Seamie O’Dowd was brought up by parents steeped in the musical traditions of South County Sligo,his mother Shiela,a highly respected musician and teacher whose father and brothers all played fiddle,and his father,Joe,who was renowned as a fiddle player among musicians and music lovers worldwide.
Seamie himself began playing fiddle at about eight years of age.Making his first radio broadcast when he was ten years old,he established himself in competition and elsewhere as one of the finest fiddlers of his age in the west of Ireland.He began to cut his teeth in the local session scene alongside his parents and by eighteen,he was playing guitar,mandolin,bouzouki,banjo,bodhran and fiddle,as well as starting to gain a reputation as a singer.
He soon immersed himself in the extremely vibrant local rock and alternative music scene that existed in Sligo in the mid to late 1980s becoming quite a talking point as an electric guitarist.His first rock band, "Peel The Grape" gained national airplay and local notoriety before breaking up in the late ‘80s.He subsequently played with musical neighbour Gerry Grennan in a few acoustic and electric folk/blues outfits around Ireland as well as the theatre/folk pub circuit in Germany until the early nineties.
After a spell playing mainly around the north-west of Ireland,he was approached by a few friends who had established a band called "Dervish" and become one of Ireland’s major musical exports.They asked him to join and they toured world-wide playing to some of the biggest audiences that any band of any genre has ever played to.Seamie devised a new tuning for guitar and,along with Brian Mc Donagh and Michael Holmes,created a three-way rhythm section that became a hallmark of the band sound for the next six years.The line-up recorded two award-winning albums "Midsummers Night" and "Spirit"
While still with Dervish,Seamie was introduced to Mairtin O'Connor,arguably Ireland's most innovative accordion player to date, for what was initially planned as a one off performance,but out of this grew a working relationship that has lasted for nearly a decade.He was actively involved in the making of two of Mairtin's albums,"The Road West" and "Rain of Light", both of which received critical acclaim. The response to Seamie's playing on these albums (in particular,"The Road West") coupled with numerous performances with various line ups of Mairtin's band (most recently,the pared down,extremely popular line up of Mairtin,Cathal Hayden and Seamie) have served as confirmation that he can musically hold his own with the very best.
He was also enlisted by Leitrim born,Galway based traditional singer Mary Mac Partlan to work as musical director/arranger for the P.J. Curtis produced "Holland Handkerchief" album.This album received hugely positive reviewing by the music press,including being selected as "Mojo Magazine" album of the month.Mary was also nominated for Best Folk Act award at Ireland's "Meteor" music awards gathering.
The album also attracted interest in Seamie's arrangements from other bands and musicians and resulted in a move into album production.Seamie's by now considerable experience of studio work coupled with his approach of bringing a project as far as he can without divorcing it from the musician/band's core vision or basic musical instincts have proved to contribute to a positive working environment for those he works with,and to date,any album produced by him has been positively received by both critics and music lovers.
His first solo CD,Headful Of Echoes has received critical acclaim and airplay in Ireland,The U.K,mainland Europe and the U.S. and he has been asked frequently about the follow up album,which he is currently gathering and writing material for.
The last while has also seen Seamie working with a number of other renowned musicians including renowned flute player Matt Molloy,piping legend Liam O’Flynn,Waterboys fiddler Steve Wickham,songwriting legend Thom Moore and many others,including a significant contribution to two tracks on the latest Dervish album,"Travelling Show." He is also involved in an Irish/American music exploration project with Dervish singer Cathy Jordan and Sligo based American harmonica virtuoso Rick Epping.Rick and Seamie have also worked with bodhran (Irish drum) pioneer,Johnnie "Ringo" Mc Donagh on the reformation of his renowned traditional group "Arcady".
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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