The following headline bands have been booked for NTIF 2017. Click on the photos to see a live performance of the bands on YouTube.
Steeped in the history and mythology of its Celtic and Viking ancestry, the Isle of Man sits quietly in the Irish Sea. Continuously self-governed since its parliament was created by Viking invaders over a thousand years ago, few people outside the Isle of Man know of this singular culture: a language and music so nearly lost, born through recent generations on the tongues of a mere handful of families, it now grows strong again.
On the South of the island lies a summit scarred by the ruins of a once imposing iron-age hill fort. The old stories claim that atop this peak, named 'South Barrule', the Celtic God Manannan Mac Lir once dwelt, casting out his cloak of mist to shelter the island and its people from invasion.
This inspirational landscape embodies the powerful and striking experience of Barrule in concert. A fusion of three distinct musical forces – Mabon front-man and accordion wizard Jamie Smith, gifted young fiddle-player Tomas Callister and versatile accompanist Adam Rhodes (Mabon) on bouzouki – Barrule's fresh approach to traditional Manx music evokes an atmosphere that reflects the diverse natural beauty of the island: from rousing marches, jigs and reels to sorrowful slow airs and beautiful songs sung in both English and the Manx Gaelic language.
Stories are told of ancient Celtic Gods, of unrequited love, of the toils of island life. And always the sea is close by. Formed in 2012, Barrule’s three legs have hit the ground running with major festival appearances including Celtic Connections, WOMAD Charlton Park, Sidmouth Folk Festival, Festival Interceltiquede Lorient and the National Celtic Festival in Melbourne.
Their debut self-titled album won many plaudits and has been awarded ‘Best Debut’ in the Spiral Earth awards 2014. The trio's hotly anticipated second album Manannan's Cloak was released in May 2015.
A career spanning 47 years has established Brian McNeill as one of the most acclaimed forces in Scottish music. Brian was born in 1950 in Falkirk and has been described as ‘Scotland’s most meaningful contemporary songwriter’ (The Scotsman); add to that his work and influence as performer, composer, producer, teacher, musical director, band leader, novelist and interpreter of Scotland’s past, present and future and you have a man who has never stood still. He has performed around the globe, both as a soloist and with some of the era’s most influential bands, including Battlefield Band, which he founded in 1969. Brian performs and teaches regularly at many of the world’s major festivals and is a core member of the UK fiddle phenomenon, Feast of Fiddles. He is the longest running booked artist at Cambridge Folk Festival.
Brian is a multi instrumentalist – chiefly fiddle, bouzouki, mandocello, guitars and concertina – and the importance of his songwriting has long been recognised with such songs as The Yew Tree, The Lads O' The Fair, The Snows of France and Holland, Strong Women Rule Us All With Their Tears, Any Mick'll Do and No Gods and Precious Few Heroes.
Brian was for six years Head of Scottish Music at the RSAMD, now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Breaking Trad is made up of Dónal Murphy (Accordion), from Abbeyfeale, West Limerick, a winner of numerous All-Ireland titles on both Button Accordion and Melodeon. He is joined by Niall Murphy (Fiddle) from Camlough, South Armagh, a winner of multiple awards including All-Ireland Senior Fiddle competition, Fiddler Of Dooney and Fiddler of Oriel, and also multi-Instrumentalist Mike Galvin who has vast experience working in a wide range of musical styles from Rock and Roll to Irish Traditional.
Between them, they have toured extensively around the world, performing at major festivals and music venues and touring with some of the biggest names in several different music genres including Four Men and a Dog, Cara Dillon, De Dannan, Dance star Michael Flatley, Bluegrass guitarist/singer Dan Tyminski (Alison Krauss and Union Station), Country legend Randy Travis and many more.Their music has been described as 'Dazzling', 'unorthodox and unique', and 'high octane'.
This powerhouse band, “Breaking Trad”, are reviving trad with a fresh and modern twist.
A multiple All-Ireland champion born in Athlone, County Westmeath, and now residing in Ennis, County Clare, Paul Brock pursued a solo career through the 60’s and 70’s by mastering the single-row, two-row, three-row, and five-row button accordions. His collaborations with fiddle player Frankie Gavin during the 70’s and 80’s culminated in their 1986 Gael-Linn classic recording, “A Tribute to Joe Cooley,” regarded by critics and fellow musicians as one of the outstanding traditional albums of the modern era.
As a child growing up in Sligo Town, Manus McGuire was raised on the music of legendary Sligo fiddlers such as Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, and James “Lad” O’Beirne. His musical aptitude soon became apparent when he won Sligo’s prestigious Fiddler of Dooney competition at the age of fourteen. With captivating rhythm, melodic grace, depth and precision, Manus McGuire’s fiddle technique demonstrates both his versatility and legacy, showcasing his mastery of Irish and other North Atlantic fiddle traditions.
A native of Newport, Co. Tipperary, Denis Cary is a musician/composer/arranger with a diverse musical background from Irish traditional to classical, jazz and pop. He has performed and recorded with leading international artists. As a versatile and dynamic multi-instrumentalist, dancer, singer, and songwriter, Galway-native Dave Curley stands out among professional Irish traditional musicians of his generation. His youthful energy on stage is enriched with a musical maturity and depth beyond his years.
Máire is one of Ireland’s most important and influential traditional musicians, in 2001 receiving Irish music's most prestigious award, that of Traditional Musician of the Year, "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. A West Cork background steeped in the oral tradition led her, while still a teenager, to develop new techniques that made it possible for the first time to play traditional music on the harp in a stylistically accurate way. 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.
Chris began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen played his first paid gig in a folk club. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he's played with luminaries of many musical worlds:Boys of the Lough, Aly Bain, Kathryn Tickell, Danny Thompson, Stéphane Grappelli, Diz Disley and Danny Thompson and Fred Wedlock, the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra, - receiving a silver disc for producing Fred's international hit The Oldest Swinger in Town, to which he also composed the tune and which reached No 2 in the charts in the UK and No 1 in several other countries. As Fred’s Musical Director and bandleader, appearances on such iconic national TV progammes as BBC’s Top of the Pops followed.
One day in 1985 he decided he'd really rather play interesting music than pursue interesting paychecks, so turned his back on the commercial world and returned to his folk and improvisational roots. He has since concentrated on composition, the traditional music of these islands and beyond, and bluegrass and its intersection with the cutting edge of swing jazz - he and Beppe Gambetta are probably the most highly-regarded American-style flatpickers in the world who are not from the US.
The Elders were founded in 1998 by six individuals with a passion for music rooted in Americana and Celtic folk rock. From the beginning The Elders seemed to be channeling something ancient and enduring – something unaffected by fads, trends and the giant maw of mind-numbing commercialism. Their ability to bring together the art of story telling with elements both musically progressive and rooted in tradition, has won them a broad international fan base, as well as critical acclaim in numerous publications such as PASTE Magazine, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange, Music Row Magazine, Goldmine Magazine, TRAD Magazine (France), Chicago Sun-Times, Kansas City Star and many more.
Their critically acclaimed albums serve as reflections of the group dynamic, but fans who are wild about The Elders can tell you that the real magic happens on stage, where their powerful personal and musical chemistry forges a deep sense of community with their audience. During the upbeat numbers, everyone is shouting gleefully, singing along and dancing as the band stirs up their latest moment of wild abandon. During the historical story songs, the crowd is rapt, hanging on singer Ian Byrne’s every turn of poignant or whimsical phrase. There are mournful ballads along the way, but the crowd always knows there will be redemption in the end.
The Elders have headlined major Celtic Festivals in North America and Europe.For the past 14 years they have sponsored a tour of Ireland in which fans are invited to join in on an extraordinary 13 day excursion visiting historical and geographical sights during the day and gathering at a local pub or ballroom at night for pints and performances by the band.
Ireland’s Folk Band of the year, The High Kings, are Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey and Darren Holden. Coming from accomplished Musical pedigrees, The High Kings grew up in households soaked in the Irish Musical tradition and each member of the band witnessed first hand the power of well crafted Irish music on an audience.
Since The High Kings started in 2008, they have sold out hundreds of shows, in Ireland and the US, made numerous TV appearances, recorded 3 studio albums and 1 live album and achieved platinum status with their 1st two albums.
The High Kings showcase their incredible versatility and skills as multi-instrumentalists, playing 13 instruments between them bringing a rousing acoustic flavour to brand new songs as well as some old favourites. The High Kings are continuing to live up to their reputation as a phenomenal live band, serving up laughter, good times and even the odd sing along.
The Town Pants started 20 years ago playing small pubs which lead to performing at music venues in over 500 cities in 15 countries and eventually to headlining Celtic, Roots and World Music festivals internationally. Three thousand shows later their own brand of Celtic roots-rock spans seven albums so far and is backed up with a legendary live show that has garnered them fans from Hawaii to Norway.
The Vancouver BC based band combines aspects of Irish traditional, folk, rock and roots Americana, fusing their signature dual lead vocals from brothers Duane and Dave Keogh to create a unique form of high energy "West Coast Celtic" that remains in the heart and head long after the music stops. There are many Celtic folk-rock bands out there, but rarely does a band have this combination of passion, energy and spirit in performance coupled with some of the most imaginative songwriting you’ll find in the genre.
Award-winning quartet We Banjo 3+1 from Galway, Ireland combine Irish Music with Old-Time American and Bluegrass influences to reveal the banjoâ€™s rich legacy and roots. When this band of brothers take flight in a wave of virtuosity, verve and joie-de-vivre, feet tap and pulsesrace.
Featuring banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals and percussion We Banjo 3 make a bold andextraordinary musical statement. Creativity, sensitivity and passion are present in full measureand Irish music is at the heart of what they play.
Collectively, WeBanjo3 have been at the forefront of Irish banjo and fiddle for 2 decades. Their competitive success is unrivalled, Martin holding 7 All Ireland titles, Enda with 4, while Fergaland David hold All Ireland titles on Banjo, Fiddle, Bodhran and Guitar.
Enda has recorded and performed with The Chieftains, Frankie Gavin, Stockton's Wing, Grammy-winner Ricky Skaggs and Instrumental Band of the Decade. Fergal has performed with David Munnelly, Martin O'Connor and Kevin Crawford and has toured the world with Ragus and Celtic Legends.
Martin was the very first Irish banjo player to perfom at the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville and David is fast building a reputation for his deep, muscular singing.We Banjo 3 play with swing and soul, effortlessly combining the best of Irish and Bluegrass banjo music and song, mining the rich vein of the American Old Time tradition and thoroughly reinventing the banjo band sound. Modern rhythms, traditional melodies, virtuosic techniqueand innovative arrangements of music and song add up to an incredible feast of banjo andmandolin music guaranteed to put a smile on your face and get your feet tapping.