Laurence Doherty - Drums and Hard Hats (but not fiddle)
Laurence Doherty is one of the rare but amazing musicians you only come across once in a while. It is widely agreed that he is one of the most under-rated drummers ever to come out of Ireland and has an ear for music envied by many.
Laurence began playing music at school with Paul Rodden. After a few years jamming with local bands such as Kraft he then joined the amazing Rule The Roost which featured Percy and Bill robinson, Hugo Blake and Peter O'Hanlon. Later he teamed up again with bass player, Billy Robinson, to form Quarterdeck in the mid-‘80s, having success both in the Charts and on tour.
Around the same time he was playing with the ever popular Pros and The Gooseberries, both successful bands on the touring circuit. More recently Laurence has been playing and touring with various artists including singer-songwriter Marian Bradfield, Canadian musician, Reverend Neil Down, Buncrana’s Kevin Doherty, country blues guitarist, Paul Buckely, and The Henry Girls.
Ciaran Tourish - Fiddle
“Ciarán is one of the most capable and knowledgeable musicians I know. I would not be afraid to say he is one of the most important people in the excitement and preservation of all music Celtic.” - Jerry Douglas
Ciarán Tourish, best known as the nimble fingered fiddler from Altan, is one of East Donegal 's most celebrated musical exports, recognized by fellow musicians worldwide as an unusually gifted player. To be singled out amid the hotbed of traditional music that is Donegal is no small accomplishment. Tourish grew up surrounded by Irish traditional music's best, including fiddler Dinny McLaughlin, who shared his hometown of Buncrana. If his upbringing provided plenty of competition, however, it also facilitated Tourish's own musical development. McLaughlin began teaching the young fiddler, wooing his protégé away from an early start on the whistle, and grounding him in a mastery of the Irish dance music tradition.
Tourish, who continues to play whistle as a second instrument, is now recognized as one of the premier contemporary Irish fiddlers, an integral member of one of Ireland 's most beloved trad supergroups. His quick ear and a love of harmony and counterpoint have also led to several collaborations on non-Altan (and even non-Irish music) projects with a wide range of musicians and singers. He has worked with the likes of Matt Molloy, Mary Black, Maura O'Connell, Martin O'Connor, Dolores Keane, De Danann, and American musicians Jerry Douglas and Tim O'Brien.
Paul Rodden - Banjo
Paul Rodden was born and raised in Buncrana and at an early age showed great talent in both music and art. He was originally a guitarist and in his teens formed Kraft with Laurence Doherty and John McElhinney (SPELLING?)
He took up the 5 string banjo after being given one by his brother and was soon learning the music of the Appalachian mountains and bluegrass legends such as Earl Scruggs. He then discovered the fast paced picking and earthy sound was perfect for traditional Irish tunes as well.
Paul went on to spend some years at Liverpool’s college of Art where he continued his music, busking in the streets and playing in many of Liverpool’s bars and clubs. Paul’s painting were gaining popularity at home and he was commissioned to do a painting of Tip O’Neill’s old family homestead for the late politician’s visit to Ireland. The painting was eventually hung in Mr O’Neill’s office in Washington DC.
He moved to London in the 80s and was soon an integral part of the roots music scene there, playing sessions all over the city and playing in groundbreaking bands like The Wise Monkeys, Sons of the Desert and Frank Tovey and the Pyros. Paul has been living in Nante in France for many years with his long time girlfriend Nelly and continues to play and record there with his band Mr. Midnight. He recently appeared both as an actor and on the soundtrack to the western movie Blueberry
Kevin Doherty - Mandolin and Guitar
Kevin as been playing on the international stage for thirteen years now. He developed his craft in his hometown of Buncrana Co. Donegal - reading voraciously, listening avidly and getting to play sessions with some of the best traditional musicians in the country.
Kevin played in several popular northern bands before being asked to join Four Men and A Dog. With the Dogs he toured the world constantly and recorded four albums - two in Ireland ('shifting gravel' and 'maybe tonight') and two in Woodstock, New York ('Dr A's and Long Roads') in the home of music legend Levon Helm of 'the Band'. It was at the same studio, again with the expert help of 'Band'and 'Mercury Rev' producer Aaron Hurwitz that he recorded his first solo record 'Strange Weather'. Levon Helm guested on drums, as did the late Rick Danko who Kevin joined for many gigs on the East Coast of the states.
More recently Kevin has joined with pianist James Delaney and formed a strong musical friendship which led to his latest album 'SweetWater' The album also brought the great northern guitarist Henry McCullough into the mix, now Henry, James and Kevin work regularly together.
Michael Gallanagh – Guitar
Michael has been playing guitar and singing since he was a boy, first with his family and then in a group with fellow Pyros member John Cutliffe, John’s sister Caroline and Carmel McElhinney. The group were one of the most fun teen bands ever to come out of Donegal and appeared in concerts with Phil Coulter and Joseph Locke in the Plaza ballroom.
Since those early days Michael has managed to combine his music life with one in the “real” world. He lived for many years in London and Paris playing with many well known musicians as well as forging out a career in the corporate world. Michael even spent a long time as one of the entertainers at Eurodisney and was well known in the traditional Irish music scene in Paris.
Since marrying and starting a family back at home in Ireland Michael has continued to play music in sessions with Dinny McLaughlin and others. He is one of the most innovative guitarists in traditional music and his unique versions of old Irish songs have earned him the respect of some of the finest musicians and music lovers all over the country.
Michael is a member of the committee responsible for putting together the Buncrana Arts Festival and works tirelessly to promote the music and more importantly his home town of Buncrana.
Michael is the least attractive of the Pyros but he has a large wallet and so married well above his status
John Cutliffe – Bass Guitar
John Cutliffe is from Buncrana but now lives in Atlanta Georgia. John grew up playing Irish traditional and bluegrass music in the many pubs in his home county and has played with many pop and rock bands over the years. John started his musical career playing a few tunes with his cousin Paul Rodden in O Flaherty’s, Roddens and other bars in Buncrana.
John also played with some of Letterkenny’s finest rock bands including Jack’s Jack and Fiveskin.
He then spent two years playing with Killybegs based pop band Pluto.
He is also no stranger to the airwaves, having worked as a dj on some of the early pirate radio stations in Donegal including Radio Donegal in Letterkenny, Radio Nova in Fahan and the now legendary NWCR.
After moving to London in the 80s, John soon got into the music scene there, recording two albums with Frank Tovey and the Pyros, an album with Rory McLeod and forming another band with Gino Lupari “Beware of the Dog”
John's is the owner and editor of JigTime, a site that chronicles Irish and American roots music and has worked as Tour Manager in America for Altan. He is a keen photographer and his pictures can be seen on websites including Rosanne Cash's site and the Merlefest site and on album covers both in Ireland and Nashville. He has also designed websites for many people including Ciaran Tourish’s own website.
John has just completed the biggest project of his life, co-producing Hands Across The Water, a 16 track collaboration CD featuring many of his friends in Celtic and American music, including Altan, Vince Gill, Cerys Matthews, Rodney Crowell, Bonnie Raitt and many more. The CD is already getting rave reviews worldwide with rumours of a grammy nomination for next year already doing the rounds. All the proceeds from the CD will go towards rebuilding the lives of children badly affected by the South East Asian Tsunami.
John is now the Operations Manager for a small but perfectly formed Radio Station in Atlanta.