Shane Howard (Shane O'hÍomhar) – Artistic Director – Guitar & Vocal
Shane was born and raised on the Victorian South-West coast between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, a place of one of the highest concentrations of Irish migration in Brigid’s. He toured Ireland, the US, Australia, NZ and Holland with Irish songstress, Mary Black, who has recorded several of his songs. He’s also worked with Irish luminaries Liam O’Maonlai, Clannard, Steve Cooney, Seamus Begley, Mossie Scanlon, John Spillane, Declan O’Rourke and the 1997 Guinness Tour of Irish Music. Writer Martin Flanagan describes him as, ‘the great Australian Irish artist’. Port Fairy Folk Festival Director, Jamie McKew described him as ‘an artist who has built bridges between Ireland and Australia and black and white Australia’.
Leah Flanagan (Leah Ní Flannagáin) - Vocal
Leah Flanagan is a musician and singer/songwriter originally from Darwin, Northern Territory with Venetian, Aboriginal and Irish heritage. She sings with an ageless voice that is both complex and alluring, entrancing audiences with her sincerity and soul. As a musician, recording artist, professional singer and hired gun for major musicial collaborative groups, Leah has worked with artists such as Meshell Ndegeocello, John Cale, poet Sam Wagan Watson, France's Orchestre National de Jazz, The Melbourne, Adelaide & Tasmanian Symphony orchestras, Sinead O’Connor, David Bridie, Ricki Lee Jones, Gurrumul, Paul Kelly, Liz Stringer, Shane Howard, Jonathan Zwartz, Julien Wilson, Emma Donovan, Shellie Morris, Robert Forster, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Murray, Bart Willoughby, Ursula Yovich, Dan Sultan and Jim Moginie. Leah also holds a Bachelor of Music from the Elder School of Music in Adelaide where she majored in Classical Voice.
Lynnelle Moran (Lynnelle Ní Moran) - Vocal, Whistle & Flute.
Dublin born and Melbourne reared vocalist and traditional Irish flute player Lynnelle grew up immersed in the music and stories of her birthplace. Surrounded by music in the family home, she played a range of instruments before settling on an Irish flute, made by Michael Grinter, twenty years ago. Learning tunes from renowned flute player Elaine Jeffreys, Lynnelle became a regular performer at festivals and sessions and travelled throughout Australia and the world performing both original and traditional Irish music. As a vocalist, she has the ability to connect to the emotional core or truth of a song. Her unique and honest interpretations respect the content entirely and have brought raucous sessions to pin drop silence. Lynnelle is a firm believer in music’s ability to unify disparate communities and it’s potential to form a platform for connection and cultural exchange. Working with both emerging and professional artists in a wide range of community music, film and theatre environments, she has developed an inclusive and welcoming approach to foster creativity in others and share her love of traditional Irish music.
Declan O’Rourke (Declán O'Ruairc) Vocal & Guitar
Declan is a singer-songwriter from Dublin, Ireland. His family spent several years in Australia during his youth. It was during their time in Kyabram that the young O'Rourke was given his first guitar, by a priest who recognised his potential and love for music. Hence the title of his debut album Since Kyabram, released in October 2004. The album's launch sold-out 3 nights in Whelan’s, Dublin and was broadcast live on national radio.Since Kyabram entered the official Irish album charts at Number 5, quickly went gold, then achieved double-platinum status. Since then, O'Rourke has completed multiple sell-out nationwide Irish tours, the second of these culminating in a full capacity show in Dublin's Olympia Theatre in March 2005.
Pauline Scanlon (Pauline Ní Scannláin) - Vocal
Pauline Scanlon, (Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland), is a singer of contemporary and traditional Irish music. Dingle is in the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht, an area where the population's first language is Irish, (Gaeilge). Scanlon, herself a native Irish speaker, possesses a voice of sublime musicality. Pauline has been singing professionally since she was 15 years old. She has toured the world extensively, including Australia a number of times with different projects. Scanlon has two solo albums, 'Red Colour Sun' and ‘Hush’ and in 2009 she formed celebrated vocal duo LUMIERE with Éilís kennedy. The critically acclaimed duo have gone from strength to strength releasing two albums and performing on many of the world’s great stages including a recent performance in New York's Carnegie Hall. When she’s not touring, in recent years Pauline has taken to the small screen and has been involved in a number of music related documentaries and television programmes for the Irish language television station TG4 and for the BBC in Belfast where she currently lives.
John Spillane (John Ó’Spealáin) Vocal & Guitar
John is a native of Cork, the County he lovingly describes as “the centre of the universe”, and it remains a huge creative influence on him. A singer-songwriter from Cork, Ireland, Spillane grew up in the suburb of Bishopstown, Cork, in a large family of boys and was educated in Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh and graduated from University College Cork with a degree in Irish and in English. His musical nature was encouraged by his Mother who taught him a variety of Cork songs. A shy child, he got his first guitar at the age of fifteen and joined his first band in school, drawing his early rock influences from artists like the Beatles, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. He brings a unique sean-nós influence to his singing and has been described as having a voice “full of honesty, commitment and sensitivity”. Two-time Meteor award winner, John is one of the most accomplished and celebrated songwriters in Ireland today.
Ewen Baker (Eoghan Baker) – Music Director – Fiddle & Mandolin
Ewen is a master of Celtic fiddle and mandolin, a teacher of Celtic style fiddle and an accomplished luthier. His performing and recording collaborations span a modern era of Irish, Australian and Indigenous music: Mary Black, Shane Howard Trio, Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Amy Saunders, John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew, The Jim Green Trio, The Ploughboys, The Wren Boys, Cool MacFinn, Bulabos, Fiona Ross, Andy Alberts, Bart Willoughby and Dave Arden. In 2010 he was inducted as a ‘Legend of the Lake’ at the Lake School of Celtic Song and Dance, held annually in Koroit, South West Victoria. He is Music Director for a new stage show called The Man They Call the Banjo. (B.Mus.Ed (Melb. Uni)
Paddy Fitzgerald (Paidi Mac Gerailt) – Button Accordion
Paddy Fitzgerald is an internationally respected button accordionist who was born in East Clare, near Feakle, in 1941. The area in which he grew up has had a long-standing awareness of Irish dance music, and is renowned for the musicians it has produced. His mother played a little on the melodeon, but her brother Stephen, who lived some twenty miles away, provided a model. His mother's cousin had been a member of the famous Ballinakill Traditional Players, one of the first groups of rural musicians to be commercially recorded in the 1920s. In 1950 Paddy and his brother Joe, a button accordion player of equal renown, (also living in Melbourne), was given a ten-key melodeon, and began to learn to play, receiving initial guidance from their mother, but eventually learning by listening to and emulating surrounding players. Around 1957 Paddy and his brother Joe joined with several other local boys to form the Bodyke Ceili band. In 1959 he decided to emigrate to Australia and in 1963 married Eileen Nash and together they raised nine children in Melbourne. Paddy has played in a number of bands including the Merry Moonshiners, The Bards and Gaelic Inheritance, as well as the famous Fitzgerald Family Band. He and Joe are active and important traditional players in Melbourne and have been so for decades, revered as a keeper of a distinctive Clare style of box playing.
Michelle Burton-Doyle (Michelle Burton–Ní Dubhghaill) - Harp
Michelle is a classical and folk harp player based in Melbourne. Originally from the Bellarine Peninsula, she moved to Melbourne to complete her VCE at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Receiving top scores for her Solo and Group performances, Michelle was selected to perform at the VCE Top Class Season of Excellence and ‘Top Acts’ concert at Hamer Hall. Twice winner of the ‘Paddy O’Neill Award’, she has been involved in a number of bands touring the festival circuit, including the Port Fairy and National Folk Festivals. Michelle recently completed her Bachelor of Music at Monash University. She performs regularly as a solo harp player, as well as with her family trio Classically Celtic. Michelle’s passion for Celtic music has led to the recent purchase of a clarsach (Scottish harp) and collaboration with renowned traditional Scots singer Fiona Ross. Michelle is an ambassador for the National Celtic Festival, along with her family band, after being awarded the 2015 ‘Face of the Festival’. Michelle teaches the harp at a number of schools in Geelong, including Geelong College and Geelong Grammar.
Greg Sheehan (Greg Ó’Síodhacháin) - Percussion
Greg Sheehan is a rhythm magician and a bona fide ‘time lord’. His astounding musicality and passion shine brilliantly through the instruments he plays. He is firmly in the realm of Australia's great musical innovators, with his propensity for experimentation and exploration of rhythms and the instruments he plays. Long regarded as one of the finest percussionists in Australia, ‘percussionist’ doesn’t’ really do justice to the kind of musician he really is. He’s a pioneer of contemporary rhythm in Australia, with his propensity for experimentation & exploration on all sorts of instruments – tuned and un-tuned, man-made and earth-made. He began his touring career as a young man with the innovative McKenzie Theory in the 1970’s, toured with Richard Clapton on his Goodbye Tiger album, has recorded and toured with Goanna and Shane Howard, as well as many years with his experimental ensemble, Coolangubra and so much more. Unique rhythms and a battery of unusual instruments, combined with more traditional percussion instruments, including Greg’s incomparable tambourine, create an unforgettable experience. Greg has also toured and recorded with Irish Traditional Music luminaries Donal Lunny, Paddy Keenan, Steve Cooney, Mairead Nesbitt, Liam O’Maonlai, Brendan Power and more.
John Hudson (John MacHugh) - Guitar/Mandolin/Bass
Hailing from the rich musical landscape of Southwest Victoria, John Hudson is one of Australia’s most versatile guitarists. John’s musical diversity, be it Jazz, Blues, Country, Classical or Folk has seen him perform both as a solo artist, and as a member of various ensembles, around the country and internationally. He has shared the stage with many artists including Sharon Shannon (IRE), Christina Olsen (USA), Mary Black (IRE) Bill Shanley (IRE) ,Troy Casser Daly, Jimmy Barnes and Shane Howard.
John’s reputation as a guitarist has been furthered by regular appearances at the acclaimed Port Fairy Folk Festival “Maton Guitar Showcase” together with return performances at the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival (IRE) , Melbourne Guitar Makers Festival, and the National Folk Festival ‘Instrument Makers’ concert.
Recording credits include Shane Howard, Tiffany Eckhart, Andy Alberts, Marcia Howard/Rose Bygrave, Andrew Kirkland, Richard Tankard, Tonchi McIntosh and Joe Geia.