FolkWorld #53 03/2014
© William Kennedy Piping Festival

William Kennedy Piping Festival 2013

William Kennedy Piping Festival @ FW:
FW#29, #38, #41, #44, #50

Rakish Paddy Blues

20th William Kennedy Piping Festival - Armagh, Northern Ireland, 14-17 November 2013.

The world famous traditional super group Lúnasa[52] did headline the 20th Anniversary William Kennedy Piping Festival starting on Thursday 14th November and running through to Sunday 17th November. Lúnasa which includes Armagh uilleann piper Cillian Vallely[40] performed at the innovative HOOLEY AT THE THEATRE in Armagh's Marketplace Theatre. The 'Hooley' was a 5 hour traditional music extravaganza presented on 3 stages at the Marketplace.

There was a huge wealth of talent performing that night with something for everyone. The uilleann pipers were looking forward to hearing piping legend Paddy Keenan[23] on a rare visit from his base of several decades in Boston, USA, while fans of traditional singing could look forward to hearing the amazing group NASC with Scottish and Irish Gaelic singers Maeve MacKinnon[49] and Grainne Holland.[46]

Jose Manuel Tejedor

Jose Manuel Tejedor @ FW:
FW#11 |

The international world of piping was represented by the Hungarian duo of pipes and hurdy gurdy led by piper Istvanfi Balazs, Asturian piper Jose Manuel Tejedor,[11] the popular duo Lagrange Rutowski from France, Wyndebagge from England, uilleann piper Loic Bléjean[41] from Britanny and concertina player Louisa Bennion from the USA.

More locally the tri-lingual singing group Macha was launching their debut CD. Other local groups included the award winning group Cúig,[23] Reel It In,[52] winners of the prestigious Derry City of Culture "An Ré Nua" competition for traditional bands, and the Armagh Pipers Club Big Band. The Henderson Family, comprising Jarlath[36] on uilleann pipes, Laura on vocals and harp and Alana on vocals and cello, were presenting an exciting new programme bringing together all their wonderful and innovative talents.

Nasc ft. Maeve MacKinnon & Grainne Holland

Maeve MacKinnon @ FolkWorld:
FW#37, #49

Grainne Holland @ FolkWorld:
FW#46, #50 | |

Entitled RAKISH PADDY BLUES, the Saturday night concert in the Marketplace was perhaps the most ambitious presentation of music ever assembled in the 20 year history of the William Kennedy Piping Festival. 'Rakish Paddy Blues' was an audio visual presentation focussing on the highlights of the festival from the last 19 years.

The event was led by a quartet of Armagh musicians, Niall Vallely[31] on concertina, Brian Finnegan[31] on flute and whistles, Barry Kerr on uilleann pipes and vocals and Caoimhin Vallely[43] on piano.

The core quartet was joined throughout the evening by guest musicians from previous years, including the wonderful Glenuig born Highland piper Dr Angus MacDonald, John McSherry,[42] uilleann piper extraordinaire from Belfast, Paddy Keenan, Istvanfi Balazs from Hungary, Jose Tejedor from Spain, uilleann pipers Cillian Vallely and Tiarnan Ó Duinnchinn[37] with accompanists Ross Martin[38] on guitar and Martin O'Neill[50] on bodhran.

The 20th William Kennedy Piping Festival was closed with the now traditional Sunday afternoon uilleann pipes concert at the Studio Theatre. This concert again promised to be memorable with some of the best uilleann pipers in the world coming to play. None of them really needed much introduction to piping fans with the likes of Mikie Smyth, Mick O'Brien,[39] Conor Lavelle, Cillian Vallely, John McSherry and Loic Blejean taking the stage.

Niall Vallely & Paddy Keenan

Niall Vallely @ FolkWorld:
FW#24, #31, #34, #43

Paddy Keenan @ FolkWorld:
FW#23, #27, #30, #30, #43, #44 | |

Píobairí Ard Mhacha (Armagh Pipers Club) - Nótaí na bPíobairí

The annual Fodens Band Weekend in Armagh is the highlight of the brass band winter calendar. This year the promoters, Armagh Old Boys Band, had commissioned a new composition to feature uilleann pipes and brass band. The piece entitled "The Dirty River" was composed by Andy Scott and involved pipers Conor Mallon, Fintan Mulholland, Conor Lavelle and Ciaran Breen playing some very difficult music in a very new setting. They had in fact, two opportunities to perform the piece - on Friday night with Armagh Old Boys and on the following night with the Fodens Band. The young pipers, who have already played in a number of newly composed pieces, acquitted themselves well and are being invited to England to record the new piece.

Bruce Springsteen's new record 'High Hopes' released on January 8th is already top of the USA charts and in 9 other countries. Armagh musician Cillian Vallely features on one of the tracks after receiving an invitation last year to come to Sprinsteen's New Jersey house to play his uilleann pipes for him. The result was a contract to record a track on the new CD. Cillian Vallely's career started in the Armagh Pipers Club when he commenced learning the uilleann pipes at the age of 7 and he's been playing ever since. Living now in New York with his wife Katy and two children Cillian tours all over the world with his band Lunasa. At the moment he's working on a new solo recording and while in Armagh last month got together with local guitarist Paul Meehan to work on some tracks.

Photo Credits: (1) William Kennedy Piping Festival 2013, (2) Jose Manuel Tejedor, (3) Nasc ft. Maeve MacKinnon & Grainne Holland, (4) Lúnasa, (5) Niall Vallely & Paddy Keenan, (6) Loic Bléjean & Louisa Bennion, (7) Henderson Family ft. Jarlath Henderson, (by Paul Eliasberg / William Kennedy Piping Festival); (8) Armagh Pipers Club Logo, (9) Cillian Vallely (by Armagh Pipers Club).

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