Button accordionist and musicologist Paddy O'Brien was born September 13, 1945 in Daingean, County Offaly, Ireland; after spending several years travelling the Irish countryside learning and collecting traditional songs and folklore -- over the decades, he would amass more than 3000 jigs, reels, airs and marches -- he made his professional debut in 1966 with the Ballinamere C+¬il+¡ Band, later touring the eastern U.S. with Se+ín and Kathleen Ryan. In 1969 -- the year he won the first of four top honors in the Oireachtas Competition solo accordion contest -- O'Brien relocated to Dublin, where he regularly played pubs alongside fiddlers John Kelly and Joe Ryan; until 1978, he also played with the Castle C+¬il+¡ Band, concurrently backing Ceoltoiri Laighean as well. Named All-Ireland senior accordion champion in 1975, three years later O'Brien returned to the U.S. to join fiddler James Kelly and guitarist D+íith+¡ Sproule in the trio Bowhand, which debuted with the Shanachie release Is It Yourself?; Spring in the Air followed in 1980, and in 1983 he officially settled in Minneapolis. With banjo player Se+ín O'Driscoll and singer/guitarist Tom Dahill, O'Brien next formed the group Hill 16, issuing a self-titled LP in 1984; he made his long-awaited solo debut in 1988, issuing Stranger at the Gate on Green Linnet. With a 1994 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, he recorded some 500 traditional songs for the massive Paddy O'Brien Tune Collection: A Personal Treasury of Irish Jigs and Reels; the following year, O'Brien formed the group Chulrua with singer/guitarist Pat Egan and piper Michael Cooney. ~ Jason AnkenyPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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