Kevin Burke is known for being one of the most lyrical fiddle players in Celtic music. He was a founding member of seminal groups such as The Bothy Band, Patrick Street, and Celtic Fiddle Festival and is prized as a solo and duet player.
In 1992, Burke assembled his band, Open House. Made up of Burke, Paul Kotaphish. Mark Graham, and Sandy Silva, Open House developed organically out of jam sessions between Burke, Kotapish and Graham. Silva was invited to join and the new group focused on mixing traditional music from multiple cultures.
Open House stayed together for some years, made three recordings and disbanded in 1999.
Although still in his twenties, Johnny B. Connolly has already generated a reputation as an exciting and accomplished button accordionist. Johnny’s talents have paved the way across continents and provided him opportunities to perform or record with many internationally renowned artists including Kevin Burke, the Chieftains, Anam, Martin Hayes and Altan. His debut album Bridgetown (Green Linnet) was called “the most exciting solo debut from an Irish artist in years” by The Irish Herald — “a must-have CD for all true lovers of Irish box playing.”
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Johnny has been immersed in Irish traditional music since he was eight years old. By the age of 15 he was a regular feature around his hometown, performing with musicians sometimes twice his age. Johnny’s dexterity on the accordion earned him a slot with established Celtic ensemble Anam at the age of 17. For the next two years, he continued to build his reputation back home in Dublin’s trad music scene and abroad with Anam, touring festivals throughout Europe and Ireland.
In 1996 the 21-year-old Johnny seized an opportunity to bring his skills to America. Leaving Anam, he crossed the ocean to join fiddler Patrick Ourceau in New York for a four-month stint through New York City and Boston. In 1997, Johnny merged his talents with those of guitarist Aidan Brennan, forming a duo that entertained festival audiences across the United States from Alaska to Louisiana to Colorado.
Heading further west, Johnny eventually made his home in Portland, Oregon. A friendship with Kevin Burke, legendary Irish fiddler and fellow Portland resident, led to Johnny’s signing with Green Linnet Records in 2001. His CD Bridgetown, was released to universally glowing reviews. “A joy from beginning to end…Connolly’s playing is skillful and exciting,” wrote All Music Guide. A sparkling collection of traditional Irish and French tunes, the album features guest appearances by Burke and production by guitarist Ged Foley.
Since then, Johnny has toured nationally with such artists as Kevin Burke and Ged Foley, Aidan Brennan, and Casey Neill, and appeared at numerous festivals including Colorado’s Festival of the Mabon (by Planet Bluegrass), the Cincinatti Celtic Festival, and the Sebastopol Celtic Festival in California. He is now a fixture on the flourishing Northwest scene, and his lilting accordion can be heard headlining Celtic festivals or in intimate clubs, joining Irish fiddlers, Gypsy jazz guitarists or Old-timey phenoms Foghorn Stringband.
Quotes From the Press
“This is the most exciting solo debut album from an Irish artist in years…a must-have CD for all true lovers of Irish box playing.” – The Irish Herald
“Bridgetown features the sounds of Johnny B. Connolly’s accordion: lilting, somber, joyful, poignant. Though only 26, the Dublin-born Connolly has a masterly control over his instrument, conveying a range of emotions in 10 jigs, reels and songs.” – The Irish Echo
“Johnny B. Connolly is among the best young players. Bridgetown is a delightful splash of jigs, reels, a slow air and even a whimsical, Paris-flavored musette.” – Goldmine
“A slow burning collection, preferring to insinuate itself beneath the skin than trumpet its arrival from the rooftops. Connolly’s button accordion skills are refined by a canny ear and a keen eye that revels in the tunes, which tilt at an angle instead of ploughing the middle ground…A beauty.” – The Irish Times, Dublin
“At 26, Connolly is clearly a master of the box accordion’s many possibilities.” – Victory Review
“The solo debut from this fine 26-year-old Dublin accordionist is a joy from beginning to end…Connolly’s playing is skillful and exciting, but never showy — he focuses on the tunes themselves rather than on his own virtuosity, and the tempos are generally modest and the ornamentation minimal, an unusually mature approach.” – All Music Guide
“A meticulous player, following well planed and measured routes through all the tunes.” – The Living Tradition, Scotland
Pat Kilbride, the only Irish musician ever to become a member of Scotland’s Battlefield Band, has been internationally celebrated for his expressive singing and scintillating cittern, bouzouki, and guitar playing. Nowhere is that more evident than on a pair of reels played by Pat on guitar and Bothy Band legends piper Paddy Keenan and fiddler Kevin Burke. An album of great songs and tunes, Undocumented Dancing is a dazzling musical document from one of Ireland’s – and now America’s – finest performers.
Brilliantly conceived, refreshingly diverse, faultlessly produced, and expertly played, Moving Cloud will first get you up on your feet, and then sweep you off them. Based mainly in Ennis, Co. Clare, this quintet is a stellar concert band as well.
Moving Cloud featured five highly accomplished Irish musicians: Paul Brock (button accordion), Maeve Donnelly (fiddle and viola), Manus McGuire (fiddles) Kevin Crawford (flute and percussion), and Carl Hanson (piano). Moving Cloud’s standard of music was extraordinary, its variety surpassed only by its virtuosity.
Moving Cloud released two albums on Green Linnet; its self-titled 1994 debut earned “Album of the Year” from the Irish Echo, and was deemed “Brilliant from first to last track,” by Earle Hitchner. Bill Whelan, composer of Riverdance, heralded Moving Cloud as “a traditional album of rare grace, subtlety and integrity that also makes a connection with other traditions in a surprising way.” Their sophomore release, Foxglove, earned praise as a “worthy sequel,” featuring guests Trevor Hutchinson on double bass, Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh on the bones, guitarist Garry O’Briain, and banjo player Gerry O’Connor to create a tight, precise sound perfectly suited for set dancers and audiences alike.
Two giants of Celtic music in their first collaboration on disc — Sean Keane (fiddle) and Matt Molloy (flute), scions of The Chieftains and brilliant soloists in their own right, play some of the tightest duets ever heard. Their speed is matched only by their precision, and their sheer exultation can be felt in every track. With producer Arty McGlynn on guitar.
Growing up in Sligo in the 1960s when fiddle music had regained popularity in its native home, the Northwest of Ireland, Manus McGuire was ideally placed to carry on a tradition made legend by fiddlers Michael Coleman, James Morrison, and Paddy Killoran thirty years previously. From an early age he learned various dance tunes by his father’s knee and followed his older brother, Seamus, into the national traditional music arena that was steadily gathering momentum. In 1970, at the young age of 14, Manus won Sligo’s prestigious Fiddler of Dooney competition. Since then, he has toured extensively in North America and Canada.
Manus has recorded eight albums, including The Humours of Lisadell (Folk Legacy, 1980), and Carousel (Gael Linn, 1984),with Seamus; Buttons & Bows (Green Linnet, 1983), First month of Summer (Green Linnet, 1987) and Grace Notes (Gael Linn, 1991), all with the group Buttons & Bows; Moving Cloud (Green Linnet, 1994) and Foxglove (Green Linnet, 1997), with the group Moving Cloud; and a solo debut, Saffron & Blue (Green Linnet, 2000) This last recording was placed in the Top Ten polls of the Boston Globe and Irish Echo newspapers. It was also named Best Album of 2000–and Manus, Best Male Musician of the same year–by the Irish American News.
Capercaillie is –
Throughout their career Capercaillie have drawn on two great strengths to inspire them. The first of these is the astonishing musical dexterity of the various fiddle, whistle, flute and pipe who have performed with them over the years, lead by the accordion and keyboards of band founder Donald Shaw. The other foundation of the band has been the peerless voice of co-founder Karen Matheson, described by Sean Connery as having “a throat that is surely touched by God”. Universally recognised as one of the finest Gaelic singers alive today, Karen’s exquisite voice has been at the centre of the band’s music, whether breathing new life into 400 year old Gaelic songs or bringing her luscious vocals to the band’s contemporary compositions…
There have been many milestones for a band who have sold over a million albums world wide. These include three silver and one gold album in the UK, the first Gaelic Top 40 single, writing the music for, and appearing in the Hollywood movie “Rob Roy”, and performing in over thirty countries including Iraq, Macedonia and the Sudan.
Capercaillie have been credited with being the major force in bringing Celtic music to the world stage, and their unique fusion of Gaelic culture and contemporary sound has always stretched boundaries in their quest to keep the music evolving.
It is a mighty long way from Oban High School to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Baghdad, but Capercaillie have made this journey and stopped off at many other exotic locations along the way . However, their greatest achievement has been to mould a central strand of their Gaelic heritage into a fresh, new sound, capable of reaching out to the ears and hearts of people all over the world.
Born in Northampton, England in 1954, world-class fiddler Brendan Mulvihill immigrated to New York when he was eleven. On the night of his arrival in the states, Mulvihill attended an Irish music session, and from that moment on he dedicated his life to playing Irish music.
At the age of seventeen, Mulvihill moved back to England, where he stayed for years playing with the Birmingham Ceili Band. In the next few years, Mulvihill won both the junior and senior All-Ireland fiddle championships as well as the Senior All-Ireland duet with Brooklyn-born accordionist and friend Billy McComiskey.
In 1975, Mulvihill returned to New York and began playing with McComiskey and Co. Kerry immigrant Andy O’Brien, forming the trio The Irish Tradition. The trio moved to the Washington D.C. area after a few gigs, and has been based there ever since. They have since been accredited with establishing the area’s rich Irish cultural life that has blossomed since the trio’s arrival.
After several years and more albums, the trio disbanded, though stayed in the D.C/Baltimore area. In the time that followed, Mulvihill played with musicians such as Paddy Keenan, Martin Hayes, and John Williams before touring with pianist Donna Long as part of the Masters of the Folk Violin Tour. Specials with PBS and NPR, White House performances, and a stint with the Green Fields of America all-star tour followed.
Born in county Sligo, Seamus McGuire grew up in a family that valued both classical and traditional music. He began taking classical violin as a child, and by the time he was a young teenager, he was proficient in both classical violin and traditional Irish fiddle. At the age of fifteen, McGuire won the Fiddler of Dooney competition, soon followed by the Oireachtas (Regionals) senior Irish Traditional fiddler title. As a young adult, McGuire played with the Dublin Symphony, and in 1983, he and his brother, Manus, formed the band Buttons and Bows with Jakie Daly and Garry O’Brien, a group that would prove to be one of the most influential in Ireland at the time.
Buttons and Bows took traditional Irish melodies and mixed them with traditional music from Canada, Scandinavia, and the Shetland Islands, creating a poignant, multi-dimensional sound. The band recorded three albums, all of which were widely acclaimed, and together the quartet toured all over the United States and Canada.
In 1995, McGuire got together with guitarist Arty McGlynn and flautist John Lee to produce an album of “forgotten” flute and fiddle tunes deriving from Co. Leitrim, titled The Missing Reel. Also in that year, McGuire released a solo album titled The Wishing Tree, 1995, wherin he bridges the gap between classical violin and traditional world music.
One of the contributors on The Wishing Tree was Belfast cellist and composer Neil Martin. Together with violinist Niamh Crowley and violist Kenneth Rice, they went on to found the West Ocean String Quartet in 1999, which has gone on to “effortlessly to combine tradition and innovation like nothing on earth.” The West Ocean String Quartet has released two albums and has gone on to collaborate with some of the most prestigious Irish traditional artists of the age, including Dervish, Tony McMaus, Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill, Cathal O’Searcaigh, and Mary Black, among others.
Paddy O’Brien, button accordionist and musicologist, was born in Co. Offaly, Ireland, in 1945. Throughout his life, O’Brien has been one of the leading forces in song and tune collection of the Irish tradition. O’Brien spent years amassing traditional songs, folklore, and tunes, accumulating over 3000 jigs, reels, and marches alone. In 1994, O’Brien received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the mass recording of over 500 tunes to be published in the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection: A Personal Treasury of Irish Jigs and Reels.
In his young adult years, O’Brien made his debut as a button accordionist with the Ballinamere Céilí Band in 1966. He then toured with U.S. in a trio before winning the solo accordion competition at the 1969 Oireachtas. In 1975, O’Brien won the highest honor in his field, the All-Ireland Senior Accordion championship.
Until the late 1970s, O’Brien lived in Dublin, playing with John Kelly and Joe Ryan, as well as the Castle Céilí Band and Ceoltoiri Laighean. In 1978 he relocated the the U.S. to create the band Bowhand with fiddler James Kelly and guitarist Dáithí Sproul, with whom he released Is It Yourself? (Shanachie,1978) and Spring in the Air (Shanachie, 1980).
In the early 1980s, O’Brien joined with Seán O’Driscoll and singer/guitarist Tom Dahill to form the group Hill 16. They debuted a self-titled album in 1984. In 1988, O’Brien issued his first ever solo record with Green Linnet, Stranger at the Gate. Later, in 1995, O’Brien joined with singer/guitarist Pat Egan and piper Michael Cooney to form Chulrua, (Cool-roo-ah) with whom he has performed all over the U.S. and Canada as well as offering workshops at festivals and schools. Chulrua recorded three albums on the Shanachie label, their most recent in 2007.
Joe Burke, East Galway accordion player, has influenced box players worldwide through his illustrious career.
From his first public performance in 1955 and his first albums (released on 78rpm, the last 78’s to be released in Europe!) to current recordings and tours, Burke has held a special place in the rolls of Irish traditional musicians. Known for his stylish use of triplets and rolls, he was been the recipient of awards such as the AIB Traditional Musician of the Year Award 1997and Gradam An Chomhaltais 2003.
A well-loved and respected teacher, Burke has offered his expertise to students from Co. Leitrim, Ireland to Paris, France, Dallas, Texas and various logging and fishing towns in Alaska.
He frequently performs with his wife, accordion and guitar player Anne Conroy Burke and has recorded with many musical greats including Andy McCann and Felix Dolan, Sean Maguire and Josephine Keegan, Michael Cooney and Terry Corcoran, Charlie Lennon, Frankie Gavin, Kevin Burke, Brian Conway, Noreen O’Donoghue and Mike Rafferty.
Since she was 18, when she astounded the Celtic music world by winning the Senior All-Ireland Championship, Liz Carroll and her fiddle have been amazing audiences around the globe. Her recordings and appearances on concert stages, television and radio, have established Liz as one of traditional music’s most sought after performers. “Liz’s fiddling is nothing less than breathtaking,” writes Earle Hitchner in the Irish Echo, and Irish music producer P.J. Curtis calls her playing “the most dazzling display of musicianship imaginable” (Irish American).
Liz is a renowned composer as well, having written over 200 original tunes. She is a winner of the NEA National Heritage award, an Irish Echo Traditional Artist of the Year, and an Irish-American Magazine Top 100 Irish American. Her album Lost in the Loop (GLCD1199) in 2000 was named Celtic Album of the Year by the Association for Independent Music.
Liz has just released her new album, Lake Effect (GLCD1220), featuring many of her original tunes. The album also includes special guests, Irish guitarist John Doyle (a founding member of Solas), the Turtle Island String Quartet, and legendary Irish accordionist Máirtin O’Connor.
Liz Carroll was born in Chicago in 1956, to Irish immigrant parents from Limerick and Offaly counties. Her father, Kevin, a button accordion player, began teaching her to play Irish traditional music when she was five, and later she began Irish dancing. A violin class at her parochial school taught by Sister Francine inspired Liz to pick up the fiddle, but her main sources of musical schooling came from her family and the community. She honed her skills at the local Irish Traditional Musician’s Association, learning tunes, technique and Irish culture and stories from veterans like Mayo piper Joe Shannon, Chicago-born fiddler John McGreevy and pianist Eleanor (Kane) Neary.
Composing came naturally to Liz, who wrote her first tune at the age of nine. “A melody came to me that didn’t exist anywhere else,” said Liz. “This felt very special; different from learning a tune, or varying one, or hearing one for the first time.” Many of Liz’s tunes have entered the traditional repertoire, played and recorded by Irish musicians the world over.
In 1975, after a series of stunning victories in the junior division of the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship, the 18-year-old Liz astounded the Irish music world in both the U.S. and Ireland by winning the senior division championship title. Her first solo album , Liz Carroll (GLCD1092) in 1988 was chosen as a select record of American folk music by the Library of Congress. That same recording was called “a milestone achievement in the career of a fiddler reaching beyond herself,” by Earle Hitchner.
In 1994, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Liz a National Heritage Fellowship award, the country’s highest honor for a traditional musician. She was an original member of Cherish the Ladies and has played and recorded with numerous artists, including her group Trian with Altan guitarist Daithi Sproule and accordionist Billy McComiskey, and with Mick Moloney’s Green Fields of America. Liz has appeared on numerous stages including the Smithsonian Folk Series at Wolf Trap and the First American Congress of the Violin in 1988, hosted by Yehudi Menuhin at the University of Maryland, and toured with rock artist Don Henley.
In 1999, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed September 19th as “Liz Carroll Day” at the Chicago Celtic Festival.
Lost in the Loop, released in 2000 to great acclaim, was a long-awaited solo album, made after a dozen-year hiatus to raise a family. The album, produced by Solas’ Seamus Egan, received a remarkable welcome by fans and critics alike. It was awarded Celtic Album of the Year by the Association for Independent Music and a Top Ten Traditional Album of the Year in the Irish Echo, which also named Liz “Traditional Artist of the Year.” Lake Effect, Liz’s latest album, unleashes a blizzard of new tunes and dazzling playing… sure to take the Celtic world by storm!
Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll is featured on the cover of Sing Out! magazine in the Spring 2003 issue. Inside, Liz gives an Irish fiddle lesson, and transcribes a couple of her own tunes from her album, Lake Effect (GLCD1220). Liz was also named one of the top 100 Irish-Americans in the 2003 issue of Irish American Magazine.
- Lost in the Loop album receives Album of the Year Indie Award (Celtic/British Isles Category) by the Association for Independent Music.
- The Irish Echo names Liz Carroll “Traditional Artist of the Year,” in January 2000. The Echo’s Earle Hitchner also named Lost in the Loop a Top Ten Traditional Album of the Year.
- Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago proclaims Liz Carroll Day in Chicago on September 18, 1999.
- Irish-American Magazine names Liz one of the Top 100 Irish Americans of 1995.
- Liz is presented a National Heritage Award Fellowship in 1994 by First Lady Hillary Clinton. The award identifies Liz as a “Master Traditional Artist who has contributed to the shaping of our artistic traditions and to preserving the cultural diversity of the United States.”
- The album Liz Carroll album named a select record of American folk music by the Library of Congress in 1988.
- All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Champion in 1975.
- All-Ireland Senior Duet Champion, with Jimmy Keane, in 1975.
- All-Ireland Junior Fiddle Champion in 1974.