We present a rare treat for lovers of fine accordion and melodeon playing, as father and son, Johnny Connolly and Johnny Óg Connolly, from Connemara, pay their first visit to the Festival.
* Johnny Connolly and Johnny Óg Connolly
* The London Lasses and Chris O’Malley
2.00pm ¤ London Irish Centre (Pres) ¤ £10. All music events for under-18s: £6
Johnny Connolly is an acknowledged master and arguably the greatest ever player of the Irish melodeon. From Inis Bearacháin, he began playing when his parents left the children at home to watch currach racing and his sister Nain showed him where they kept their melodeon locked up. He emigrated to England at the age of 17, and did not play whilst he lived here. On his return to Connemara in 1976, he took up the two-row accordion, a much more popular instrument at the time, but always hankered after the old style of playing on the one-row. He felt that he could achieve a better rhythm on the instrument, despite its limitations and began playing it again after an injury at work in 1990 left him with time on his hands. He travels relatively infrequently outside Ireland, so this is a rare opportunity to see him perform.
His son, Johnny Óg, began playing the accordion at the age of nine, learning from Johnny and from Micheál Ó Coistealbha, winning his first All-Ireland title just two years later. A prodigy, he joined Na h-Ancairí, fronted by the legendary Conamara singer, John Beag Ó Flatharta, at the age of fourteen, spending eight years with the band and touring in England and America. In 1990, he made the first traditional album released by Cló Iar-Chonnacht, The Bees’ Wing. In 1994, he joined the Seán Keane Band and performed widely with them Europe and North America.
In 1998 he recorded the acclaimed Dreaming up the Tunes, an album of banjo and accordion duets with Brian McGrath and in the same year toured with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance in Europe and the Middle and Far East. In 2003 he settled permanently in Conamara, and recorded a second duet album with Charlie Lennon, Dusk Till Dawn, in 2005. He is a prolific composer; his most recent recording, Aisling Yoshua (Joshua’s Dream), featuring five new compositions, was released in April 2011 and was voted Best Traditional Album in the 2011 Irish Times Ticket Awards.
Over the past fifteen years The London Lasses have taken their music to some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls, including Cambridge Folk Festival, the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Glastonbury, Dublin City Hall, Philadelphia Irish Festival and the Royal Albert Hall, where they performed the first ever BBC Proms céilí as part of the 2008 season and supported The Chieftains on their 50th Anniversary tour. They were featured on the ‘Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk’ double CD, released by ARC Music in February 2014.
This internationally renowned band delivers a wealth of traditional material from all over Ireland, including songs in Irish and English, plus the full gamut of Irish dance tunes, from the ancient to the newly composed. The London Lasses celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2010 with the release of their fourth album ‘By Night and By Day’ and earlier tis year, they released their 5th album, The One I Loved the Best, with Leeds pianist/ guitarist, Chris O’Malley.
“One of the best bands on the scene today.” Irish Music Magazine