In the backroom of a well known Dublin pub — O'Donoghue's — a little over twenty one years ago. The Dubliners were distilled.. Initially they were known as the Ronnie Drew Group but Joycean Luke Kelly persuaded the rest of the lads that they should rename the group The Dubliners'.
In 1963, after appearing at the Edinburgh Festival, the group became the "new wave" of British Folk. Regular tours of folk clubs, concert halls and festivals followed. With frequent T.V. appearances both at home and abroad the group soon became a household name. In 1967, their record "Seven Drunken Nights" reached No. 2 in the English Hit Parade. This took the group out of the folk world and into the mainstream of popular music.
In 1971 the group made a debut at the famous Sports Halle in Berlin, where they played to a capacity audience of 8,000 people. After this their popularity was established throughout mainland Europe where they now tour at least twice a year.
The Dubliners have recorded over twenty albums on various record labels. Their records are available on Transatlantic, E.M.I., Polydor, Decca, Intercord and in Ireland on the Chyme label.
While the success of the group throughout the world is undisputed, they have had their share of tragedies along the way. In 1974 Ciaran Burke suffered a brain haemorrhage leaving him with some physical disablement. By a strange quirk of fate it was a brain tumour which led to Luke Kelly's death last year.
During Luke's illness, the group was joined by Galwayman Sean Cannon. Sean, a fine singer of traditional and contemporary songs, has been a friend of the group for many years.
The Dubliners' popularity throughout the world is unquestionable and their contribution to folk music is unparalleled. After twenty one years of globe-trotting The Dubliners have never compromised through changing musical fads. They are probably the best accident that happened to the music world and contribute to it, not only with their superb voices, but also with their exceptional talent as musicans.
Their appearance at the first night of last year's folk festival was such a triumphant success that we were inundated with requests for a quick return and we are delighted to welcome them back.
Other musicians inlcuded …
THE SANDS FAMILY
The Sands Family, with a dozen LPs to their credit and countless overseas tours, are one of Northern Ireland's favourite exports. At home, they limit their appearances although their annual appearance at the Ballyshannon folk festival is always one of the highlights of that event. With both Tommy and Colum Sands devoting more of their attention in recent years to songwriting (and both producing superb solo LPs), the emphasis of the group has shifted away from their traditional roots although they always retain the same feeling whatever the source of the material.
In addition to the group's appearance with the Dubliners, Tommy Sands will, as usual, be much in evidence throughout the weekend. He will be presenting his popular Downtown Radio show "live" from the Group Theatre once again and introducing and singing in Friday's concert in the same venue.
Hamish Imlach has been a regular visitor to these shores over the years, playing both clubs and concerts. His tour here with Planxty won him many new admirers.
Although born in India, nobody could take Hamish for anything but a Scot. His repertoire includes Scottish traditional songs as well as blues and contemporary numbers along with a generous ration of humour.
He spends much of his time in sunnier climes and this is the first time we have managed to pin him down for the Belfast Folk Festival.
NA CASAIDIGH are one of Ireland's leading international music groups. They are all members of one family and the group consists of five brothers and their sister. They spent most of their youth in Co. Donegal and they now live in Dublin.
Each member of the group plays several instruments, although concentrating on one, and each is gifted with an excellent voice. This versatility gives their music a wonderful range and variety, which is also notable for its vitality and arrangement. Na Casaidigh have an extensive background in classical as well as traditional music, and this probably accounts for the distinctive classic-folk colour to their music.
The group has appeared very frequently on RTE in programmes ranging from "The Late Late Show" to "The Christmas Show" and "Festival Folk". They have also appeared on the BBC folk series, "As I Roved Out", both this year and last, and they took in a special televised concert from the Opera House, Belfast, to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the BBC last year. They have also appeared on television in the United States, France, Spain, Switzerland and Germany.
Na Casaidigh have recorded three albums. Their most recent recording, "Fead An lolair" (The Cry Of The Eagle) was released by Gael Linn last year, to great critical acclaim.
A founder member of two legendary groups, Sweeney's Men and Planxty, Andy Irvine has been at the forefront of folk music for two decades, beginning in Dublin with musicians like Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly and Johnny Moynihan. Andy was with Planxty from the outset until the initial breakup of the group in 1975, during which time three albums were recorded, all voted 'Folk Album of The Year' by Melody Maker. In 1980, Andy recorded his own album, "Rainy Sundays … Windy Dreams" which met with great critical acclaim and also features Dónal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, Paul Brady and Frankie Gavin. The writer of such fine songs as "The West Coast of Clare", Andy is also a multi-instrumentalist playing mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, guitar, hurdy-gurdy and harmonica.
BACK IN the early sixties Paul Brady was a member of one of Dublin's first ever "beat groups", The Kult. Now the man is right up there with the best of them, as a superb song-writer, a dynamic performer, and a vocalist with such a distinctive style that no Paul Brady track could be anything else but a great Paul Brady track. His career is a catalogue of quality.
Stations along the way included rock bands like the Kult, the Inmates, Rock-house, and the Rootzgroup; his folk phase with the Emmet Folk Group (where he met Dónal Lunny) a period performing solo acoustic blues; his stint with the Johnstons; the Planxty years and his 7-minute version of Arthur McBride which made such an indelible impression; a productive partnership with Andy Irvine and then, finally, his solo phase, beginning with "Welcome Here Kind Stranger", his highly acclaimed folk set.
Next came "Hard Station" and a major break through for Brady. Containing "Busted Loose" and "Nothing But The Same Old Story" it still remains the quintessential Paul Brady album. The highly rated "True For You" followed but the absence of live gigging diminished the album's potential impact. And then came the live celebration of "Full Moon". In between times other artists began picking up on Brady's songs and Ireland can now claim a major contemporary song-writer whose songs are good enough to fight their way onto albums by top international acts such as Tina Turner, Santana and Dave Edmunds. This appearance by Brady at the Ulster Hall will be a rare chance to hear the man on his own — with just an acoustic guitar and a piano. His set will include old favourites as we well as material from a forthcoming album.