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The Full SetStarts, Friday 14 August, RTÉ One, Friday, 7.30pm

Programme 2: Mike McGoldrick & Dezi Donnelly

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Watch an exclusive online performance by Michael and Dezi...

Mike McGoldrick

Born in Manchester to Irish parents, Michael McGoldrick was encouraged by the thriving traditional Irish music scene in the city and by the age of 15, he had already won numerous All-Ireland Championships after swapping bodhran to play flute and whistles.

The Didsbury flutist made a name for himself whilst still at school, as a founder-member of Toss The Feathers, the most influential Celtic rock band in Manchester. He performed on all of 'The Tossers' releases and became the first piper/flautist to win the acclaimed BBC Radio Two Young Tradition Award in September 1995.

The sudden interest in his music resulted in the recording of the superb "Champions Of The North" album with Toss The Feathers' highly acclaimed fiddler, Dezi Donnelly. By November of '95, Mike had formed Flook!, the legendary folk act with fellow flautists Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen. The trio won massive praise for their electrifying live gigs which were amazingly performed without a backing band.

In between touring with Flook! and Toss The Feathers, Michael found time in 1996 to record his debut solo album, "Morning Rory" (a parody of Oasis's "Morning Glory", it was named after his new-born son). Not surprisingly the album received widespread rave reviews and provided him with the acclaim of being one of the world's greatest wooden flutists. It stayed at no.1 for 5 weeks in the Irish Folk and Roots charts with its all-star cast which included Dezi Donnelly and guitarist Ed Boyd, who was later to join Flook!

December 1996 saw Mike fulfill a dream shared by many a Mancunain; performing as himself, he starred at an Alec Gilroy party in Coronation Street.

In 1997, Mike announced that he would be leaving Flook! to concentrate on his other work (which included touring with Toss The Feathers and returning to a more 'traditional' approach with Arcady, on their "Many Happy Returns" album). It was at this time that he was invited to join Scottish folk-legends Capercaillie, with whom he recorded "Beautiful Wasteland". Michael has remained a member of Capercaillie ever since and contributed the interestingly-titled track, "Faitte Gu Whalley Range" ("Farewell to Whalley Range") to the "Nadurra" album.

In 1998 Mike helped form yet another band; the self-titled debut album from Irish folk artists, Lunasa, won many plaudits and he returned a year later to contribute to the follow-up album, "Otherworld", which includes the track, "Heaton Chapel".

'In July '98 he found time to team up with artists like Jim Kerr, Youssou N'Dour and John Cale to appear on Breton and Celtic musician, Alan Stivell's "1 Douar" album. By this time, Michael had earned a reputation for redefining traditional music, and his next contributions were to reinforce that opinion; he appeared on the amazing Kate Rusby's first two albums ("Hourglass" and "Sleepless") before joining the awesome Afro Celt Sound System and fellow members of Capercaillie, (Charlie McKerron, John Saich and Laura McKerron), for two new projects. Big Sky's "Volume One - The Source" and Afro Celt Sound System's "Volume Two - Release" (both 1999), winning widespread praise in the music industry.

In 1999 Mike contributed to Idir's world music album, "Identites". before returning to a more traditional approach on Karan Casey's "Seal Maiden" album. Karan returned the favour a year later by recording a track for Mike's second solo album.

"Fused", is a masterpiece, mixing traditional with trance and fusion. The collection of some of Mike's favourite tunes as well as some brilliant self-penned tracks has been described as one of the most ground-breaking folk albums of all time, redirecting the future of traditional music. The album boasts contributions from some of the leading lights in Celtic music, including Capercaillie's Donald Shaw with Alan Kelly and Dezi Donnelly, who by now had been crowned 1999 Young Traditional Musician of the Year. With brilliant performances by Flook! members John Jo Kelly and Ed Boyd, the album also features the guest vocals from Karan Casey and Capercaillie's Karen Matheson.

Combining various musical styles and instruments, including trumpet and saxophone with tablas, bamboo flute and electric guitar, "Fused" could not have been more appropiately named. The man who Mike is often described as being the celtic version of, DJ Talvin Singh, also contributes samples to form an end result that is a stunning cycle of instrumentals blending jungle and hip-hop beats with jazz, Asian and Celtic music. Michael McGoldrick seems to have mixed all of Manchester's musical influences onto one album.

Thanks to the likes of Michael, Kate Rusby and John McCusker, folk music is becoming more and more popular with every release, collecting new fans with its refreshing exciting approach. The three young musicians teamed up again on John McCusker's brilliant "Yellow Hoose" album in 2000. Mike is an inspired musician although amazingly he can not read or write a note of music. His work is highly celebrated whether it be on his solo albums or with Toss The Feathers, Flook!, Capercaillie or as a session musician he has always remained determined to re-write the rule book.

In 2001, he joined up with Scottish pipe player, John McSherry, also ex-Lunasa, to release the album "At First Light". The album, more traditional than his solo releases, also features Dezi Donnelly and Ed Boyd, mixing traditional tunes with some new reels, including Mike's 'Farewell To Whalley Range'. The way the two musicians compliment each other left critics drop-jawed and increased Michael's recognition even further outside of Manchester.

Teaming up with John Joe Kelly and Dezi Donnelly, as well as playing with Capercaille, Mike won further acclaim for his performances at the Cambridge Folk Festival later that year. Asking the crowd, "Is there anyone here from Manchester?" and instructing them to "get up and dance", his determination to modernise folk music is a refreshing approach.

By fusing traditional music with trance or jazz, as he did recently at a Band On The Wall gig in Manchester, Mike is already regarded as one of the greatest flute players of all time. Check him out and you too will become hooked to the crossover of traditional Irish music to modern day sound - it can't be too long before a mainstream Manchester band asks him to contribute to their work.

Mike McGoldrick's new solo album, "Wired" is the product of 3 years writing, recording, experimenting and perfecting his art, it is the natural successor to his seminal album "Fused", only even bolder and more captivating, incorporating alternative sounds into traditional music to create a brilliant fusion at the cutting edge of folk music that positively bursts with energy.

The musicians involved in realising this project read like a who's who of traditional music's great players from bands like Capercaillie, Flook! and Shooglenifty including Dezi Donnelly (fiddle), Ed Boyd (guitar), JonJoe Kelly (bodhran), Donald Shaw (keyboards), Ewen Vernal (bass), Parvinder Bharat (tabla), Neil Yates (trumpet), Manus Lunny (bouzouki) and James Mackintosh (drums). Also John McCusker (fiddle), Alison Brown (banjo) and the Scottish string ensemble bring their unique sound to the tracks. The result is essential listening!


Dezi Donnelly

It is a well known cliche, to describe a fiddle player as "a devil fiddler" but in Dezi Donnelly's case this is more of an understatement! The sibling of a Manchester fiddler dynasty is both All Britain and All Ireland Champion, a title truly deserved for his brilliant jigs and reels.

Having played the fiddle since the age of 7, Dezi was North West and All Britain fiddle champion by the age of 9. Amazingly, by the age of 15, he had won the All Ireland championship an astounding 5 times!

Dezi joined legendary Manchester-Irish band, Toss The Feathers, whilst still in his teens. Between 1988-91 and 1994-95 he appeared on the brilliant "Columbus Eclipse" and "Awakenings" albums.

It was during this period (in 1989 to be precise) that Dezi recorded some tracks with Mancunian flutist Michael McGoldrick. Mike's flute and Dezi's fiddle gently spar on most of the tracks, however each take the lead when required and the arrangements allow them to swap leads within sets to great effect. The tracks were later released on the album, "Champions Of The North", and Dezi also featured on Mike's amazing "Fused" album.

On the critically-acclaimed 1995 album, "Welcome", Dezi duos with guitarist Skirm and they compliment each others' playing superbly. Described as a unique musical experience, the album is a masterpiece of improvised brilliance and received rave reviews.

1997 saw Dezi become runner-up in the BBC award "Young Traditional Musician Of The Year", a title previously held by Michael McGoldrick. He is no pure traditionalist however. He is the unpredictable wonderboy of fiddle improvisation.

Dezi went one better in 1998, scooping the "All Ireland Young Traditional Musician Of The Year". The award pocketed him IR£5000 and a recording contract. The best prize however was on his doorstep when he arrived home, in the form of a congratulatory letter from his idle, ex-Manchester United legend, Eric Cantona. The "All Ireland" award created a very productive period for Dezi. He was invited to join Irish traditionalists, Stockton's Wing in May '99 and by July he had released his debut solo album. "Familiar Footsteps".

"Familiar Footsteps" is already recognised as one of the greatest traditional fiddle albums of all time and has won rave reviews. An achievement so scary for a musician so young!

With fellow Mancunian guitarist, Kieran Cunningham, Dezi has also found time to form Quare Craic which has given him a further stage to astound new audiences all over Europe with his energetic fiddle playing. He is fast becoming recognised as the greatest fiddle player alive today!

 Dezi Donnelly
Dezi Donnelly
Mike McGoldrick
Mike McGoldrick