“Bua evokes the good times that Irish traditional music so often celebrates,” playing in a manner “largely forgotten in today’s overly polished Irish music world.” With “a precision and intensity that is rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic,” their sound stands out among modern bands in the genre by “keeping the music down the path of tradition” while still being able to “raise the rafters with their playing, charm with their singing, and delight with their contemporary energy.”
“Bua evokes the good times that Irish traditional music so often celebrates,” playing in a manner “largely forgotten in today’s overly polished Irish music world.” With “a precision and intensity that is rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic,” their sound stands out among modern bands in the genre by “keeping the music down the path of tradition” while still being able to “raise the rafters with their playing, charm with their singing, and delight with their contemporary energy.” Based in Chicago, Illinois—a long-celebrated center of Irish traditional music—Bua “has established itself individually and as a group in the eyes and ears of the traditional community,” and their 2011 release, Down the Green Fields, finds Bua exploring the forgotten sounds from the heyday of Irish music in the City of Big Shoulders with a blend of enchantingly stark song arrangements and bold, pulsing dance tunes. Lauded by The Bluegrass Situation as being the top Irish album of the past five years, Down the Green Fields stands as “a testament, from beginning to end, of the lasting essentials of the Irish tradition”.
Meet the band:
Brian Miller has been accompanying songs and dance music from the Irish tradition for over 15 years and is one of the most sought-after guitarists in North American’s Irish music scene. He has performed across North America and in Ireland with various groups including Chulrua, The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, and the Two Tap Trio; and in duo with Randy Gosa performing songs from the lumber camps of the North Woods. He has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, CBC Radio’s Canada Live, and on various RTÉ television and radio programs in Ireland. He currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota where he teaches flute, whistle and guitar at the Center for Irish Music.
Devin Shepherd grew up immersed in the deep-rooted Irish music scene of his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. He was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Master-Apprentice grant to study with famed Liz Carroll when he was only twelve years of age. During this formative period he won first prize in the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil fiddle competition for nine consecutive years—another testament to his dedication to the tradition. Shepherd learned much about the styles and repertoire of Chicago by playing with many native born musicians including Phil Durkin, Frank Burke, Albert Neary, Pat Cloonin, and Úna McGlew. Since 2000, Devin has been a full-time teacher and performer of Irish music throughout the US and abroad and currently resides in New York City—another highly respected community for Irish traditional music.
Sean Gavin’s playing on the flute, whistle and uilleann pipes reflects his lifelong love for Irish traditional music. Growing up in Detroit, Michigan he was first encouraged to take up Irish music by his father, Clare-born fiddle player Mick Gavin. Sean played a variety of instruments before settling on the flute at the age of eleven with the help of flute-player Leo Mac Namara, a native of Scariff, Co. Clare. Not long after, he began work on the uilleann pipes with teacher Al Purcell—himself a student of famed Dublin-born piper Leo Rowsome. He is a member of another critically acclaimed group NicGaviskey and performs often with the Irish band Téada. He enjoys teaching and performing throughout North America and currently serves as the musical director for the sean-nós dancing performance ensemble Atlantic Steps.
Brian Ó hAirt is the only American to have won the coveted senior title in traditional singing at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 2002. In his teens, Brian’s introduction to Chicago’s Irish-speaking community allowed him to cultivate a rich understanding of the sean-nós singing tradition even before his immersion in the language while living in the Connemara region of western Co. Galway. This experience has left him with a vast repertoire of song and rich store of language that continues to inform and inspire his singing. Since 2007, Brian has also recorded and toured extensively with famed Co. Antrim singer Len Graham, cultivating considerable knowledge about the Ulster tradition through this collaboration. He has performed and taught extensively in North America and Ireland and has been featured on various NPR and RTÉ radio programs. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Down the Green Fields /Síos Fá Thaobh An Ghleanna, 2011
An Spealadóir, Mad River Records, 2009
Live at Martyrs, 2006
For any fans of traditional Irish music, Bua’s Down the Green Fields is not only the kind of album that should place the band in the highest echelon of Irish groups, but also a truly admirable example of taste and restraint in a tradition that sometimes loses sight of both.
Driftwood Magazine February 2012
Bua again demonstrates the essence of what a band does best, letting the pieces be joined to its strongest fashion. An Spealadóir features all that is really good about tradition music. It is a breath-taking excursion, and one you will not want to miss.
Irish Music Magazine August 2009
It is a work without gimmicks, where the musicianship is of the highest quality…In many ways it is a throwback to the playing of the 1960’s and 1970’s, keeping the music down the path of tradition. Live at Martyrs’ is a piece one can play without fear of wearing out its welcome.
Irish Music Magazine May 2007Bua has played in twenty-four states within the US and two Canadian provinces. Here are some highlights from over the years.
Folk Venues:National Folk Festival, Butte MT: 2010 * CityFolk Festival, Dayton OH: 2011 Lowell Folk Festival, Lowell MA: 2010 * University of Chicago Folk Festival, Chicago IL: 2012 * Great Lakes Folk Festival, East Lansing MI: 2012 * New Bedford Summerfest, New Bedford MA: 2009 * Old Songs Festival, Altamont NY: 2009 * Dianna Wortham Theater, Asheville NC: 2010 * Woods Hole Folk Music Society, Woods Hole MA: 2011 * The Ark, Ann Arbor MI: 2011 * University of Hartford, Hartford CT: 2008, 2009 * Blackstone River Theatre, Cumberland RI: 2008 * Delaware Valley Arts Consortium, Immaculata PA: 2010 * Cumberland Music Association, Knoxville TN: 2010 * University of Louisiana at Monroe, Monroe LA: 2010 * Missouri Valley Folklife Society, Kansas City MO: 2008 * Fresno Folklore Society, Fresno CA: 2013
Irish & Celtic Communities:Dublin Irish Festival, Dublin OH: 2009 * Celtic Classic, Bethlehem PA: 2009, 2010, 2012 * Catskills Irish Arts Week, East Durham NY: 2010 * Celtic Roots Festival, Goderich ON: 2009, 2010 * Buffalo Irish Fest, Buffalo NY: 2008 * Minnesota Irish Fair, St. Paul MN: 2010 * Arizona Highland Celtic Festival, Flagstaff AZ: 2011, 2012 * Eugene Irish Cultural Festival, Eugene OR: 2012 * Jackson Celtic Fest, Jackson MS: 2012 * Chicago Celtic Fest, Chicago IL: 2007 * Milwaukee Irish Fest, Milwaukee WI: 2006, 2007 * Irish American Heritage Center, Chicago IL: 2006, 2007, 2010 * Philadelphia Céilí Group Festival, Philadelphia PA: 2009 * Irish Center of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati OH: 2012 * Irish Cultural & Heritage Center of Wisconsin, Milwaukee WI: 2007, 2012 * Winnipeg Irish Festival, Winnipeg MB: 2013 *
Selected Summer Schools: Grand Canyon Celtic Arts Academy, Flagstaff, AZ: 2011, 2012 Celtic College, Goderich, ON: 2009, 2010
Conferences: Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference (APAP), New York NY: 2009 Folk Alliance International Conference, Memphis TN