This review was written by Sergio Gonzalez who took part of the first BRAN line-up and was former member of the local celtic folk band Kells. All rights reserved by the author and published under his kind permission
Called by the press reviewers as "the tradition itself." Virtuoso instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, Andy Irvine kept his reputation intact through to the nearly 40-year career as an artist in the forefront of Irish Folk.
Born in London on June 14, 1942, of Scots father and Irish mother, followed an early taste of his mother by acting and appeared in some films and took part in plays until 1964. Year in which overturned completely to the music. At about age 15 had discovered the folk singer from the United States, Woody Guthrie and then never lost the interest in folk music. Specially: Ireland.
Since his first group "Sweeney's Men" in the mid-60, passing through the huge success of "Planxty" of the 70's (practically there is no Irish folk band these days that is not influenced by them), until today group of super-stars "Patrick Street" and his solo career, Andy is in the icon of traditional music and a benchmark for new musicians
It was with the band Sweeney's Men that the bouzouki made his first appearance in the mid-60's, in the Irish music. Johnny Moynihan (one of its members) brought it as a "souvenir" from a trip to Greece (the bouzouki is a stringed instrument with four double chords, of Greek origin). Andy quickly adopted it as its own, changing the pitch (G, D, A, D) as Johnny Moynihan did, in order to fit better with Irish music. It did so knowing Dónal Lunny, who also chosed it as quickly as their main instrument. Since then the "Irish Bouzouki" was accepted completely within the traditional music of Ireland. More over , its use has expanded in all countries with Celtic roots of Europe and North America. In Spain, for example, its use is almost "mandatory" in the folk bands such as Carlos Nuñes, or Milladoiro Luar na Lubre, in Galicia, as well as Llan of Cubel or Felpeyu in Asturias. (these last two bands, are heavily influenced by the Irish stlyes)
In the short period of 3 years, the unique sound and totally new to the Planxty era, won fans around the world. Their first three albums ( "Planxty" © 1972, "The Well bellow the Valley" © 1973 and "Cold Blow and the rainy night" © 1974) were nominated as"Folk Album of the Year" by the prestigious magazine Melody Maker. It might be said, that the impact of Planxty for the Irish folk, was similar to the one of The Beatles in pop music. The transgresor spirit of the band captured the attention of the young Irish, who until then almost completely ignored their folk music The group was made foolproof: the songs performed by Andy as Christy Moore, (the two vocalists in the group) were arranged with subtle and complex web of strings (mandolin, bouzouki and guitar) by Andy, and Dónal Lunny, in the way not lose its traditional character and earning a new life. In turn, instrumentals (Dances: Jigs, reels, hornpipes) were interpreted by Liam O'Flynn with bagpipes Irish (uilliean pipe) and Matt Molloy on flute (current member of The Chieftains, who joined Planxty on their 4th LP ) receiving similar treatment.
They conveyed an energy very close to the one of a nowadys rock band... but using almost the same instruments that were used three centuries ago. Since then the Irish folk music found a new path, which continues till today.