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The Chieftains

Country of origin:


Type of music generally:

Traditional Irish music


Most recent release, Voice Of Ages (CD/DVD, 2012)

See also:

The Chieftains site

Wikipedia's entry on The Chieftains

The Chieftain's facebook page

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for their collaboration with Van Morrison, Irish Heartbeat


They were the first to popularize traditional Irish music in North America. They come from a long tradition, and many have followed in their footsteps.

Covers/own material:

Traditional and covers

General comments:

The Chieftains do traditional Irish music very well. They play with Van Morrison a lot. I got Long Black Veil after a good review in Newsweek, no less, because of 2 Sinéad O'Connor vocals and was happy with those 2 cuts and recognised the quality of the rest though I'm not into trad. Irish music. If *you* are, then you will love them! (

The Chieftains were responsible for the renewed interest in traditional Irish music, some ridiculously long period of time ago (like 20 or 25 years...I think they had a 25th anniversary album a few years ago). They manage to keep themselves fresh and pushing new directions by playing with people as varied as Van Morrison, Nanci Griffith, Roger Daltrey and Mick Jagger. If you like traditional Irish music, you should enjoy seeing them live. (contributor attribution lost)

I tend to be fairly lukewarm on the Chieftains. I appreciate their place in history, and am thankful for all the people that I like better who were influenced by them. But I find them to be a bit on the sleepy side. Though every one of these albums with multiple guests have had cool surprises on them. (neal)

Recommended first album:

Ectophiles' favorites include Long Black Veil and Tears of Stone

Recordings include:

  • The Chieftains 1 (1965)
  • The Chieftains 2 (1969)
  • The Chieftains 3 (1971)
  • The Chieftains 4 (1973)
  • The Chieftains 5 (1975)
  • Bonaparte's Retreat (1976)
  • Chieftains Live! (1977)
  • The Chieftains 7 (1977)
  • Chieftains 8 (1978)
  • Chieftains 9: Boil The Breakfast Early (1980?)
  • The Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe (1981)
  • Year of the French (1982)
  • The Grey Fox (1984)
  • Ballad of the Irish Horse (1985)
  • The Chieftains in China (1987)
  • Irish Heartbeat (with Van Morrison, 1988)
  • Chieftains Celebration (1989)
  • Over the Sea to Skye: The Celtic Connection (1991)
  • The Bells of Dublin (1991)
  • Reel Music: The Film Scores (1991)
  • Tailor of Gloucester (1991)
  • Another Country (1992)
  • Irish Evening (live, 1992)
  • The Celtic Harp (1993)
  • Long Black Veil (1995)
  • Film Cuts (1996)
  • Gael Wind (1996)
  • Santiago (1996)
  • Celtic Wedding: Music of Brittany (1998)
  • Fire in the Kitchen (1998)
  • Tears of Stone (1999)
  • Water From the Well (2000)
  • Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions (2002)
  • Further Down the Old Plank Road (2003)
  • Live From Dublin: A Tribute to Derek Bell (live, 2005)
  • San Patricio (2010)
  • Voice Of Ages (CD/DVD, 2012

The Long Black Veil

Release info:




Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of traditional music; others may be interested because of the extra performers

Group members:

Kevin Conneff—vocals, bodhran
Martin Fay—fiddle
Sean Keane—fiddle
Derek Bell—harp, tiompan, keyboards
Matt Molloy—flute
Paddy Moloney—Uilleann pipes, tin whistle

Guest artists:

Colin James—guitar, mandolin
Dominic Miller, Paul Brady, Arty McGlynn, Foggy Little—guitar
Kieran Hanrahan—banjo
Terry Tulley—Scottish pipes
Carlos Nunez—Galician pipes
Brendan Begley, James Keane, Martin O'Connor—accordion
Steve Cooney—didgeridoo
Wally Minko—piano
James Blennerhassett, Ned Mann—acoustic bass
Joe Csibi—bass
Darryl Jones, Nicky Scott—bass
Noel Eccles, Tommy Igoe, Liam Bradley—drums
Jean Butler—foot percussion
Anuna Choir, Brian Masterson—background vocals
The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Sting, Ry Cooder, Mark Knopfler, Sinéad O'Connor, Phil Coulter, Marianne Faithfull, Tom Jones—vocals

Produced by:

Paddy Moloney, Chris Kimsey, Ry Cooder


The recent album The Long Black Veil seems kind of a mixed bag to me. The oddest thing about it was that I was interested in it because of Sinéad O'Connor's contributions, and I thought they were among the weakest moments. The people I was most skeptical of (Mick Jagger and Tom Jones) have my two favorite songs on the disc. In between are solid contributions from Marianne Faithfull and Ry Cooder. (contributor attribution lost)

Tears of Stone

Release info:




Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of traditional music; others may be interested because of the extra performers

Group members:

Martin Fay—fiddle
Sean Keane—fiddle
Derek Bell—harp, keyboard, tiompan
Matt Molloy—flute
Paddy Maloney—tin whistle, Uillean pipes
Kevin Conneff—bodhran

Guest artists:

Bonnie Raitt—vocals, dobro
Brenda Fricker, Natalie Merchant, Joni Mitchell, Sinéad O'Connor, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Loreena McKennitt, Joan Osborne, Akiko Yano, Sissel, Diana Krall, Maire Breatnach, The Rankins, The Corrs—vocals
Eric Della Penna—guitar
Annborg Lien, Eileen Ivers, Natalie MacMaster—fiddle
Mairtin O'Connor—accordion
Patrick Fitzpatrick—keyboards
Hutch Hutchinson—bass
The Screaming Orphans, Anuna—background vocals

Produced by:

Paddy Maloney


This will be one of my top 10 for the year (yeah, I know it's only February). Tears Of Stone should not be missed. There are great songs from <Sinéad O'Connor, The Rankins, Joan Osborne, Natalie Merchant, Bonnie Raitt, and a fiddle tune from 3 ladies (among them Natalie MacMaster) that will knock you out. Other artists on the disc include Joni Mitchell, and The Corrs. There are 12 songs in all and to me there's only two songs that I simply don't love, all the others are excellent. Most songs are beautiful Irish ballads with the exception of 3 songs, one being the aforementioned fiddle tune. (

Great stuff! However, my favorite is the song with the women fiddlers on it. That is just great to hear everybody blending in, then going off on their extremely different and unique solos. Super. (Matt.Bittner)

I seem to have mostly listened to the first half of the album, and some of the contributions that I thought might have worked particularly well leave me cold. In particular, Anuna and Bonnie Raitt don't seem to really play into their strengths that well.
     I'm still trying to sort out if I like this version of Joni Mitchell's "Magdelene Laundries" or not.
     I really like the Sinéad O'Connor song, and found Natalie Merchant to be a surprisingly great contributor. I wouldn't have imagined enjoying a pairing of her and the Chieftans that much. She seems to feel the flow of the song really well.
     People I find kind of bland remain bland in this setting (The Corrs, The Rankins—hmmm, both families, wonder what that means).
     I also rather like the Japanese piece by Akiko Yano, which is very non-standard. (neal)

I recently purchased this CD and am quite pleased with it. Like most compilation CDs, it's a little uneven—but then there are no tracks that I really dislike, so it's better than most compilations.
     I was most impressed with Joan Osborne's "Raglan Road". She really has a knack for Irish songs, surprisingly.
     The one track I found a little disappointing was Joni Mitchell's "The Magdelene Laundries"—a great song, yes, but this arrangement differs little from the original. (

Down The Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions

Release info:

2002—RCA Victor—09026-63971-2



Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Paddy Moloney—Uilleann pipes, tin whistle, vocal on 14
Seán Keane—fiddle
Kevin Conneff—bodhrán
Matt Molloy—flute
Derek Bell—harp, tiompán, keyboards

Guest artists:

Béla Fleck—banjo
Matt Rollings—piano
Jeff White—acoustic guitar, vocal, background vocal
Shannon Forrest—drums, percussion
Glenn Worf—upright bass
Tim O'Brien—mandolin, vocal
Marc Savoy—accordion
Bryan Sutton—clawhammer, banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, archtop guitar
Barry Bales—upright bass
Earl Scruggs—banjo
Glen Duncan—fiddle
Randy Kohrs—dobro
Steve Buckingham—mountain dulcimer
John Hagen—cello
Viktor Krauss—upright bass
James Gilmer—percussion
John Hiatt—vocal (1, 14)
Jeffrey Lesser—vocal (1)
Buddy Miller, Julie Miller—vocal (2)
Vince Gill—vocal (4)
Ricky Skaggs—vocal (5, 14), mandolin (5)
Cody Kilby (Kentucky Thunder)—acoustic guitar (5)
Andy Leftwich (Kentucky Thunder)—fiddle (5)
Mark Fain (Kentucky Thunder)—upright bass (5)
Jim Mills (Kentucky Thunder)—banjo (5)
Alison Krauss—vocal, viola, background vocal (6)
Lyle Lovett—vocal (7)
Patty Griffin—vocal (9)
Del McCoury (The Del McCoury Band)—vocal, acoustic guitar (10)
Ronnie McCoury (The Del McCoury Band)—mandolin (10)
Robbie McCoury (The Del McCoury Band)—banjo (10)
Mike Bub (The Del McCoury Band)—upright bass (10)
Jason Carter (The Del McCoury Band)—fiddle (10)
Martina McBride—vocal (11)
Stuart Duncan—mandolin (11, 12)
Jeff Taylor—accordion (11)
Gillian Welch, David Rawlings—vocal (13)
Kevin Conneff—vocal (14)

Produced by:

Paddy Moloney


The Chieftains' exploration of the connections between traditional Irish music and American country and bluegrass traditions is a bit more country and bluegrass than I usually like. But the variety of songs, guests, and the talent and enthusiasm of the musicians make me enjoy the album all the same. The standouts are the ballad "Molly Bán (Bawn)" with Alison Krauss and the 10-minute finale "Give the Fiddler a Dram" which even ventures into other American musical traditions like ragtime and jazz. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2022-01-17 19:16:18.
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