About the Dubliners
Who would ever believe that a glassblower, a draper's assistant, a caretaker, an electrician and a lift boy would ever turn out to be the greatest folk act to come out of Ireland in fifty years ! THE DUBLINERS are probably the best accident that ever happened to the music world, and contribute to it not only with their superb voices, but also their extraordinary talent as musicians.
Ronnie Drew is a Dubliner by birth who started out as a boy soprano, until his voice broke at the usual age. He picked up a guitar and started really becoming interested in folk music at the age of 19. He would sing and play as a hobby between working as an electrician, draper's assistant, dishwasher, telephone operator and even teaching English in Spain. It was while he was in Spain that he learned quite a lot on the guitar in the Flamenco Idiom, and then returned to Ireland shortly after to work in theatrical shows singing. Ronnie has been saddled with a peculiar corncrake quality in his voice which has been described by various things including the sound of 'coke' bottles being crushed under a door. "I'm not sure whether it is a blessing or a curse, but at the moment I'm making a living with it." Ronnie met "Banjo" Barney Mackenna [sic] about six years ago and the two of them teamed up in various shows until a few drinking and music sessions brought them together with Ciaron [sic] Bourke and Luke Kelley [sic].
Luke Kelly is a 26-year-old strawberry-haired and bearded Dubliner that grew up in Dublin's dockside area. He left school at 13½ and went through the usual gammit of jobs. "I started singing folk song after realizing that they were not as square as I had been led to believe." His repertoire of songs ran into the hundreds in a very short time, and somewhere along the way he picked up the five-string banjo. Luke is humble when he claims that he is "reasonably proficient" in the many picking styles on the guitar. Anyone can see that he is a talented musician as well as having an extremely powerful voice that goes with the rest of him.
Barney McKenna is a 27-year-old Dubliner who became interested in music at the age of six. He remembers very clearly breaking the strings of his Uncle Jim's mandolin, his Uncle Barney's fiddle, and even blowing his father's Melodeon out of tune! "Before I could play, I was a real smasher!" At 12 years of age, Barney tried to join the Number One Army Band, but was thrown out because he didn't have 6/6 vision. By this time, he had mastered the banjo so well, that he embarrassed most musicians who had ever attempted to play it. He left school at 14½ to become a glass-blower, kitchen porter, builder's labourer and even worked in the furnaces in Ireland. During this time, he played banjo at concerts, cabarets, etc., until he met Ronnie Drew following a Gate Theater success with John Molloy. They both decided at this point to turn professional. Today, Barney is considered one of the world's greatest banjo players. He is also a perfectionist on the mandolin, and is currently learning to play the fiddle.
Ciaron [sic] Bourke was born in Dublin in 1935, learned the Irish language at an early age, and was packed off to a bilingual school. Ciaron [sic] plays whistle, mouth organ, guitar and sings. He tried studying agriculture, and gave it up to become in turn, a labourer, tree looper topper, a caretaker, car washer, antique dealer's mate and plumber slater. It was about this time he met Ronnie and Barney who convinced Ciaron [sic] to join them. Luke Kelley, who had been singing around the clubs in England, came back about this time and made the group a foursome. Then known as THE DUBLINERS, the boys put together the first folk concert of its kind in Dublin. The concert was a success, then a theatrical production called "A Ballad Tour of Ireland" was put on at the Gate Theater shortly afterwards.
John Sheahan was born in Dublin 27½ years ago. The ½ is very important, because John is very precise. He studied the violin for five years at the Municipal School of Music in Dublin, and decided to use his classical technique on Irish Traditional music, which led to a number of awards in Feiseanna, where the Irish Traditional Music Competitions are held. Having finished primary school, he decided to become an electrician, and did a two-year preparatory course at the College of Technology. He then served his electrical apprenticeship with Electricity Supply Board, and qualified in 1960. During this time, he played with a number of Ceili Bands around the country, until he met with THE DUBLINERS. Just before he joined THE DUBLINERS full time, John got an opportunity of doing a trainee period in the ESB drawing office where he worked as a draughtsman. He contributes fiddle solo to the group, mandolin duets with Barney and whistle duets with Ciaron [sic]. "I also mess about with other musical instruments like the clarinet, guitar, banjo and accordian with some success." His hobbies include repairing cars, wiring and decorating houses and drawing plans. "As you can see", says John "I've led a somewhat more orderly life than the rest". Perhaps he has, but he sure knows how to create a storm on stage!
THE DUBLINERS are rough looking with long beards and careless hair. They wear shirts open at the neck with sleeves rolled up, which gives them the appearance of hard-working labourers. Their Irish brogue is harsh as well as pleasing, their manner loose but professional, and their personalities are outwardly warm and inviting. Everyone belongs to their songs and music— the worker, the man on the dole, the winners, the losers, the liars, fighters and all of the living.
The rest Is becoming history. Gordon Smith put on his Hootenanny series and the boys did several of these programmes along with some other television appearances. This led to their single record "Rocky Road to Dublin" and several albums. The boys have now signed with Major Minor Records, and their first album on the new label is now released. Their music and songs are well-known throughout Europe, and from the looks of things, everyone everywhere is really going to hear a lot more from a group called THE DUBLINERS.
David McWilliams and the rest …
Born 4th July, 1945 in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 6ft. tall with black wirey hair and blue eyes. Not only does David McWilliams sing he writes all his own material, and taught himself to play the guitar five years ago. Besides the unusual poetic crudeness of his lyrics, his music has a magical brilliance which haunts the mind. David was accidentally discovered while making a demonstration tape in the presence of a prominent Irish Agent. This led to a recording contract with MAJOR MINOR RECORDS. Before he was discovered David was working as an Apprentice Fitter in a Torpedo Factory in a small town called Antrim outside Belfast, "I listen with my eyes and I sing what I see", he says and he feels very strongly about what he sees. His songs are reminiscent of his past experiences in a stark existence, suffering, and life as it really can be.
David's main hobby when he has time is football. He likes girls and all good music. His favourite artists are Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and folk singers in general. He dislikes wars and having his hair cut, but most important to him is to have "LIVED" not "DIED" written on his headstone.
The Kerries began as a family group and comprise now of Father Kerry Todd, son Gibb Todd, son-in-law Ralph Overton, Lenny Mcllhone and the one and only but very female Gill Thurlow.
This Scottish group was formed when family sing songs in the Todd household led to pub sessions and an Irish social club before they started their own Folk Club, which in turn has booked every folk singer/group from Ireland, America and this country in the last two years. In 1966 they entered the "Killkenny Beer Festival" Folk Group Competition and won it out of 181 entrants.
Kerry Todd plays guitar and sings in a range unattainable to the majority of singers. This with his uncanny sense of harmony and rhythm helps to make him the backbone of the group.
Ralph Overton aged 24, plays guitar, was originally a rhythm guitarist with a beat group until he became engaged to Kerry Todd's daughter when he was wooed from rock to folk.
Gill Thurlow 24-year-old singer and "Tin Whistle" player was associated with rock groups in her early singing career but had a strong leaning towards blues which led her to the Kerries.
Lennie McIlhone lead singer. Had a solid grounding in songs from Northern Ireland where he comes from, Lenny also plays guitar and sings group harmony.
Gibb Todd Versatile to say the least, plays banjo, tin whistle, mandolin and sings. He is the organiser/arranger of the group and is 27.