"What a great CD cover with the trunk of the tree as rather sensuous woman and the branches her arms. I thought this is very like some of the sessions that I've heard in Ireland. I was very impressed with Elegwen's talent and the number of instruments he plays... whistles, uilleann pipes along with Irish bouzouki. All the songs on Damanta were written and composed by Elegwen. His style is somewhat reminiscent of the famous group Planxty."
-- Catholine Butler, The Celtic Connection
Damanta is a medley of wandering, wayward musicians gathered for recording, concerts or general revelries by Elegwen O'Maoileoin. A bard in the traditional sense, Elegwen grew up traveling and learning the ancient ballads and songs of the Celtic world, to now use their roots to inspire original songwriting and vocal stylings.
Live the band performs traditional Irish music and songs, while on recordings they stick to original songs and arrangements.
Often called "the darker side of Celtic music," the musicians all come from a background of traditional Irish music, on the banjo, uilleann pipes and fiddle. However, "Alive On Pentecost" -- which was recorded live ON Pentecost at St Augustine's Anglican Church in Vancouver -- is a collection of 10 of the 30 original songs that Damanta has plans to record.
Kyle Taylor is a virtuoso fiddler from North Vancouver, B.C. A master pianist and also an accomplished guitarist, Kyle adds much of the intensity through his fiddling, reminiscent of Ashley MacIsaac.
Paul Culbert is a Dub, from the great Baile Atha Cliath, Co. Dublin. Elegwen and Paul met at the Irish music fair Fleadh Nua in Ennis, Co. Clare in May, 2005. Paul's people are from Cork and Belfast. He grew up playing the usual assortment of Irish instruments, but has had his heart won finally by the 4-string Irish tenor banjo. And fairplay to him for it! Paul is also a singer and performs songs in concert. In between cursing at his band mates as gaeilge (in Irish).
Elegwen O'Maoileoin grew up in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Vienna Austria, before returning back to Ireland. Living on Inis Mor and Galway, Elegwen takes pride in speaking the Irish (Gaelic) language and including such lyrics in his songs. While playing whistles and uilleann pipes at live shows, Elegwen primarily uses the Irish bouzouki (a kind of lute) to accompany his songs.
Damanta was the first trad Irish band to perform live on Vancouver's 99.3 CFOX rock radio station. And has also been heard live on Radio na Gaeltachta (the Irish language radio) in Ireland.
Damanta is an Irish (Gaelic) word with lots of meanings. "Damned" is one. As it was taken from a poem by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, for the band's name. On Radio Na Gaeltachta it is occasionally used to mean "deadly" (a coloquialism for "cool"); while the old people on Inis Mor said they use it often as the most extreme superlative. Or that it can mean, "very very great" or "brilliant." Congratulations, you have just earned credit toward a linguistics degree.
Also, visit the band's website: www.damanta.com