STEVIE DUNNE – Live At The Crosskeys Inn (own label SDB003)

Live At The Crosskeys InnIreland is full of fine musicians who, unlike prophets, are honoured in their own country but not so much elsewhere. Stevie Dunne is one such. With two studio albums and an American Irish Music Award to his credit he chose a rather more low-key venue to record his third. The Crosskeys Inn is located half an hour from Belfast and is a place where Stevie has played his banjo and guitar for many years. Accompanying him on this session are Brian McGrath, Cyril O’Donoghue, Gerdy Thompson and John Joe Kelly, whose driving bodhran playing holds the whole thing together.

As he launched into ‘Jim Donoghues’ I thought the sound was disappointingly thin but I’m prepared to accept that the sound man, Cormac O Kane, was still twiddling his knobs at that point. He certainly was unable to edit out the small children during the beautiful and quiet ‘Sally Gardens’. Actually Stevie makes about point of that as they are his sons and he wanted them there and, presumably, heard. After a few bars things improved immensely and the musicians got into their stride. That said, this is very much Stevie’s album and the accompanists show great restraint doing just what is required to support his playing.

Some of the tunes are Stevie’s own but the majority are traditional as in ‘I got it from the playing of so-and-so’. Of course, so-and-so probably got it from such-and-such who presumably learned it from someone else. That’s how it is with Irish music in particular – the tunes are there and musicians like Stevie keep playing them. By the time the band hit the railroad rhythm of ‘The Dog Among The Bushes/The Wisemaid’ I was convinced. This is real music played in a thatched pub in front of an appreciative audience – what more do you need?

Dai Jeffries

‘The Dog Among The Bushes/The Wisemaid’ – live on TV:

Stevie Dunne releases live album

Stevie Dunne

Stevie Dunne is regarded as one of Ireland’s finest banjo players. Hailing from the small fishing port of Clogherhead in County Louth, Stevie now resides just outside Belfast where he has been a pivotal member of the traditional music scene for over 20 years. He began playing guitar at the age of 12, and was given his first banjo at the age of 13, when his late uncle John Dunne a fiddle and accordion player, heard him picking tunes on his guitar. Stevie instantly fell in love with the banjo and set about learning tunes and developing his style and technique. It has been said that Stevie’s banjo playing is energetic, yet subtle and with a distinct regard for the tradition. Having developed a strong following nationally and internationally, he receives numerous requests from around the world to teach and tour. A recent prerecord for TG4’s FleadhTV from the pier at Clogherhead received such widespread appraise that Stevie was invited to perform on the live show at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Drogheda.

Stevie has released two studio albums to critical acclaim – About Time in 2010 and Banjo in 2012. His first album won him a prestigious Irish Music Award in America. This latest offering is his first live album and he adds “I have been playing in The Crosskeys Inn for years. It wouldn’t be my local, however each time I have played in the bar the acoustic resonance and atmosphere has always been fantastic. I think this is partly due to the rich heritage that the bar has. It’s the oldest thatched pub in Ireland and has always been steeped in a rich tapestry of traditional music, song and dance. I have hosted many sessions there over the years, particularly as part of the Gig ‘n the Bann Festival”.

Recorded on the 8th April 2018, this record portrays Stevie’s ability to weave and meander around the tunes with the lightest of touches, when called for. Coupled with raw energy and magnetism, he produces a refreshing and invigorating sound. He is joined by some of Ireland’s finest accompanists – Brian McGrath on Piano, Gerdy Thompson on guitar, Cyril O’Donoghue on bouzouki and John Joe Kelly on bodhrán.

Stevie adds “The funny thing about this album is that we never played a note together until the night before the recording. I sent the lads the tunes and the night before Gerdy, Brian and John Joe came around to my house and we ran through the sets. It was clear that we immediately locked horns with the rhythms and chord progressions. Cyril came up the morning of the recording and fell straight into line with the rest of us and hence Live At The Crosskeys Inn was born. I think this is what makes the album work. We were all relaxed going in, we ran all tracks of the album once and then hit record! I think this album captures the warmth and atmospheric presence of the bar. It’s also quite open and on some tracks you can hear my 5 and 7-yearold sons having fun in the background soaking up the vibe of the day. I wanted my family and friends to be included on the album and my mother can be heard at the end of a number of sets particularly enjoying the music”

Artist’s website:

Stevie Dunne plays two reels:

Caroline Keane and Tom Delany – new album

Caroline Keane

This new recording of traditional Irish music presents Irish cultural heritage in a fresh and creative context while remaining steadfastly loyal to the music, song and dance traditions of past generations. Caroline Keane and Tom Delany have been performing together for a number of years and are both founding members of the powerful quartet FourWinds. Renowned for their unmistakably energetic playing which transports the listener in a whirlwind of musical euphoria, this album stands as the latest testament to their musical virtuosity.

Having spent the last number of years living in communities where traditional music is at the heart of daily life, this album reflects the beautiful richness of Clare, Limerick and West Kerry Music.

“We wanted to illustrate the last four years of music together; our friends, our travels and our homes are all intrinsic to this recording project”, says Caroline.

Having grown up in Limerick, Caroline has a very fond affinity with the music of her own home county. Living on the Dingle Peninsula for the last number of years, the local music has also put an influential stamp on her unique style of concertina playing. Tom’s music is heavily influenced by the “travelling style of piping” and his dynamic playing echoes the music of North Clare and Ennis where he moved after completing his studies.

“We both studied at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, at the University of Limerick. We started playing music there and we were both very attracted to those different styles, it’s great to blend and interweave our influences.”

Performing with the band FourWinds has seen Tom and Caroline entertain audiences worldwide; including Dublin Irish Festival, USA, Goderich Celtic Roots, Canada and Woodford Folk Festival, Australia (attended by over 125.000 people every year).

For this duet album they focus on melodies and tunes that relate to home. “We picked tunes which we learned from our friends and from our musical heroes.” The repertoire chosen encompasses traditional tunes and also some more recent compositions by pillars of the tradition such as Richie Dwyer, Paddy

Keenan and Maurice Lennon. The record also features an exciting selection of Tom and Caroline’s own melodies.

This new release features an incredible cast of guest musicians such as Donogh Hennessy, Cyril O’Donoghue, Robbie Walsh, Elaine Hogan, Brian O’Loughlin and Laura Kerr. “It was important to us to have some of our friends on this recording, they are all true masters of their instruments as well as incredibly nice people”, laughs Caroline.

Never Say Goodbye, Say Good Luck, captures the music of two young master musicians in their prime; embracing culture, music, friendship and life.

“This duo combines the effortless exuberance of youth with the precision and depth of mature performers. The album is a delight from start to finish. Very danceable tunes, reflecting the bubbly and engaging personalities of Caroline and Tom.” – Gerry O’Connor

Artists’ website:

The album launch gig – well, a taste of it: