Nollaig Casey and Arty McGlynn are a most exciting duo who
together provide a rich mix of talent and experience. Nollaig and
Arty first met in Dublin in 1979, after which their musical paths
crossed again and again at recording sessions, television and radio
studios and on stage with Andy Irvine, Planxty, Makem & Clancy and
Maura O'Connell. The more they played together the more they enjoyed
each other's company and eventually in 1984 they married.
In 1990 they recorded and released their first
album together, "Lead the Knave" to great critical acclaim, it was
awarded the Belfast Telegraph Entertainment Media and Arts Award,
(E.M.A), for excellence in the field of Folk Music. Together, they
arranged and played music for the sound track of the feature film
"Moondance" as well as "Hear My Song", a full-length feature film,
based on the life of singer Joseph Locke, in which they also made
In July 1995 they released their second album together,
Causeway for Tara Music, which as well as featuring Nollaig's superb
singing for the first time, also has nine sets of original tunes
composed by Nollaig and Arty. These tunes range from soft and gentle
to strong and vibrant and display a unique love and understanding
for the music and its origins. Many of these tracks include the
stunning harmonica playing of Brendan Power.
Nollaig is one of Ireland's
most gifted musicians, with an international reputation as an exponent
of Irish traditional music on the fiddle. By the time she began
to play the violin at the age of eleven she was already proficient
in a variety of instruments - notably piano, tin-whistle and uilleann
pipes. Throughout her teens she developed her talents both in fields
of classical and traditional music, winning several All-Ireland
titles for fiddle-playing and traditional singing culminating in
the award to her in 1972 for the best all-round performer.
Having graduated from University College of Cork with
a B-Mus degree at the early age of nineteen, she embarked upon a
professional career, firstly with the RTE Symphony Orchestra where
she remained for five years and later as a freelance player of growing
stature. She joined the legendary band Planxty in 1980 and toured
with them in Ireland, UK and Europe. In recent years Nollaig has
recorded and toured with a variety of groups and musicians including,
Moving Hearts, Liam O'Flynn, Mary Black and Elvis Costello. Her
television appearances include the BBC TV series "Bringing it All
Back Home" and "A River of Sound". Nollaig has also performed as
a featured artist in Donal Lunny's Coolfin band with whom she has
recorded and toured extensively. More recently She has performed
as a soloist with the phenomenally successful 'Riverdance' as well
as featuring in Shaun Davey's 'Granuaile' and 'May We Never Have
To Say Goodbye' which was the theme song of the Special Olympic
World Games 2003 which was hosted by Ireland.
Arty is without doubt
the finest and most sought after guitar player in Ireland with a
unique understanding of music he performs. Born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone,
is family were steeped in traditional music, but when his mother
bought him his first guitar at the age of eleven, it was the great
jazz guitar masters that he studied, and by the age of 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.
Towards the end of the seventies, Arty revived his
interest in Irish traditional music and his first solo album, "McGlynn's
Fancy", was released in 1979 to great critical acclaim. This is
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. Arty subsequently became one of the most
sought after musicians in the country, playing and recording with
the likes of Christy Moore, Paul Brady and Liam O'Flynn. He played
as a member of such prestigious groups as Planxty, Patrick Street,
De Danann and The Van Morrison Band.
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.
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, he 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.
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 most recent album
The Piper's Call.
The Critics Say
"In the world of Irish traditional music, the
guitar may sometimes appear to have usurped the role of the bodhran
as the instrument of choice of those whose zeal exceeds their ability.
Arty McGlynn plays the guitar but there the similarity with other
guitarists ends. Whether performing solo, as a duo or as part of
a larger group, he brings a unique rhythmic and harmonic approach
to the guitar, having developed a style that has continually pushed
at the accepted boundaries of whichever type of music he happens
to be performing.
In the course of an extremely engrossing concert
at An Creagan centre, a capacity crowd which had braved the foggy
winter night, heard Arty and violinist Nollaig Casey play a program
which went far beyond the limits of most traditional fare.
Nollaig is not in any sense the junior partner in
this duo. I resisted saying second fiddle. She is steeped in Irish
music and also has the advantage of being classically trained, which
is clearly audible in the impressive technique and tone she brings
to her music. Several pieces such as the piper's slow air 'Moran's
Return' were unearthed by her from manuscripts dating from 1844
and in the absence of her research, might otherwise have remained
unheard. In an even older piece 'The Clergy's Lamentation' she demonstrated
how to accentuate the beauty of the melody by using only the very
lightest vibrato, where less sensitive performers would show considerably
less restraint or taste. One of her own compositions 'Lios na Banriona',
with its carefully controlled pace and ornamentation, seems to hark
back to an era when Irish music was not so far removed from its
Italian and French counterparts.
Never one to move willingly into the spotlight,
Arty shadowed the violin throughout the performance, playing melodies
in unison, adding elegant harpsichord-like harmony or driving the
music forward with a dropped D tuning rhythm. When he imposes complex
cross-rhythms over a fast moving reel, the music is transformed
and one begins to see how he can understand and emulate the complicated
metre and rhythmic patterns of the Bulgarian and Galician music
which were high points of the set.
It is this sense on rhythm and harmony that has
been his essential contribution to the development of traditional
music since the late 1970's. Apart from some well intentioned attempts
at adapting American and English modal tunings to the solo performance
of a few jigs and reels, up to then no other guitarist could be
said to have made any real musical impression on the monolithic
and extremely conservative traditional music world. Arty's good
humoured account of how he was eventually invited into the inner
sanctum need not obscure the fact the he basically invented a role
for the guitar and continues to dominate his field. He also proved
a useful translator, explaining to a mystified Nollaig that the
title of the Cork slow air 'Cape Clear' meant 'No Parking' in rural
The audience was transfixed throughout this concert
and two encores were required before the night ended. A performance
of this calibre proves that Irish music in the hands of such gifted
musicians can develop and absorb international influences without
any threat to its own identity.
Paul Maguire - Ulster Herald
"Nollaig Casey and Arty McGlynn between them
share 40 years playing experience at the cutting edge of what might
be termed modern Irish music. Both are exemplary musicians across
a range of genres which include classical, blues, rock and popular.
All come together on 'Causeway', their finest collaboration to date.
Both contribute instrumental compositions, sometimes, not always
emanating from the same musical source. The title track - McGlynn's
composition, a reel for our times - sports a melody played on fiddle
chasing a chugging funky engine of fender Telecaster, drums and
Hammond, which resolves into a masterfully constructed wall of sound.
'Cabbage and Cale', also by McGlynn, is a subtle celebration of
the groove master whose accents are as green as the proverbial.
'Rainy Summer is borne in on harmonica by Brendan Power, another
musical multi-linguist, sharing riff and counter-riff with fiddle,
guitar and Hammond in an elegantly jazzy invocation. 'Murals' is
an hypnotic soundscape of Fender Telecaster, harmonica and fiddle.
Nollaig Casey's compositions, by contrast, are more weighted towards
the melodic, but despite the change in direction the transitions
are seamless. 'Tra An Phearla' announced on viola with full-sounding
string and guitar arrangement, is a lushly orchestrated piece, while
Lios Na Banriona' , for fiddles and guitar brings Baroque and the
traditional into sweet harmony.
An unexpected bonus is the inclusion of three songs, the delightful
lullaby 'Seo leo Thoil', A Stor Mo Chroi' and 'Dun Na Sead, sung
by Nollaig casey."
Nuala O'Connor - The Irish Times
"Casey produces a great range of sounds with her bow, from the
silky sweet to the rough hewn, and her playing of slow airs suggests
that - though the lyrics may be unsung - they must be in her mind
as she plays, she does actually sing too. To say McGlynn provided
accompaniment would be a crime of over-simplification. His fleet unison
lines gave the jigs and reels huge momentum and his chordal patterns,
full of bass lines come in an apparently infinite variety."
Rob Adams - The Glasgow Herald
"Guitarist Arty McGlynn shared an interesting personal memory
with the packed audience at the Festival's Harp Club. for it was at
the Harp Folk Club, as it was then known, that in 1978, as a comparatively
unknown showband musician, he appeared as a guest of folk singer David
He stunned the crowd that night with the brillance of his guitar playing
of traditional tunes and went on to become one of today's major figures
on the Irish muisc scene.
As he says 'It was a night which changed my life'.
So it was as a main attraction that he now returned to the Harp Club
with his wife, the fiddle player Nollaig Casey, to take us through
a selection of tunes from their Causeway album.
Their consummate musicianship, with McGlynn's articulate chords and
single string runs accentuating his wife's graceful fiddle work in
fast dance tunes and stately airs, was acknowledged rapturously by
There's no substitute for class.
Neil Johnston - Belfast Telegraph
"It was clear from the opening bars of their set just why Casey
and McGlynn attract so much interest. Casey's lyrical, singing fiddle,
glanced and glided over and around McGlynn's richly imaginative harmonies,
all expressed with an understanding which at times seemed almost the
product of a single mind."
Kenny Mathieson - The Scotsman
"Causeway is a completely progressive album.
While the songs are dealt with in an orthodox way the tunes are
much less traditional. The driving force for this style seems to
come from McGlynn himself who brings his complete knowledge of jazz
and blues to bear on Irish music.
He has always been an imaginative player and the blues/jazz texture
of this album has been double-stitched with the help of harmonica
player Brendan Power.
McGlynn comes fron the North and Nollaig comes from Cork, but Causeway
is not affected by regional style at all, perferring instead a sound
that is much broader, contemporary, light and refreshing.
It would not be exactly correct to call this traditional Irish music
but it is certainly music that comes out of the tradition of Ireland"
Lloyd Gorman - Irish Music
"Reflecting the disparate backgrounds of
these two exceptionally able players, Causeway is evenly divided
between up-tempo instrumental pieces with a full rock backing and
more conventional, traditionally arranged tunes and songs.
Guitar player McGlynn's jazz and R&B leanings are reflected
in the title track, a rollicking instrumrntal with guitar, fiddle
and Hammon organ, laid over a propulsive rockabilly rhythm. 'Cabbage
and Cale' is a Neville Brothers-style funky blues with a similar
instrumental overlay - plus the addition of Brendan Power's adept
harmonica playing to create a thrilling effect. A lazy JJ Cale groove
permeates 'Commanche Moon', while 'Jack Palances Reel' sees McGlynn
lucking his Telecaster like a demented Nashville picker - on Guinness!
Offering a complete change of pace, 'Seo Leo Tholl' is an enchanting
lullaby sung by casey and showcasing her colourful, resonant voice.
Likewise with the treatment given to the popular emigration ballad
'A Stor Mo Chroi' and 'Dun Na Sead', a more atmospheric piece with
a fuller orchestral effect.
The cinematic 'Rainy Summer' could easily be from a Neil Simon film
soundtrack, while the closing track 'Fort of the Fairy Queen' reveals
Casey's richly expressive fiddle-playing on an uplifting dynamic
and highly satisfying piece. An album of two parts and one that
might upset some of the purists (if any still exist), Causeway succeeds
in taking a refreshingly loose interpretation of Irish music and
blending it with outside, mainly American influences. Very effectively
Colm O'Hare - Hotpress