CRAOBH RUA (pronounced CRAVE ROO-AH) translates from Irish to RED BRANCH and is a name that is well known in Celtic history from THE RED BRANCH KNIGHTS OF ULSTER. This Belfast based Irish Traditional Music band has given concert and festival performances in the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Holland, Belgium Switzerland, Poland, Slovenia, Denmark, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Their music has delighted audiences and earned them wide acclaim and recognition and they are now regarded around the world as one of the finest ambassadors of Irish Traditional Music. Craobh Rua’s impeccable musicians bring their own individual experience to the group and fuse their talents to bring life to a wide array of instruments such as banjo, mandolin, fiddle, uilleann pipes, flute, tin whistle, guitar and vocals. Craobh Rua takes a refreshing, unpretentious but uncommonly skilled run at some of the greatest music in the world.
On New Year’s Day 2004 the band performed live from Belfast on BBC Radio 3 in WORLD MUSIC DAY along with a host of artists from around the world. They have appeared on the BBC TV Series THE SHETLAND SESSIONS and also on BBC MUSIC LIVE when they played live in front of millions of viewers. Craobh Rua performed at the MILLENNIUM STAGE LIVE INTERNET BROADCAST concert series from the KENNEDY CENTER, Washington, DC. Also, their performance for the SMITHSONIAN CONCERT SERIES, Washington, DC was recorded and broadcast worldwide on VOICE OF AMERICA. On stage they have performed with De Dannan, Alan Stivell and have taken part in an “Ireland meets Mongolia” collaboration in Italy with Egschiglen a traditional band from Mongolia.
Craobh Rua has released five albums to date and appeared on a number of compilation albums. Their current offering being aptly entitled "IF IDA BEEN HERE IDA BEEN THERE".
Brian Connolly (banjo and mandolin ) from Belfast was taught the mandolin by his grandfather and then started playing the banjo. His main influences include Barney McKenna of the Dubliners, The Chieftains, The Bothy Band and Planxty. He played with several groups while at school and began playing at sessions. He founded the original Craobh Rua in the mid-eighties and remains the driving force behind the band today.
Michael Cassidy (fiddle ) from Belfast started playing fiddle at the age of twelve, taking classical lessons at first and then playing traditional music after attending a Bothy Band concert. Initially he learned from recordings of Paddy Glackin, Kevin Burke and Sean Maquire on a fiddle bought by his grandfather and handed down to him in the early eighties. He played in several groups at school and has played in Craobh Rua since 1986.
Desy McCabe (uilleann pipes and tin whistle ) originally from Belfast and now living in Cork. Desy started initially playing the tin whistle at 15 and then a few years later began to play the uilleann pipes. His main influence on the uilleann pipes was the uilleann piper and pipe maker Sean McAloon. He also learned from recordings of The Chieftains, The Bothy Band and Planxty and started to play at the sessions around Belfast. He is the original uilleann piper with Craobh Rua and recorded on the first album “Not A Word About It”.
Brendan Mulholland (flute and tin whistle ) from Glenavy. Brendan began playing the tin whistle at the age of five and then started to play the flute at the age of eleven. His main influences on the flute are Matt Molloy and the Roscommon/Sligo style of flute playing and other influences include the Northern flute players at the sessions in Belfast.
Jim Rainey (guitar and vocals ) Belfast born, began playing guitar and trying to sing at around the age of 16. It was at this time that he first discovered Irish trad music and whilst immediately smitten, did not begin to play at sessions until into his twenties. A self-taught musician, Jim got most of his musical education at the various sessions throughout Belfast. His influences are too numerous to list-though he is particularly drawn to Breton fest noz music, blues, bluegrass and gypsy swing.
Conor Lamb (uilleann pipes and tin whistle ) Conor took up piano at age 9 and started playing tin whistle when 11 and uilleann pipes at 13. He was taught uilleann pipes by Paddy O’Hare and his main influences include The Bothy Band, Paddy Keenan, John McSherry and Mick O’Brien. Conor has toured Australia, Denmark and Portugal with the Rhythm of the Dance.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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