Our special guest for our June 2021 online Traditional Irish Singing Session is Kevin Conneff of The Chieftains.
Kevin Conneff is more familiarly known as the voice and rhythmic heartbeat of the legendary Irish folk group, The Chieftains, through his talents as vocalist and bodhrán player. He joined the group in 1976, replacing Peadar Mercier who had been the second bodhrán player for the group. The move was unexpected — he’d been asked to contribute to “Bonaparte’s Retreat” (Chieftains VI) and didn’t know that Peadar Mercier was retiring until Paddy Moloney, over a pint or two of Guinness, asked Kevin to consider making the contribution permanent. Since then, Kevin has become an integral part of the sound of the Chieftains. Kevin Conneff was born in Donore, a village near Drogheda, in County Louth, Ireland and raised in the Liberties, in the heart of Dublin. Music was an important part of his home life but, as he later related, “I didn’t hear traditional music from the womb,” as did other members of the Chieftains. It wasn’t until he began work as a photographic assistant for a printing machine company, at age 18, that he was introduced to Irish traditional music. A group of his work mates would hire a car every week to drive to one of the many fleadhs (traditional Irish music festivals) within reasonable driving distance. Kevin was drawn in and hooked by what he saw, musicians poorly dressed, having incredible talent but only playing the music for leisure, a music with a long, long tradition. That image has remained with Kevin ever since. Kevin began going to a session every weekend, picking up the odd song here and there and joining the musicians. He was heavily influenced by the traditional style of singing from the Donegal/Fermanagh region in Ireland, particularly the singing of Paddy Tunney. At just about that time he picked up his first bodhrán for three pounds in Newcastle West, County Limerick. He’d heard the bodhrán on the radio, including the playing of Sean O Riada with Ceoltóirí Chualann, and was amazed at the power of the simple goatskin Irish frame drum. Kevin soon mastered the bodhrán and began playing and singing at sessions about Ireland, along with playing with Dublin traditional music circles. For many years, he helped run the Tradition Club, a haven for traditional musicians, including future Chieftains colleagues Paddy Moloney, Seán Keane and Michael Tubridy. In the early 1970s, he joined Christy Moore for what became a benchmark album, Prosperous. He maintained his printing job during this time, also looking after his elderly mother. The decision to join The Chieftains as a professional musician was difficult to make, given his prior commitments, but Kevin has poured his heart and spirit into the music, making an important contribution to the music of the Chieftains.
Our host is Macdara Yeates, a traditional singer, composer and producer from Dublin. Macdara has toured internationally both as a solo artist and with folk ensemble Skipper’s Alley, collaborated with award-winning theatre companies THEATREclub and Mouth on Fire, and produced work in association with Aiken Promotions, The St. Patrick’s Festival, The Dublin Port Company and more. Macdara is a founding member of The Night Before Larry Got Stretched, a collective of traditional singers running regular events, with a particular emphasis on the dissemination of traditional song among young people.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and necessary social distancing measures, we invite traditional singers to join a Zoom conference call, to share songs from the comfort of ones own home anywhere in the world. The sessions will take place in monthly instalments, usually on the 3rd Saturday of the month and will feature songs ‘from the floor’ and from an invited guest singer.
For those wishing to simply view the session, the live stream will be streamed on our YouTube Channel and our Facebook Page. You don’t need to book a ticket.
For those wishing to sing and take part, please book your free ticket at the Book Tickets link and we will forward you the Zoom link you’ll need to participate in the session. Please do not delete this email and do not share the link with others. You will need either a mobile phone with a camera or a computer with a webcam and a Zoom account. Please visit https://zoom.us/signup to set up and download the relevant software.
*As time flies during these sessions, it may not be possible to get to everyone on the night for a song, our host will explain the process at the start of the event.
If you have any queries, please contact us at email@example.com
In the meantime, stock up on your beverage of choice, dust off your songbook and we will see you then!
*English is the spoken language for these sessions, with some Irish from time to time.
Songs can be sung in Irish or English.
Báin súp as!