Irish Music Awards’ 2009 “Top Traditional Group” is Bua, a quartet comprised of some of America’s most talented young musicians. Bua plays Irish traditional music with “a precision and intensity that is rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic.” Their sound stands out among modern bands in the genre by “keeping the music down the path of tradition.” With their 2011 release, "Down the Green Fields," Bua’s blend of enchantingly stark song arrangements and bold, earthy dance tunes takes them further down this path to explore forgotten sounds and inspirations. An early review of Bua’s 2011 release, calls it “a testament, from beginning to end, of the lasting essentials of the Irish tradition.”
Bua has performed at many of the top Irish and folk festivals in North America including the National Folk Festival, the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the Lowell Folk Festival, the Dublin Irish Festival, Celtic Fest Chicago, the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, CityFolk, Catskills Irish Arts Week and Bethlehem’s Celtic Classic.
Meet the band:
Brían Ó hAirt’s evocative singing, often in Irish Gaelic, is central to Bua’s unique sound. His ability as a traditional singer has afforded him great acclaim at his age—the youngest and only American to become a champion All-Ireland singer. A voice Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh of Danú hails as “beautiful…sweet and full of sensitivity,” his singing has been featured on radio programs in Ireland and the U.S. Brían’s dedication to Irish Gaelic song and the sean-nós style has bonded him to the close-knit singing communities of Conamara (on Ireland’s culturally rich west coast). His “delivery and vocal quality are perfectly suited” not only to Irish song but to the sister tradition of Scots Gaelic song as well and both colorful traditions play in to Bua’s mix. Bua's shows also feature Brían’s mastery of the improvisational sean-nós Irish dance style and his deft finger-work on the concertina.
At Bua’s instrumental heart is Sean Gavin's ornate, driving style on flute and uilleann pipes. Sean was immersed in Irish music from a young age. Born in Detroit to Co. Clare fiddler Mick Gavin, Sean played a variety of Irish instruments until settling on the flute at age 10, inspired by Scariff flautist Leo MacNamara. Not long after, he began work on the uilleann pipes with teacher Al Purcell—himself a student of Leo Rowsome. Currently residing in Chicago, he remains firmly dedicated to playing and teaching traditional Irish music. Sean is a member of the group NicGaviskey, and often performs with his family.
Paired to Gavin’s impressive playing on flute and pipes is Devin Shepherd’s sophisticated and exciting fiddle style. Devin began violin lessons at the age of four, but at ten years old fell in love with traditional Irish music. He immersed himself in the deep-rooted Irish music scene of Chicago where he studied with virtuosos Kathleen Keane and Liz Carroll. Devin competed and won first prize for nine consecutive years in the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil Irish music competition. Though he earned a degree in music composition at Roosevelt University in Chicago, he has made his living teaching and performing Irish music throughout the U.S. and abroad. His diverse performance venues include the New York New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C, and the Paris Olympia theater in Paris, France.
Guitarist Brian Miller comes from Saint Paul, Minnesota where transplanted Irish music luminaries Dáithí Sproule and Paddy O’Brien have loomed large in his musical life. His tune backing and song accompaniments on guitar and Greek bouzouki have earned him a strong reputation as one of the best accompanists on the scene today. As Irish music critic Earle Hitchner put it: Brian’s backing “flexes not just muscle but a fully complementary style.” Brian is a founding member of the Two Tap Trio and the Doon Céilí Band back in Minnesota and he frequently tours with the band Chulrua as well as with the Máirtín de Cógáin Project.