Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Music has opened doors for Ireland's Paddy Keenan

Had the wheel of fortune spun ever so slightly differently, Paddy Keenan might today be known as the man who kept the Beatles together. Then again, he could be a respected singer-guitarist, on a par with his Irish contemporaries Paul Brady and Christy Moore. Or, just as easily, he could be lying in the cold, cold ground.

Instead, though, Keenan’s survived hard times, fame, and a fumbled encounter with the Fab Four to become one of the greatest virtuosos of the uilleann pipes, Ireland’s smaller, bellows-driven version of the more familiar Highland pipes. On the line from his adopted home in New Hampshire, he sounds settled and happy—and yet he still finds himself in some unusual places.

Most recently, he’s been in West Africa, shooting Dearbhla Glynn’s documentary Dambé: The Mali Project alongside Hothouse Flowers singer Liam Ó Maonlaí, kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté, and Ali Farka Touré protégé Afel Bocoum, among others. Part travelogue, part concert film, and part ethnomusicological treatise, Dambé asks the question: “How can we connect with other cultures?” And the answer, for Keenan, is no surprise.

Music has opened doors for Ireland's Paddy Keenan | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com

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