A Modern Mix

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

America is nothing if not a melting pot of cultures, and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the world of music, where styles are constantly mixing and cross-pollinating.  Aoife Clancy, who plays with her band this coming Tuesday at the Cayuga Vault in Santa Cruz, perpetuates this development of musical styles with her blend of traditional Irish and contemporary American sounds.  She brings her smooth, expressive voice to traditional ballads and original songs with equal facility and effectiveness.

Aoife Clancy is the daughter of the late Bobby Clancy, of the world-famous Clancy Brothers.  Born in the small town of Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, she began playing guitar aged 10, and by 14 was playing with her father in local pubs. 

Eventually Clancy moved to Dublin to study drama at the Gaiety School of Acting.  Following her first season, she was invited to take part in a tour of Australia, sharing the bill with some of Ireland’s top performers including Christy Moore.  From there, her music career took off.  In 1995 she joined Cherish The Ladies, a highly regarded all-women group playing traditional Irish music.  For four years, she toured extensively in the United States and Europe, performing in excess of two hundred dates a year. 

Aoife Clancy has an impressive resume as a performer.  In addition to her work with Cherish The Ladies, she has toured with The Clancy Brothers and the Paddy Noonan Show.  She has appeared as a featured soloist with orchestras such as the Cincinnati Pops and the Boston Pops, with whom she collaborated on their Grammy nominated Celtic album.  She has also recorded three solo albums, the most recent of which, “Silvery Moon,” was released last year on Appleseed Records.  It features musicians from Solas and Mary Black’s band, and includes a duet with her father on “Kisses Sweeter than Wine.” Her music has drawn much critical acclaim.  One Australian reviewer said “she has a breadth of styles that make her concerts fascinating.  Her singing would melt ice with its warmth and richness.” 

Clancy is currently touring with her band to promote her solo CDs.  The other members of the trio are Laurence Nugent on flute and whistle, and Matt Heaton on guitar and vocals. Nugent, from Co. Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, is the son of the late Sean Nugent, All-Ireland fiddle champion and leader of the legendary Pride of Erin ceili band.  He is a twice winner of the All-Ireland tin whistle competition and has released two highly acclaimed albums.  Guitarist Heaton is a Pittsburgh, PA native, and has studied classical guitar in Italy.  He has performed at festivals throughout the United States and Canada with his band Siucra, which also features his flutist wife Shannon.

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, March 27, 2003

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