3 December 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Médecins Sans Frontières fundraising concert Thursday 10 December 2015 at Triskel Christchurch features a double bill of The Lee Valley String Band and Stargazers. This stellar folk line-up will be compered by Philip King of RTÉs ‘Other Voices’ and RTÉ Radio One’s ‘The South Wind Blows’.
The evening is a farewell event for long serving board member Michael O’Connell whose tenure on the Board of the Triskel Arts Centre spanned over 30 years, including several years as the Centre’s Chairman.
The Lee Valley String Band is one of Cork’s premiere folk bands who perform to huge audiences annually through their regular gigs with The Lee Sessions. Formed in 1968 by Chris Twomey and the Toner brothers, Niall and Colm, The Lee Valley String Band specialises in American Bluegrass and Old-time music. A fixture on the Irish music scene for 47 years, The Lee Valley String Band has been through several permutations. The new line-up comprises Mick O’Brien, guitar and vocals, Brendan Butler, mandolin and vocals, Mick Daly, banjo and vocals and Hal O’Neill on fiddle.
Some of the group’s highlights to date include hosting their own TV show from Cork Opera House and appearing at the prestigious Tonder festival in Denmark. Over the years they’ve made three classic recordings, the EP “At Last” in the mid 1980’s, the CDs “Corberboys”, (1998 and ” Prolific or What ” (2008), both CDs produced by Jim Rooney whose credits include Nancy Griffith, Iris Dement and John Prine.
Since their debut on RTÉ TV in 1983, Stargazers has also undergone some changes, but the harmonies are as tight as ever. The band continues to celebrate the song-writing genius of such greats as Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and the instrumental style of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. Throw in songs by modern greats such as Randy Newman, as well as some originals for good measure, and you get the gist of what Stargazers are about.
The band has sung from the rooftops of Kensington Gardens, on the white beaches of Bermuda and in Portugal, Norway and Africa. In that time they have made regular appearances on all the major shows on RTE radio and television.
The current group sees founder members Johnny Fang Murphy and Chris Ahern joined by arranger, Ursula O’Sullivan on bass, who adds a vocal glow to the band’s distinctive sound.
Stargazers are currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to their new single ‘Paper Moon’ due for release in January.