Arty McGlynn was born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, into a family steeped in traditional music, his father played the accordion and his mother the fiddle, and by the age of five Arty was playing reels proficiently on the accordion.
When his mother bought him his first guitar at the age of eleven, Arty began to delve into the playing of great jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel, and by the time he turned fifteen, he was already playing professionally.
The late sixties saw him move further afield, trips to UK and USA, moving from band to band and adding the pedal steel guitar to his musical arsenal along the way. But by the mid seventies the endless run of one nighters had begun to lose their appeal and Arty was beginning to look for something more real, something that would excite him again.
There followed a phase in his life where rather than play "what he was told to play", by whoever controlled the purse strings in the dance band, he began to have more control over his artistry. It was now that he started to focus his attention on the very different world of Irish traditional music. In 1979 he recorded his first solo album, "McGlynn's Fancy", which was the first recording ever in which the guitar is played in an authentic traditional style, and as such has been hailed as a classic in the traditional music world. His reputation was now spreading in a whole new direction.
Arty subsequently became one of the most sought after musicians in the country, playing and recording with the likes of Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Donal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn. He played as a member of such prestigious groups as Planxty, Patrick Street, De Danann and the Van Morrison Band.
In 1989, Arty and his wife fiddle player Nollaig Casey released their first duet album, "Lead the Knave" to great critical acclaim, and in 1990 they were awarded the Belfast Telegraph Entertainment Media and Arts Award for excellence in the field of Folk Music.
Arty is equally in demand as a live performer, recording artist and producer. The album "Barking Mad" by the group Four Men & A Dog, which Arty produced, was voted Folk Album of the year by Folk Roots Magazine. He produced Christy Hennessy's album, "The Rehearsal", which remained in the Irish charts continuously for eighteen months and also collaborated with Frances Black on her first two solo albums, "Talk to Me" and "The Sky Road", both of which have topped the charts in Ireland and have been critically received in the UK. and America.
Arty has composed music for several television documentaries and together with Nollaig arranged and played music for the sound track of the Irish feature film "Moondance" as well as "Hear My Song", in which they also made an appearance. More recently Arty played on the sound track of the film 'Waking Ned Devine' where the music was composed by Shaun Davey.
In July 1995 Arty and Nollaig released their long awaited second album titled Causeway on Tara Music, which was enthusiastically received by critics and music-lovers alike. The album, that was two years in the making, contains nine sets of original tunes which range from soft and gentle to strong and vibrant and display a unique love and understanding for the music and its origins.
In 1997 Arty suffered a severe setback when he broke his wrist while on tour in the USA, however a quick recovery has seen him back playing with all his immense skills, after only a few months. As well as performing live throughout Europe with Liam O'Flynn he also co-produced with Liam, Liam's new album The Piper's Call. In the last year, in addition to an intensive touring schedule with Liam, he has worked with world renowned producer Jim Rooney on the new Sean Keane and Charlie Landsborough albums and produced and played on the new Alan Kelly album Mosaic.
Reviews & Quotes
"The man's artistic authority
Brian Friel, Author & Playwright
"It would be difficult to name anyone playing
music who is the equal of Arty McGlynn for subtlety and complexity
of harmonic invention."
Kenny Mathleson - The Scotsman
"I first saw Arty play twenty years ago, he stunned
the crowd that night with the brilliance of his guitar playing of
traditional tunes and went on to become one of today's major figures
on the Irish music scene. "
Neil Johnston - The Belfast Telegraph
"To say McGlynn provided accompaniment would be
a crime of oversimplification. His fleet unison lines gave the jigs
and reels huge momentum and his chordal patterns, full of bass lines
which resolved in his own good, come in an apparently infinite variety."
Rob Adams - The Glasgow Herald
"Almost 20 years since he first played this venue
(Belfast's Harp Folk Club, McGlynn's picking of tunes was hugely impressive,
a terrific demonstration, not only of the impact this player has made
to the use of guitar in traditional music, but of the unfazed consistency
of his innovation."
Fintan Vallely - Irish Times