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August 24, 2007

Irish musician Paddy Keenan to entertain with bagpipes Sept. 6

Paddy Keenan, an Irish musician who is often billed as the "Jimi Hendrix of the bagpipes," will entertain on the University of Louisiana at Monroe campus Thursday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Biedenharn Recital Hall.

Paddy, accompanied by guitarist John Walsh, will be the first semester offering for the Division of Visual and Performing Arts' Guest Artist on Campus Series.

Generally acknowledged as the most accomplished artist on the uilleann pipes (the characteristic national bagpipe of Ireland) performing today, Paddy is described as "one of the most brilliant musicians of his generation. He can rightfully claim his place alongside such open-style legends as pipers John Cash and Johnny Doran."

Keith White, VAPA director, praised the series for attracting the high caliber of talent like Paddy Keenan and John Walsh to the ULM campus and Northeast Louisiana community. "This is going to be a rich, diverse event. Keenan performs traditional Irish music in a rock 'n' roll fashion. We try to bring in cultural world music every year, as with the Tibetan monks and South American musicians."

The Paddy Keenan concert also helps VAPA realize its vision of further arts, community and cultural partnerships. "This year, we're partnering with the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival, so this is the threshold event leading up to it in October," White said.

Tickets to the Paddy Keenan concert are free for ULM faculty, staff and students with I.D. Community tickets are $15 each. To obtain tickets, please call: (318) 342-1414.

More about Keenan and Walsh:

Paddy was born in Trim, County Meath, to a family immersed in traditional music. Both his father and grandfather were uilleann pipers. Paddy began playing the pipes at the age of 10. He performed at his first major concert at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, when he was 14.

He joined a variety of musical groups before becoming one of the Bothy Band's founding members in the 1970s. To many, he was the driving force, thanks to his virtuosity on the pipes and the ferocity of his playing. Though compared to both Hendrix and jazz great John Coltrane, his flowing, open-fingered style of playing is a direct result of his father's tutelage and influence.

Paddy tours the world, playing festivals and gigs in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East. He has composed and arranged music for several film projects, including "Traveller," a major studio release starring Bill Paxton and Mark Wahlberg (1997), as well as projects focusing on the history of the Navajo people, and on pagan culture. He has recorded in recent years with many major artists in the world of Irish traditional music and beyond, including fiddler James Kelly, flute player Larry Nugent, Steve Morris of Deep Purple and the Dixie Dregs, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck, and Tim O'Brien.

On his own label, Hot Conya Records, Paddy produced "Na Keen Affair" in 1997, and "The Long Grazing Acre" in 2001. Both albums were met with critical acclaim.

His elder brother Johnny lost his battle with lung cancer in March, 2000. In 2002, the first annual Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival was held in Longford, Ireland, coinciding with Paddy receiving the TG4 Traditional Music Award (Gradam Cheoil) as Traditional Musician of the Year. Since then, Paddy has established The Long Grazing Acre Foundation, an educational trust fund for the Traveller community in Ireland; the fund provides student recipients with scholarship money to further their education.

John Walsh is an Irish guitarist living in the New York area. He grew up in Kilkenny, where he picked up his first instrument, the tin whistle, under the supervision of Brother Jacob at the CBS school in Callan, Ireland. He progressed to his mother's guitar and never turned back, joining the thriving music scene in Kilkenny.

He moved to the U.S. with his wife Carole and their children in 1992. Walsh now owns and runs St. Canicea's Backyard, a recording studio specializing in Irish traditional music. He has worked with such musicians as Pat Kilbride, Chris Brown, Keith O'Neilll, Eric Everett, Frankie Gavin, David Power, Maria Miller, The Derivatives, Ciaran Somers, and Seanachai. Walsh's debut album, "Aon Do Tri," has recently been released.

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