It has been my great pleasure and privilege to produce this superb recording of BARLEY BREE, one of the finest and most dedicated groups of Irish folk and traditional musicians I have met in my long association with Irish music.
BARLEY BREE, roughly translated from Gaelic (braich = malt) means 'Blended whiskey' and in this album these four young Irish musicians have created a unique blend of music, which is kind to the palate and even more pleasant to the ear, and is guaranteed not to give the consumer a hangover.
The members of BARLEY BREE are extremely versatile musicians, playing the amazing total of 15 instruments between them. In addition they can all sing - a fact which is evidenced by the beautiful vocal harmonies they use in songs here such, as WINDMILLS' and 'BONNIE CHARLIE'S NOW AWA'
NICKY BRYSON, from Derry, is the dynamic personality and driving force in the group. An Ulster Tin Whistle Champion, Nicky had wide experience on the folk scene with several of Ireland's leading folk bands before the formation of BARLEY BREE in 1973. An active participant in Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and formerly an adjudicator at several Irish music festivals, Nicky is married to a Scots Lassie, which may account for the group's expertise when they turn their attention to Scottish folk songs.
P.V. O'DONNELL: comes from Buncrana, Co. Donegal and is a multiple prizewinner for solo violin at music festivals and feiseanna. A feature of his music is the tremendous attack in his reel and jig playing. P.V. has had the distinction of playing with the famous Derry child entertainers, the Little Gaelic Singers, on a U.S. coast to coast tour.
SEAMUS O'HAGAN, from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, is a member of a famous musical family, which plays a bewildering variety of instruments. Seamus himself plays banjo, mandolin, cittern, violin, guitar, tin whistle and bodhrán . He was All Ireland Banjo Champion in 1975.
JIMMY SWEENEY: born in Keady, Co. Armagh, now lives in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Jimmy is a nephew of the famous TOMMY MAKEM and a singing star in his own right. He possesses a unique and attractive voice and sings the lead in several of the songs recorded here. An avid student of Celtic folklore, culture and folk songs, Jimmy has toured the U.S. three times.
The material recorded in this album will delight not only connoisseurs of Irish traditional music, but will appeal also to lovers of folk music all over the world, as the group has not only produced delightful and imaginative renderings of Irish reels, jigs and songs, but has also included folk songs from Scotland and Newfoundland - a truly international musical cocktail.
BARLEY BREE have played at venues all over Ireland and will shortly bring their unique blend of music to the U.S. and Canada, during a prolonged tour of North America. The group's personality, vitality and imaginative approach to its music will undoubtedly earn its members the acclaim due to one of Ireland's premier acoustic folk bands.
On behalf of BARLEY BREE, I would like to express my thanks to ROY ARBUCKLE, who expertly backed the group on bass guitar on the occasion of this recording.