking place this week, September 19-21, 2017 in Ireland.

A lifelong musician, Lunny has been at the vanguard of the Irish traditional music renaissance for over five decades. He was a founding member of various essential Irish bands such as Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, and Coolfin. He continues to maintain a busy international recording and performing career with Mozaik, Triad, ZoDoMo, Usher’s Island, and Atlantic Arc Orchestra.

Lunny holds the unique legacy of popularizing the bouzouki (a Greek instrument) in Irish music and has produced some of the most significant albums of the “Trad.” music revival since the 1970s.
Recording and production highlights include work with Kate Bush, Paul Brady, Elvis Costello, Indigo Girls, Sinéad O’Connor, and Clannad. In 2008 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Trinity College Dublin and was also made a member of the 250-member national Aosdána, honoring his outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Ireland.

Lunny has written music for many films and theater productions, and he continues to divide time between composing, performance, production, and teaching.

FAI commissioned a special edition, Lifetime Achievement Award documentary short-film, honoring Dónal Lunny. The film will be shown at the event Thursday and followed by a short performance with longtime collaborator Paddy Glackin.

View the film:

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Artist Profiles: Dennis Cahill

Dennis Cahill

Dennis Cahill is a virtuoso guitarist versed as well in classical, blues and rock as he is in traditional Irish music. A native of Chicago, he studied at the city’s prestigious Music College before becoming an active member of the local music scene.

Cahill’s innovative accompaniment is acknowledged as being a major breakthrough for guitar in the Irish tradition. In addition to his recordings and live work with Martin Hayes Dennis has performed with such renowned fiddlers as Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers and Kevin Burke.

Cahill and Hayes, along with singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and pianist Doveman, are the members of The Gloaming, an Irish-American supergroup

Discography:

The Lonesome Touch, with Martin Hayes (Green Linnet 1997)
Live in Seattle, with Martin Hayes (Green Linnet 1999)
Welcome Here Again, with Martin Hayes (Green Linnet 2008)
The Gloaming (Brassland Records, 2014)
The Gloaming 2 (Brassland Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Liz Carroll

Liz Carroll – Photo by Knuff Photography

Born in Chicago to Irish parents Liz Carroll was a natural at the fiddle right from the start. At age 18 she amazed the Celtic music world by winning the All-Ireland Senior Championship. Raised in the close-knit South side Irish community she learned the fiddle from her father and other older Irish musicians tagging along with him to Irish,session” where such respected musicians as fiddler Johnny McGreevy and pianist Eleanor (Kane) Neary could be found. She wrote her first tune at age nine.

An original member of the group Cherish the Ladies Liz has performed with artists ranging from the late virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin to rock musician Don Henley. She has also performed with the String Sisters (with fellow fiddlers Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh of Altan Natalie Mac Master Catriona MacDonald from Scotland Annbjørg Lien of Norway and American Liz Knowles). The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Liz the National Heritage Fellowship the country’s top honor for the traditional arts in 1994. In 1999 Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley named September 19th,Liz Carroll Day, during the Chicago Celtic Festival.

Discography:

Kiss Me Kate with Tommy Maguire (Shanachie 3412, 1978)

Trian with with Trian (1992)

Liz Carroll (Green Linnet, 1993)

Trian II with with Trian (Green Linnet SIF-1159, 1995)

A Friend Indeed (Shanachie 3413, 1995)

Lost in The Loop (Green Linnet 1199, 2000)

Lake Effect (Green Linnet 8122, 2002)

In Play with John Doyle (2005)

Live with String Sisters (2007)

Double Play, with John Doyle (Compass Records, 2009)

On the Offbeat (2013)

website: www.lizcarroll.com

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Artist Profiles: Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke – Photo by Jack Vartoogian

Kevin Burke’s sparkling lyrical fiddle has earned him a reputation as one of the finest most influential players in music today. From The Bothy Band to Patrick Street he has defined Irish fiddling for a generation. His work with artists as disparate as Kate Bush Arlo Guthrie and Christy Moore has given him an audience that not only spans continents but defies attempts at categorization.

Born and raised in London England Burke picked up his first fiddle at age eight when his parents decided music studies were in order. “To this day I have no idea why they chose the fiddle except that it’s popular in County Sligo where the family comes from and where we spent our vacations ” he laughs. “For the next five years or so I dutifully diddled around on it. Then I discovered Irish music. Suddenly I was hooked. I spent my teens wandering into pubs waiting for a chance to sit in with the musicians.”

London in the 196s was a vibrant musical scene for the Irish emigrants could be heard playing the styles of Kerry Sligo Galway Limerick and Clare. And Burke was listening. Though he counts such masters of the Sligo style as Michael Coleman Paddy Killoran and Tom McGowan as primary influences he also points to fiddlers Bobby Casey (County Clare) and Brendan McGlinchey (Ulster) and to a wealth of Irish musicians on the London scene as important in his development. “I had access to it all whereas if I’d been living in Ireland I might not have been so lucky.”

Good fortune aside Kevin’s undeniable talents brought him to the attention of Arlo Guthrie in 1972 when he was invited to the United States to play on Guthrie’s Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys. Shortly after Christy Moore the great Irish singer/songwriter asked Burke to Ireland to play in his new band. He stayed with Moore two years before joining what would become one of the most influential Irish groups of all time The Bothy Band.

Hailed as “the Yardbirds of Irish music ” the Bothy Band boasts some of the finest musical alumni in all of Ireland including Matt Molloy (Chieftains) Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Tríona Ní Domhnaill (Nightnoise) Dónal Lunny and Paddy Keenan. Burke initially joined the band as a temporary replacement for fiddler Tommy Peoples but his role soon become permanent. His elegant impassioned fiddle was a cornerstone of the band’s legendary sound from 1976 until 1979.

During their years together Burke and guitarist Míchéal Ó Domhnaill discovered a rare musical rapport. When the Bothy Band parted ways the duo toured Europe and recorded the groundbreaking Promenade which was awarded the “Grand Prix du Disque” at the 198 Montreux Jazz Festival. They went on to record Portland named for the adopted hometown where Burke still resides.

In 1986 Burke joined an all-star cast of Irish musicians that included Andy Irvine and Jackie Daly for a tour that evolved into the legendary quartet Patrick Street. Eight albums and countless tours later the partnership is stronger and more electric than ever. In the late ‘8s Burke formed Open House his short-lived but critically acclaimed project with American musicians Paul Kotapish Mark Graham and Sandy Silva. Kevin created Open House to stretch beyond his Irish roots and explore music from all corners of the world.

As if that weren’t enough he is an active member of The Celtic Fiddle Festival a dazzling pan-Celtic ensemble that also features Scotland’s Johnny Cunningham and Christian LeMaitre of Brittany. Though the trio first came together for a one-off tour they went on to record two successful albums both highlighting the brilliant interplay between the fiddlers.

In Concert is Burke’s first solo release in 15 years. His fiddling tone and power are in mighty form as he sails through tunes drawn from throughout his remarkable career. “There are thousands of old tunes good ones that haven’t been played in years. When I find something I love I play it. And when I find something I like I bend it out of shape until I love it…Good music is good music. It should be heard.”

A lot of people think Irish music is wistful and melancholy. That’s one side of it but there’s also a great rough resilient spirit in the music an element of joy underlying even the most plaintive melody. I grew up listening to musicians with that spirit and I value it. So much in music today makes people passive bored and boring: three things I never want to be.</em>”

In 2002 Burke won the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship.

Discography:

Sweeney’s Dream (1972)

If The Cap Fits (Green Linnet 1978)

Promenade (1979)

Eavesdropper (1981)

Portland (1982)

Up Close (Green Linnet 1984)

Burke/Daly/Irvine/McGlynn: Patrick Street (Green Linnet 1986)

No. 2 Patrick Street with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 1988)

Irish Times with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 199)

Open House with Open House (1992)

Celtic Fiddle Festival with Celtic Fiddle Festival (1993)

All in Good Time with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 1993)

Second Story with Open House (1994)

Corner Boys with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 1996)

Hoof and Mouth with Open House (1997)

Made in Cork with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 1997)

Celtic Fiddle Festival: Encore with Celtic Fiddle Festival (1998)

Live From Patrick Street with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 1999)

In Concert (Green Linnet 1999)

Rendezvous with Celtic Fiddle Festival (2001)

Street Life with Patrick Street (Green Linnet 2003)

Play On with Celtic Fiddle Festival (2005)

In Tandem with Ged Foley (2006)

Across The Black River with Cal Scott (2007)

On the Fly with Patrick Street (2007)

Equinoxe with Celtic Fiddle Festival (2008)

Suite with Cal Scott (2010)
Live in Brittany with The Celtic Fiddle Festival (Loftus, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Jerry O’Sullivan

Jerry O’Sullivan

Uilleann piper flutist and whistler Jerry O’Sullivan has been at the very heart of the traditional Irish music scene in New York for many years and is always the first to help when a member of the community needs it. A gifted performer he has worked with many groups in the area as well enjoying an enviable career as a solo artist.

He has amassed a substantial discography with appearances on over sixty albums. He has been a music teacher for many years at The Tara Circle and many Irish arts weekends and has always been happy to share his time and talent.

Discography

The Invasion (Green Linnet 1997)
The Gift (Shanachie 1998)
O’Sullivan Meets O’Farrell (2005)
O’Sullivan Meets O’Farrell: Volume II (2010)

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