Previously known as the Leahy Family, this Celtic-pop group hailing from Lakefield, Ontario comprised the nine Leahy siblings -- from oldest to youngest, singer/songwriter Julie, bassist Siobheann, fiddler Donnell, guitarist Maria, drummer Frank, pianist Agnes, fiddler Doug, pianist Erin and fiddler Angus. The family, along with their parents Frank & Julie and two other siblings who declined to pursue music professionally, began performing during the 1970s, developing a distinctive style informed not only by Celtic traditions but also Canadian folk and French-Canadian step-dancing. The subject of the Academy Award-winning 1985 student film The Leahy's: Music Most of All, real-world concerns like school, careers and marriage eventually relegated the family's performances to special occasions, but by the mid-1990s, with all of the children grown, they decided to turn professional; dubbing themselves simply Leahy, they issued their eponymous debut LP on Narada in 1997. ~ Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide
Jez Lowe is one of northern England's finest singer-songwriters. In addition to being featured on seven solo albums and three albums by Lowe's band, the Bad Pennys, Lowe's songs have been featured on albums by a lengthy list of performers including Fairport Convention, the Tannahill Weavers, the Black Family and Gordon Bok. Lowe's best-known tune, "Back In Durham Jail," has been covered by more than 20 different artists.
Although his earliest musical
roots were in Irish and Scottish music, Lowe
found his niche after becoming interested in the traditional music of the North
East region of England. Many of Lowe's songs, including "The Famous Working
Man," "The Honest Working Way" and "Workhouse," reflect
the struggles of the British working class. Several tunes, such as "These
Coal Days," "Black Diamonds," "Pit Boy" and "A
Small Coal Song," focus on the plight of the coal mining community.
Lowe first attracted
attention in the late '70s in a duo that he shared with Northumbrian pipes and
guitar player and vocalist Ged
Foley. After Foley joined the Battlefield Band in 1980, Lowe continued to
perform as a soloist and in a duo that he shared with hurdy-gurdy virtuoso Jake
Walton. Lowe and Walton's partnership ended in 1989 with Lowe forming a
quartet, the Bad Pennys. The current lineup of the band features Billy
Surgeoner (fiddle, keyboards, whistle, vocals), Jez
Luton (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Judy
Dinning (keyboards, guitar, vocals).
Lowe's third album, Galloway,
initially released in 1985, was expanded with tracks from his self-titled 1980
debut album and re-issued in 1996. In 1992, a greatest-hits album, Black Shift,
featuring tunes recorded between 1980 and 1986, was released. Craig Harris,
Guitar and bouzouki player Donal Lunny is one of the pioneers of the Irish folk music revival. His first group, he told me, "was a very close imitation of The Clancy Brothers, [who] used to go to sessions every weekend in a pub called Pat Downing's in Prosperous, where there were some traditional musicians. As there was no other accompanist, I had sort of carte blanche with my guitar. So I used to go there and play all night, play tunes, reels, and jigs, and whatever on my guitar. I'm sure I was dreadful at the beginning. It improved as time went on, and I got involved in different groups in Dublin." One of those groups, Emmet Spiceland, also included Mick Moloney, now a champion of American-Irish music. In 1972, Christy Moore came home to Ireland to record an album. Lunny says, "He decided to collect musicians together. So he assembled whatever it was, eight or nine musicians, and we recorded Prosperous. And it just felt so good to everyone that we just said,'Well, jeez, of course, yeah. Of course... let's form a band.' At the time, I was making jewelry, making a living at that, if you like, and it just stopped. Planxty started, and I never had time to do anything else since." In 1975, Lunny left Planxty to join a group that never got off the ground. His career, however, bounced back nicely: "The Bothy Band was in existence at that point, not as The Bothy Band, but as an ensemble I think was known as 1691. I joined them, and we became The Bothy Band, and off we went." Lunny toured with The Bothy Band and recorded four albums with them. When they broke up, it was back to Planxty and eventually to Moving Hearts: "Some of the most enjoyable moments I've had in the last ten years have been with Moving Hearts. That did actually spring straight from the last version of Planxty. I wanted Planxty to sort of gear up, get a rhythm section in. Christy was interested in pressing on, so Moving Hearts started. That was an exciting time for me, both on stage and in the studio, because it was the first time I had to deal with bass and drums on an ongoing basis." Since Moving Hearts, Lunny has been more active as a producer than as a musician, producing records by many of the top groups in Ireland and Scotland. Look for his name as musician or producer, and you're sure to be buying an exciting, high-quality album. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
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