David Munnelly Band
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David Munnelly Band

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The ace Bullet from Belmullet made a big impression in the Catskills this summer (Irish Music & Dance Festival), and even more so when his full band joined him at the weekend to perform in East Durham. Their jazzy, innovative approach to traditional music make the David Munnelly Band a real crowd-pleaser for sure, and one of the more fascinating groups coming out of Ireland these days...The band to see if you can!

July 2006

WALNUT VALLEY FESTIVAL GETS MAGICAL
Country Standard Time
The absolute highlight [of the festival] was the tightly woven David Munnelly band from Ireland, also featuring American born tap dancer, Nick Gareiss, who lit fire to the stage with his air born feats, and fiddler, Daire Bracken, who absolutely stole the show.

October 2006 - Irish Voice


Now that we have stopped hyperventilating, we can tell you about Dave Munnelly. Well, we may start hypering again. David is from Belmullet, Mayo. 26 years old. Button box. The best young musician we have heard in years. He is a stunning box player, and he is incredibly well-backed by his group. It includes vocalist Andrew Murray, David's younger brother Kieran on bodhran and flute, Daire Bracken on fiddle, Gavin Ralston on guitar and a brilliant Bryan Molloy on keyboards.

The David Munnelly Band is just out with a stunning piece of work, By Heck. The last time we remember being this thrilled with a new traditional group was either the first time we heard Reeltime or Moving Cloud. It does not get any better in traditional music than this.

We had heard the thunder on the horizon about this group...This is Mayo, the West, the urgency and barely controlled drama of the music at its absolute zenith. We just cannot recommend this highly enough...You will not hear this style of playing out of Dublin, to be sure, and nobody in America is remotely playing like this.

Munnelly is a creative force at the true epicenter of Irish traditional music...Extremely entertaining on stage, this group is proudly planting its standard of excellence in the tradition.

Dave Munnelly offers brilliant, brilliant music, stunningly played-arranged. It is perfect. Do what you have to do, but get this album. Miss it, and you'll be missing where the tradition is going.
- Bill Margeson - LiveIreland.com


By heck, indeed!

Here's an album that'll get your attention at first listen. Melodeon and accordion (and piano) player Munnelly wears his heart on his sleeve and his heart lies in the music of "the golden age", when exuberance and a lack of cynicism combined to add an edge to Irish music which is often lacking in the more clinical and more cynical playing encountered today.

Munnelly has no time for po-faced restraint; like a man possessed, he trots out a gleeful, purposeful intro, then tears into "The Cuckoo's Nest" with such pace and vigour that the listener's left gasping and wondering how he managed to fit so many intricate ornaments and curlicues into the tunes while maintaining such an uncomprising tempo and rhythm, so much so that the change to "The Silver Spire" comes as a shock - a further subtle build-up of energy and foot-tapping fun.  

Energy and fun are Munnelly's stock in trade.  This is a great album to lift the spirits, brimming with unselfconscious musicality, at times playfully exploring those jazz tinges that coloured the Irish music of the 20s and 30s (some cheeky soprano sax from Richie Buckley and banjo from Paul Kelly enhancing the effect on, for example, Munnelly's own infectious barndance, the smileful By Heck).

But let's not give the impression that Munnelly is a one-trick pony.  His original composition, the slow air "Ar Boithrin na Smaointe" finds him in soulful mood.

Unpretentious, uplifiting music like this doesn't come along every day. Hitch a ride on the Munnelly juggernaut and enjoy the journey!

-Aiden Crossey

- Pay the Reckoning


I recently had the good furtune to come across a DVD featuring David Munnelly in concert. Midway through the disc, I was wondering where I could hear more. The mailman solved that one the next day when this album arrived. And by heck, what an album it is!

Let me explain a little about David Munnelly. Some people play accordion fast, and some play with a tremendous sense of ornamentation. Munnelly plays fast, but with a tremendous sense of ornamentation. You never feel rushed listening to him and you're always aware of his understanding of the music & his instrument.

Its not that there's no letup in his playing. The air, "Ar Bhoithrin na Smaoite" (the Road of Thought) shows such tenderness as he almost breathes his way through the melody. And with his piano playing, particularly on the vocal tracks, he takes a supporting role for the singer to excel.

He introduces two singers, Andrew Murray & Helen Flaherty, both of whom I would love to hear more of. But I feel that way about all the musicians on the album, especially fiddler Daire Bracken & guitarist Gavin Ralston. Munnelly, a superb musicians himself, is surrounded by his equals.

He ranges from traditional to contemporary, turning to greats such as the Flanagan Brothers & Richard Thompson for material. There is a vibrancy & sense of fun in his playing. And he is not afraid to experiment (just take a listen to that air with its piano, sax & accordion arrangement!)

I think we're going to hear a lot, lot more of David Munnelly.
-Jamie O'Brien

- Irish Edition, U.S.A.


I am a sucker for an Irish brogue, and David Munnelly didn’t disappoint. Munnelly, lead member of the David Munnelly Band, also plays a mean accordion. His band closed down Stage 1 Thursday, but their tunes were certainly worth the late night pick-me-up.

The David Munnelly Band has the purest Irish sound I’ve ever heard... This band’s rhythms are inspiring and perfect for a jig. Munnelly’s accordion riffs and little brother Kieran’s trilling flute had me on my feet.
- Dakotah M. Davis
- The Winfield Daily Courier, U.S.A.


Anyone who has heard recordings of the likes of the Flanagan Brothers will be aware that fusion music has been with us for a long time, as they were among the pioneers of integrating Irish traditional music with the swing and ragtime genres of the 1920s. David Munnelly has been greatly swayed by these influences, and produces a vibrant, catchy multi-layered sound which grabs your ears right from the first notes.

David plays accordion, melodeon and piano, and is joined here by a plethora of musicians and singers whose enjoyment is self-evident - it must have been fun in the recording studio when these tracks were being laid down. However it's not all 1920s swing. There are more modern sets of both traditional and more recent composition, and a Quebecois set which perfectly captures the nuances of that distinctive genre. The inclusion of singers, namely Andrew Murray and Helen Flaherty add an extra variety.

The overall effect is a CD that's fresh and lively throughout, bringing an innovative approach that works really well.
-Gordon Potter - The Living Tradition, U.K.


Mayo box player, David Munnelly has a new album out, By Heck! On offer are 11 sets of tunes, with three songs added by regular vocalist, Andrew Murray and guest, Helen Flaherty. Reels, polkas, barndances, airs, jigs and hornpipes ensure the variety.

Well arranged tunes dip, slide and change with a real sense of creativity. The group achieves a sound and ambiance that is like no one else. This is a young group with fresh takes on the tradition, while remaining true to the bone.

Munnelly is one of the best button box players to come out in years. Technique and speed are leavened by soul and a deep understanding of the heart of the tunes.

David's brother, Kieran, plays the bodhran and a flute bordering on the South Sligo style, Daire Bracken offers some wondrous fiddle work, and Gavin Ralston is featured on a really solid rhythm guitar. This is a truly exciting new group on the scene. The energy of youth meets real ability.

Highly recommended, Munnelly's is a career to follow closely. Great show in person. Big talent. Big time.
-Bill Margeson
- Irish Music Magazine, Ireland


Excerpts from the full page concert review, August 3-9, 2005 issue

The past is ever-present in the playing of Mayo-born melodeonist & two-row button button accordionist David Munnelly, whose ornamenting brio & brisk tempo could earn him the moniker Belmullet Bullet.

Munnelly's strongest musical influences include Brooklyn-born John J. Kimmel (1866-1942). nicknamed the Irish Dutchman; the Waterford-born Flanagan Brothers, who recorded during the 1920's & early 1930's; & Boston-born Joe Derrane, who surpassed Kimmel in virtually every technical area & is still going strong at age 75.

Like Derrane, Munnelly also knows how to swing, and that was engagingly evident throughout the Satalla concert.

"The American Polka" was played by Munnelly & his band with a verve & virtuosity that Ellington & Basie would have approved. "The Two Bridgies' Barndance," named for Munnelly's grandmothers, centered on his two-row playing with Scahill's fiddling was another highlight. Another reel, "Lively Leah," written by Meath musician Tina Price for her daughter, also sparkled in the hands of the four tune players.

But it was David Munnelly's tender, evocative, two-row accordion solo on a slow air learned from fiddler Frankie Gavin & button accordionist Mairtin O'Connor that brought Satalla to an appreciative stillness. On a night full of hard-charging, high-energy moments, this quiet one stood out.

As a whole, the David Munnelly Band is something special. Their skill, invention, & daring were often exhilarating...Every time he picks up the box, the Belmullet Bullet guarantees excitement.
-Earl Hitchner




- Irish Echo, U.S.A.


David Munnelly’s debut album “Swing” has echoes of the 1920’s, particularly the music of the Flanagan Brothers and Hot Club de Paris. The young Bellmullet accordionist’s performance is an extraordinary combination of technical ability, mixed with raw power and enthusiasm. This album is also testimony to David’s excellent compositional abilities, as a great many tracks on the album are his own compositions.

The twenty-five year old composer and accordion player has toured and performed with some of the country’s finest musicians including The Chieftains, Matt Molloy, Arty McGlynn and many more. He has also toured and recorded with The Chieftains and was the accordion player with DeDannan, with whom he has played throughout Europe. David grew up in Erris surrounded by music and learnt to play from his grandparents.
- The Western People, Ireland


“It was David Munnelly who got the maximum response from the festival audience. He played the different dance tunes of the 1920’s with so much energy; they played with fire but not just David himself, but also his brother Kieran, Gavin and the exciting fiddle player Daire Bracken. The up-tempo music changed sometimes with some songs sung by Andrew Murray. At Sunday’s performance there was an extra highlight - a bodhrán battle between Kieran and flook's John Joe Kelly.” - folkforum.nl


Discography

By Heck, CD, Music & Words (NL)
Swing, CD, Music & Words (NL)
Triad, CD, Independent (IRL)

* Live CD was recorded at the 2006 Walnut Valley Festival for release in 2007.

Visit www.davidmunnelly.com to listen to tracks & view DVD clips.

Airplay throughout Europe, Japan, Korea & North America.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Irish button accordion wizard David Munnelly & his award-winning group bring new excitement to Irish music with their jazzy Irish tunes & traditional songs, performed with high voltage energy.

Based in County Mayo, with members from Galway & Dublin, the David Munnelly Band has exploded onto the international Celtic music scene in the past four years with hit albums in Europe, Japan & North America. Featured on a PBS-TV special, National Public Radio, & on BBC World Television's program "Destination Music," the group is acclaimed for their outstanding musicianship and exciting live shows.

AWARDS:
David Munnelly - Composer of the Year, 2004, 2005 (Ireland)
Best Traditional Artist, 2005 (LiveIreland.com)
Best Band, 2005 (Irish American News)
Best Vocalist, 2006 (LiveIreland.com)
Concert of the Year, 2006 (Irish American News)

OTHER CREDITS: David performed with The Chieftains from the age of 21 to 25, and is featured on The Chieftains' CD "Water From The Well." He & singer Andrew Murray also were members of Irish supergroup DeDanaan.

MEDIA: The David Munnelly Band was seen worldwide in 2006 on the BBC World Television program "Destination Music: Ireland" for their performance at Ireland's Ballyshannon Festival. They were also featured in the U.S. on Superstation WGN-TV in September '06. In February & March '06, the band was highlighted in a two-part concert on NPR's "Celtic Connections," aired on over 100 stations across America.

Paul Keating of the Irish Voice says, "A real crowd-pleaser and one of the more fascinating groups coming out of Ireland...the band to see if you can!"

The music critic at LiveIreland.com has said, "This is the music at its absolute zenith. We cannot recommend this highly enough... Munnelly is a creative force at the true epicenter of Irish traditional music...Extremely entertaining on stage...brilliant, brilliant music... Miss it, and you'll be missing where the tradition is going."

See website to get Biographies of all band members