Tommy Peoples was born in Co.Donegal in 1948 near a little village called St.Johnston,in the north east of the county.His first fiddle lessons came from his first cousin Joe Cassidy who sadly died earlier this year (R.I.P.). From the moment he learned his first tune Tommy fell in love with the music and from an early age developed a style that was unique whilst holding on to the Donegal influences in his music.
As a teenager Tommy went to live and work in Dublin, where he became involved in the traditional music scene of the mid sixties.His contemporaries of that period included Sean Keane and Matt Molloy of the Chieftains, Liam O' Floinn of Planxty, Paul Brady and Mary Bergin.
It was during this time that Tommy helped form a ceili band called "The Green Linnet" of which Mary Bergin was also a member. In that early period Tommy played his first professional performances with his friend Matt Molloy at the Old Sheiling Hotel.Tommy and Matt played as an intro. to the main ballad groups.Ballad groups were at the height of their popularity in these years.
In the late sixties Tommy met his future wife "Marie Linnane" who was daughter of " Kitty Linnane ", leader of the famous " Kilfenora Ceili Band " from Co.Clare.They married in 1969.
Tommy's first commercial recording was done for Comhaltas, the Irish traditional music organization.It consisted mostly of live performances in folk clubs etc. and was recorded around 1969 -70.On that L.P. he recorded one of his earlier compositions, " The Green Fields of Glentown" which is also included on his new C.D. The Quiet Glen.
In the early seventies he formed a group with Matt Molloy ( Flute ), Peter Brown ( Pipes ), Triona Ni Dhomhnaill ( Harpsichord and Vocals ) and Liam Weldon R.I.P. Singer, Bodhran Player and beautiful song writer.Liam has a solo recording on the " Mulligan Label ".This group was named "1691" the year of the treaty of Limerick. They recorded an album in Brittany France around 1972, which is not readily available.The group toured extensively and remained together for a couple of years.
Tommy's next venture, group wise was as a member of the " Bothy Band " which also included Matt and Triona with the addition of Paddy Keenan ( Pipes ) Micheal O Domhnaill, brother of Triona,(Guitar and Vocals) and Donal Lunny ( Bouzouki and Bodhran ).Tommy stayed with the Bothy Band for about a Year and a half, 1975-76.Kevin Burke replaced Tommy on fiddle.
Tommy plays on the Bothy Bands first recording entitled " The Bothy Band 1975 ".Previous to this Tommy had recorded a solo album, accompanied by Paul Brady on Guitar.This album was released on the Shanachie label, New York.
This new album is his first solo recording since this album.Part of Tommy's reason for not recording since , dates back to his experience with recording labels.Like many musicians of this era, the music came first, the business side of the music industry was something that many musicians had no knowledge of or interest in, all that was important was the music and their love of it. Tommy has never received any payment from the Bothy Band album...one of the biggest selling traditional albums of all time, and still selling today.This made Tommy very wary of record labels and to the detrement of traditional music he never recorded another solo album ...until now.The new album is recorded on his own label to ensure he had total control of the finished product.
In 1976 Tommy recorded with Matt Molloy and Paul Brady on the " Mulligan Label " simply entitled Tommy Peoples - Matt Molloy And Paul Brady. He also features on various other recordings such as "Celtic Folkweave- Micheal O Domhnaill and Mick Hanly and Paul Brady's " Welcome Here Kind Stranger ". Tommy also did a further recording on the Shanachie label around 1982 or so with Daithi Sproule on guitar entitled " The Iron Man " after the Scottish strathspey of that name played by Tommy on that album.
Tommy has seen both sides of traditional Irish music. In the early years when no traditional musician got paid but played merely for the enjoyment and a passion shared, to the commercial commodity that it has now become. During that process there was an element of exploitation, before musicians became even aware of the implications and unfortunately traditional musicians are still catching up.
The New Album " The Quiet Glen " contains some beautiful compositions of Tommy's interspersed with old traditional tunes. Thankfully the magic is still there.
Tommy now resides full time in Co.Clare near Ennis, where he has lived for the past 20 years. Clare is renowned for it's traditional music.His daughter Siobhain, also an accomplished fiddle player regularly performs with Tommy in the many sessions that can be found throughout Co.Clare.
Further information on Tommy Peoples can be found in the excellent book "Notes From the Heart " .This book was written by P.J.Curtis. P.J. was road manager with the Bothy Band and went on to become a respected producer , producing albums for Altan amongst others.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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