|This page aims to point a curious listener
or aspiring musician in the direction of quality Irish Traditional
Regarded by many as the best Irish traditional fiddle player, Martin Hayes has a unique style of playing that has set him apart from his contemporaries. Born in the village of Maghera, near Feakle, in the eastern part of County Clare, Martin is the son of the much loved fiddler P. Joe Hayes, the longtime leader of the Tulla Ceili Band. The traditional music of east Clare is known for its slower and more lyrical style of playing, and Martin recalls being fortunate to have grown up surrounded by many talented musicians who embodied the east Clare style in their playing, and who communicated a profound respect and love for the music. The influence of the older generation--fiddlers like Martin Rochford and Paddy Canny--is evident in Martin's playing, and yet Martin has elevated himself to a new level, winning two Senior All-Ireland Championships in the 1980's, and touring extensively around the world within the past few years. He currently has four albums out, and is now recording his fifth with guitarist Dennis Cahill.
Lunasa is one of the hottest bands on the Irish traditional music scene. Their sound is unique within the world of Irish music, as the band is anchored by double bass player Trevor Hutchinson. Lunasa’s melody lines and harmonies are gracefully taken care of by flute player Kevin Crawford and fiddler Sean Smyth. The band has a five-album history thus far, and many have praised their most recent recording, “The Kinnitty Sessions,” for its return to the more raw, earthy sound that characterizes the group’s debut CD. “The Kinnitty Sessions” was recently recorded in front of a live audience inside Ireland’s Kinnitty Castle. A clear mark of Lunasa’s popularity is the fact that many of their tune sets are increasingly becoming standards within the contemporary Irish session scene.
Altan is widely considered the best overall “super-group” to emerge from the world of Irish traditional music since The Bothy Band. Fueled by the stellar fiddle playing and vocals of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Altan has brought worldwide recognition to the regional musical style of County Donegal. By far the greatest traditional band of the late 1980's and early 1990's, Altan continues to tour widely, and has recently incorporated diverse elements into its repertoire, performing a diverse range of songs and recording with artists such as Dolly Parton.
Mike McGoldrick is one of the best flute and whistle players on the traditional music scene today. He has rightly established himself as one of the most popular contemporary Irish Traditional players, and is credited with jump-starting the groups Lunasa and Flook in their early years. McGoldrick is equally talented on the pipes and bodhran, and is a fine composer of lovely tunes that quickly make their way into the traditional repertoire.
Below is a list of some other great contemporary Irish musicians on a variety of traditional instruments. You can search on the web or contact me with any questions regarding these musicians, their albums, or additional background information:
Johnny "Ringo" McDonagh
John Joe Kelly