The Celtic Concert series
continues to play to sell out crowds as we head into the fall part of our season. On
September 8th, Danu will make their second appearance in the Wilde Auditorium, and on
October 6th, we're most fortunate to be able to introduce you to Beginish, a wonderful
Irish traditional quintet making their first tour of New England.
Danu is a Waterford based septet, all under 30,who recently signed a
three-album deal with Shanachie Records. The first album of the contract, Think Before
You Think, was released to critical acclaim in February of this year. This CD marks
the debut of Jessie Smith on fiddle and viola (replacing Daire Bracken) and vocalist
Ciaran O' Gealbhain (replacing Carthach MacCraith). Dirty Linen magazine is touting this
CD as potential Irish album of the year!
Danu is named after the Irish goddess of prosperity and she has
certainly guided them on a meteoric rise among Irish bands. From their humble beginnings
at the Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival of 1995, they reached the pinnacle of their genre
when named Irish Music magazine's "Best Overall Traditional Band" for 1999.
Original member Benny McCarthy and Donnchadh Gough from the Ring
Gaeltacht (Irish speaking part) of Co. Waterford and brothers Tom and Eamon Doorley from
Dublin, have been joined by Noel Ryan, who debuted with the band during their first trip
to the Univ. of Hartford, and more recently by the afore mentioned Jessie Smith and
Tom (flute and low whistle) and Eamon (bouzouki and mandola) Doorley
are from Glenageary, Co. Dublin. Benny McCarthy (button accordion) hails from Deelish,
Dungarvan, West Waterford. Donnchadh, pronounced "Dunnaka", Gough (uillean pipes
and bodhran) from An Rinn, Waterford, is a neighbor of Liam Clancy in whose studio Danu's
latest album was recorded. Noel Ryan (guitar) is from Tour, Co. Tipperary. Jessie Smith
(fiddle and viola) is the son of Cherish the Ladies keyboard player Donna Long. Born in
L.A., raised in Baltimore, he now lives in Ireland. Vocalist Ciaran O'Gealbhain , from An
Sean-Phobal, Co. Waterford, is equally persuasive in Irish and English. He's been labeled
the most promising male vocalist in Irish Traditional music in many years. After hearing
his voice, I most heartily agree and think you will too!
Beginish first came together in 1996 and I was fortunate enough to see
them in Whelan's Pub, Dublin, on their maiden tour. I said then, I'd love to book them
whenever they made their first tour of New England, and on October 6th, you'll get the
chance to see them too. We've heard great things about them from some of the other Irish
groups who've been here recently.
Beginish means little island. The name comes from one of the Blasket
Islands, no longer inhabited, off the coast of Dingle, home of the band's founder Brendan
Begley. The music of Beginish is rooted in the West Kerry and Donegal styles, the musical
roots of the band's principle members. Though quite different from each other, these two
regional styles are both known for what the Irish call "swing"- an infectious
lift and danceability. Their first CD Beginish was released in 1998 and they have
hopes of releasing their second album in time to introduce to American audiences on their
upcoming U.S. tour.
Brendan Begley, youngest of nine very musical siblings, grew up in the
Dingle Gaeltacht, and thus his first language was Irish. His father and uncle owned the
largest and most famous dance hall in Kerry at one time and their children were raised in
this intensely musical milieu. Brendan's a highly regarded accordion and melodeon player
and an assured and expressive vocalist. Not surprisingly, in addition to his playing and
singing, he is quite a mover on the dance floor! He's also renowned as an entertaining
storyteller, a talent he puts to use between numbers at a live performance.
Brendan is also a teacher, an occupation he pursued for 18 years in
Dublin before moving back to Dingle. One of his pupils was current band mate Paul Mc
Gratton. The two came to know each other musically during regular seisuns at Hughe's Bar.
Paul McGratton is from North Dublin, but much of his early musical
training occurred in Donegal where he spent summers and holidays as a child. He's now
regarded as one of the top traditional flute players in Ireland.
Coincidentally, the Beginish lineup includes another Paul,
fiddler Paul O'Shaugnessy, who also hails from North Dublin and also spent much of his
musical youth in Donegal! It was here that he met and played with Frankie Kennedy and
Maighread Ni Mhaonaigh, whom he later joined in the group Altan, recording four albums
with the band between 1989-93. The two Pauls recorded a well-received album, Within A
Mile of Dublin, in 1996.
Noel O'Grady of Westport, Co. Mayo has long been regarded as one of the
top bouzouki players in traditional Irish music circles. He has performed with Westport
neighbor Matt Molloy, Triona and Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill and Liam O'Flynn among others,
before joining the Beginish lineup.
The band's latest addition is well-traveled guitarist Gavin Raleston, a
veteran of tours with the Waterboys and Arcady.
This fine Irish traditional quintet have impressed audiences in
San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. You'll get your chance to see and hear
them for yourself when they make their first appearance here in the Wilde Auditorium
Friday October 6th at 7:30 pm.
Concerts for the upcoming months include Solas on November 7th and
Susan McKeown/ Johnny Cunningham/Aidan Brennan on December 13th. Tickets for all these
events are already on sale through the Univ. of Hartford box office. Call 1-800-274-8587
or 1-860-768-4228.All proceeds benefit operation of WWUH radio.
Tune into Celtic Airs every Tuesday morning 6:00- 9:00 am for the
latest concert updates and plenty of music from the artists scheduled to perform here as
well as many others.
Copyright©WWUH: September/October Program Guide, 2000