Dougie MacLean is one of Scotland's premier singer-songwriters. A past member of the Tannahill Weavers and Silly Wizard, MacLean has used his songs, including "Caledonia," "The Singing Land" and "Solid Ground," to capture the natural beauty of his hometown on the border between the Highlands and the Valley of Strathmore.
MacLean first attracted
attention as a teenager when he formed a band with future Silly
Wizard members Andy
Stewart and Martin
Hadden. While performing as a street musician in Kinross in 1974, MacLean
was invited to join the Tannahill Weavers. He remained with the group for three
years before he moved to Germany and launched his solo career. For a while,
MacLean also performed in a trio with Alex
Campbell and Alan
breakthrough came with the release of the album, Caledonia, in 1979. Returning
to Scotland in 1980, he spent six months as the replacement for fiddler Johnny
Cunningham in Silly
Wizard. Although he temporarily returned to the Tannahill Weavers,
afterwards, he resumed his solo career in 1981.
In addition to his busy
schedule as a touring singer/songwriter, MacLean has been an influential record
executive, having founded Dunkeld recording studios and record label with his
wife, Jennifer, in 1983. Among the many tradition-rooted Scottish musicians that
have recorded for the label, whose slogan is "Scotland's new heritage
music," are Sheena
Moore and Frieda
A tour of the United States
in 1989 was conducted in conjunction with Fiona Ritchie's National public radio
show, Thistle & Shamrock. The following year, MacLean returned to the U.S.
for a 17-concert tour with other Dunkeld artists. In 1995, MacLean played guitar
and sang harmony on country artist Kathy
Mattea's album, Good News and toured as opening act for Mattea's North
American tour .
Several of MacLean's songs
were heard on the soundtrack of the film, The Last of the Mohicans. In 1993,
MacLean served as music director of the TAG Theater Company's production, A
Scots Quair. A 40-minute documentary on MacLean's life and music, The Land: The
Songs of Dougie MacLean was aired by the BBC.
Tracks from MacLean's three
albums on the Plant Life label were assembled on the 1997 album, The Plant Life
Years. A sampling of tunes from MacLean's albums on Dunkeld were included on the
1995 album, The Dougie MacLean Collection. Craig Harris, All-Music Guide
Tony Macmahon is an excellent button accordion player from Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, a noted center for traditional music. Among his influences were Joe Cooley and Sonny Brogan among accordionists, as well as piper Willie Clancy, fiddler Bobby Casey and singer and piper Seamus Ennis. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
Buddy MacMaster has been called "the dean of Cape Breton fiddlers." Although MacMaster was little known outside of Cape Breton, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, until retiring as an agent operator from the Canadian National Railway (C.N.R.) in 1988, his subsequent tours of the United States and the United Kingdom and his two albums -- Judique On The Floor in 1988 and Glencoe Hall in 1991 -- have enabled him to share his waltzes, jigs and reels with an international audience.
MacMaster's first album,
Judique on the Floor, released in 1989, featured piano accompaniment by John
Morris Rankin of the Rankin Family. On his second album, Glencoe Hall,
released in 1991, MacMaster was accompanied by Rankin and guitarist David
MacMaster is the uncle of
Cape Breton fiddlers Natalie
MacMaster and Ashley
MacIsaac. Craig Harris, All-Music Guide
The niece of influential Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster has turned the music of Cape Breton, an island off the east coast of Canada near Nova Scotia, into an international phenomenon. Whether performing with her band, featuring guitar, piano, bass, drums and percussion, or with a classical orchestra such as the Edinburgh Symphony, MacMaster has thrilled audiences with her exciting fiddling and dynamic stage persona.
Inspired by the musical
members of her family, MacMaster began playing fiddle at the age of nine on an
instrument given her by a great-uncle. She took formal lessons along with her
cousin, Ashley MacIsaac, with whom she played often as a youngster.
After releasing two
self-produced cassette-only albums -- 4 On the Floor in 1989 and Road to the
Isle in 1990 -- MacMaster expanded her following with her first release in the
United States, Fit as a Fiddle, which received a East Coast Music Award as Best
Roots/Traditional Album of 1992. Tracks from MacMaster's first two albums were
reissued by Rounder as A Compilation in 1997. MacMaster's first album released
by Warner Brothers Canada, No Boundaries, included "Drunken Piper"
(featuring vocals by Cookie Rankin of the Rankin Family), and established her as
one of the top musicians in Canada. In addition to hosting the East Coast Music
Awards, MacMaster received awards as "Female Artist of the Year,
Roots/Traditional Artist of the Year and Instrumental Artist of the Year.
MacMaster was also named Fiddler of the Year by the Canadian Country Music
Association. The album was dedicated to the memory of MacMaster's grandmother,
Margaret Ann Beaton, who would often sing Gaelic lyrics to songs that MacMaster
was learning on the fiddle.
MacMaster has maintained such
a busy schedule as a performer that she had to turn down an invitation to be a
featured musician in the Irish music and dance production Lord of the Dance. In
1995, MacMaster performed for more than 80, 000 people as the opening act for
Carlos Santana in Chattanooga, TN. The following year, she spent four weeks as
the opening act for the Chieftains on their tour of the United States.
MacMaster's fiddling has also been heard on television commercials for Tim
Horton Donuts and General Motors Pontiac.
MacMaster released her second
album for Warner Brothers Canada, My Roots Are Showing, in 1998. In My Hands
followed a year later. ~ Craig Harris, All-Music Guide
Irish whistle virtuoso Joanie Madden was born in New York in 1965; the daughter of Irish immigrants, she initially began her musical studies on violin and piano, but only the tin whistle truly captured her imagination.
Folk singer Tommy Makem is one part storyteller, one part musician, one part singer, and one part actor, so his live shows are usually quite lively and engaging, especially since he has spent more than five decades in folk music. A typical Makem concert involves traditional and contemporary Irish tunes performed on banjo and tin whistle, with a bit of background on each song's history as well.
Makem was born and raised in
Keady, County Armagh, Ireland, and got much of his musical education from his
Makem, herself a legendary folk singer and an ethnomusicologist before the
term was coined. The songs Makem learned from his mother provided the foundation
for his later efforts with the
Clancy Brothers and his work as a duo with Liam
As a young man, Makem most
wanted to become an actor, so he moved to New York in the mid-1950s. He began
singing professionally in New York one night in 1956 when he was asked to sing
at Greenwich Village's Circle in the Square Theater. After receiving 30 for
singing just a few folk songs, he was hooked. Makem began hanging out with Pete
Seeger and the other members of the
Weavers in 1956, when he first saw them perform.
In the late 1950s, Makem
teamed up with Tom,
(Patrick) Clancy to form the Clancy
Brothers with Tommy Makem. The group made their professional debut at Circle in
the Square Theater in the Village and was signed to Columbia Records by talent
Hammond in 1961. By then, folk music had come into fashion in a big way.
Makem frequently shared festival bills with Seeger,
Dylan and other beacons of the acoustic movement. At the 1961 Newport Folk
Festival, Makem and Joan
Baez were chosen as the two most promising newcomers to the American folk
music scene. After playing to sellout audiences at Carnegie Hall in the early
Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem made appearances through the 1960s on major
TV shows like Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and
other programs. Makem originals like "Four Green Fields," "Gentle
Annie," "The Rambles of Spring," "The Winds Are Singing
Freedom" and "Farewell to Carlingford" have since become Irish
folk music standards, performed around the world.
In 1975, realizing he was
forever bumping into his old friend and partner Liam
Clancy on the road, Makem and Clancy decided to pair up for a show in
Cleveland, Ohio. The audience response was enough to convince both that they
needed each other, and for the next dozen years the two often toured together.
The pair earned platinum and gold records in Ireland.
albums (aside from those with the Clancy Brothers) are available on his own Red
Biddy label. His sons, the Makem Brothers, are carrying on the Irish folk music
tradition by running the label and performing at folk festivals around the U.S.
and Ireland. Makem's solo albums from the late 1960s and early '70s include
Tommy Makem and Love Is Lord of All on GWP Records. His more recent 1990s
recordings include From
the Archives for Shanachie Records and Ancient Pulsing, an album of his
poetry. Makem has also been involved in numerous television projects over the
years, presenting Irish traditional music to the masses, mostly on public TV.
Based in Dover, New Hampshire, Makem continues to record and perform. Richard
Skelly, All-Music Guide
Simply the best Irish accordion player in America, McComiskey is also one of the best in the world. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
Cathal McConnell is a singer and flute player from the North of Ireland. He has been a member of the Boys of the Lough for many years. Len Graham is a folk revival singer of great renown. He fronts the group Skylark. Both are all-Ireland champions. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
Celtic folk guitarist Arty McGlynn was born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland; his first musical instrument was the accordion, and by the age of five he was already playing reels with considerable skill. Given his first guitar six years later, McGlynn found early inspiration in jazz artists Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel, and by age 15 he was performing professionally. Only during the late 1970s did he turn to traditional Irish music, recording his debut solo album McGlynn's Fancy in 1979; a sought-after sideman who recorded and toured in support of Van Morrison, Christy Moore, Planxty and countless others, in 1989 McGlynn teamed with his wife, fiddler Nollaig Casey, for the duet collection Feed the Knave, followed in 1995 by Causeway. ~ Raymond McKinney, All-Music Guide
Seamus and Manus McGuire
The McGuire brothers are two of Ireland's great fiddle players who rarely tour internationally. They can be heard on several grand recordings, though, including those by Buttons And Bows. Daithi Sproule is a distinguished Gaelic singer and guitarist now living in the US. He, too, has played with several great bands, including Skara Brae and Altan. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
The traditional vocal sounds of Ireland are fused with a modern urban sensitivity by Dublin-born and New York-based vocalist Susan McKeown (pronounced "mick-yone"). Accompanied by her band, The Chanting House, McKeown's alto vocals have inspired comparisons to June Tabor, Chrissie Hynde, Sarah McLachlan, Grace Slick and the late Sandy Denny. McKeown's musical approach was described by Time magazine as "the kind of music that will link Ireland's musical past with its future."
Since emigrating to the
United States in 1990 with a scholarship to attend a New York performing arts
school, McKeown has been attracting attention with her dynamic vocals and
enthusiastic stage persona.
House, which initially focused on an updated version of traditional Irish
music when founded by McKeown, Eileen
Ivers and Seamus
Egan, has increasingly added elements of modern rock since the departure of
Ivers and Egan in 1993.
Although they released a pair
of self-produced cassettes, Chanting House Live and Snakes, in the early 1990s,
McKeown and the Chanting House came into their own with the Prime CD-released
Bones in 1996. Their second CD, Bushes and Briars, released in 1998, featured
musical accompaniment by Celtic musicians Johnny
Irvine, Seamus Egan and Jerry
O'Sullivan. McKeown and Chanting House bass/bass clarinet/tin whistle player
Horner collaborated on an album of seasonal songs, Through the Bitter Frost
and Snow, in 1996.
Brian McNeill was involved in the Edinburgh folk scene in the '70s, when he formed The Battlefield Band with Alan Reid. Although he originally specialized in the fiddle, and is still a superb fiddle player, he is also a multi-instrumentalist of amazing breadth and a songwriter of the first order. His solo works, both before and after leaving Battlefield at the end of 1990, are varied in content but consistent in quality. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
Matt Molloy of Ballaghadereen, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, is one of the standards against whom Irish flute players are measured. His characteristically strong blow and robust tone make him a powerful addition to any session. He was an original member of The Bothy Band in the '70s, then joined Donal Lunny in the reformed Planxty when The Bothy Band broke up. After his stint in Planxty, he replaced Mick Turbridy in The Chieftains, Irish music's most famous instrumental group. With them, he's toured the world, from China to the U.S.A. Along the way he's recorded several solo, duo, and trio projects, and settled down as a pub-owner in Co. Mayo. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
Moloney is one of the most active members of the Irish-American musical community. In the '60s he played with The Johnstons, one of the most important early revival bands. A singer, instrumentalist, and folklorist, Moloney hails from Limerick but now lives in Philadelphia, where he recently earned his Ph.D. in folklore with a brilliant dissertation on Irish music in America. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
The older brother of Irish folk-pop singer-songwriter Luka Bloom (Barry Moore), Christy Moore is one of contemporary Irish music's best singer-songwriters. The former lead vocalist and chief songwriter of Planxty and Moving Hearts, Moore helped to bring the musical traditions of Ireland up to modern standards. As a solo singer-songwriter, Moore has continued to add elements of rock and popular music to his well-crafted, tradition-based tunes and has been a major inspiration to such modern Irish artists as U2, Sinead O'Connor and The Pogues.
Traditional Irish music had
little influence on Moore's early music. Trained in old-time pop tunes and
religious music, Moore was inspired as a teenager by the rock & roll of
American artists including Elvis
Berry and Little
Richard. It wasn't until he had moved to London, where he heard Irish folk
songs sung in Irish ghettos, that he became aware of the musical traditions of
his homeland. Acquiring an acoustic guitar and Irish drum (bodhran), Moore began
busking in the streets. Moore continued to attract attention with his original,
folk-like songs after returning to Ireland in the late 1960s. Moore's debut solo
album, Paddy on the Road, was released in 1969.
While recording his third
album, Prosperous, in 1972, Moore assembled a band that evolved into Planxty.
The group's fusion of Celtic music and high-energy rock made Planxty one of
Ireland's most influential bands. With Moore singing lead in his heavily
accented brogue and playing rhythm guitar and bodhran, Planxty brought together
such top-ranked Irish musicians as Donal
Lunny (guitar, bouzouki, bottleneck bouzouki), Liam
O'Flynn (uilleann pipes, whistle) and Andy
Irvine (mandolin, mouth organ). Although he left Planxty in 1974, Moore
returned when the band's original lineup reunited in 1979. He remained with
Planxty until 1983, when it evolved into a new band, Moving Hearts. Moore served
as frontman for Moving Hearts until leaving to resume his solo career in 1985.
The excitement of Moore's
concerts has been documented on two albums. Live In Dublin, released in 1978,
featured accompaniment by Donal Lunny. Live at the Point, released in 1995,
captures a solo performance at the Point Theater in Dublin in July 1994. Moore's
solo recordings between 1973 and 1978, were compiled on The Folk Collection,
released in 1978. His solo recordings between 1981 and 1991 were anthologized on
The Christy Moore Collection, released in 1991. Moore's 1985 album Voyage
featured backing vocals by Sinead O'Connor, Elvis
Costello and Mary
Black, plus accordion player Shamus Shannon. Craig Harris, All-Music Guide
The traditional dance music of Ireland is played with fervor and excitement by the County Clare-based quintet Moving Cloud. Originally formed to provide the accompaniment for set dancing, Moving Cloud has evolved into a virtuosic concert band. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1994, was named Best Traditional Album by The Irish Echo. Their second album, Foxglove, released in 1998, further established the band as one of Ireland's leading instrumental ensembles. Moving Cloud, named after a classic Irish reel, made their debut appearance at the Old Cloud Hotel in Ennis, County Clare on May 18, 1989. The group brought together five musicians who had established themselves with other bands and solo recordings. Accordion player Paul Brock had recorded an album with De Danaan fiddler Frankie Gavin in 1986. His solo album, Mo Chairdin, was released in 1992. Galway-born composer, arranger and keyboardist Carl Hession had previously performed with Gavin, Joe Derrane, Matt Molloy and Joe Burke and had been a member of the Shaskeen Ceili Band. Hession has recorded four solo albums: The Galway Suite (1984), Echoes of Ireland (1987), Ceol Inne/Ceol Innui (1995) and Tra (1997). A native of Birmingham, England whose parents hail from West Clare, Kevin Crawford (flute and percussion) has lived in Ireland since 1988. In addition to recording with Joe Derrane, Crawford has performed with the septet Grianan and the trio Raise the Rafters. His debut solo album, D'Flute Album, was released in 1995. A major characteristic of Moving Cloud's sound is the twin fiddling of Sligo-born Manus McGuire and Galway-born Maeve Donnelly. McGuire previously toured and recorded three albums with Buttons And Bows, a quartet that also featured his brother Seamus, Jackie Daly and Garry O'Briain. The winner of several All-Ireland fiddle championships, Donnelly is a master of the East Galway fiddle style. ~ Craig Harris, All-Music Guide
This Irish folk-rock group of the first half of the '80s had a lineup including Brian Calnan, Keith Donald, Donal Lunny, Christy Moore, Eoghan O'Neill, and Davy Spillane. It was the forerunner of such followers as The Pogues, the Mekons, and the Oyster Band and mixed a traditional approach (they played acoustic instruments, such as bodhran and Uilleann pipes, as well as electric ones) with a contemporary repertoire, some of it socially conscious material. For example, Moving Hearts in 1981 included "Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette." The second album, Dark End of the Street, was internationally hailed.
The band's talented lineup
had trouble staying together, and Live Hearts in 1983 was their last real album,
Storm in 1985 was an interesting instrumental collection. The band's
influence has been extensive, and Christy
Moore has gone on to a successful solo career. William Ruhlmann, All-Music
Martin Mulvihill, a fiddler who came from Limerick, Ireland, to the Bronx, had a major impact on Irish music in the eastern U.S. It was not so much his playing that influenced others, but his teaching; Mulvihill ran a highly successful Irish music school and even went on the road to other cities to teach Irish music to interested youth. Many of the good and great young players studied with Mulvihill. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford were from the area of Co. Kerry, Ireland known as Sliabh Luachra. They were brother and sister, both students of the fiddle master Padraig O'Keeffe. Steve Winick, All-Music Guide
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