Conor Lamb took the time to talk about the music of the trio Réalta between touring.
I can close my eyes and get lost in the music of Réalta. There is something sublime about it. A quality that revive the spirit and soothes the mind. Open The Door For Three is what I would call as an auspicious album.The maturity and confidence of the trio are showcased in every track. I am glad to discover that Conor Lamb took the time to answer questions. It is also an honor to have him as our featured artist of the week representing Réalta.
Open The Door For Three is one of the amazing releases this year. How did you three decide to create this album?
Ha, deciding to create the album is the easy part… actually doing it is the difficult bit! We had been playing together for a few years and we had some nice sets worked out so it just made sense to try and capture that moment in time and get it recorded. We put a lot of work into the album so it means a lot to us when people enjoy it, so thanks very much, glad you like it.
Realta toured with Altan. Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh made an amazing recommendation of the band. How was the experience touring with Mairead and the rest of Altan?
Simply fantastic. Of course for all of us Altan have been a big influence on our music and their albums have always held a prominent place on our CD collection, so to tour with the band was a great experience. They really are a brilliant bunch of people… and you REALLY get to know people when you are on the road for a month! We had many a long chat about music and a few singing sessions into the early hours so an all round great experience. Mairead told us how Altan have always made a point of promoting Donegal songs and tunes and that we should try and do the same for our part of the world. I think this is a great point and one that we have taken on board. On that tour we were also away the excellent band The Outside Track and a singer/storyteller/matchmaker Willie Daly and again these were all a great bunch so we couldn’t have asked for better.
Picking up a favorite is hard because everything in this album is beautiful. But during a blind choice my finger landed on the beautiful air called Sliabh Geal gCua. Please tell me more about this track.
Glad you like it. Like many Irish airs, Sliabh Geal gCua originates as a song. This piece was written by Pádraig Ó Míléadha, who was born in Waterford and emigrated to Wales. The song describes Pádraig’s longing for the mountain close to the homeland where he spent his childhood. It is a tune we always enjoying performing.
Do you think The 2010 William Kennedy Piping Festival opened doors for the trio?
Me and Aaron have been going to the festival since we first started playing the pipes. So I think by attending the classes and concerts the festival helped open doors for us long before we could even scrape together the Kesh jig. This is why it was such a big deal for us when we were invited to play there as a band. A thoroughly nerve wreaking experience but also a very enjoyable one.
Two uilleann pipers and a female vocalist playing guitar and bouzouki. This is rare in traditional groups. How did you manage to make it work?
You think it works!? Hmm, that’s good to hear. It wasn’t a specific instrumentation line up we had in mind or had a reason for, we just got together to play tunes because we like it. And I think that is a good basis to start upon. To be honest, when you have two pipers in the band it also forces you to be creative with regards to arrangements and this can bring about some very interesting results. Also, I think people generally like the fact that it isn’t very common.
What’s the story behind Deirdre’s unique voice?
Hmm, don’t quite know how to answer that. That is just what she sound like, and we like it.
Tell me more about Aaron O’Hagan who also plays the bodhrán.
I have been friends with Aaron since we first started learning the pipes so we go back a long way. He is a great all round musician and also a brilliant pipe maker and reed maker. He studied at an instrument making course over in England and has been producing some great sets since. When you have two sets of pipes in the band it is great to have someone with his skills help keep the things working and in tune together.
Where can fans buy your album and things Realta?
You can also get the album from CDBaby.com and Amazon, but it is best to go direct to our own website. Also, if you like the tunes, please say hello on our facebook page www.facebook.com/realtamusic
Conor, you manage to be an amazing band spokesperson. How do you keep it together?
With great difficulty. Haha, only joking everyone plays their part in the band.
What are you and the rest of the band expect this year musically?
We have a few nice things coming up. We are just back from a two-week tour in Denmark, and over the summer we have festival gigs planned in Greece, Belgium, Netherlands and Brittany. Check out our website for the details.
The world is getting a taste of the wonderful artists coming form Northern Ireland. This is an exciting year for Northern Irish artists. What’s your shout out to your fellow Northern Irish and also the rest of the listening crowd?
The amount of musical talent coming out of North and Ireland in general is superb. There are so many great new CDs coming out I simply can’t keep up. Certainly from the Belfast / Antrim direction a few names to keep an eye out for are At First Light, Craobh Rua, Brendan Mulholland, Grainne Holland, Ioscaid… the list goes on. The music is in safe hands.
Have a listen to this track written by Brendan Phelan and Performed by John Breen with Steven Collins on Mandolin. Such a soothing song with a beautiful message.