The legendary Chris Droney has been playing music for seventy-three years. Following in the footsteps of his father James and grandfather Michael he began playing the concertina at the tender age of eight. For the most part, he was self-taught, his father only intervening when mistakes were made, or whan short cuts were being takeni Chris recalls hours spent in the kitchen of the Droney home, without light or electricity, as he learned and practised tunes as a child.
During his late teens there were no pubs, dance halls, fleadhanna or feiseanna, and house gatherings were the order of the day. Bell Harbour House - the house in which Chris was born and still lives - was a popular venue for these gatherings, and it was there that the annual Wren Dance was generally held. Chris's early repertoire was made up of tunes played at these late-night dances by his father and grandfather on concertina, and uncle Michael on fiddle. Other early musical influences came from renowned local fiddler Peter Maher and his [eighteen siblings - all of whom played music on a wide array of instruments! The neighbouring Linnane family were also musicians, and while Chris's four brothers did not embrace the music in the same way, three of them could play a few tunes on concertina.
It was Chris, however, that made the concertina forever synonymous with the Droney name. He became Senior All-Ireland Concertina Champion nine times in the 1950s and 1960s, and has played in several well-known ceili bands down through the years, including the Bell Harbour Ceili Band in the early 1950s, and the Ballinakill, Aughrim Slopes, Kincora and Kilfenora Ceili Bands at various intervals. He has played with the Four Courts Ceili Band throughout Ireland and abroad for the past eighteen years.
With Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann he toured Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man and Newfoundland, as well as entertaining Irish communities from Camden Town to North America. His home audiences have been no less impressive, including the late Cardinal OFiach, and the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In recent years, he has found himself gigging on Caribbean cruises!
Chris has also made three fine solo recordings. In 1962 his first solo album, The Flowing Tide, marked the rise of one of the greats of traditional Irish music. Amazingly, this album was recorded a few short hours before Chris jumped on a plane returning from New York to Ireland! In 1995, more than thirty years later, Chris recorded The Fertile Rock, his second and much acclaimed solo album, with CI6 lar-Chonnachta. Now, ten years on, he has produced yet another musical feast for fans throughout the world.
Irish music lovers will long be indebted to Chris for this wonderful collection of music in the north Clare style, and more particularly in the Droney style (now boasting five generations of concertina music!). Borne out of the house dances of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Chris's music is most definitely that of the Dance - lively, vibrant and rhythmic to the core. In the words of his old friend, Cavan fiddler Antoin Mac Gabhann: 'The rhythm of the music is wed to the dance, putting the beat right under the feet of the dancers. One can picture the couples in a figure of the Caledonian set gliding in and out on the cushion of rhythm that Chris provides. Chris has inherited and developed his own settings of tunes in such a way that they sit easily on the concertina, and that is what gives his music its own natural flow. In his playing the rhythm of the tune takes priority ... The embellishment is sparing and is tailored to enhance the rhythm, not to intrude on it'.
Fittingly, this latest offering follows the great honour recently bestowed upon Chris by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann - the distinction of EIGSE at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Clonmel in 2004. This Lifetime Achievement Award encapsulated the institution that is Chris Droney: 'Your unique style of playing has not only enhanced our great respect for Clare music-making, but it has continued to energize the feet of Irish set dancers down through the years'._Gurafada buan e!
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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