Celtic Woman Q & A with Máiréad

Celtic Woman Q & A with Máiréad

mairead-susan-lynn-mairead

 

I’ve been playing Destiny by Celtic Woman many times. New voices and new songs. And lots of magical listening experience. Check out my entry regarding the album in my previous post.

It is a great honour to finally get to talk to one of the artists, notably my favourite violinist Máiréad Nesbitt who took the time to write the answers to my questions. You are probably wondering what it’s like to be part a powerful musical ensemble that continue to make music after a decade right? Well here’s your chance to know.

 

1. The new lineup brings something exciting to the music. What happened to the previous members?

As with most women we have desires to go off and start families and get married! Most of the beautiful women that have passed through Celtic Woman decided to leave to come off the road and settle down. Some have also gone on to have solo music careers too.

2. I love many tracks in Destiny. My personal fave is How Can I Keep From Singing? What made you decide to record this song?

I love that song too but as a listener from the wings! We love Clannad and Eabha was taught by the lead singer Moya Brennan so it seemed ideal for her to sing it. 

3. I See Fire (for me) threatens to be better than the original. What’s the story behind the inclusion of this song?

We wanted to move towards the future whilst not forgetting what made people love the group in the first place. Ed Sherran has deep Irish heritage so his music is heavily influenced by that- especially this song. It’s very Irish folk in style and is also a modern one so it seemed like the perfect fit. I also love story telling and this song has such drama in it. 

4. You are back with your US Tour. Wow 85 Cities! How are you preparing mentally and physically for this marathon tour?

Well, personally I follow a plant based (vegan) lifestyle to keep myself healthy of mind, body and spirit and I also work out every day to keep my immune system strong. Lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, water and sleep when we can! 

5. Can you give young women tips on how to sing beautifully like Celtic Woman?

Just be yourself. Don’t try and mould yourself into who you think you should be. Accept yourself from within and sing from your heart. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is happy in herself. 

6. What’s next after the US Tour?

We have lots planned including a hopeful trip to Asia-then onto Australia and back to the states for our Christmas symphony tour where we get to perform gorgeous Christmas songs with a different orchestra every night. I am also recording a solo album with Celtic Woman in the summer when we get off the road which I’m super excited about! 

There you go 🙂
-Máiréad Nesbitt
destiny-cd-422x422
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Robert Doyle Has  A Follow Up To A Life In Shadows:Lig Amach

Robert Doyle Has A Follow Up To A Life In Shadows:Lig Amach

Robert Doyle album cover

When: Friday 22nd April

Where:The Cobblestone Backroom, 77 King Street North, Dublin 7 Free admission 8.30pm

As a long time admirer of his music, I am happy to announce that Mr Doyle has finished a follow-up to his compelling album A Life in Shadows. It was well received among Celtic and Irish Music sites. If you love laid back songs written and performed around the voice and acoustic guitar then you better hear Lig Amach. I will be posting my own thoughts about the album soon!

Read more about the album through the press release:

ROBERT DOYLE ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM LIG AMACH

Featuring Sliabh Russell/Out on the Ocean https://youtu.be/WzcSe9TzkC4

Private Album stream (do not share) https://soundcloud.com/robertdoyle/sets/robert-doyle-lig-amach/s-XZsH4

ALBUM LAUNCH: Thursday April 28th The Cobblestone Backroom, 77 King Street North, Dublin 7 Free admission 8.30pm

“Fingerstyle guitar expert…. with a unique vocal edge” Irish Music Magazine    “… a new acoustic guitar maestro” R2 Magazine

Dublin fingerstyle guitarist and singer ROBERT DOYLE releases his second album Lig Amach on April 22nd followed by an album launch concert on April 28th in Dublin’s Cobblestone.  Admission to the concert will be free – as Robert explains as “a special thank you to my fans and supporters for their enthusiasm and support along the way”.

LIG AMACH (Let Out) is the follow up to his well received 2011 debut album Life in Shadows.  Mostly recorded in Dublin over the last year the album showcases his distinctive approach to writing & arranging for the guitar.  A collection of instrumentals, interpretations and self penned originals, Lig Amach vividly displays Robert’s dynamic playing & singing  – stretching from the roots of American folk singing and blues, Irish traditional through to classical & flamenco guitar techniques.  Watch the video for SLIABH RUSSELL/OUT ON THE OCEAN https://youtu.be/WzcSe9TzkC4

While the album features a number of thrilling collaborations, Robert sets down a challenge for himself when he performs live as he will perform entirely solo at the album launch on April 28th in Dublin’s Cobblestone “It really tests your abilities and you learn a great deal about the music when performing in front of an audience.  I choose to play solo so that there’s nowhere to hide on stage.  You learn a lot about yourself as a musician when it’s just you in the spotlight”.

Creativity runs in the Doyle family – the album cover photo was taken by Robert’s brother Eamonn Doyle who is an internationally recognised photographer.  Previously the brothers worked together – Robert as a studio engineer – on Irish label D1 Recordings run by Eamonn, who also founded the DEAF electronic festival.

Robert began playing guitar aged 8 and is a past student of renowned French-Algerian master musician Pierre Bensusan“Pierre is one of the top fingerstyle guitarists in the world but more so he’s also a fantastic musician.  By studying with him, I wanted to gain an insight into how he was able to master the instrument and develop his own individual style. After studying with Pierre, my focus changed from being a guitar player to becoming a better musician and to continue developing my own style”.   In previous years Robert has performed at Celtic Connections and the Moniaive Folk Festival.

Recording the album was a longer process than initially planned as Robert explains “I recorded the guitar and vocals in my home studio with additional instruments recorded in Dublin, London and Italy. Originally I had planned to record this album, like the first, in a studio with an engineer but I later made the decision to record it myself to have more flexibility. The first sessions for the album took place 3 years ago and didn’t go well so I had to go back to the drawing board.  I was only working on the album at weekends so the process was quite drawn out.  The guitar parts are all live recordings, something I’ve always tried to do.”

Like the last album 8 of the 10 tracks were mixed by Marc Carolan who works with Muse. Ross Dowling, who produced the last James Vincent McMorrow album also did a mix as well as Graham Watson from Floodplain Studios in Dublin.

Lig Amach is a departure for Robert in many ways from the first album with a keen focus this time on writing and performing in English.  “The songs on the previous EP and album were based around songs sung in Irish but for this release I wanted to explore singing in English more.”  ACROSS THE LINE was written in 2014 at the time Islamic State attacked and laid siege to Kobani in northern Syria, causing a massive number of people to flee across the border into Turkey.  FLAGS OF BELFAST, which has a traditional air, was written around the time of the Belfast City Hall flag protests while ROUND TWO is a song about a woman who won’t wait too long for a man to make up his mind!

Robert interprets and reimagines a number of covers on Lig Amach including the opening track AN SEANDUINE, a song he learnt from singing in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí  Éireann with this version taking inspiration from recordings by Seamus Begley and Danú.  COUNTRY BLUES is a song Robert learnt from Dock Boggs, an old-time banjo player from Virginia, first recorded in 1929.

Another progression on Lig Amach is Robert’s collaboration with a wide number of renowned musicians “After recording the demos I wanted to add some other instrumentation to the songs. The first collaboration was with Chris Haigh, a fiddle player I first heard on an Oumou Sangaré album.”  Francessco Ganassin (saxophone) and Magnus Mehta (percussion) also feature along with Aoife Dermody & uilleann piper Eoin Dillon on a collaboration, Flags of Belfast, which came out of a recording session in Floodplain Studios.

Lig Amach will be available from all digital outlets from April 22nd, from Claddagh Records and robertdoyle.net

facebook.com/robert.doyle

robertdoyle.net

For more information, images & interviews please contact:

ANN MARIE WALSH NOVATONE MUSIC MEDIA

Tel: 01 2018946 / 087 2460957 musicireland@hotmail.com @novatonemm

“It was recorded in real time with minimal overdubs” Caitriona O’ Leary Talks about The Wexford Carols

“It was recorded in real time with minimal overdubs” Caitriona O’ Leary Talks about The Wexford Carols

the-wexford-carols-covers

Happy Holidays! I wrote an entry about The Wexford Carols by Caitriona O’Leary a few days ago. And it is a delight to receive a response from the interview questions I sent her with the help of my friend Anita Daly. So here they are and I was not really surprised that she mentioned Bjork as one of her influences. These two have amazing voices.I am sure Bjork would love O’Leary’s rendering of the traditional carols. The album’s production is superb, the artwork is exceptional-plus you gotta get your hands on the liner notes as a lot of inspiration was poured in making this project. Read further and more surprises await you!

  1. The Wexford Carols was released very early of this year. What’s the story behind the re-release?

Actually the album was released for Christmas last year! But I feel that The Wexford Carols has the potential to be a long-lived perennial offering and that we hadn’t reached every music lover just yet!

  1. You are backed by fantastic studio musicians, singers and sound  tech people. It must be an exciting recording session.
 

It was indeed a very exciting session. It was recorded in real time with minimal overdubs. Basically, we were all in the room (a beautiful, converted 17th-century stable house with huge windows overlooking woodland), making the music at the same time – watching each other, responding to each other’s musical impulses.

  1. How extensive was the background research for this album?
 

I spent many years researching the carols. I started dabbling about 20 years ago, but it has really been the past couple of years that I completely submersed myself in the material. I have visited the church in Kilmore (where the carols are still sung), spoken with local Wexford historians, and spent many happy hours in Dublin libraries and music archives unearthing clues to the melodies that had been lost.

  1. Are you working on a new album and if you are what can we expect?
  1. What’s the inspiration behind this album, and the musical direction you took in recording this(see answers to question 6).
 

I am indeed working on a new album – The Wexford Carols, volume 2! There are still a dozen carols hiding in Wexford history and we want to bring them into the light too. We will be recording in the spring with the renowned producer Ethan Johns and taking a different musical approach to the first volume. It’s a very exciting prospect!

  1. Who are your major musical influences?
 

I have many, many musical influences! Nina Simone, Skip James, Sara Ghriallais, Chabuca Granda, Jordi Savall, Björk…you can probably hear bits of all of them in my work (Björk not so obviously…yet…)

  1. what your biggest Christmas wish?
 

Peace on Earth and goodwill towards all creatures and the planet.

Enjoy your copy of The Wexford Carols. It is an album that’s meant to enchant you not just this holiday season but for all seasons!
How about an afternoon of Buille by Buille Beo?

How about an afternoon of Buille by Buille Beo?

Niall Vallely – concertina

Caoimhin Vallely -piano

Ed Boyd – guitar

Brian Morrissey – bodhrán/percussion

Kenneth Edge – soprano saxophone

Recorded live at Ionad Cultúrtha an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh, Baile Mhúirne,

Co. Chorcaí – Eanáir 2015

Engineered by Dan Fitzgerald

Assisted by Chris Moore

Mixed and Mastered by Dan Fitzgerald @ SoundSound Studios, Cork

Design by Brian Hanlon @ Og Media Group

Photography by Eddie Hennessy

Buille:A beautiful musical treat for a lazy afternoon by robust Irish musical group.

Live recordings are challenging. Unlike studio sessions where you can just edit things you want to change, playing like is one directional. The ambience also adds to the ‘flavour’ of the sound as you hear clapping from the audience, perhaps the sound of birds, the breeze and the little noise that make the recording ‘human.’

Buille Beo presents a robust body of different sounds recorded live-which I learned- in the beautiful surroundings of the Ionad Cultúrtha in Baile Bhúirne, West Cork. There are twelve beautiful tracks. I love classical and jazz music and Buille Beo covers those territories, though it is primarily a traditional album.

It’s a lazy afternoon today so I explored their latest release which is already reviewed by TradConnect. So how does a casual listener respond to their music if I cite myself as an example? It is an album for those who like chilled but mainly acoustic music. I found myself staring at the ceiling and savouring the piano melodies that fall like gentle rain. I feel this in Belharbour. It is true that if you love classical music, jazz and blues then you will easily appreciate traditional Irish music.

I also love In A Silent Way because of its intimate nature. It is a slow tune that is good for meditation and staring out the window-especially if the scenery is the magnificent West Cork! Whatso grabs me because of the chords and the feeling of suspense associated with jazz music. It starts slow then builds up into a frenzy release of sounds  like fireworks.albumcover

Buille Beo is a beautiful and strangely delicate album that has a universal appeal. Its beauty lies in the arrangements and the technique of these wonderful musicians. As you listen repeatedly, the album creates that mesmerizing hypnotic feeling. It transports you into an urban countryside as the album evokes the feeling of both places.

Purchase the album via iTunes and visit their official website: www.buille.com

Amazing Songs For This Week.

Amazing Songs For This Week.

Erin So Green.  

Think of the best melodic folk bands in the 70s and then combine that with pop rock sensibility and you have one of the best songs to come out this week. It’s by Northern Ireland singer/songwriter Dee McIlroy. Listen to his Soundcloud page and also listen to his other tunes and I am sure you will appreciate them all.

           Tracks from The Wild Atlantic Way – A Journey in Irish Music       

For lovers of traditional Irish music this playlist compiled by Tradconnect is a must. It will introduce you to the many wonders of Celtic music and the amazing musicians that inhabit this world. Listen to Danú, The Kilfenora Céílí Band and Kíla. These tracks will rouse you from your sadness and take you to the magical world of a musical style like no other. The Wild Atlantic Way is a compilation album of many artists within the genre.

Richard Parkes from Newtownards, Co.Down on bagpipes, and Trevor Stewart from Belfast on Uilleann Pipes, playing a hornpipe called Jimmy Blue, followed by a selection of jigs. 1996.

This is a beautiful blast from the past. The amazing skills of these musicians will leave you breathless. As if you are chasing after beautiful luminous balls bouncing in the countryside. I had to play it again and again because it is simply irresistible.

 Learn a tune from “The Waylaid Man” and get a FREE CD.

 Learn a tune from “The Waylaid Man” and get a FREE CD.

Do you want to get a free copy of an Irish traditional record? Well you better hurry before offer runs out. According to Irish recording artist Michael McCague:
  
So grab your camera phones and make a video of yourselves playing one of his tunes. Hey it wouldn’t be hard even if you don’t have his album yet as you can always looked it up via YouTube.

This week’s beautiful songs

This week’s beautiful songs

  
Music is better than coffee. It is timeless and created with the finest musicians and state of the  art studio equiptments. I am always excited with each preview or new releases. Soundcloud is a favorite app I like to explore after work, as it gives me the convenience of listening to different artists while on the go. So check out the latest releases from these fantastic artists!

https://soundcloud.com/evewilliams/vale-of-angels

From Northern Ireland, Eve Williams jumps categories. Her music is eclectic. This is a new song from her. Watch out for upcoming releases from this artist with an angelic voice.

https://soundcloud.com/www-tradconnect-com/john-mckenna-colonel-frazer

It is always a magical experience uncovering recordings from almost a hundred years ago. Just goes to show that Traditional Irish tunes are timeless and “modern” as they are ancient. This is a fantastic piece  from John McKenna courtesy of TradConnect.

https://soundcloud.com/saharaoz/sahara-we-all-believe-d-t-longsahara-music

For those who love the festive and jazzy side of Celtic Music, then Sahara have albums you would love to have. We All Believe is as authentic as the story behind the song. Listen to more tunes from this Irish musical couple now based in Australia.

https://soundcloud.com/the-neer-duwels/neer-duwels-meet-me-back-in

Comprising of big names in the Traditional scene, Ne’er Duwels promise to enchant and electrify. Again from TradConnect.

https://soundcloud.com/www-tradconnect-com/tr-ona-marshall-street-reels

Wow Triona Marshall reminds me why harp is an amazing instrument!

I hope you enjoyed the tunes. More to come! 

Breaking Trad- Spike Island Lassies

Breaking Trad- Spike Island Lassies

https://soundcloud.com/www-tradconnect-com/breaking-trad-spike-island
My big thanks to Christi for sharing this wonderful track from the group Breaking Trad. The tune is called Spike Island Lassies. It is a unique interpretation of a traditional Irish tune which echoes fresh sentiments. Kudos to Trad Connect for featuring these musicians!

Also check out their YouTube video:

Members are Donal Murphy (accordion) Niall Murphy (Fiddle) Mike Galvin (Guitar) and Pauline Hartigan (vocals).

John Breen taps into The Source with Origins

John Breen taps into The Source with Origins

John Breen- Origins CD

John Breen- Origins CD

John Breen is a traditional Irish folk artist from Arklow. Origins is his third studio album under Emphasis records. 

Excitement was in the air when I heard that Irish crooner John Breen was putting up a new album called Origins, last year. I know his music. There is consistency that marks his previous albums. There is certainty in his vision resulting in an album that’s solid and artfully crafted. There is no fumbling around with other styles. Instead, he goes for the things he know by heart, and good at. If you pick up any John Breen album, you always feel that sense of coming home, not just in a geographical but in a spiritual sense as well.

Maturity marks his new album. I admire his humility, in a sense that he is aware of being a vessel to something bigger himself. I Still Believe is his current single. It is a stirring ballad with a beautiful mandolin solo in a mesh of other instruments. “There will be moments of fall from grace…” His ability to capture the essence of life in a line or two, is powerful. Great musicians backed this recording. It’s a cornucopia of instrumental richness supporting his beautiful voice.

I think what makes him stand out from other singer/songwriters of his time is the truth in his songs. He really lives what he sings about. He now works with people who are undergoing challenging behaviors and I think that has deepened his sense of humility and sympathy to the human condition. And we all need that in this time of apathy. When people spend more time with their mobile phones, computers or tweets, it’s refreshing to just curl up in your bed and listen to songs that remind you of what it’s like when you’re a child and everything’s safe and beautiful.

Origins is a good vocal album. The jolly Amber Tresses opens then album in which he shines in his mastery of traditional styles. Meant to Be slows us down a bit with its introspective mood and beautiful tin whistle solo. Cup of Sorrow is another lively track which gives way to the gentle and flowing I Still Believe which I mentioned earlier. I’ll Be No Stranger is another salvo of Bluegrass fireworks with amazing duet between Breen and Stevie Hawkins. Instrumentalist Tim Crouch showcases his virtuosity in most of the tracks in Origins. I admire the angelic voice of Kyla Cassidy as she provides backing vocals in various tracks,while the rest of musicians are all remarkable in their artistry in the finest degree.

Angel In The Air is a lullaby that reminds me of what mothers sang to their children in the old days to send them to sleep. I Loved You Better Than You Know is a love song with another sweep of instrumental beauty. A lament I’LL Remember You Love In My Prayers mirrors the gentleness of Meant To Be and I Still Believe. Briscoe’s Darlin’ in an instrumental that bumps the pace a bit in a traditional style. The thread extends to What I Said Ain’t What You Thought I Mean which is humorous! Been proves  that he can be funny. I Only Wish You Well closes the album. A very fitting track which summarizes the overall atmosphere of Origins. There is wisdom that comes in every journey. I think after creating three albums, the artist has an overall idea what his purpose is..

I think  we are fortunate to have an artist like John Breen in this lifetime. The honesty of his songs cuts to the core of our souls. I feel purified after the last track. Origins is a must-have album for humanity. Get it upon its official release on February 23.

Official video for “I Still Believe”, the 1st single from the forthcoming album by John Breen titled “Origins”. Download the single now direct from Emphasis Records: http://www.emphasisrecords.com/johnbr…

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-s…

Amazon MP3: http://amzn.to/1w0DWVG

“I Still Believe” is a contemporary Folk/Celtic ballad that lyrically hints at life’s struggles, yet the mood is uplifting in recognition of the power in believing. Excellent production, melodically brilliant, smooth vocals.

Song and Video Credits:
Artist: John Breen
Title: I Still Believe
Writers: C. Hannon – T.S. Hawkins – T. Crouch
Record Producer: Stevie Hawkins
Recording Engineers: Stevie Hawkins and Tim Crouch
Label: Emphasis Records
Publisher: Hannon Hawkins Music, BMI
Photography: Aoife Kavanagh
Video Editor/Director: Stevie Hawkins – ShhhMedia http://www.shhhmedia.net
Artist Website: http://www.johnbreenmusic.com

Lyrics:

I STILL BELIEVE

There will be storms, wind and rain
Life will falter, love will fail
There’ll be times the crashing wake
Washes away
Everything in its way
I Still Believe

There will be moments of fall from grace
A passing glance, a saving face
Sometimes a feeling undefined
That catches flight
And the heart will know it’s time
I Still Believe

There will be spring, summer and fall
Arctic winds will come to call
Grades of trial, a bridge of strife
For this is life
But throughout it all
I Still Believe

© 2014 Emphasis Records

Musician Credits:
John Breen: Vocal
Tim Crouch: Fiddle, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Acoustic Bass, Banjo, Djembe
Sara Burke: Celtic Harp
Eamonn Byrne: Irish Tin Whistle
Kyla Cassidy: Background Vocals
Stevie Hawkins: Percussion, Background Vocals

http://www.johnbreenmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JohnBreenMusic?fref=ts

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

His arrangement of The Ashokan Farewell for acoustic guitar. Played on a McIlroy AJ16

Dermot McIlroy is a versatile artist. Apart from playing in his project bands, he is also a guitar builder. Have you tried visiting McIlroy Guitars? The video will give you an idea what one of them sounds like(the McIlroy AJ16). And he plays really good! He executes that depth and craft in the video Ashokan Farewell which has a rather interesting background.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom. Photo by Daniel Burne.

I love instrumental music. They don’t have resistance or aggression. They are compatible with almost anything. The Ashokan Farewell plays like a peaceful river. Everything flows without bumps and uncertainty. And the notes are clear like golden silver. Can you hear it? That certain feel to it?

I think there should be a solo instrumental album from McIlroy don’t you think? I think, for that to be realized one day will be a truly wonderful experience. Solo guitar music is timeless. I love collecting them. I can play them anytime and anywhere. I hope this post(and most importantly the accompanying music lights up your week) inspires you as you start your day or recline to sleep.

http://mcilroyguitars.co.uk

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I will be posting a blog about Derek Smith of this Welsh trio, Glasnant. According to him:

“Glasnant means Blue Stream in English. Our music will be like a stream flowing through the Celtic countries.” They will go to Ireland on March 12th-16th to take their interceltic music to the Aran Isles. Sounds exciting!

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