FireWire was voted Best Celtic Instrumental Album in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards held in Nashville, Tennessee. Over 42,000 albums and 560,000 songs in 93 genres from 163 countries around the world were screened for these indie awards - the largest music awards of any kind anywhere.
The aptly-named "FireWire" is an addictive and stylish cocktail of powerhouse Irish dance-music, gorgeous airs, old songs with a contemporary twist and striking new compositions – with a shot of bluegrass thrown in! From the very first notes of the opening track, the sizzling guitar improvisations and harp pyrotechnics come thick and fast…
A perfect showcase for their unique sound.
REVIEWS OF FIREWIRE...
The Daily Telegraph (UK) 3 February 2007
“Dazzling virtuosity... The speed and complexity of Newman’s guitar-playing is to be marvelled at... exquisitely delivered songs... delightful”
The Guardian (UK) 26 January 2007
"When it comes to virtuoso work on this ancient and delicate
instrument, Maire Ni Chathasaigh is in a class of her own"
The Times (UK) 27 January 2007
“An eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling... Virtuoso playing... bewitching string fantasies and a wonderfully clear and expressive voice"
The Irish Times (Ireland) 14 April 2007
**** “Takes one of the most effete instruments in traditional music by the scruff of the neck and breathes a fire into its belly... Straddles traditions with grace and just a tincture of danger”
fROOTS (UK) March 2007
"50 minutes of sparkling, seemingly effortless music which is of course the product of decades of hard work... Sheer class throughout"
Songlines (UK) March/April 2007
**** “Brilliant, innovative harping and guitar-playing of
astonishing virtuosity and versatility”
Rock 'n Reel (UK) March 2007
**** “Exhilarating versatility and inventiveness... Harping with a flair and gusto that give everything Máire does an impressively contemporary feel... sublime guitar work... An album epic in scope: real magic"
Dirty Linen (USA) August / September 2007
"Ní Chathasaigh is a flawless harpist with a fine rich tone... Newman is a real treasure of a string player, adding tasteful fills and gorgeous coloring with guitars, mandolins and fretless bass... A fine album by two top-notch players (that) has much to discover and treasure."
“Stunning... The solo harp number, ‘An Buachallin Ban’, is heart-wrenching, and the way in which Ni Chathasaigh hangs on the notes lends them fantastic poignancy and emotional depth... Newman’s guitar on ‘Bright Falls the Air’ is sublime”
ABOUT THE ARTISTS...
Chris and Máire made their début as a duo at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival and since then have played in twenty-one countries - from Shetland to New Zealand and from San Francisco to Kyoto - and have given TV and radio performances on five continents. Within the past two years they've toured in the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and the UK. FireWire is their sixth album together and has already garnered some wonderful reviews (see below).
Máire is "one of the world's greatest harpists" (Edinburgh Evening News) and one of Ireland's most important and influential traditional musicians. As a teenager in the 1970s she invented a whole new style of harping that quickly became the norm amongst both her contemporaries and the younger generation of Irish players. In 2001 she received Irish music's most prestigious award, that of Traditional Musician of the Year - Gradam Cheoil TG4 - "for the excellence and pioneering force of her music, the remarkable growth she has brought to the music of the harp and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers".
She began to play the harp at the age of eleven. Her background in a well-known West Cork musical family steeped in the oral Irish tradition was at that time unique among harpers, the Irish harp having declined since its 17th century heyday into an urban parlour instrument alien to life in rural Ireland. Having no role models, she developed a variety of new techniques, particularly in relation to ornamentation, which made it possible for the first time to play this music on the harp in a stylistically accurate way - thus re-introducing the harp into the mainstream of the living tradition. She won the All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic Harp Competitions several times and in 1985 recorded the first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp - "a mile-stone in Irish harp music" (The Irish Examiner). Her approach has been profoundly influential wherever in the world the Irish harp is played - "a single-handed reinvention of the harp". "Her work restores the harp to its true voice." The Irish Times
Máire has published two volumes of harp arrangements, The Irish Harper Vols. I and II and contributed two articles about the Irish harp and modes in Irish music to the Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork University Press). She’s profiled in several books devoted to Irish music, including Celtic Women in Music (Mairéad Sullivan, Quarry Music Books, Canada) and in the Rough Guide to Irish Music.
Chris began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen gave his first paid concert in a folk club. He dabbled in the jazz scene in his late teens (playing with and learning from people like Stephane Grappelli and Diz Disley). A foray into the commercial world resulted in a silver disc for producing The Oldest Swinger in Town. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he now concentrates on traditional music and composition. He has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University's Folk B.Mus course since its inception. His book of guitar compositions and arrangements Adventures with a Flatpick was published in 2001. His 1998 solo CD Fretwork was "a stunning and stylistically-varied album, heaving with good tunes, from one of the UK's most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists" Folk Roots (UK) "Dazzling" Acoustic Guitar (USA) "Revered" Taplas (Wales) In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured until 1997 as a member of Boys of the Lough in North America, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy.
Máire and Chris are featured on Celtic Harpestry, the major 1998 Polygram USA Celtic harp album and associated TV special, and on Bringing it All Back Home, the major BBC 2 TV series on Irish music. They're also featured on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher’s posthumous 2003 album on BMG, Wheels within Wheels. Máire is harp and voice soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford on John Cameron's major work Missa Celtica, released by Erato Disques, Paris. The Goldcrest film Driftwood features her singing, and her harping and compositions feature with other luminaries of the Celtic music world on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded album for Sony France Finisterres.
Interviews with Chris and Maire appear in the current issues of Irish Music Magazine (Ireland) and fRoots (UK).
Máire Irish harp, vocals
Chris acoustic and electric guitars; mandolins; electric and fretless bass
GUEST MUSICIANS: Máire’s extraordinary fiddle-playing sister Nollaig Casey, Grammy Award-winning American banjo-player Cathy Fink and drummer/percussionist Roy Whyke
What the critics have said of their previous albums:
"Virtuosic, fascinating, dramatic, original, inspired, gloriously adventurous, dazzling, brilliant, stunning, impassioned, electrifying, bewitching, moving, achingly beautiful, influential, revered, unique..."
- THE TIMES, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, THE GUARDIAN, THE IRISH TIMES, THE SCOTSMAN, FOLK ROOTS...
REVIEWS OF THE ARTISTS' LIVE PERFORMANCES...
"This celebrated harp/guitar duo took the place by storm. Stately Carolan tunes, jazzy Django-ish numbers, Doc Watson style flat picking fliers, driving Irish dance tunes - this pair can nonchalantly do the lot. Their musicianship was enviable. Guitar players applauded and went sadly home to burn their instruments!" The Belfast Telegraph
"So moving, so wonderfully executed with such technical brilliance and beauty... that it brings tears to the eyes...” Irish Music Magazine
"Máire managed to do things I have never heard a harp do before… I was alternately astonished and delighted... The concert left a lasting impression on me and anyone else who was privileged to witness this extraordinary event." Classical Guitar Magazine
"Their blinding technique, sizzling Irish reels and hot jazz improvisation brought an extended standing ovation… Newman has the great gift of being informative and hilarious simultaneously" The West Australian
"The audience were charmed and dazzled by their playing: the speed, the deftness, the emotional range...Máire's clear, warm and expressive voice...Their stagecraft was masterly and their introductions informative and funny" Christchurch Press (New Zealand)
"Music of fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music." The Irish Times