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The Chieftains

The Chieftains

Irish folk group

For the Record

Performed Together in Ceoltoiri Chualann

Became Full-Time Chieftains

Took Irish Music Around the World

Collaborated with Pop Performers

Continued to Win Awards

Selected discography

Sources

In the early 1950s, Irish music wasnt even popular in Ireland. When a young Paddy Moloney began learning traditional music, his Dublin neighbors found it quite odd. At the time, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch contributor Jay Walljasper, Irish kids were learning American and British pop music and trying to play guitars and saxophones; it seemed that only old people cared about the national music. Back then a large festival of traditional music would attract only a few hundred participants. Fortunately for Moloney, however, what seemed to be the end of Irish folk music was actually the beginning of a revival, and he was in the middle of it. Decades later, as the leader of the Chieftains, he still is. More precisely, Moloney and the Chieftains are unquestionably its leading artists.

As ambassadors for traditional Irish music, the Chieftains are without peer, stated Rick Mason in the Pioneer Press. And although their rabid following is still considered cultish it is devoted and widespread. Folk music isnt supposed to be this popular. Performing together since the early 1960s, the Chieftains have built a following that spans the musical spectrum; pop, rock, folk, and classical music critics alike rave about their albums and performances and their collaborators

For the Record

Members include Derek Bell (born in 1935 in Belfast, Ireland; joined group, 1974), harp, timpan, dulcimer, harpsichord, synthesizer, organ, piano, keyboard, oboe; Kevin Conneff (born on January 8, 1945, in Dublin, Ireland), bodhran, Chinese gong, percussion, lilting, vocals; Martin Fay (born c. 1937 in Dublin, Ireland), fiddle, bones; Sean Keane (born on July 12, 1946, in Dublin, Ireland; joined group, c. 1980), fiddle, tin whistle; Paddy Moloney (born on August 1, 1938, in Donnycarney, Dublin, Ireland), uilleann pipes, bodhran, tin whistle; Peadar Mercier (born in 1914 in Cork, Ireland; group member, 1967-75), bodhran, bones; Matt Molloy (born on January 12, 1947, in Ballaghaderreen, Roscommon, Ireland; joined group, c. 1979), flute, tin whistle; Sean Potts (born in 1930 in Dublin, Ireland; group member, 1964-78), tin whistle, bones, bodhran; Michael Tubridy (born in 1935 in Kilrush, Clare, Ireland; group member, 1964-c. 1980), flute, concertina, tin whistle.

Group formed in Dublin, Ireland, 1963; recorded first album, The Chieftains 1, on Claddagh, 1964; signed management contract with Jo Lustig, 1975; formed Unisphere Records with BMG, 1997; released Fire in the Kitchen, 1998; Chieftains Claddagh Years and Tears of Stone, 1999; Water from the Well and The Chieftains Claddagh Years Vol. 2, 2000; and The World Wide Over: A 40 Year Celebration, 2002.

Awards: Academy Award for soundtrack to Barry Lyndon, 1976; Genie Award (Canada) for soundtrack to The Gray Fox, 1983; Grammy Awards, Best Contemporary Folk Album for Another Country, 1992; Best Traditional Folk Album for An Irish Evening Live at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, 1992, and The Celtic Harp, 1993; Best Collaboration with Vocals (with Van Morrison) for Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?, 1995; Best World Music Album for Santiago, 1996. Best Traditional Folk Album for Long Journey Home, 1998; Irish Music Magazine, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2000.

Addresses: Record company RCA Victor, 1540 Broadway, Times Square, New York, NY 10036, website: http://www.rcaredseal-rcavictor.com/index.jsp.

have ranged from traditional Chinese ensembles to classical flutist James Galway and rocker Elvis Costello. They are praised for both their musical skills, which Mason called technically superb, and their live performances. Sheer, unabashed virtuosity is the Chieftains strongest selling point, whether they are piping hot or cool. When they take off together on a madcap reel or jig, the effect is electrifying, wrote Time. Mason echoed this sentiment: Paddy Moloney and the boys are the quintessential Irish band: poignant, exuberant, playful, occasionally raucous and never taking themselves too seriously.

The Chieftains virtuosity is enhanced by the individual talents of its members. According to Stephen Holden of the New York Times, Paddy Moloney is the master of the bellows-blown instrument know as the uilleann pipes. Moloney is also an accomplished composer and the Chieftains primary producer. Both harpist Derek Bell and fiddler Martin Fay are classically trained, and Sean Keane was an all-Ireland fiddle champion. All of the members of the band share in the musical arrangements. In Rolling Stone, Scott Isler noted that it is the bands credentials, as well as their arrangements, that distinguish the Chieftains from [other] tradition-bound Irish groups.

Performed Together in Ceoltoiri Chualann

Before 1960, ensemble performances of Irish music were rare. Musicians played solo or in groups of two or three. Sean O Riada, a classically trained composer and performer, envisioned something different and formed Ceoltoiri Chualann, a sort of Irish folk orchestra. He was joined by several future Chieftains; Moloney, Fay, Sean Potts, Michael Tubridy, and Peadar Mercier. O Riadas experiment eventually became the norm and before long ensembles were common.

In 1963, Moloney, Tubridy, Potts, Fay, and David Fallon formed the Chieftains. Their name came from poet John Montagues work Death of a Chieftain. Their first albumrecorded on Dublins Claddagh label in 1964was an experiment. After it was completed the members of the band continued with their regular jobs, occasionally performing on evenings and weekends.

The ensemble hoped to do something new with Irish music. Although their pieces were classically arranged, the Chieftains played them only on traditional instruments: Tubridy on flute and concertina, Potts on tin whistle, Fay on fiddle, Fallen on bodhran (a goat-skin drum), and Moloney on tin whistle and uilleann pipes. It was their goal to restore a music downgraded in the cities of Ireland, and to do so with only such instruments as would have been traditionally available, noted James Tarbox of the Pioneer Press. Another unusual aspect of the Chieftains music was its blending of traditions. The music of the Chieftains is an amalgam of two distinct Irish traditions: the single-voiced, unaccompanied pipe tunes of the folk people, and the richer, harmonized rustle of the Irish harp. It is the careful blending of the two that give the Chieftains their special sound, explained Time.

The success of the Chieftains first album led Moloney to a job with Claddagh Records, where he produced dozens of albums. The Chieftains did not record a second album for five years. They did, however, continue to play togetherwith Ceoltoiri Chualann and as the Chieftainsand their audience grew. In 1970 Ceoltoiri Chualann disbanded, leaving Moloney and company more time to devote to the Chieftains. They had recorded their second album, The Chieftains 2, the previous year. This time Mercier joined them on bodhran and bones, and Keane joined as well. But even with a second album and the dissolution of their other ensemble, the Chieftains still held onto their day jobs.

The ensemble continued to record intermittently throughout the early 1970s and their roster grew. With The Chieftains 3, harpist Derek Bell became a permanent member. According to the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Bell became a leading light in the band, with extrovert stage antics, patter as well as virtuosity. By this time traditional Irish music was becoming increasingly popular throughout the world and by mid-decade, the Chieftains were in high demand.

Became Full-Time Chieftains

The year 1975 proved to be a big year in the Chieftains career. In January, they signed a managing contract with Jo Lustig, finally gave up their other jobs, added Ronnie McShane on bones, and generally began devoting more time to musical pursuits. The next album, The Chieftains 5, was their first released in the United States; its debut was followed by the ensembles first United States tour. The Chieftains were no less popular on their own side of the Atlantic. Time reported that Britains Melody Maker named them top group of the yearfor making unfashionable music fashionableand they sold out Londons 8,000-seat Albert Hall twice. As if this werent enough, the Chieftains capped the year by winning an Academy Award for their soundtrack for Stanley Kubricks Barry Lyndon.

During the late 1970s, the Chieftains following grew and their lineup changed. They continued to record for film and television and in 1979 performed in front of the largest audience ever assembled1.2 million people plus 800 million watching on televisionwhen Pope John Paul II visited Dublin. The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early, released in 1980 and nominated for a Grammy Award, marked substantial changes in the ensemble. For the first time a Chieftains album included vocals, provided by Kevin Conneff, who had earlier replaced Mercier on bodhran. By this time Tubridy and Potts had left the group and were replaced by Matt Molloy on flute and tin whistle.

By 1980, the Chieftains were firmly established as the best and best-known performers of traditional Irish music. In importance and fame, the Chieftains are the Rolling Stones of their field, Rolling Stones Isler wrote that year. Despite these lofty heights, however, the Chieftains began to expand their range, taking side trips into related fields. This direction was apparent in their 1981 release, The Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe; Schaeffer described the title track in Irish Folk Music as Texas meets the Chieftains.

Took Irish Music Around the World

As if Texas werent far enough from Irish tradition, the Chieftains next jaunt took them to China. In 1983 they became one of the first Western groups to perform in China and the first to play with a traditional Chinese folk orchestra. Rather than going to China to simply play Irish music, the Chieftains wanted to blend the Irish and Chinese musical traditions. At first Moloney was anxious about their ability to do this. Before we left Ireland, I sent over some music for [the Chinese] to have a go at, he told Pioneer Press contributor Tarbox. But I didnt know what would be going on until we got there. The Chinese have more than 200 traditional instruments, and any combination might be waiting for us. Much to his delight, Moloney discovered that the Chinese used the same musical system he used and that their instruments blended beautifully. During the tour, the Chieftains used their Irish instruments to create traditional Chinese sounds. Schaeffer noted that the Irish and Chinese instruments are similar in harmonies and that the Chinese flavor gives a baroque mood to these selections.

The Chieftains next production took them out of the Irish tradition again, but this time they remained within their musical family, exploring the music of their Celtic relatives in Brittany, a historical peninsular region of northwest France. The pieces performed on this albumCeltic Wedding were taken from a collection assembled by Polig Monjarret and published in his Toniou Breizh-Izell (Traditional Tunes From Lower Brittany). Consumers Research described the album as fascinating spirited, [and] charming, though occasionally tinged with sadness. Later, in 1996s Santiago, the Chieftains reached out to a Spanish music with Irish roots, Galacia, to create yet another unique Irish album.

Collaborated with Pop Performers

As the Chieftains experimented with different musical traditions, they began working with an eclectic group of performers. Their fans and collaborators had long included many musical luminaries; Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Jackson Brown, the Rolling Stones, and Don Henley. In 1987, the group recorded and toured with Irish classical flutist James Galway, who set aside his usual fare of classical music and joined the Chieftains in their characteristic jigs, reels, and airs.

A year later they joined another famous Irish performer, pop singer Van Morrison, to record Irish Heartbeat. The album, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording, included both traditional Irish songs and original Morrison compositions. As David Browne wrote in Rolling Stone, Irish Heartbeat was a very natural, and even expected, merger of two of Irelands most widely loved musical entities. Yet even those expectations dont prepare one for the splendor and intense beauty of Irish Heartbeat, a collection of ballads that finds both acts at the top of their form.

The Chieftains collaborated with pop musicians again in 1991, this time on a Christmas album entitled The Bells of Dublin. Joining the group in this effort were Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, Marianne Faithfull, Nanci Griffith, Rickie Lee Jones, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Northumbrian pipes player Kathryn Ticknell. And in 1995, the Chieftains released a work that harnessed the talents of Mick Jagger, Sting, Van Morrison and Sinead OConnor, among others. The Chieftains would continue to use famous musicians on their releases.

Continued to Win Awards

After two Grammy nominations in the 1980sfor The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early in 1980, and for Irish Heartbeats 1988the Chieftains finally received award recognition in the 1990s. They brought home six Grammys for various categories such as Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Traditional Folk Album before the decade was up.

The Chieftains released more than 30 albums between the late 1960s and the early 2000s. With their release of Wide World Over in 2002, they celebrated 40 years of great Irish music. With studio work, world-famous live performances, and a continued career in soundtracks, the Chieftains popularity was hardy waning. The Chieftains remain the worlds premier Irish folk act, wrote Rolling Stone, appealing to Celtic and folk fans as well as new age and film audiences.

In 1997, the Chieftains Paddy Maloney started a new world music label under the banner of BMG. Unisphere Recordsas the new imprint was namedis owned 50 percent by BMG and 50 percent by Maloney and the co-managers of the Chieftains. The Chieftainss label, RCA Victor, is under the BMG head.

The rest of the band also continue to move out on their own successful projects. Individual members have put out a number of releases, as well as participated on releases with other musicians and bands and toured. Each member continues to receive individual acclaim and awards as extremely talented musicians. And as a result of the mix of talent of the Chieftains, the membership continually changes. Through it all, the Chieftains are, as said by Andy Smith in Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, probably the best-known traditional Irish band on the planet, and one of the most respected.

Selected discography

The Chieftains 1, Shanachie, 1964.

The Chieftains 2, Shanachie, 1969.

The Chieftains 3, Shanachie, 1971.

The Chieftains 4, Shanachie, 1973.

The Chieftains 5, Shanachie, 1975.

The Chieftains 6: Bonapartes Retreat, Shanachie, 1976.

The Chieftains 7, Columbia, 1977.

The Chieftains Live, Shanachie, 1977.

The Chieftains 8, CBS, 1978.

The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early, Columbia, 1980.

The Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe, Shanachie, 1981.

The Chieftains in China, Shanachie, 1985.

Celtic Wedding: Music of Brittany Played by Irish Musicians, RCA, 1987.

(With James Galway) James Galway and the Chieftains in Ireland, RCA Red Seal, 1987.

(With Van Morrison) Irish Heartbeat, Mercury, 1988.

A Chieftains Celebration, RCA, 1989.

The Chieftains: Reel Music, RCA, 1991.

(With Rickie Lee Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello, Nanci Griffith, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Jackson Browne, Kathryn Ticknell, the Renaissance Singers, and Burgess Meredith) The Bells of Dublin, RCA, 1991.

The Best of the Chieftains, Legacy, 1992.

(With Roger Daltry and Nanci Griffith) The Chieftains: An Irish EveningLive at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, RCA, 1992.

Another Country, RCA Victor, 1992.

An Irish Evening: Live at the Grand Opera House, RCA Victor, 1992.

The Celtic Harp, RCA Victor, 1993.

(With Mick Jagger, Sting, Van Morrison and Sinead OConnor) The Long Black Veil, RCA Victor, 1995.

Film Cuts, RCA Victor, 1996.

Santiago, RCA Victor, 1996.

Fire in the Kitchen, RCA Victor, 1998.

The Chieftains Claddagh Years, RCA Victor, 1999.

Tears of Stone, RCA Victor, 1999.

Water from the Well, RCA Victor, 2000.

The Chieftains Claddagh Years Vol. 2, RCA Victor, 2000.

The World Wide Over: A 40 Year Celebration, RCA Victor, 2002.

Film and television soundtracks

Barry Lyndon: Music From the Soundtrack, Warner Bros., 1976.

Year of the French, Shanachie, 1982.

Ballad of the Irish Horse, Shanachie, 1985.

The Grey Fox, DRG, 1983.

(Contributor) Far and Away (includes North America), MCA, 1992.

Sources

Books

Baggelaar, Kristin, and Donald Milton, Folk Music: More Than a Song, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976.

Clarke, Donald, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Viking, 1989.

Sandberg, Larry and Dick Weissman, The Folk Music Sourcebook, Knopf, 1976.

Schaeffer, Deborah L. Irish Folk Music: A Selected Discography, Greenwood, 1989.

Periodicals

Billboard, April 7, 1990; April 3, 1993; October 19, 1997.

Consumers Research, February 1988.

Frets, January 1988; October 1988.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, March 10, 1997.

New York Times, March 19, 1988.

Pulse!, December 1991.

Rolling Stone, June 12, 1980; August 11, 1988; December 12, 1991.

St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, March 12, 1981; February 21, 1985; February 28, 1985; July 19, 1987; March 3, 1988; December 21, 1989.

Time, January 12, 1976.

Online

Grammy.com, http://www.grammy.com (February 4, 2002).

The Chieftains, VH1.com, http://artists.vh1.com/vh1/artists/ (February 4, 2002).

The Chieftains Biography, RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/ (February 4, 2002).

Megan Rubiner

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The Chieftains

The Chieftains

Irish folk ensemble

For the Record

Performed Together in Ceoltoiri Chualann

Became Full-Time Chieftains

Brought Irish Music to China

More Collaboration With Pop Performers

Selected discography

Sources

In the early 1950s Irish music wasnt even popular in Ireland. When a young Paddy Moloney began learning traditional music, his Dublin neighbors found it quite odd. At the time, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch contributor Jay Walljasper, Irish kids were learning American and British pop music and trying to play guitars and saxophones; it seemed that only old people cared about the national music. Back then a big festival of traditional music would attract only a few hundred participants. Fortunately for Moloney, however, what seemed to be the end of Irish folk music was actually the beginning of a revival and he was in the middle of it. Decades later, as the leader of the Chieftains, he still is. More precisely, Moloney and the Chieftains are at the top of Irish folk musicunquestionably its leading artists.

As ambassadors for traditional Irish music, the Chieftains are without peer, stated Rick Mason in the Pioneer Press. And although their rabid following is still considered cultish compared to, say, [rock band] Bon Jovi, it is devoted and widespread. Folk music isnt

For the Record

Members include Derek Bell (harp, timpan [hammered dulcimar], and oboe; joined band in 1972), Kevin Conneff (percussion, bodhran, vocals; replaced Peadar Mercier [from Cork, Ireland; joined band in 1967], c. 1976), David Fallon (deceased; bodhran; performed on first album only), Martin Fay (fiddle and bones), Sean Keane (from Dublin, Ireland; fiddle; joined band c. 1980), Ronnie McShane (bones; performed on two albums), Matt Molloy (flute and tin whistle; replaced Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy, 1980), and Paddy Moloney (born c. 1938; from Dublin; uilleann pipes and tin whistle).

Band formed in 1963, in Dublin; members played together in duos and trios, 1950s; Moloney, Potts, Tubridy, Fay, and Mercier joined Sean O Riadas Ceoltoiri Chualann, early 1960s, formed the Chieftains, 1963; recorded first album, The Chieftains 1, 1964, on Claddagh; signed management contract with Jo Lustig, 1975; toured the U.S.; toured China, 1983.

Awards: Academy Award, 1976, for soundtrack to Barry Lyndon; Grammy Award nomination for The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early, 1980, and for Irish Heartbeat, 1988; Genie Award (Canada), 1983, for soundtrack to The Gray Fox; Moloney has an honorary doctorate of music from Trinity College.

Addresses: Record company Shanachie Records Corp., 37 East Clinton St., Newton, NJ 07860.

supposed to be this popular. Performing together since the early 1960s, the Chieftains have built a following that spans the musical spectrum; pop, rock, folk, and classical music critics alike rave about their albums and performances and their collaborators have ranged from traditional Chinese ensembles to classical flutist James Galway and rocker Elvis Costello. They are praised for both their musical skills, which Mason called technically superb, and their live performances. Sheer, unabashed virtuosity is the Chieftains strongest selling point, whether they are piping hot or cool. When they take off together on a madcap reel or jig, the effect is electrifying, wrote Time. Mason echoed this sentiment: Paddy Moloney and the boys are the quintessential Irish band: poignant, exuberant, playful, occasionally raucous and never taking themselves too seriously.

The Chieftains virtuosity is enhanced by the individual talents of its members. According to Stephen Holden of the New York Times, Paddy Moloney is the master of the bellows-blown instrument know as the uilleann pipes. These are Irish pipes, similar to the Scottish bag pipes, but pumped by bellows under the arm rather than breath-blown. Moloney is also an accomplished composer and the Chieftains primary producer. Both harpist Derek Bell and fiddler Martin Fay are classically trained, and Sean Keane was an all-Ireland fiddle champion. All of the members of the band share in the musical arrangements. In Rolling Stone Scott Isler noted that it is the bands credentials, as well as their arrangements, that distinguish the Chieftains from [other] tradition-bound Irish groups.

Performed Together in Ceoltoiri Chualann

Before 1960 ensemble performances of Irish music were rare. Musicians played solo or in groups of two or three. Sean O Riada, a classically trained composer and performer, envisioned something different and formed Ceoltoiri Chualanna sort of Irish folk orchestra. He was joined by several future Chieftains: Moloney, Fay, Sean Potts, Michael Tubridy, and Peadar Mercier. O Riadas experiment eventually became the norm and before long ensembles were common.

In 1963 Moloney, Tubridy, Potts, Fay, and David Fallon formed the Chieftains. Their name came from poet John Montagues work Death of a Chieftain. According to Irish Folk Musics Deborah Schaeffer, their first albumrecorded on Dublins Claddagh label in 1964was an experiment; after it was completed the members of the band continued with their regular jobs, occasionally performing on evenings and weekends.

The ensemble hoped to do something new with Irish music. Although their pieces were classically arranged, the Chieftains played them only on traditional instruments: Tubridy on flute and concertina, Potts on tin whistle, Fay on fiddle, Fallon on bodhran (a goat-skin drum), and Moloney on tin whistle and uilleann pipes. It was their goal to restore a music downgraded in the cities of Ireland, and to do so with only such instruments as would have been traditionally available, noted James Tarbox of the Pioneer Press. Another unusual aspect of the Chieftains music was its blending of traditions: The music of the Chieftains is an amalgam of two distinct Irish traditions: the single-voiced, unaccompanied pipe tunes of the folk people, and the richer, harmonized rustle of the Irish harp. It is the careful blending of the two that give the Chieftains their special sound, explained Time.

The success of the Chieftains first album led Moloney to a job with Claddagh Records, where he produced dozens of albums. The Chieftains did not record a second album for five years. They did, however, continue to play togetherwith Ceoltoiri Chualann and as the Chieftainsand their audience grew. In 1970 Ceoltoiri Chualann disbanded, leaving Moloney and company more time to devote to the Chieftains. They had recorded their second album, The Chieftains 2, the previous year. This time Mercier joined them on bodhran and bones (animal bones played like castanets), and Keane joined as well. But even with a second album and the dissolution of their other ensemble, the Chieftains still held onto their day jobs.

The ensemble continued to record intermittently throughout the early 1970s and their roster grew; with The Chieftains 3 harpist Derek Bell became a permanent member. According to the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Bell became a leading light in the band, with extrovert stage antics, patter as well as virtuosity. By this time traditional Irish music was becoming increasingly popular throughout the world and by mid-decade the Chieftains were in high demand.

Became Full-Time Chieftains

1975 proved to be a big year in the Chieftains career. In January they signed a managing contract with Jo Lustig, finally gave up their other jobs, added Ronnie McShane on bones, and generally began devoting more time to musical pursuits. The next album, The Chieftains 5, was their first released in the United States; its debut was followed by the ensembles first U.S. tour. The Chieftains were no less popular on their own side of the Atlantic. Time reported that Britains Melody Maker named them top group of the yearfor making unfashionable music fashionableand they sold out Londons 8,000-seat Albert Hall twice. As if this werent enough, the Chieftains capped the year by winning an Oscar for their soundtrack for Stanley Kubricks Barry Lyndon.

During the late seventies the Chieftains following grew and their lineup changed. They continued to record for film and television and in 1979 performed in front of the largest audience ever assembled1.2 million people plus 800 million watching on televisionwhen Pope John Paul II visited Dublin. The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early, released in 1980 and nominated for a Grammy, marked substantial changes in the ensemble. For the first time a Chieftains album included vocals, provided by Kevin Conneff, who had earlier replaced Mercier on bodhran. By this time Tubridy and Potts had left the group and their space was taken up by Matt Molloy on flute and tin whistle.

By 1980 the Chieftains were firmly established as the best and best-known performers of traditional Irish music. In importance and fame, the Chieftains are the Rolling Stones of their field, Rolling Stones Isler wrote that year. Despite these lofty heights, however, the Chieftains began to expand their range, taking side trips into related fields. This direction was apparent in their 1981 release, The Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe; Schaeffer described the title track in Irish Folk Music as Texas meets the Chieftains.

Brought Irish Music to China

As if Texas werent far enough from Irish tradition, the Chieftains next jaunt took them to China; in 1983 they became one of the first Western groups to perform in China and the first to play with a traditional Chinese folk orchestra. Rather than going to China to simply play Irish music, the Chieftains wanted to blend the Irish and Chinese musical traditions. At first Moloney was anxious about their ability to do this. Before we left Ireland, I sent over some music for [the Chinese] to have a go at, he told Pioneer Press contributor Tarbox. But I didnt know what would be going on until we got there. The Chinese have more than 200 traditional instruments, and any combination might be waiting for us. Much to his delight, Moloney discovered that the Chinese used the same musical system he used and that their instruments blended beautifully. During the tour the Chieftains used their Irish instruments to create traditional Chinese sounds. Schaeffer noted that the Irish and Chinese instruments are similar in harmonies and that the Chinese flavor gives a baroque mood to these selections.

The Chieftains next production took them out of the Irish tradition again, but this time they remained within their musical family, exploring the music of their Celtic relatives in Brittany, a historical peninsular region of northwest France. The pieces performed on this albumCeltic Wedding were taken from a collection assembled by Polig Monjarret and published in his Toniou Breizh-Izell (Traditional Tunes From Lower Brittany). Consumers Research magazine described the album as fascinating spirited, [and] charming, though occasionally tinged with sadness.

As the Chieftains experimented with different musical traditions, they also began working with an eclectic group of performers. Their fans and collaborators had long included many musical luminaries: Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Jackson Browne, the Rolling Stones, and Don Henley. In 1987 the group recorded and toured with Irish classical flutist James Galway, who set aside his usual fare of classical music and joined the Chieftains in their characteristic jigs, reels, and airs. A year later they joined another famous Irish performer, pop singer Van Morrison, to record Irish Heartbeat. The album, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for best folk recording, included both traditional Irish songs and original Morrison compositions. As David Browne wrote in Rolling Stone, Irish Heartbeat was a very natural, and even expected, merger of two of Irelands most widely loved musical entities. Yet even those expectations dont prepare one for the splendor and intense beauty of Irish Heartbeat, a collection of ballads that finds both acts at the top of their form.

More Collaboration With Pop Performers

1991 found the Chieftains collaborating with pop musicians again, this time on a Christmas album entitled The Bells of Dublin. Joining the group in this effort were Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, Marianne Faithfull, Nanci Griffith, Rickie Lee Jones, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Northumbrian pipes player Kathryn Ticknell. The album mixed traditional Irish hymns and dances with new compositions; Rolling Stones assessment of the work was succinct, stating that the music was of course, exactly what you might expect from the Chieftainsmagnificent.

No matter the direction they take, the Chieftains most likely will not stray from their roots and traditions. According to Pioneer Press contributor Mason, they are staunch purists when it comes to traditional music. We would never come down the ladder, Moloney told him. True, traditional playing in our way is what we want to do. We want to pursue that line all the time. But now and again we sidetrack a little bit. And all these little sidetracks are always something that suits the instruments and the style of how we play traditional Irish music. If its a good, well-constructed tune, then we respond. And the Chieftains strict adherence to the traditions of Irish music have indeed served them well. There is something in this venerable musichanded down from generation to generation, often in defiance of British Lawthat kindles a good feeling in almost everyone who hears it, Jay Walljasper wrote in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The rollicking jigs, reels and slow melodic airs will be played as they might have been at a wedding dance 300 years ago. This historical continuityoblivious to the fads and fetishes of fashionis one of the things making Irish music so powerful.

Selected discography

Albums

The Chieftains 1, Shanachie, 1964.

The Chieftains 2, Shanachie, 1969.

The Chieftains 3, Shanachie, 1971.

The Chieftains 4, Shanachie, 1973.

The Chieftains 5, Shanachie, 1975.

The Chieftains 6: Bonapartes Retreat, Shanachie, 1976.

The Chieftains 7, Columbia, 1977.

The Chieftains Live, Shanachie, 1977.

The Chieftains 8, CBS, 1978.

The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early, Columbia, 1980.

The Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe, Shanachie, 1981.

The Chieftains in China, Shanachie, 1985.

Celtic Wedding: Music of Brittany Played by Irish Musicians, RCA, 1987.

(With James Galway) James Galway and the Chieftains in Ireland, RCA Red Seal, 1987.

(With Van Morrison) Irish Heartbeat, Mercury, 1988.

A Chieftains Celebration, RCA, 1989.

The Chieftains: Reel Music, RCA, 1991.

(With Rickie Lee Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello, Nanci Griffith, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Jackson Browne, Kathryn Ticknell, the Renaissance Singers, and Burgess Meredith) The Bells of Dublin, RCA, 1991.

The Best of the Chieftains, Legacy, 1992.

(With Roger Daltry and Nanci Griffith) The Chieftains: An Irish Evening Live at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, RCA, 1992.

Film and television soundtracks

Barry Lyndon/Music From the Soundtrack, Warner Bros., 1976.

Year of the French, Shanachie, 1982.

Ballad of the Irish Horse, Shanachie, 1985.

The Grey Fox, DRG, 1983.

Other

(Paddy Moloney and Sean Potts) Tin Whistles, Claddagh.

(Michael Tubridy) The Eagles Whistle, Claddagh.

(Sean Keane), Gusty Frolicks, Claddagh.

(Keane) Sean Keane, Shanachie.

(Keane and Matt Molloy) Contentment is Wealth, Green Linnet.

(Molloy) Matt Molloy, Green Linnet.

(Molloy) Heathery Breeze, Shanachie.

(Molloy) Stony Steps, Green Linnet.

(Molloy, with Paul Brady and Tommy Peoples) Matt Molloy, Paul

Brady, Tommy Peoples, Green Linnet.

(Kevin Conneff, with James Galway) Annies Song and Other

Galway Favorites, RCA.

(Conneff, with Christy Moore) Prosperous, Tara.

Sources

Books

Baggelaar, Kristin and Donald Milton, Folk Music: More Than a Song, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976.

The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, edited by Donald Clarke, Viking, 1989.

Sandberg, Larry and Dick Weissman, The Folk Music Sourcebook, Knopf, 1976.

Schaeffer, Deborah L , Irish Folk Music: A Selected Discography, Greenwood, 1989.

Periodicals

Billboard, April 7, 1990.

Consumers Research, February 1988.

Frets, January 1988; October 1988.

New York Times, March 19, 1988.

Pulse!, December 1991.

Rolling Stone, June 12, 1980; August 11, 1988; December 12, 1991.

St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, March 12, 1981; February 21, 1985; February 28, 1985; July 19, 1987; March 3, 1988; December 21, 1989.

Time, January 12, 1976.

Megan Rubiner

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"The Chieftains." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 11, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/chieftains

Chieftains, The

THE CHIEFTAINS

Formed: 1963, Dublin, Ireland

Members: Derek Bell, harp, timpani, dulcimer, harpsichord, organ, piano, oboe, keyboard, synthesizer (born Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1935; died 17 October 2002); Kevin Conneff, bodhran, vocals, percussion (born Dublin, Ireland, 8 January 1945); David Fallon (born Ireland); Martin Fay, fiddle, bones (born Ireland, circa 1937); Sean Keane, fiddle, tin whistle (born Dublin, Ireland, 12 July 1946); Matt Molloy, flute, tin whistle (born Ballaghaderreen, Roscommon, Ireland, 12 January 1947); Paddy Moloney, uilleann pipes, bodhran, tin whistle (born Donnycarney, Dublin, Ireland, 1 August 1938). Former members: Peadar Mercier, bones, bodhran (born, Cork, Ireland, 1914); Sean Potts, tin whistle, bones, bodhran (born Dublin, Ireland, 1930); Michael "Mick" Tubridy, flute, concertina, tin whistle (born Kilrush, Clare, Ireland, 1935).

Genre: World

Best-selling album since 1990: Bells of Dublin (1991)

Hit songs since 1990: "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," "Factory Girl," "Over the Sea to Skye"


The supergroup the Chieftains were one of the first bands from Ireland to bring their country's music to the rest of the world. Hard work and dedication to Irish traditional music and other musical forms, an ambitious approach to collaboration with musicians of every stripe, and a tireless approach to touring and recording account for their success. In their forty years together the Chieftains recorded dozens of albums, won six Grammy Awards, and performed all over the world, including numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The Chieftains' classic sound stems from Paddy Moloney's uilleann pipes. The group was formed as a mostly professional outfit, culled from the top tier of the country's folk musicians. The early incarnation of the Chieftains came from Moloney, who had worked with a group called Ceoltoiri Cuallann, which specialized in instrumental music and consisted of Sean Potts (tin whistle), Martin Fay (fiddle), David Fallon (bodhran), Mick Tubridy (flute and concertina), and Sean O'Riada.



Ironically, the Chieftains came together at a time when most Irish musicians were putting down their traditional instruments in favor of guitars, saxophones, and other sounds of rock and roll. The band was successful nearly from the start in Ireland and England, and within ten years, they were known worldwide. Their first few albums were reissued in the United States through Island Records.

From the late 1970s through the 1980s, the Chieftains achieved the peak of their success with American audiences. O'Riada and Fallon left after the first album, Peadar Mercier came in on bodhran, and fiddle champion Sean Keane joined them for the second album. After they recorded Chieftains 4, Ronnie McShane joined as a percussionist, and Derek Bell came on board as harpist, oboist, and timpanist.

Like their fellow Irish musicians Clannad, the Chieftains' first break with American audiences came through a film. They were commissioned to provide the music for Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975). One song in particular, "Women of Ireland," gained airplay on radio stations with adventurous play lists, which gave them the confidence they needed to mount a full-scale tour of the States. They also won an Academy Award for the soundtrack.

With a new contract with Island Records, the Chieftains were free to be as prolific and productive as they could, and they released albums nearly annually through 1980, when they switched to Columbia Records. Their album Chieftains 9 was the first to feature vocals by Kevin Conneff; at this time Tubridy and Potts departed, and Matt Molloy came in to play whistle and flute. Their 1981 release, Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe, expanded their sound; one critic called the title track "Texas meets the Chieftains."

From the late 1980s through the 1990s, the Chief-tains's albums were available on the American label Shanachie, known for its strong stable of folk and traditional musicians. Comfortably ensconced in the folk-Celtic world, the Chieftains started collaborating with other musicians, most notably Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones. Perhaps their most successful and natural collaboration was with the Irish musician Van Morrison, on the album Irish Heartbeat (1988), which features two disparate though equally Irish musical acts at the top of their game; the album earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Folk Recording.

A few years later, in 1991, the group recorded a Christmas album, The Bells of Dublin, which features many popular musicians, including Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, Rickie Lee Jones, and Jackson Browne. During this time the Chieftains drew on a connection to Brittany, a Celtic region in northwest France. They also acknowledged their northwest country's connection with Celtic Spain, producing the 1996 album Santiago, which acknowledges Spanish music with Celtic roots.

After several nominations in their twenty years together, the Chieftains finally earned a Grammy Award by 1992 for Best Traditional Folk Recording and brought home six by 1998, in traditional and contemporary folk categories as well as world music and pop vocal collaboration. In 2002 the Chieftains created Down the Old Plank Road, an album that acknowledges the kinship between American Appalachian/folk/roots music and Celtic music; in a display of the group's multigenre appeal, the album reached number 21 on Billboard 's Country chart, number ninety-one on the Billboard 200, and number one in the World Music Chart.

The Chieftains did much to change the previously held view of Irish folk musicians as either carousing and boisterous like the Irish Rovers or sentimental and nostalgic like Mary O'Hara. The Chieftains's longevity is due to an adventurous spirit, exceptional musicianship, and the beauty and timelessness of the Irish music they perform.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

The Chieftains 1 (Shanachie, 1964); The Chieftains 2 (Shanachie, 1969); The Chieftains 3 (Shanachie, 1971); The Chieftains Live (Shanachie 1977); The Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early (Columbia, 1980); The Chieftains 10: Cotton-eyed Joe (Shanachie, 1981); The Chieftains in China (Shanachie, 1985); Celtic Wedding: Music of Brittany Played by Irish Musicians (RCA, 1987); Irish Heartbeat (Mercury, 1988); The Bells of Dublin (RCA, 1991); The Best of Chieftains (Legacy, 1992); Santiago (RCA, 1996); The Chieftains: Claddagh Years (RCA, 1999); Water from the Well (RCA, 2000); The Chieftains: Claddagh Years Volume 2 (RCA Records, 2000); Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions (RCA, 2003).

carrie havranek

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