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Conneff, Kevin (8 January 1945-Present)

Percussionist and vocalist from Donore, Dublin, Ireland, who came into music in his late teens when he was working for a printing company and he and his co-workers would spend their free time attending fleadhs.  Eventually, he was inspired to join in, honing his vocal talents and learning to play a goatskin drum known as a bodhran.  He founded The Tradition Club and it attracted musicians such as Sean Keane, Paddy Moloney, and Michael Tubridy.  His earliest recording was Christy Moore’s 1972 album, Prosperous.

In 1976, he was asked to join The Chieftains.  Peadar Mercier retired from the band and they needed a replacement.  Kevin went to London and recorded a pair of tracks for their upcoming album, Bonaparte’s Retreat.  It turned out to be a permanent gig.  His addition to the band marked a change in the sound of The Chieftains, who had only done instrumentals.  They were so impressed with Kevin’s singing voice that they started including vocals on their albums.

In 1986, they performed at Self Aid in Dublin, where they performed songs such as “Full of Joy” and “Here’s to the Health of the Company”.  Kevin released a solo album, The Week Before Easter, in 1988.  Other recordings on which he appears include:  The Dubliners:  30 Years A-Graying, Live on Letterman – Music from The Late Show, The Magic of The Chieftains, and Pure Bodhran – The Definitive Collection.

In 2008, The Chieftains reprised “Here’s to the Health of the Company” at the Poulaphouca House as part of a Rock On Roddy tribute.  They traveled across the pond in 2009 and played Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which has become something of a St. Patrick’s Day tradition.  At the time, Kevin was moonlighting with Giles Le Bigot, Paul McGrattan, and Gerry O’Connor on a project aptly titled, The Tradition Club.  If you’d like to see him in action, check out the DVDs, Gael Force and Live Over Ireland – Water from the Well.

James Galway recordings
RCA 09026-60917 (CD: Dances For Flute)
Belfast Hornpipe
James Galway– tin whistle
Kevin Conneff – bodhran

Here is is performing at the “World Bodhran Campionships”…