MAIRTIN O'CONNOR

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Mairtin O'Connor

Biography

Musicians of Galway: (Courtesy of The Knotted Chord Sarchive, 2002).
PLUS Biography (Courtst of the Artist’s site, 2005).

Mairtin O’Connor(1955) Accordion.

Born in Barna, County Galway but raised in Galway city. Paternal grandparents played Melodeon. Started playing accordion at age 9 leaning from old 78’s such as those by the Flanagan Brothers, and from radio and television programmes.

After school Mairtin started playing with singer Thom Moore.

From 1978 to ’79 he played with the band Midnight Well, The Boys of the Lough in 1980, and soon after that with Dolores Keane and Reel Union.

In 1983 Mairtin joined De Dannan and played with them until 1987 at which stage he teamed up with fiddler Gerry O’Connor and later Skylark from 1992-96.

He has four solo recordings starting with "The Connaughtman’s Rambles" in 1978, "Perpetual Motion" in 1990, "Chatterbox" in 1993 and "The Road West" in 2001.

His earliest solo is very traditional while his later albums showed his versatility and interest in other accordion styles such as French and French-Canadian, Eastern European, etc. His last solo album contains thirteen of his own compositions.

His reputation in French accordion music is recognised by his inclusion in the "Phonographic History of French Accordion Music".

Mairtin played on Bill Whelan’s "Seville Suite" was the first accordionist with Whelan’s "Riverdance". He has been a guest on a large number of recordings including film and television scores. Among the people he has worked with is Davy Spillane, Maire Brennan, The Waterboys, The Chieftains, Elvis Costello and Mark Knopfler.

He is regarded as one of the top accordion players in traditional music today, especially among his peers, and is also a consummate live performer. In 1995 Mairtin received the first Traditional Musician of the Year award in his home town.

Biography (Courtesy of the Artist’s site, 2005).

Máirtin O'Connor began playing the accordion at the age of nine.

A remarkable career stretching back to the late 70's has seen him as a member of leading traditional groups, including Reel Union, De Dannan and Skylark.

His versatility as a musician has seen him work on many recordings and his playing can be heard on recordings as varied as the Chieftains' Long Black Veil, the Dubliners' Thirty Years a Greying, Mark Knopfler's Golden Heart, and Townes van Zandt's Deeper Blue, to mention just a few, and in films such as Some Mother's Son (with Helen Mirren), The Twelfth Night (with Ben Kingsley), and Dancing at Lughnasa (with Meryl Streep).

He was the first accordion soloist in Riverdance and has worked as a soloist in Bill Whelan's Seville Suite. He has also played on the Paris Mussette (Vol. 2), a series of records chronicling the history of the mussette. His playing is featured in the TV documentary series Bringing it all Back Home and River of Sound.

In 1995 he was presented with the first ever Allied Irish Bank Traditional Music Award (which has now become the TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year Award) and in 1996 with the County Council Premier Arts Award.

Máirtin has four solo albums to his credit. A Connachtman's Rambles, released in 1978, was very highly critically acclaimed and remained in the folk charts for a considerable period. Perpetual Motion was nominated for a Bank of Ireland Arts Award and was hailed by Q Magazine as one of the 1990's key instrumental albums. Chatterbox, featuring his own compositions, was described by Irish Music Magazine journalist John O'Regan as utterly enthralling - a treat for the musical taste buds, music that's joyful, challenging, thought-provoking and moving all at once. Folk Roots had this to say: When the roll is called up yonder of the world's great button-box players, then I'd guess Máirtin O'Connor's name will not be ommitted. Chatterbox gives further evidence of his outstanding technique, imagination and compositional talent.

The Road West also features his own compositions, which lean more in the direction of his traditional roots. An uplifting album of original tunes - a perfect gift for anyone who needs a lift - Sarah McQuaid, Evening Herald. A magical mixture of musical mood, colour and texture - Paul Drummy, Cork Evening Echo. Máirtin O'Connor has unobtrusively made some of the most challenging and invigorating music over the past quarter century. From The Connachtman's Rambles, his superb solo debut in 1979, to Perpetual Motion in 1990, and Chatterbox in 1993, he has displayed an ever-evolving technique in musical curiosity, with the latest album consisting of nothing but his own compositions. All the tunes on The Road West are his own as well, and he plays them with jaw-dropping dexterity and élan - Earle Hitchner, Irish Echo.



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