On the Road Again: new Frankie Gavin & De Dannan lineup are off!
Who are some of your other favorite performers or influences?
Jimmy McCarthy and Mick Hanly, two of Ireland’s finest songwriters, would be at the top of my list, and recently I did an album with Rick Epping on blues harmonica called Jiggin the Blues. We started on that when I was living in Charlottesville. I’ve also just finished recording some tracks with Tom Byrne, the Larry Adler of Irish music.
There seems to be a mixed view of the value of All-Ireland Championships; some love it, others find it totally nerve-racking. Did you enjoy it? Did it open doors for you?
Well, competitive work can be good and very bad, especially when it comes to music, I suppose. I never found it made any difference to me in the long run and I never made any money from anything I “won,” or anything else you care to mention! However, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann (CCE) has done great work in its nurturing of Irish music for a long time now and I suppose without CCE, it may not have survived as well as it has. Having said that, Sean Ó Riada in my view would have been the real savior of Irish music. He restored its dignity and swept it forwards onto the “performance stage” where it truly belongs.
[Ó Riada, an influential leader in the renaissance of traditional music, was the leader of a group called Ceoltóirí Chualann in the 1960s and went on to compose great classical works such as Mise Eire that combined traditional music with orchestral arrangements.]
Has the recent economic downturn in Ireland affected the music at all in terms of getting it out there, or are you still having a ton of fun?
I am happier now playing music than ever before. I’m thinking positively about everything and life’s too short for the other stuff!
The Women of De Dannan
Maura O’Connell’s new album Naked with Friends is well worth a listen. It offers unaccompanied traditional and contemporary songs sung in the sean nós (old) style, or as duets with the likes of Alison Krauss, Mary Black and Paul Brady, with a cheeky cover to match the title. Maura calls Nashville her home these days. Eleanor Shanley, who was with the band for Jacket of Batteries and Half Set in Harlem, is still going strong, and recently recorded a Waterboys song,“Strange Boat,” with the man Mike Scott himself and Alec Finn (available soon on Eleanor’s website.) Eleanor recalls her stint with De Dannan with fond memories, and remains close to members of the band. Mary Black was recently interviewed in these pages and continues to record and tour; she, her sister Frances, and Dolores Keane went on to be a big part of the phenomenon A Woman’s Heart and record two widely acclaimed solo albums.This is a seriously successful bunch of alumnae!
The new De Dannan lineup will be led by original member Frankie Gavin on fiddle, viola, flutes & whistles with Michelle Lally onvocals, Mike Galvin on bouzouki & guitars, Eric Cunningham on percussion, and Damien Mullane on accordian.Michelle Lally, Frankie Gavin, Ron Wood and Eric Cunningham.
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