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A name that will be recognised by many in the world of Irish traditional music, Maurice Lennon is an incredibly talented fiddle player and a gifted composer. With first-hand experience of his ability to compose stunning tunes during a regular Tuesday afternoon, I am in awe of todays featured artist.
The Lennon name is synonymous with great Irish traditional music in the Leitrim area as Maurice’s uncle Ben and his father Charlie are both exceptional fiddle players. Charlie Lennon received a lifetime achievement award at the TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards in 2011.
In the late 1970’s, Maurice was one of the founding members of the super group Stockton’s Wing. This group had six hit tracks and helped to reshape the Irish Traditional Music we play today.
Maurice Lennon has also shared stages around the world with Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr., Stephan Grapelli, Michael Jackson, as well as performing and appearing in the superb Irish film, “The Field.
It’s surprising but Maurice Lennon has only one solo album to his name titled the Little ones. We’ll get to that in a second because although not a solo album, an album that he produced and stamped his identity on was the Brian Boru project back in 2008. This album gives us great tracks like ‘Tree of sorrows’ and the lovely song ‘My Reign Is Over’.
Coming back to his solo album titled The Little Ones, this is a beautiful arrangement from the beginning to the end and is the perfect illustration of Maurice’s playing. It’s not rushed, there’s great attention to detail and the production of everything on each track allows the lead instruments to have the room needed to really let the melody out. There is no over playing here. It’s obvious that this is a master playing at ease.
Unfortunately, Maurice Lennon’s website is off line but you can read a more detailed biog here.
I’ve mentioned the track Tree of sorrows. You can hear it on YouTube here.
Today we feature an artist who’s songs are still as popular today as they were when released twenty+ years ago. The one and only Paul Brady, born in Belfast and raised in Strabane county Tyrone is one of Ireland’s most popular artists across many genres. Paul was born in 1947 and being a child of the fifties was greatly influenced by music from the fifties and sixties. With family influences, Irish traditional music was also in the mix. Paul’s father played and taught the flute and from a young age Paul began to learn the piano mainly by ear, trial and error. By the age of 11 he began to learn the guitar spending his time learning from such artists as The Shadows and The Ventures. Chuck Berry was also an influence in Brady’s music. Paul started performing by playing the piano in a hotel in Bundoran county Donegal.
Before he began his solo career Paul Brady collaborated and performed with artists such as Planxty and the Johnstons at a time when Irish music was making a comeback in Dublin. He Moved to New York with the Johnstons in 1972 and returned to Dublin in 1974 where he joined the group Planxty. Paul joined musicians such as Andy Irvine, Matt Malloy and Fiddle player Tommy Peoples and later recorded his first solo album Welcome Here Kind Stranger which was his only album of traditional songs before he explored the rock and pop scenes where he recorded several albums. Audiences today are still requesting old favourites like the Lakes of Pontchartrain and Arthur McBride which he brought to life during his time singing and performing traditional music. Recently he has collaborated with singers such as Cara Dillon. As well as having 15 albums where he has contributed music, he also has had songs featured in films.
in 2009 Paul received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Ulster in recognition of his services to Irish traditional music and song writing. .
For further information on Paul you can visit his website.
Ceol FM provides the highest quality Irish Traditional and Folk Music and Mary Bergin is a perfect demonstration of this. She is a whistle player of exceptional quality. Born in Shankhill in Dublin to parents who were musicians themselves, Mary began learning the tin whistle from the age of nine and in 1970 she won the All Ireland tin whistle championship. Mary plays in both the traditional and baroque style and her two solo albums Fedora Stáin and Feadóga stain 2 were widely acclaimed. Mary’s influences came from the flute playing of Packie Duignan and the whistle playing of Willie Clancy. In the 1970s Mary moved to Galway to play with up and coming stars in Irish traditional music. She has played with groups such as De Danann and Ceoltóri Laighin. Mary has toured extensively entertaining crowds with her music and has taught students not only here in Ireland but in Europe and the U.S. Mary has released her own whistle tutorial which comes in three volumes covering beginner to professional and can be purchased through her website.With her profound skill and technique on the whistle Mary is widely acknowledged as a master of the whistle. Mary currently plays with the group Dordán who have recorded four albums. She continues to teach and play around the country and abroad. The Irish Times in an interview referred to Mary as
just about the best tin whistle player this century, and you only have to hear Mary play to know that she brings her own flare to whatever tune she is playing.
Come here! This is what the meaning of the name of today’s featured group is in Gaelic. Goitse are a five piece multi award winning energetic group formed in Limerick’s Irish World Academy. The group have won awards here in Ireland, Germany and the United States. They were named Chicago Irish American News album of the year and they are described as becoming a leader in the new generation of Irish music ensembles. Members of the group include the captivating voice of Áine McGeeney who when not singing provides excellent fiddle playing, Colm Phelan on bodhran, Conal O’Kane who is quickly becoming one of the finest guitarists of his generation, Tadhg Ó’Meachair on piano and piano accordion and Alan Reid a multi instrumentalist. Goitse have released four studio albums and are continuously touring both at home and abroad. The group are making music that Irish Music Magazine so accurately described it as “music that is brimming with energy and creative zeal”. The group are currently on their United States summer tour and their first stop was the highly acclaimed Milwaukee Irish Fest where they played three shows. The group are well known for keeping the tradition of Irish music alive with their own energetic compositions and music from around the country. The members of the group come from the four coners of the country and each member brings their own style to the group giving it its distinctive sound.
To find out more about Goitse head over to their website.
Remember you can hear all of the artists/groups featured this month right here on Ceol FM
Here at Ceol FM we have created different streams/playlists to suit your mood and so again today I have taken a singer I heard while listening to the songs only stream while driving in the car with family. Cara Dillon has such a sweet voice but it is equally powerful and full of emotion when she sings. Cara who was born in Dungiven county Derry in an area steeped in Irish traditional music. She learned her songs from teachers and workshops in the town and by age 14 had won the All Ireland singing trophy at the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. Cara is not only an excellent singer but plays the fiddle and whistles too. Singing clearly runs in the Dillon family, her sister Mary Dillon was the singer with the group Déanta. Cara began her professional singing career in 1995 joining a group called Equation and signed a record deal with Warner Music Group. When she left that group she collaborated with Sam Lakeman (now husband) under the alias Polar Star. Her first solo album Cara Dillon was released in 2001 comprising of traditional songs and two original compositions of Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman. The album took the folk world by storm and resulted in Cara being nominated for several BBC Radio 2 folk awards in 2002. In 2004 she received the Meteor Irish Music Award for Best Irish Female. She has collaborated with artists such as Paul Brady in 2006 for her album after the Morning she also collaborated with the Czech Philharmonic orchestra on the same album. Cara has a very popular following in China where some English curriculums encompass her first solo album calling her to embark on several Chinese tours which have proven extremely popular. Last year Cara released a beautiful Christmas album entitled upon a winter’s Night. Before her solo recordings Cara was a founding member of the group Óige, the Gaelic word for youth and gained experience in recording and performing with the group. Cara has also lent her voice to the popular children’s film Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue singing 2 songs. With six solo albums and a live DVD recorded we were delighted to learn recently that Cara is working on her 7th studio album and it is due to be released very soon.
To find out more about Cara visit her website
With Fleadh Cheoil coming to a close today I thought I would feature a singer who is sure to lift your spirits. Karen Casey who was born in Kilmeaden in county Waterford now lives in Jade’s home county of Cork. Karen was always encouraged to sing as a child and sang in the church choir and in school. Karen studied piano at Waterford Regional Technical College and later went on to study music at University College Dublin. As a student she learned to copy the scat singing of Ella Fitzgerald and performed in a bistro several nights a week. She also studied classical music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and performed in a Jazz band. It was only when she moved to New York and attended Irish traditional music sessions there did she start to sing traditional Irish songs again. Karen has recorded several solo albums as well as being a member of the group Solas in her early years she also formed a group called Dorothy. She has had her music featured in the film Absolutely Irish and has collaborated with other vocalists on “Seal Maiden” a Celtic musical based on the mythical creature called the Shelkie or seal woman. In 1997 Karen recorded Songlines an album which was inspired by a novel of the same name by Bruce Chatwin.
Karen is married to Irish concertina player Niall Vallely. Together they set up Crow Valley Music in order to release Karen’s music independently .
Manchester is home to some truly wonderful musicians in Irish music and today’s artist is the one and only Michael McGoldrick himself. I have mentioned Michael several times so far throughout these featured artists and groups so today the spotlight is on Michael McGoldrick.
Manchester born Michael McGoldrick has an array of talents such as the low whistle, uileann pipes, flute, guitar and even mandolin. As if that wasn’t enough he can also keep the beat with the bodhran. With his parents being from Ireland Michael was encouraged by the thriving Irish music scene in Manchester and had already made a name for himself while still in school. By the age of 15 he had several All Ireland titles under his belt. McGoldrick was a founding member of Toss the Feathers, a Celtic rock band. He was the first piper/flute player to win the BBC radio two Young Tradition award in 1995. This resulted in the recording of the album Champions of the North with Toss the Feathers. In December 1996 Michael got to star in Manchester soap opera Coronation Street performing as himself, a dream shared by many Manchester folk! Michael has recorded with bands such as Flook, Lúnasa, and Capercaillie. He has also played regularly with artists such as fellow Manchurian John Joe Kelly, Kate Rusby and John McSherry. Michael has recorded four solo albums and is not afraid to experiment with other genres of music such as jazz. He also recorded for the Ceol Tasci project with many other musicians. The number of artists and musicians he has toured and recorded with is extremely vast, he has even had some of his music featured in the film Men At Lunch.
The BBC in 2010 wrote that Michael is famed as one of the greatest flute players in the world. High praise indeed and well deserved.
Ceol FM is featuring artists every day during the month of August that you can hear when you listen to this unique and inovative service. Visit our website to learn more.
Irish and Celtic music is not only popular here in Ireland but all over the world, bringing us across the water a long way from county Clare to the United States for our featured group today. An Irish-American group by the name of Solas. Solas is the Gaelic word for light and this group are certainly bright and full of energy. Music has quoted the band as being loudly proclaimed as the most popular, influential and exciting Celtic band to ever emerge from the United States. The group was formed back in 1996 and last year celebrated their 20th anniversary by combining all of the members of the group past and present to record an album called All These Years. Solas found a contemporary style in traditional music and made it their own. The group had members such as Seamus Eagan, a multi instrumentalist and a founding member, Winifred Horan also a founding member on violins and vocals and Mick McCauley on button accordion and vocals. Eamon McElholm brought the keyboards and guitars the newest member of the group is Moira Smiley on vocals and banjo. The group have recorded 12 albums and have more miles touring the world done in 20 years than you could possibly imagine. In their biography on their website Solas are said to be musical proof that Celtic music today is a truly universal musical language. Their 20th anniversary recording saw the return of singer Karen Casey to the group and past members return to the stage for a tour that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The group announced this year that after their last show in the World Café live in Philadelphia on March 19th this year that they would be taking a break from the road and recording.
The weekend is upon us and the chaos of Fleadh Cheoil continues. We hope you are enjoying our Facebook videos giving you a taste of what’s going on around Ennis. Today is Friday and in Ennis this means that the renound session Piping Hevin Piping Hell will take place in Dan O’Connells from 4:30PM. So, it’s apt that as we are in Ennis for the Fleadh this week, we feature the leader of this session who is none other than Blackie O’Connell. Blackie is one of Ireland’s unique pipers who has developed a style all his own. If you haven’t heard Blackie play then I suggest you do. I promise you will not be disappointed. Blackie who comes from county Clare plays regularly at sessions around Clare and the rest of the country. He has recorded albums with bouzouki player and singer Cyril O’Donoghue their Studio album Friars Green is full of energy and skill and shows both Blackie and Cyril in their respective fields as well as playing seamlessly together. Blackie has also recorded a live album entitled Foolin’ in Doolin in a local pub called McDermott’s in 2008 with musician Karol Lynch.
Being a piper with a unique style Blackie is also a very unique person. He may be known to us all as Blackie but his name is Michael. Another interesting fact about Blackie is that he featured on the Clare tourist board. His face and hair is there for everyone to see on the way into Claire.
The next paragraph is not true but it’s a great joke.
He was scouted to appear on the L’Oréal Billboard. One of the company’s executives spotted him on a tourism board outside Shannon Airport and later in Doolin and knew he wanted blackie to appear on the L’Oréal billboard, and all because his fantastic long hair was blowing in the wind while he was playing. In true Blackie fashion when asked about the experience he said “why did they ask me? Because I’m worth it.”
Or so they said on the Satire news site The Drone news.
Blackie’s energetic personality comes through in his playing and when you hear him play you will see his famous L’Oréal hair!
Instead of giving you a video today, we recommend that you drop into Dan O’Connells pub at 4:30 to catch this session for yourself. We were going to broadcast this live but we’ve decided to cancel this as nothing really captures the environment of a live session. Not even the highest quality recording equipment. You need to be there to really appreciate the music.
The concertina is one of those warm rich sounding instruments that proves very popular in Irish music and today it gives me great pleasure to feature none other than Noel Hill an extremely talented concertina player from Caherae in west Clare. Noel’s family were concertina players but Noel wanted to take up the uileann pipes, however the pipes were not so readily available and at the age of nine Noel took up the concertina which had been bought for his brother originally. Because Noel wanted to play the pipes his concertina playing is influenced by musicians such as Willie Clancy, Paddy Canny and Paddy Murphy, but Hill was mainly influenced by his uncle Paddy Hill. Noel came from a family who were the last to hold the traditional Irish House Dance where musicians from all over were welcomed. The Hill house was the last in the area to hold these dances and it was at these events that Hill learned most of his tunes rather than learning them on the radio. In the 1970s Noel began playing the concertina professionally. Joining musicians Tony Linnane, Tony Callanan and Kieran Hanrahan forming the group Inchiquin who have one album released. With Kieran and Tony Callanan leaving to form the group Stockton’s Wing Inchiquin continued to tour with Noel.
Noel’s most celebrated album was released in 1979 with Tony Linnane, Matt Malloy, Alec Finn, Michael O’Domhnaill entitled Noel Hill and Tony Linnane.
He even had a tune written for him by The Pogues called Planxty Noel Hill.
As well as playing and touring Noel also set up a number of concertina schools around the country The Noel Hill Concertina Schools which he teaches at. He has influenced many other musicians who are concertina players in Irish traditional music.
If you are a fan of the concertina and are interested in hearing this fine concertinist play then you are in luck. If you are around Ennis at Fleadh Cheoil tonight then Noel will be playing a few tunes on stage at the Glor theatre at 8pm. See here for details.
You can find music from Noel on iTunes
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