Artist Bios 2017
John Carty - Fiddle, Banjo
John Carty’s status as one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians was recognized in 2003 when he was awarded TG4’s Traditional Musician of the Year. Born in London, Carty plays fiddle, flute and banjo. He was raised in the tradition by his father (also named John — and also a multi-instrumentalist), a member of the famed Glenside Céilí Band in the 1960’s. John has established himself among the leading proponents of Irish traditional music and is a staunch supporter of its preservation; he is much sought after for summer schools and workshops. He has a strong interest in the North Connacht traditional music style. John’s recordings are numerous and include “Last Night's Fun” and “Yeh, That's All It Is,” and “At Complete Ease,” a seminal duet album with Brian Rooney. He also collaborated with Sligo poet Ann Joyce to create “The Crimson Path,” a CD of original poetry with music composed by John. John is also a member of super group Patrick Street, which includes legendary musicians Andy Irvine and Kevin Burke. He will soon release “Settle Out of Court”, a duet album with his daughter, Maggie.
Colm O'Donnell - Flute, Whistle, Song
Flute-player and singer Colm O’Donnell is a true man of the land: a farmer, forester, shepherd and sheepdog trainer, born and bred in Kilmactigue in South Sligo. Colm is renowned for his sweet, tuneful traditional singing and for his fine flute and whistle playing in a style that is lively and varied, ornamented in the great North Connaught tradition. He is famous for his lilting, the art of singing instrumental tunes, and also as a storyteller who brings an understated, yet witty delivery to the spoken word. Colm is an All-Ireland Champion, was awarded “Best Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year” by Irish American News and is a founder member of the famous Sligo band The Border Collies. His album of unaccompanied song and lilting, “The Rocks of Bawn”, features fine renditions of the classic “Green Fields of Canada” and “A Stór Mo ChroÍ” (described in review as “up there with the best”) and his most recent CD, “Farewell to Evening Dances” is “a wonderful collection of traditional song, flute and tin whistle from a naturally gifted musician” (Mid and North West Radio).
James Kelly - Fiddle
James Kelly, a native of Ireland, is one of the greatest Irish traditional fiddlers alive today. He learned his music from his father John Kelly, the renowned fiddle and concertina player from County Clare. After years of careful study and practice, James began his recording and touring career at age sixteen. That year he won first place in the prestigious "Fiddler of the Year" competition and recorded his first album, a duet with his brother John. Since that time, James has toured Europe, the US, Canada and South America, and has been a member of several influential Irish groups, including Patrick Street and the legendary folk group Planxty, and also played with Paddy O’Brien and Dáithí Sproule. He has performed several times with the world-renowned Chieftains, and on "A Prairie Home Companion." James was awarded the "Gradam Ceoil TG4 2006 Irish Musician of the Year" in recognition of his outstanding musicianship and contributions to Irish music. He has 18 albums to his credit. As part of his commitment to handing down the tradition, he is currently working on a teaching DVD for fiddle students, as well as compiling his 800+ compositions for publication.
Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich - Accordion, Song
Singer and accordion player Méabh Begley (Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich) was born in the Gaeltacht area of Corca Dhuibhne in County Kerry to a large family of Irish traditional music greats, including father Séamus (renowned as a solo performer, he has also toured with the band Téada), aunts Máire, Eibhlín and Jós, and uncle Breanndán (who plays with the Boys of the Lough). Méabh’s grounding is equally rich on the vocal and instrumental sides: audiences in the United States will be familiar with the very fine, emotive ornamental singing style of her uncles Séamus and Breanndán, which Méabh shares. Her accordion playing also reflects and carries on the West Kerry music style of her family, rich in slides, polkas and reels, with an appreciation for airs as well. She is committed to passing on the tradition and has taught at festivals around the world and at the American International College in Dingle, where she lives. She can be heard on the Children’s Christmas album “Amhrán is Fiche Don Nollaig”, alongside Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Síle Denvir and more recently on “Cuisle" with Matt Griffin.
Sean Gavin - Flute, Uilleann Pipes
Sean Gavin’s playing on the flute, whistle and uilleann pipes reflects his lifelong love for traditional Irish music. Growing up in Detroit, he was first encouraged by his father, County Clare-born fiddle player, Mick Gavin. Sean played a variety of instruments before settling on the flute at age 11, with the help of Scariff flute-player Leo MacNamara and later with Sligo flute legend and Chicago resident Kevin Henry, and uilleann pipes with teacher Al Purcell (himself a student of famed piper Leo Rowsome). In 2016 Sean was awarded the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal in County Cork, a very special recognition given only to musicians of the highest standard and commitment to the tradition. His playing on both flute and pipes is remarkable for its deep roots in the past of the music combined with a vigor and creativity very much of the moment. Sean is a member of the critically acclaimed groups Bua (along with our own Brian Miller) and NicGaviskey and often performs with his family as well. He is keenly devoted to playing and teaching traditional Irish music.