In 1977, an LP appeared on the Shanachie label titled simply “Traditional Music of Ireland – Fiddle and Bouzouki.” The musicians were friends in their early twenties, Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn, probably better known then as members of De Dannan, an emerging, high-octane band with a new approach to traditional Irish music. Frankie Gavin was already recognised as one of the best fiddle and flute players of his generation having won all-Ireland titles on both instruments at the age of 17. Alec Finn chose the Greek bouzouki as his instrument rather than the ubiquitous guitar. This unique fiddle-bouzouki combination was original, and the sound they made together was highly infectious. By the time that 1977 recording was reissued on CD in 1994, it was part of the “Masters of Irish Music” series – and rightly so. There followed a twenty-year period of national and international success for De Dannan, the band’s forever-changing line-up providing a sort of apprenticeship for many virtuoso singers, accordionists and percussionists who joined for a time and then moved on to solo careers. But throughout this period, the band’s core, Frankie and Alec, remained and were largely responsible for that instantly recognisable De Dannan sound. But no band lasts forever and when the break-up came, Frankie and Alec went their separate ways to form new bands. Until recently it looked as though they would never share a stage again, but encouraged by musician friends, they made up their differences and decided to play together again. Since then, they have performed on several occasions, notably at the Gradam Ceoil Awards, where Frankie was nominated as Traditional Musician of 2018, and perhaps most movingly in July at Traidphicnic Festival in Spiddal, where De Dannan played their first gigs in the 1970s. This occasion was recognised by De Dannan’s many fans as being very special, the more so as they were joined by the band’s first singer, Dolores Keane. Now, to the delight of their many followers across the world, they are launching a completely new recording. On the new recording, Traditional Irish Music on Fiddle and Bouzouki Vol II, their sound is as fresh and exciting as when they first recorded together forty years ago. Frankie and Alec are indeed still masters of Irish Music.
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