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Artists performing at Festival 2014

Junior Davey
Johnny Connolly
Meatí Jó Shéamuis Ó Fátharta
Gerard Devane
Johnny Reidy Céilí Band
Trad Counsel
Dartry Céilí Band
PJ Hernon
Kenny Donagher
Kerrie Herrity
Dave McLoughlin
Bush Céilí Band
Sligo Trad Singers
Colm O'Donnell

Andrew 'Junior' Davey

Junior comes out of a family deeply rooted in the musical tradition of South Sligo. The strongest musical influence on Junior has obviously always been his father Andrew (Andy) Davey, who was an authority in the Sligo fiddle playing. But also bodhran-inspiration was available in the family: Junior's uncle, Ned Keane from Culfadda, was a recognised handstriker (old hand style bodhran playing) in the local area.

When it comes to contemporaries Junior is highly influenced by Johnny 'Ringo' McDonagh , Maurice 'Mossie' Griffin, John Joe Kelly and Ronan Moloney. Bodhran player and -maker Seamus O'Kane from Lower Drum, Dungiven, Co. Derry, had- and still has a positive and constructive impact on Junior and his music.

Junior has won the All-Ireland Championship on the bodhran five times (1990, 1993, 1996, 1997 & 1999) and is the most winning bodhran player at the All-Ireland ever.

The most important companion in Junior's musical life is without any discussion fiddle player Declan Folan from Doobeg, Doocastle, Bunninaden, Co Sligo. They have been playing as a duet for many years and have a telepatic musical understanding.

In 1995 the two friends recorded a wonderful album titled "Skin and Bow".

In 2005 Junior launched his first solo-album titled "A Sound Skin" which is his latest contribution to Irish traditional music.

Over the years Junior has worked as a guest musician and has contributed to several albums. He is an experienced teacher and have taught for many years in Ireland and abroad.

Johnny Connolly

After thirty-five years or so of playing the single-row melodeon, Johnny Connolly is an acknowledged master: Possibly the greatest Irish melodeon player ever, certainly the best of his generation, and the cause of renewed interest in the Irish melodeon style in Connemara and beyond.

The Connemara melodeon is a single-row diatonic instrument with ten treble buttons and two basses, the humblest of the free reed family that includes accordions, concertinas and bandoneons. In the various famines and depressions which have depopulated Connemara, when most valuables were either sold or exported by emigrants, the cheap little single-row melodeon was often the only instrument left behind to accompany dancers and singers alike. Two- and three-row melodeons are unknown in Connemara: all two-row instruments are chromatic (B/C, C/C#, or more recently D/D#), and are popular with younger players since the recordings of Paddy O'Brien, Joe Burke and others in the seventies and early eighties.

Johnny Connolly tried his hand at the two-row chromatic box for several years, but came back to the single-row because of its rhythmic qualities. The melodeon is an ideal instrument for dance music. The melody notes are well separated by the bellows action, and can be punched out as hard as you like because you don't have to keep moving your hand around the fingerboard. What's more, the basses are simple and reliable, providing just the right amount of accompaniment with a regular beat, provided you don't venture into foreign keys! Johnny Connolly's melodeon style makes the most of all these features: it has a very strong rhythm which comes from both hands, the ornamentation is restrained and well suited to the single-row box, and every note is clearly articulated on the right hand.

Johnny has made two recordings of melodeon music on the Spiddal-based Clo Iar-Chonnachta label, and both of them illustrate his deep understanding of the music and dance of Connemara. The first was released in 1991 ("An tOilean Aerach", CICD063, reviewed in LT3) to great acclaim throughout the traditional music world, and a mere seven years later we have the sequel, "Drioball na Fainleoige" or "The Swallow's Tail" (CICD127) on which Johnny is joined by accompanists Charlie Lennon and Steve Cooney who add even more bounce and lift. As well as the compelling dance music on melodeon, this recording features a slow air and a song plus a couple of tunes on the two-row button box, just for variety.

As a master of his instrument, Johnny Connolly moves happily between G, D, A, Bm, Em and other keys. He reckons to fit most tunes onto his ten buttons: the trick is to start in the right key! Most of the tunes he plays are in D, though: fitting a reel like "The Bucks of Oranmore" onto a melodeon is hard enough without trying to play in awkward keys. The fact that Johnny Connolly successfully plays most of the Irish repertoire on such a deceptively simple instrument has awakened considerable interest in the humble melodeon. The fact that Johnny plays this stuff stunningly well has inspired admiration and emulation wherever Irish music is played. The availability of two superb recordings of this master musician should spread his influence even further.

Meatí Jó Shéamuis Ó Fátharta is from Na hAille in Connemara, Co. Galway, and is a well-known and respected figure in music circles throughout this country and further afield. He is an acclaimed sean-nós singer, and won Corn Uí Riada, the All-Ireland sean-nós competition, in 2001. He is also a skilled instrumentalist, and plays flute and uilleann pipes.

Meaití's singing is very personal and he is almost at odds with other well known practitioners of this craft but this is what makes sean-nós so great, it is wide open to interpretation.

Misneach have been playing together for the last few years as part of Ceoltoiri Coleman, the Seisiun group who play in the Summer season in the Michael Coleman Centre, (Ceolaras Coleman), in Gurteen.

The music they play is the in the local style of South Sligo, fluid and lively, well suited to dancing; very traditionally played Sligo fiddle and flute (Declan Folan and Michael Hurley), finely complimented by Connemara accordion and melodeon maestro PJ Hernon, underpinned by the subtle guitar rhythms of Brian Lofthouse, and the solid but florid virtuoso bodhran of Junior Davey.

P. J. Hernon Master teacher and one of Ireland's top box player's, P. J. Hernon from Co. Galway.

The multi–All Ireland winning accordion player was born into a Traditional music family in Rusheenamanagh, Carna, Connemara.

His brother Marcus Hernon is also a well known multi-All Ireland winning flute player, composer and prolific recording artist.

Together the Hernon brothers have performed at music festivals in Germany, England, the USA, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Luxembourgh and of course all over Ireland.

PJ was a member of the renowned Shaskeen Céilí Band for some years and after much success as part of this talented group he later embarked on a solo career.

In recent years his music became hugely popular with people on the set dancing scene after he formed the very successful Céilí Band named The Swallow's Tail.

PJ who has toured extensively world wide has several albums and a DVD accordion tutor to his credit.

He also won the All Ireland and Oireachtas button accordion titles in 1973 as well as being a member of the All Ireland winning duet and trio acts in Sligo in 1989.

PJ is one of the finest exponents of Traditional Irish music on accordion and melodeon and has presented Traditional Irish music programmes for Radio na Gaeltachta agus TG4.

Today PJ remains as popular as ever on the Irish Traditional music scene both for his live performance and for his much sought after music teaching techniques.


CosCos 2014