"Máires name is great - Ní Chathasaigh:
When you enter Newman in Alta Vista, there come - phffff - something like 76.000 items, you know, that's impossible; Ní Chathasaigh is ideal, there you have just 79, and that is all her. That's how people come to our homepage. Encourage people to visit us there: www.oldbridgemusic.com. When Chris has some spare time, he sometimes surfs in the virtual worlds for hours: "I personally think that the Internet offers a huge amount of fun." Chris & Máire have started their Internet homepage a few years ago very small and just for fun. Today they have already more than 20 pages, where you can find out more about their music and their label Old Bridge Music, and get their latest tour dates there.
On a cold winter's evening in January we met Máire and Chris for a short interview at their first concert in Essen-Werden, a nice suburb of Essen which is the biggest town of German Ruhr region. Bookseller Schmitz had arranged this concert after a friend had given him a CD from their previous tour. He liked the music so much that he directly phoned Chris in England and invited them to do this concert.
Chris is a fantastic guitarist, and together with his wife, harpist/singer Máire, they are a congenial duo. "Core of what we are doing is traditional Irish music", describes Chris. "We also do things not Irish, and music not traditional, but then we try to play them as if it could be traditional and could be Irish. We play tunes from America, Scotland, France, Sweden, one from the Argentine, and we have played for a while also a Russian tune. But it's mainly traditional Irish music." Their tunes and songs are chosen just by personal taste, "whatever we like". - "We always try out new things, and if it works, it works; if not, then not."
The musical roots of both of them lie in their early childhood in England and Ireland. Born in England, Chris has started playing the guitar when he was four and has always played the guitar since then. What kind of music was it first? "At the beginning? When I was four years old?? - - There was a very popular tune from an English musical; I remember playing that when I was about six. - First it was finger style, kind of ragtime-folky, something like that."
Máires was born and bred in Ireland, both her mother and grandmother were singers, and there was always traditional music in her family. Máire started singing already before the age of two; when she was six her mother taught her the piano. She started violin and tin whistle with ten and also played the uilleann pipes for a while. Then, at the age of 11, she started playing the harp that she plays since then. "I have always played traditional music, traditional Irish music."
Chris and Máire met in 1984 at a festival in Spain, Chris playing in a duo, Máire solo. And exactly ten years ago the two have played together the first time. Máire remembers: "Our first gig together was at the Cambridge Folk Festival '87 - it's a bit crazy: the first gig together in front of thousands of people - not too sensible..." They are regularly touring together since February '88, and in the same year their first duo album ('The Living Wood') was recorded.
Today they are living in England which Máire enjoys, although she thinks life there is very different to life in Ireland. Máire and Chris regularly tour in Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. "Sometimes we also play in Denmark, Belgium or wherever." Two years ago Chris started to tour also with the Boys of the Lough; "they are all nice guys, good players, it's simple to work with them." It's a new experience for Chris, as it is his first time playing in a band. "The music is similar; but the way it is played and presented and the appearance is quite different. It's good fun." Once the Boys had found in Máire a "Girl of the Lough" - but just for one night at a festival in Brussels, because the organiser wanted to have something special.
Máire and Chris decided to start their own label 'Old Bridge Music', after they have made twice bad experiences with labels (from England and America). You can find on this label mainly their own albums, but also some of their friends. "It is much fun, it is exciting." Up to now they have published only seven albums and one book, but they are planning to bring out about two new albums a year in future.
For this year both of them want to bring out solo albums. Chris' is already completed, and Máire has not had a solo album for 11 years so now it should be time for it. "This is our plan. On the other hand we also have to record another duo album. So we don't know exactly what will happen. But something will happen."
Newsflash: Chris Newman has left the Boys of the Lough - look at his homepage for the reasons!
For booking and infos, look at: Máires and Chris Homepage
For their CDs and bookings contact Chris Newman.
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