Usher’s Island sees the coming together of five of the most influential and acclaimed names in traditional Irish music- Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny, both members of Planxty, founding member of The Bothy Band Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick of Lunasa and Capercaillie, and John Doyle, who played with Solas.
Each is a talented soloist in their own right but in this new band they offer a blend of old and young and of vocal and instrumental talents that results in exceptional music.
Andy Irvine is one of the great Irish singers, his voice one of a handful of truly remarkable ones that gets to the very soul of Ireland. He has been hailed as “a tradition in himself.” Musician, singer and songwriter, Andy has maintained his highly individual performing skills throughout his 45-year career. From Sweeney’s Men in the mid 60s, to the enormous success of Planxty in the 70s and then from Patrick Street to Andy Irvine & Dónal Lunny’s Mozaik, Andy has been a world music pioneer and an icon for traditional music and musicians.
Dónal Lunny is popularly regarded as having being central to the renaissance of Irish music over the last three decades. Since the seventies Dónal has had involvement with some of the most innovative bands to emerge from Ireland including Planxty, the Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Coolfin, and more recently Mozaik. He has toured across the world, collaborating with musicians of many different cultures.
Dónal co-founded Mulligan Records and produced 17 albums for the label. Since then he has produced tracks for, and collaborated on albums with Kate Bush, Mark Knopfler, Indigo Girls, Clannad, and Baaba Maal among others. He produced the internationally acclaimed album for EMI, ‘Common Ground’, featuring such artists as Bono, Neil and Tim Finn, and Elvis Costello.
As a co-founder of best-selling Irish instrumental outfit Lúnasa and current member of Scottish favorites Capercaillie, flute-player and piper Michael McGoldrick has played a great part in expanding the audience for instrumental music from Ireland and Scotland with his expert technique allied with visionary sensibilities. His genius for wedding traditional styles with contemporary textures has made him a welcomed contributor to albums and performances by such acclaimed contemporary roots artists as Kate Rusby, Sharon Shannon, the Afro-Celt Sound System and Youssou N’Dour. While not gigging with Usher’s Island, Mike currently plays in Mark Knopfler’s touring band.
A founding member of the Bothy Band, fiddler Paddy Glackin left to pursue a solo career shortly before the band launched their first album. Nevertheless, Glackin has continued to explore the fiddling of Ireland as a soloist and in collaboration with uilleann piper Robbie Hannan, multi-instrumentalist Donal Lunny, guitarist Michael O’Domhnaill and fiddler Paddy Keenan. Glackin‘s fiddling can also be heard on recordings by Van Morrison, Kate Bush and John Cage. Born and raised in Dublin Glackin was weaned on the Donegal style of fiddling played by his father, Tom. He was equally influenced by the playing of John Doherty, an itinerant fiddler from Donegal.
John Doyle is one of the most influential and important musicians in Irish music today. He was a founding member of Irish American supergroup Solas in the 1990s and recently served as band leader for the Joan Baez band. As a guitarist, he is unparalleled for his harmonic and rhythmic genius. His instrumental prowess contributed to his 2010 GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional World Music album for his collaboration with fiddler Liz Carroll on <> Double Play. In recent years Doyle has emerged as an important singer of Irish music as well; his 2010 collaboration, Exiles Return, with Karan Casey won him critical acclaim and solidified his reputation as a world class interpreter of traditional songs.