Born in Manchester and raised in Stockport,England I grew up learning Sligo style flute playing from Marian Egan & Tony Ryan.
I am a Tutor and Doctoral Candidate at the University of Sheffield Department of Music specialising in Asturian Folk and Irish Traditional Music.
My new album, Quarehawk, will be released in August 2019. Recorded in Manchester with Michael McGoldrick and in Sheffield with Tom Wright and Sam Proctor, the album is a mix my Irish and English influences as well Asturian music I have learnt during my doctoral research. I’ll be playing flutes, whistles and hulusi as well as singing two songs.
The album showcases my repertoire learnt growing up in the Manchester Irish community and documents the emotions and went through after my father died tragically during the recording.
Manchester poet Mike Garry performs a specially commissioned poem, the Visitor. I am joined on vocals by Ríoghnach Connolly (The Breath, Afro-Celts, Honeyfeet) and Leticia González Menéndez (L-R). Simon Bradley from Asturian folk legends Llan de Cubel and Bryony Griffith are on fiddle duty. I am so honoured to have Basque Trikitixa (accordion) expert Kepa Junkera record some of my newly composed tunes. I have been a huge fan of Kepa for years, so this is vert special for me. Will Hampson brings his English melodeon style to some very camp hornpipes and he’ll be joining for some live gigs in the future. My old pal Helen Gubbins completes the box section with her Limerick Paoli Soprano stylings. My neighbour Liz Hanks joins me on cello. Liz has played with more amazing musicians than I can list here. Her sound is something special. Rubén Bada (L-R) has been in charge of recordings at the Asturian end and joins me on a couple of Asturian tunes on his bouzouki. Keyboards are provided by the whizz that is Anthony Davies. Oh and I’ve allowed Michael McGoldrick a spot on bodhrán.
I can wait to share it with you. It will be available for pre-order soon.
As well as performing with my Quarehawk line up, in the last year I have been performing with the Jazz influenced Andy Whitehouse Band, the Leeds Céilí Band and at Sadler’s Wells with contemporary dancer and performer Keira Martin.
In 2016 I was a finalist in the prestigious Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal Competition in Cork. I am a former All Britain Senior Flute Champion and have performed across Europe and in The United States with Trad Irish Groups, Céilí Bands and Theatre Productions as well as being featured on the Soundtrack to ‘The Irish Empire’ TV Series Commissioned by Radio Telefís Eireann/BBC Northern Ireland/SBS AUSTRALIA.
In the last couple of years I have been delighted to tutor at The University of Sheffield, Whitby Folk Week, Trip to Birmingham Trad Fest and The Leeds Irish Gathering as well as working on my PhD: “A ‘Celtic’ or ‘National’ Aesthetic? Flute Playing in the Contemporary Asturian Folk Scene”.
A few years ago things needed to change…..
Gazing up at the sky over Santiago de Compostela I felt everything was possible now. After a 1000km of walking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago my body was lean and my mind refreshed. Pilgrim stories bounced around my head interweaving with the ever present soundtrack of ‘Celtic’ Galicia. I would never return to the humdrum life.
Back in England, despite my best intentions, I took an easier route. Jumped back on the work express took the pay cheque. But all the time something told me that other worlds were possible. I fell in love; a daughter came into my life. Her whole being constantly threw at me questions about my integrity, about walking the walk as I had challenged so many people to do since my Camino experience.
So I jumped off the express where I thought the landing would be soft enough and decided to follow my heart, inspire my daughter and keep the flame lit that my partner recognised in me when we first met.
This blog is a record of my thoughts, actions and results as I work towards my dream of another world filled with the sounds, smells and tastes of the Iberian Atlantic Coast, a PhD and lots and lots of flute playing.
Watching the tragic events unfolding in Santiago de Compostela over the last two weeks in July 2013 my heart was deeply saddened but I was reminded of that night sky in the city of stars and the gift of life that I had. So this is me getting on with it, the Camino has only just begun.