Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, 7:30 pm Tommy and Saundra O’Sullivan Admission: $12 | $15 at the door
Tommy O’Sullivan, acclaimed as “one of the great contemporary folk voices of Ireland”, has remained one of the hidden treasures of traditional Irish music for many years. He has toured throughout North America and Europe, appearing at many major venues and festivals. Tommy has always kept an active recording schedule having recorded three albums as a member of Sliabh Notes and a duet album with Bothy Band piper, Paddy Keenan.
Born in London to a family with roots deep in the heart of the West Kerry Gaeltacht, Tommy was always a keen singer and by the time the family moved back to their native West Kerry in 1972, he had already begun playing guitar. By his mid teens he started performing locally in Dingle, already a popular tourist destination largely due to the movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ which was filmed in the locality. Encouraged by local publican and musician Fergus Flaherty, Tommy started to explore the world of traditional music. He dabbled with open guitar tunings and listened to everybody from Paul Brady and Dick Gaughan,to the acclaimed West Kerry musicians, The Begley Family. In 1982, with Ireland in deep recession, Tommy again moved to London. There amongst the swell of a wave of Irish immigration, he found himself engulfed in a stream of traditional music from all over Ireland. Amid this vibrant scene, Tommy quickly established himself as a guitar player and singer. Many of the musicians in and around this circle would later come to national and international attention.
Tommy’s long overdue second solo album was recorded in 2006. Entitled, “Song Ablaze”, it is an ambitious project with songs that range from traditional Irish and traditional American music, to the works of contemporary writers, again from both sides of the Atlantic. This album also features a supporting cast of internationally acclaimed musicians.
Periodically Tommy takes time off from his Courthouse Pub, a traditional Irish music venue in Dingle, Ireland, to tour the US and Europe. His current tour is taking him through the Southwestern US.
Saundra O’Sullivan a Houston, Texas native, sang in many choirs during high school and college and was a featured soloist. She was honored to be selected to participate in the ‘youth all world choir’ in Amsterdam in 1979. Through a family member she became interested in traditional Irish music, which led her to attend an annual Irish music retreat in Midlothian, Texas in 2007. There she met Tommy, one of the instructors visiting from Ireland. Their immediate friendship sparked many trips back and forth between Houston and Ireland. Encouraged by Tommy, Saundra has rekindled her singing. As they explored singing together they discovered her alto harmonies to be a perfect match for his tenor lead vocals, adding a fertile texture to the overall sound. She has now become a very welcomed addition to the vibrant local music scene in Dingle, Ireland, where Saundra and Tommy now live since their wedding in Houston in March 2010.