If anyone doubts that music is a timeless and a universal language, consider the career of Andy Irvine. He is definitely a twentieth century artist, whose material ranges from the centuries old music of Ireland to Woody Guthrie, from the music of Eastern Europe to modern compositions.
Singer, songwriter and gifted musician, Andy has earned an audience that spans the continents of the world with his rare talents. He was pursuing an acting career in the late fifties and struggling to master classical guitar when he happened upon the work of Woody Guthrie. Interest sparked and he promptly switched to folk style guitar, adding harmonica and mandolin (and mandola, bouzouki and hurdy-gurdy) along the way. Thus began an open-ended musical odyssey that has developed into one of the most impressive pedigrees on the international traditional scene.
He spent his apprentice years traveling with Ramblin' Jack Elliot and Derrol Adams, playing Dublin's emerging folk scene with such artists as Johnny Moynihan, Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly and honing his talents with trips abroad. In 1966 he formed Sweeney's Men with Moynihan and Joe Dolan. Among the first to resurrect and rearrange traditional Irish material and integrate Scottish, English and American songs into its repertoire, Sweeney's Men is acknowledged today as a pivotal force in Ireland's traditional renaissance. Irvine recorded two hit singles and an album with Sweeney's Men before the spirit of the times and his own curiosity led him east to the Balkans. Returning to Ireland 18 months later, he brought with him a new found interest in the rhythms and textures of Eastern European music. It was an interest that would enrich his musicianship and musical outlook, finding expression not only in his own compositions but in his arrangements of traditional material.
In 1972 Irvine founded Planxty with Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn. One of the most influential groups ever to emerge from Ireland's traditional scene, Planxty wedded the Sweeney's core of mandolin and bouzouki - now played by Irvine and Lunny - to the uilleann pipes of O'Flynn and the guitar of Moore. In the space of three years, Planxty's singular sound gained an international following, fueled by superb live performances and the release of three albums, each voted "Folk Album of the Year" by the prestigious Melody Maker. After the group disbanded in 1975, Irvine teamed up with Paul Brady. Together for 18 months the duo amassed such credits as a best selling album, their own series on BBC TV and a string of critically acclaimed concerts, including the 1977 Cambridge Folk Festival. During this period, Irvine also performed and recorded with De Dannan as well as appearing on a Christy Moore solo album 'The Iron Behind the Velvet' (TARACD2002).
Planxty reformed in 1979 with a long European tour followed by three more albums, including After the Break and The Woman I Loved So Well. Andy divided his time between the band and a solo career - which has seen him tour extensively in Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Irvine recorded a solo album in 1980, winning rave reviews from critics and fans. The album proved an outstanding showcase for his deepening talents with its mix of traditional Irish material, Irvine's own compositions, such as jazz-tinged title track, "Rainy Sundays" and his interpretation of Eastern European forms.Planxty went their separate ways in 1983 and Irvine formed a group called Mosaic, whose members hailed from Ireland, Denmark, Holland and Hungary. After one very successful European and British tour the band was forced into early retirement because of the difficulty of rehearsing. In 1986 Patrick Street evolved from Irvine's tours of America with Kevin Burke, Jackie Daly and Gerry O'Beirne and when O'Beirne found himself unable to join the band, another former playing partner of Andy's - Arty McGlynn - was invited to join. The band so far has made three albums and has toured the US annually since 1987. Andy recorded two new solo albums in 1991, one the 'East Wind' album of Bulgarian and Macedonian music with Davy Spillane, Márta Sebestyén and others and then his long awaited new Solo album 'Rude Awakening'.
In 2004 Andy once again teamed up with Planxty for a series of Irish concerts and a new live CD and DVD. Andy now concentrates mainly on song writing and touring solo, with annual tours of the US, Australia and the UK. Never tire of the road....