Great Fiddlers that aren’t well known

Great Fiddlers that aren’t well known

I guess another way of phrasing this title is underrated fiddlers. Of course my question revolves around who but I should explain why I thought of this. Due to my own ignorance of Irish fiddle music I never really listened to Gerry Harrington, Vincent Griffin or Randall Bays until recently and was ashamed that I have never heard of them before. They probably aren’t underrated in the opinion of many but it led to me thinking about great fiddlers who haven’t spent much time in the limelight or recorded much. Anyone have any suggestions for underrated fiddlers? I guess I could also add to this list Liz Knowles (sp?), John Daly and Brendan Bulger.

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Where can I find the "rated" list so I can check if my selected fidlers are on it?

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Mick Conneely, get his CD ‘Selkie’. Great stuff, wild and raucous. Brother of Chicago banjo sisters, Pauline and Bernie. (Bernie has gone back over the pond.)

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Probably quite a few of the people here, except me of course. :-)

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Gerry Harrinton is a lovely fiddler! And Mary Custy? She is very well-known and played on many recordings but just as a guest musician for someone else. I’ve been enjoying her duet album with Eoin O’Neill. You’ll see her playing with Donal Lunny: http://www.custysmusic.com/mall/CustysTraditionalMusicShop/donal_lunny_lo_res.htm It’s very soulful.

Oh, and I still need to get the solo recording of Maeve Donnelly.

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Mick Conneely is without a doubt one of the best, although he´s become quite well known now - at least among fiddling circles.
Another fiddler in the same vein as Mick is young Mossie Martin from Roscommon. At present he´s on an extended holiday in Australia and other parts of SE Asia, and "bb" on this site has heard him. I think he´ll go far musically.

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Just got the Selkie recording of Mick Conneely’s, absolutely fabulous! Not to be missed.

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Being rather parochial here, I suppose, but I have to give a nod to a few fiddlers currently residing in the Greater Boston area: Hanneke Cassel, Lissa Schneckenburger, Laura Cortese — those three occasionally play together as the group Halali — and Eric Merrill.
Not that any of them are strict Irish-trad musicians, although they certainly have a great store of tunes for sessions and the like. What I like about them is how effortlessly they are able to cross, or merge, styles and genres: Hanneke, Lissa and Laura were mainly schooled in the Scots style; Eric has a distinctive old-timey/Appalachian flavor to his playing, as does Laura; Lissa and Eric do a lot on the contra dance circuit.
And as soon as I hit the "post" button, I know I’ll think of a few others I should’ve mentioned…

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Knowing how cantankerous and wilful some of us who frequent this site are, what’s the odds on a new thread within the next 24 hours called "Well known fiddlers that aren’t great"?

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I was hessitant to start up a post that concerned some kind of survey of the "best" or "worst" fiddler, etc… I do find it helpful to get new names though. I haven’t heard Mick Conneely’s playing but after seeing his name come up a few time already I’ll have to find one of his recordings.

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Brendan Bulger and Liz Knowles in Chicago, for sure, sts. George Keith in Boston. Kevin Bernhager (did I spell that right, Jack?) in San Francisco. Tim Mangan in, where is he right now, Kansas? Iowa? Becky whose-last-name-I-can’t-remember in Kansas City.

Well done, Aidan, why don’t you go start it? *grin*

Saw Eric Merrill and Western Star at The Burren on this last trip-to-everywhere. It was a lot of fun!

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Oops, sorry, not sts — 21!

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Oh, and Jim Egan and Patrick Mangan, Baltimore.

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Hi guys,
Check out Chris Buckly if you’re ever in Austin,TX…. he plays with the Tea Merchants on Tuesdays at Fado and a group called Cluan which is quite good.

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Sean Cleland, of Chicago. John Meehan (Donegal) and Franke Burke (Sligo/Mayo) both now residing in Chicago! Great fiddlers, all!

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-e sheesh

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I swear, Tanya had to have been one of you Scottishers…

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Mick Gavin (Clare), now of Detroit, fiery player!

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where are the tanyas of yesteryear…?

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One of my favorites is someone I have the pleasure of playing with three times a week: Brendan Callahan, right here in Philadelphia. One of the most dynamic and creative musicians I know.

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It’s Kevin Bernhagen, Zina, and we should add his mentor — Dale Russ.

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Geez, do people really not know of Dale Russ?

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Uh… well I dunno, I’m not used to having famous friends I guess.

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From the liner notes of "My Love Is In America": "In the eyes and ears of influential figures like fiddler Kevin Burke, Dale Russ has proven his psychic knowing of Irish fiddle style. Within our community of Irish-American fiddlers he represents the true universality of musical experience — the creative spirit grounded in, but greater than, tradition." Micheal O Suilleabhain

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Wow!

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LOL — what, didn’t you ever know? He plays on that album with Kevin Burke as well as solo. I’ve only e-mailed with Dale once, about someone I was interviewing, and he was really nice.

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*grin* Look, Mark, Jack dropped a name by accident. *smirk*

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I’ve recorded two CDs with him as well, but you probably never heard of them. I’m neither great or well known.

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Have so. And you are so. I just have no respect for anyone. *grin* I quite like the Jody’s Heaven stuff, though I don’t currently own any copies.

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Cleek Shrey… another young gun trained by Brendan Mulvihill (along with Jim Eagan, Brendan Callahan— hope my facts are right here). From the DC area (I think), but goes to school in Chicago. To my knowledge he hasn’t really been recorded, but you’ll likely be hearing from him in the future.

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That’s about the fifth time I’ve heard of people talking about Cleek Shrey, Jason. I’m really going to have to hope he’ll record soon.

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Err…

(hoping Dow isn’t looking)

But can you namedrop if someone isn’t famous?

So my vote goes to Kane O’Rourke for around here. Mick Coneely and Karen Ryan, and Lamond Gillespie, of course. But am I allowed to mention that I have sat in on sessions with them before the Namedrop Police break all my fingers one by one? For flute it goes to Mick Mulvey and Chris, who’s Miles better than me :~}

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I’m still unclear on the name-dropping rules… anyone? Dow? Hello?

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From Aberdeen we have young Sandy Tweddle who never played a note I didn’t want to hear.

Not to disrespect the other great local Sandys Leggat and Mather.

I would like to add Carmen Higgins who has more natural talent than anyone I’ve ever heard but I haven’t heard her play for a while. Talent can be a curse sometimes.

Then there is Jonny Hardie who we don’t see much of cos he’s usually awa’ wi’ the Dugs.

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I dunno, I think Mark is our only Namedrop Policeman, and he’d probably apologize before trying to break your fingers in a halfhearted manner. Isn’t Kane O’Rourke famous for one thing or another? Surely he must be, but if he isn’t, then he should be, because he and Bigdave taught me how to use "dog’s nads" properly.

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It’s worth keeping an eye on the new young fiddle tutors at the August Scoile Éigse in Ireland, as well as the older ones, who may not be as well-known as they should be. They’re tremendously talented. One new young tutor in particular last year in Clonmel was John McEvilley - a name to watch out for.
Trevor

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Nahhh.. Kane isn’t famous the same way Gavin or Glackin or Ni Mhaoinaigh is. But he’s bliddy well handy on thon quare yoke.

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Cait Reed, in California. East Clare fiddler Martin Rochford (Cait’s mentor) has gained some post-mortem publicity among fiddlers but is not otherwise widely known.

Philippe Varlett in Wash. D.C., Alan Ng in—is it Minnesota or Wisconsin?, Kira Sherwood, who lives in Boston now and recently took All Ireland in slow airs, really the list goes on and on. Safe to say the good unknown players outnumber the good known players.

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And the not-so-good unknown players outnumber everyone else by a fair old margin :)
Trevor

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Bren,
You must also know the likes of Carol Anderson and Sara Reith-also a great young whistle player.

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Yeahbut…that’s true Trev, but innit great that there are so many very excellent young players out there keeping the flame lit, no not just lit, but burning bright, as we who savour mere embers would be wont to wait while fierce flames flicker in the night.

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clap clap clap (for Danny’s poetic wax)

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And he got the word "wont" in there! Clap clap clap + a we-are-not-worthy bow from me.

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Yes,
I agree Liz Knowles belongs on this list along with the members of Halali.

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Mary Custy for definite. She’s a lovely person, sweet Clare music. Thanks Slainte for the link, that’s a lovely set with Donal Lunny.

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John J - don’t really know Carol but know Sara a bit - she is a good fiddler as well a whistle player and teaches fiddle at SCAT as well as playing in Banish Misfortune http://www.banishmisfortune.net/.

Sharon Hassan is pretty amazing as well.

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Banish Misfortune are playing in Inverness on 16th July so I’ll probably see them when I go up next week. I’m also planning to go the Lossiemouth Festival on Saturday for a couple of days. It’s usually a great weekend. Have you ever been?

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Vincent Rosinach and Gabriel Lenoir from northern France…

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So many.. I’ll just mention a few. John McEvoy, Catherine’s brother is a lovely player. I’m told he appears on her new album so I’ll be looking out for it. Jamie Smith, a young and brilliant London-based Scottish fiddler (plays in Irish style) plays with a band, Benêche. I suspect and hope he will be bringing out a solo album soon.
Kane O’Rourke is one of the most outstanding and inventive fiddlers I’ve heard.
BTW Kane, Christian & I will be appearing at Lewisham People’s day on Saturday 10th July in Mountsfield Park, Catford. Community stage, 17:40.
Come and say hello if you’re there.
Chris

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Chris, I’m just buying John & Catherine McEvoy’s new album I mentioned in a different thread. http://www.claddaghrecords.com/www/product.asp?pID=1743&cID=17 Awesome.

Not from Ireland, but Patsy Reid is one of the most promising Scottish fiddle player. She learned music from great fiddle masters from different celtic regions such as Alasdair Fraser, Catriona MacDonald, Buddy MacMaster, and Martin Hayes. I’ll predict she’ll be a star in a couple of years. Her debut album is just amazing.

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The good thing is that every time you go out beyond yer own session you can meet new players who are great and either inspire you to walk away from it all or get stuck in again with a new enthusiasm. Recently i met a 72 year old man from Drumquin in Co Tyrone who played his fiddle at 90 degrees to his shoulder and played some of the bounciest and solid tunes i`ve heard in a while. His name is John Skelton. Other players that come to mind are James Byrne and Vincent Campble with very distinctive styles and repetoire but not very widly known or appreciated. In belfast I can think of Donal O`Connor and Rauri O`Kane, Andy Dixon and in Westport John Kilkenny as other good examples.

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I have to add Marian Gittleman from Ceol Mor in Philadelphia to the list, both as a great fiddler and teacher of fiddling.

I second the mention of Brendan Callahan above, too.

Philadelphia is loaded with great fiddlers.

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Oh yeah — Rose Conway Finnegan! A great fiddler and teacher, she’s been a bit overshadowed by her brother, which is rather a shame.

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Wait, Flanagan — Rose Flanagan. Sorry about that, Rose. *grin*

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I would personally like to see my favourite fiddler Bryan Rooney on more people’s CD shelves. He has some lovely tunes.

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I’d second Jamie Smith, he plays with phenomenal tone, power and rhythm … and is a nice guy too :-)

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BTW Dow, I won’t be wont to using wont until I become wont to it and won’t use that other word where I won’t want it, but prefer wont instead.

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… and of course Sean Casey is underrated even though he’s famous. Everybody should have The Porthole Of The Kelp.

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yes,kane o’rourke is one of the very few truly outstanding musicians i’ve ever encountered face to face,folky stuff or classical etc included.the music just oozes out of his pores.
the swine.
you may hear a few fiddlers maybe technically better but i could listen to yer man play all night - and the next day too.and with such a sense of humour too,which is rare,i find.

plus he’s a very nice bloke and a feckin riot on the side.
sorry to go on but as this thread is about great ‘unknown’ fiddlers this is both the time and place.
i’m sure there’s more out there but unless you are lucky very few get to be well known.
the best thing i can say is that he can lift you when you feel down.
hope to catch you tomorrow,miles - i’m playing in honor oak til 5pm so should make it in time.
looking forward to the ‘slap your bum and dicky-dy-do’ polka set!
may the personal swans abound!

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Yep, bigdave, Kane is the bizz - and like you say, although, I think Kane is technically superb, it’s his command over the yoke that allows him to be so emotionally articulate on any tune he chooses. Comon Simon Wroe, It must be Kane’s turn to get your special treatment! A CD is well overdue, and you are the very man who can do it —-let’s not tell Geoff this time - shhhhh!!

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Two of my absolute favorites have hardly recorded at all, and few people I run into know them: Dermot McLaughlin and Brid Harper. There are excellent fiddlers coming out of the woodwork everywhere in Ireland, but these two come to mind as some of the very very best anywhere.

Here in Columbus we have a very fine fiddler, played with The House Band and often plays with Ged Foley and for feises—Sandy Jones.

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Danny
I have recorded Kane, it’s unaccompanied & fantastic. It would be a privelage to do more. Unfortunuately he moved & changed his number so even he doesn’t have a copy! I will of course keep it locked in a vault until he gets in touch. I here & now promise publicly I will never sell it to Green Linnet.

In London, he & Jamie Smith are the 2 high flyers for me. Sinead Linnane & Karen Ryan are great too, both very mature & understated.

Can’t believe John Gillard hasn’t been nominated?! If you the "old" sound, Sean Casey, Joe Ryan, Tommy Potts et al, John’s the man. Raw & mighty.

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Forgot to mention Paul Dooley from Donegal, resident every Sat.night in the Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna. Co.Clare. Also Paul Teasby in Kilfenora, like being transported back 80 years at least, not that I was there like…

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Sam Procter from Reading. He’s a really exciting and consummate player. Would love to listen to a sesh with himself, Kane and Jamie.

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I think Co Derry man Maurice Bradley deserves an honourable mention here. As well as being a fine, fine Piper, Box, Flute & Whistle player he is one cracking Fiddle player - & is usually to be found in the taverns of neighbouring Donegal!

You will also catch him on RTE from time to time.

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I wasn’t aware that Liz Knowles was that obscure…maybe just ‘cause I’m a bit of a fan myself!

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Michael Queally

This is a fantastic fiddler in Ennis. He is quite well-known there. He’s really nice and welcoming to everyone who comes in to join the session. Nice sense of humor, too!

John McHugh

A gem from county Mayo. He’s on albums but hasn’t recorded one of his own yet. He has wonderful stories and plays with a buttery smoothness I could listen to all day!