Ken O'Malley
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Ken O'Malley

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Band Folk Celtic

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Music

Press


"What the press is saying about Ken O'Malley . . ."

“Ken O'Malley has emerged, without question, as the single most enduring, influential and proficient of all Irish musicians in Southern California.” ---- Ric Gentry, The Irish News

“Irish born Ken O’Malley, who now makes his home in Los Angeles, is the best balladeer to grace the stage of the Ford for many years . . . O’Malley himself was in great voice and The Twilight Lords provided him with excellent back up, harmony and tunes” ---- The Irish News (review of the 2007 John Anson Ford Amphitheatre concert)

“Dust-free and polished to perfection, each song is performed with authenticity, and the care one might use when handling a valuable family heirloom” ----Lisa Elaine Scott, Music Connection Magazine

“Widely regarded as the finest Irish folk singer/songwriter in the United States today”--- University of St. Thomas, Houston

"The evening started with a perfect 10 as Dublin born singer/songwriter Ken O'Malley belted out a couple of Ireland's favorite ballads. His rendition of “Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore" set the bar for the quality that was to come our way throughout. O'Malley, from Dublin, is a rare talent.” ----Sean Canniffe, The Irish Herald, San Francisco

“Vocalist/guitarist, Ken O’Malley, a Dublin native now living in Los Angeles, is the driving force behind David Raven McSparran and James Cruce, percussion and fellow guitarists, Billy Watts and Tony Zamora. His versatile voice is equally at home on Mo Ghile Mear and Easy & Slow.” ---- Irish Music News/Dara Records

“Because the CD [Women of Ireland] is recorded live at the Celtic Arts Center, in Studio City, CA and as Ken has a deep rich voice and a very sexy Irish accent, you feel like you might be in a pub in Ireland. He has brought together some of the best musical talent, Irish or otherwise, to create a very enjoyable CD. The mix of fighting songs, airs and knee slapping dance tunes makes this a must for any Irish music Collection.
---- Renaissance Herald

“Though Ken O'Malley does a fine job of Bob Dylan's 'Tangled Up in Blue' or Van Morrison's 'Into the Mystic' when called upon, he's much more than a mere pub singer. Blessed with a stunningly rich Irish tenor that can easily fill a room without the aid of amplification, he's also a fine mandolin player and guitarist with a large repertoire of traditional and contemporary Irish songs.. The star is O'Malley's voice . . . which effortlessly spans the range from sentimental ballads to aggressive Irish folk/rock and everywhere in between.” ----Dave Soyars, the Irish Herald

“Ken O'Malley belts out a feisty blend of traditional and new Irish folk music, both lyrical and instrumental. He sings about everything from the subtleties of true love, to the struggle of the working class, to the joy of a pint of beer at the end of a long, hard journey. O’Malley's original songs fit seamlessly alongside traditional melodies (‘She Moves Through the Fair’) and contemporary gems (‘Van Morrison's 'Into the Mystic'). Everything is played with style and flair.” ----Robert Norman, Music Connection Magazine

"His performance was enjoyable to people across the gamut, in academia and from all walks of life. . . he had a wonderful rapport with the audience and we regretted that the evening had come to an end" ----Lori Meghan Gallagher Director, Center for Irish Studies, University of St. Thomas, Houston
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Discography

ÓMáille (2007) - The University of St. Thomas at Houston says that Ken O'Malley is "widely regarded as the finest Irish folk singer/songwriter in the United States today"; this statement rings true in each and every track of "ÓMáille". In this treasured collection of old and new favorites, Dublin born O'Malley not only demonstrates his talent as a master musician but brings to life the heart and soul of his native land. This excellent body of work is a "must have" for any serious collector of the finest in Irish music.

Women of Ireland (2002) - "With Dublin native Ken O'Malley's stunningly vibrant Irish tenor at the helm, The Twilight Lords effortlessly span the range from sentimental traditional Irish ballads to aggressive contemporary Irish folk/rock. Included are standards like "Sally Free and Easy", and "As I Roved Out", contemporary rockers like "Sullivan's John", a few sparkling jigs and reels, and a pounding polka. There are also three songs in O'Malley's native Gaelic language. This stellar performance was recorded live at LA's Celtic Arts Center... " Dave Soyers, writer for The Irish Herald, San Francisco

The White Seahorse (1999) - This O'Malley studio album is also a mix of such traditional material as "Carrickfergus", "The Silver Spear/Maid behind the Bar", and "Black is the Colour" and original compositions like "The High Wire Waltz", "The Sailor Song", "Better Days" and the title track "The White Seahorse" - a salute to O'Malley's forebear, Grace O'Malley aka Granuaile, the pirate Queen of 16th century Ireland.

Photos

Bio

Ken O'Malley arrived in Los Angeles from Dublin over 30 years ago with little more than red and blue platform shoes, his guitar and the notion that he should find a pub and play. Within two weeks, he was performing at Molly Malone's, the legendary Irish venue in the city's Fairfax district, and he hasn't stopped playing since. Through the years, O'Malley has performed solo and as part of The Mulligans, Blended Spirits and, currently, The Twilight Lords. He's shared bills with such artists as Mary Black, The Chieftains, The Saw Doctors, Michael Flately and Pierce Brosnan and continues to be an ever-popular and near legendary constant on Southern California's Celtic music circuit. "I love music and I love to play," says O'Malley who, by his own estimate, plays well over 200 dates a year.

And just as Ken O'Malley loves Celtic music, he is devoted to nurturing Irish traditions and culture. One of seven children, he was born and raised in Dublin City. His grandfather was a band-leader, his father played piano, his mother opted for violin and everyone, of course, sang. When O'Malley was nine years old, his father gave him a ukulele. Attending a Christian Brothers school gave him fluency in the Irish language and a spot in the accordion band. He taught himself guitar and mandolin, and by age 14, he was playing coffeehouses in Dublin's then-burgeoning traditional music scene.

While a teen, O'Malley polished his Irish language skills spending summers in the west of Ireland. At 15, he opened for legendary balladeer Paddy Reilly at the equally legendary Old Sheiling Pub. By the time he turned 18, O'Malley was gathering professional credits, among them a stint with Trudy's People, a group he formed that played Gaelic shows on RTE, Ireland's national radio and television network. After coming to the U.S., he also performed in the film "Patriot Games" and has acted in such theatrical productions as "Shadow of The Glen" and "The Man Who Would be King". In 2007 he joined the cast of Ray Bradbury's "Falling Upward" which received rave reviews; he will be returning to the Los Angeles production in 2009.

Today, as a performer, he is equally at ease with the eighteenth century "Mo Ghile Mear," the Phil Coulter penned contemporary classic "The Town I Loved So Well" or Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," one of his most requested songs. As a spinner of tales tall and true, he never fails to amuse and beguile. And as a musician, O'Malley's graceful mastery of the mandolin and guitar have earned him high peer praise.

"I enjoy playing now more than ever," says O'Malley. "In the last ten years, I've matured as an artist. My voice has gotten stronger, my playing better. I'm writing more and I'm writing better." The truth of his statement is clearly evident on his first CD,The White Seahorse, a masterful homage to traditional Irish music enhanced with solid rhythms, acoustic and electric instruments matched by the powerful vocal energy that is the hallmark of a Ken O'Malley performance. The second release, Women of Ireland, continues to showcase O'Malley's irresistible blend of Celtic traditional, American roots rock and eclectic world beat, this time before an enthusiastic live audience at the Celtic Arts Center.

O’Malley’s most recent release, is appropriately titled ÓMáille, his name in Gaelic and demonstrates O’Malley’s considerable strength as a solo artist. These traditional arrangements, though spartan, brilliantly bring the music of his heritage to life. Dave Soyars of the Irish Herald writes: “His powerful and emotive voice shines through on everything he does, but here he’s the instrumental star as well, with precise but driven acoustic rhythm guitar and solid rhythm and tunes-playing on mandolin.”

"If I've made people happy with my performances," says O'Malley, "that's success to me."