Award-winning Canadian fiddler at Skye Nov. 17

6 mins read

SOUTH CARTHAGE – New England Celtic Arts will present the Chicago-bassed Irish band Bua at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center on Monday Nov. 17th 2008 in So. Carthage, Maine starting at 7 p.m. A pre-show jam will start at 6:30 p.m., audience members are encouraged to bring their instruments and jam for a few minutes with the artists.

A quintet comprised of some of America’s most talented, young musicians, Bua has been described by Irish Music Magazine as “the essence of a superb band.” Tipping their hats to such greats as The Bothy Band and Planxty, their sound is “a throwback to the playing of the 1960s and 1970s, keeping the music down the path of tradition.” Their 2006 release, Live at Martyrs’ is “a work without gimmicks, where the musicianship is of the highest quality.” It is no surprise that Bua, taking their name from the Irish Gaelic word for victory, have quickly risen to be one of America’s premier traditional Irish music ensembles.

At Bua’s instrumental heart is Chicago-born fiddler Chris Bain. He picked up his uncle’s fiddle at a young age, in a musical household that often played host to touring bands from Ireland and the UK. In 1997, he left for a year at the University of North Wales, dangerously close to the Holyhead-Dublin ferry. He traveled to Ireland frequently but also found time to tour with legendary Welsh triple harpist Robin Huw Bowen with whom Chris continues to work with today. Highly influenced by fiddlers of the Sligo and Donegal styles, Chris’ personal approach is also a reflection of the colorful mix of traditions and musicians that surround him in Chicago’s bustling scene.

Paired to Bain’s fiddling, Seán Gavin’s ornate, driving style on flute and uilleann pipes clearly reflects his immersion in Irish music from a young age.

Born in Detroit to Co. Clare fiddler Mick Gavin (an inductee to the Irish Traditional Music Hall of Fame), Seán received tutelage from Scariff flautist Leo MacNamara and the late piper Al Purcell—a student of Leo Rowsome. Though he’s the youngest member of Bua, Seán has toured throughout North American and Europe and is a seasoned performer.

Jackie Moran, born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, immigrated to Chicago with his family when he was ten. He grew up to be a stalwart of the Chicago Irish music scene as a highly sought-after bodhrán player. Jackie has toured with such renowned names as Riverdance, the Trinitiy Irish Dance Company, the Drovers and Ensemble Galilei and he has recorded with many of today’s greatest traditional Irish musicians.

In addition to Bua he currently performs with Belgian-based Irish quartet, Comas. Known for his vibrant and articulate drumming, Moran is key to Bua’s dynamic rhythm section.

Guitarist Brian Miller comes from Minneapolis, Minnesota where transplanted Irish music luminaries Paddy O’Brien and Dáithí Sproule have loomed large in his musical life. His tune backing and song accompaniments have earned him a strong reputation as one of the best guitarists on the scene today. As Irish music critic Earle Hitchner put it: “the backing of Miller on guitar flexes not just muscle but a fully complementary style.”

Brian is part of the Doon Céilí Band back in Minnesota and he continues to stay close to his second home of Cork City where he can be found performing with box player Tommie Cunniffe.

Brían Ó hAirt’s evocative voice stands as another hallmark of 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 and has led him to become an adept singer of Scots Gaelic song as well.

Bill Margeson of the Irish American News captures their essence concisely: “Clearly, this group is no locally-based collection of musicians trying to break out of Chicago. This is a group that has established itself [both] individually and as a group in the eyes and ears of the traditional community…As other bands change, disband or simply fade away, the tradition is blessed by what seems to be an inexhaustible pool of talent that comes to the front of the stage. It is Bua’s time. Here they come.”

Skye Theatre is located 3 miles West of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Drive off Winter Hill Rd and US RT. 2 in South Carthage. Ticket price is $10 at the door. Reservations are required for this show. Call New England Celtic Arts at (207) 562-4445 for reservations and directions. More information at

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