At First Light - Shine!

There is no shortage of good music coming out of Ireland these days, and Belfast seems to be producing more than its fair share. The session scene there appears to be alive and well, and the discerning visitor can find good traditional sessions in various bars across the city without having to look too far.

The Johnny Doherty Festival - Ardara, Co Donegal - 21-23 September, 2012

The fiddle music of Donegal is recognisable the world over, with many names being synonymous with the style – Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Tommy Peoples, Paddy Glackin and James Byrne being amongst them.  But the name associated most with the area perhaps is John Doherty – a travelling tinsmith renowned the world over for his style, knowledge and skill.

Sara Grey & Kieron Means - Grey Means Business

When this article was commissioned I had a good idea of the shape it would take. I've admired Sara Grey's music for twenty years, been in a band with her, become a good friend along the way, and feel that I know pretty well what she's about. When we were rehearsing at her place some ten years ago, I remember her son Kieron Means (the name comes from Sara's first husband) talking to me about his teenage dream of 'making it' with a band. And here he was now, Sara told me, doing gigs on the folk scene and playing back-up on her new album. I was pleased; it's fun to play music with your kid.

Traditional Music And The Role Of The Festival

“Music functions on a whole lot of different levels,” said Daithi Sproule from Altan. “But an interesting thing about music is that it is funny to look around and realise that music is everywhere. And it wouldn’t be everywhere if it wasn’t for the some reason. It’s in lifts, and it’s in shops…” He smiled, and tapped his finger against the table. “…And there is actually music for people who aren’t very musical. Muzak! Yes!”

Jerry Holland’s Cape Breton Home

In 1969, in Boston Massachusetts, a young musician made a decision about the future of his life.  Fiddle player Jerry Holland explains “At the grand old age of fourteen, I just knew, someday I was going to live in Cape Breton.  At twenty one, I saw my dream come true as I celebrated my birthday there.  In this place I had got, I waited for my furniture to be delivered.  For 33 years since, Cape Breton has been and always will be my home”.

CELTIC COLOURS: There Is No Getting Away From It

CELTIC COLOURS: There Is No Getting Away From It

Nine long days and nights, 45 concerts, over 250 other events in 33 communities around Cape Breton Island, Celtic Colours is certainly not for the faint-hearted!  But it is a gem of a festival that proudly boasts its Celtic roots and showcases the music of the island which is very much alive and kicking.


Talk to professional fiddlers, and you’ll soon see the range of what they do. There’ll be solo  performing, of course, band work, tuition, recording, film and TV contracts, judging competitions, composing, researching, and maybe even instrument-repairing. A few fiddlers, though, will tell you how they also move into other genres, perhaps to back a rock or jazz singer. Some will have had (or still have) a career in classical music as well; Irish fiddler Mairéad Nesbitt, formerly of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, comes to mind. One Scottish fiddler who fits exactly into this ‘mixed genres’ category is Douglas Lawrence.