At First Light are set to literally light the way for authentic Irish Traditional music this decade with their debut album, ‘Idir’. Masterful musicianship from John McSherry, Dónal O’Connor, Francis McIlduff and their guests, the finest in the Celtic world, explores fresh perspectives on the living tradition. Each member of the group has influenced Celtic folk music, from featuring on Grammy-award winning recordings to collaborating live with the world’s greatest folk and contemporary artists. Their album is aptly titled ‘Idir’ – Gaelic for between and among, and reflects their growing status as leading luminaries on the international stage.
In 2001, when Lúnasa founders John McSherry and Michael McGoldrick recorded their acclaimed album ‘At First Light’, festival demands required a gigging outfit. In came ‘Dundalk fiddle prodigy’ Dónal O’Connor and Belfast guitarist Paul McSherry, of Tamalin fame – a hectic touring schedule ensued.
2006 saw the release of ‘Tripswitch’, described by Living Tradition as ‘Acoustic Perfection’. The album brought McSherry and O’Connor together, for the first time, with the Uilleann piping and bodhrán skills of Francis McIlduff of the McPeake clan. It was during these sessions that the group, At First Light, was born. Duelling Uilleann pipes became a feature of the band’s gigs, a unique dimension to their sound not heard since the heady days of Moving Hearts.
2010 saw At First Light collaborate with the world renowned guitarist Bob Brozman, to produce the critically lauded ‘Six Days in Down’. That same year, At First Light introduced guest singer and fiddle player Ciara McCrickard to enthusiastic audiences at concerts throughout Ireland and Europe. Ciara carries the pedigree of the great Ulster song tradition into the new millennium, having learned at the feet of many of the masters. Her crystalline tone and intricate turns, combined with her vocal honesty, bring to audiences, a voice that only comes along once in a generation.
As collaborators with Clannad, Donal Lunny, Moya Brennan, The Corrs or Sinead O’Connor, or as highly respected players in the traditional field, Idir symbolizes each individual member’s willingness to embrace the ever evolving genre that is traditional Irish music. From the plaintive call of the great Ulster anthem Aird Uí Chuain to the Iberian swing of El Garrotín, an Asturian piping tune now part of the Flamenco tradition, At First Light display their diverse tastes and ability to delve into the different Celtic traditions.
As well as beautiful arranged traditional pieces, the album also includes several original compositions from the members. Rolling in Rosemount is a tip of the hat to the Sliabh Luachra, Polka and Slide masters, Tara’s Temper features Irish phrasing in a typically Breton rhythm, Ar Thóir an Donn is a traditional reel written in reference to the legendary Irish tale, Táin Bó Cúailnge whilst The Pipers of Roguery is a fiery piece, featuring the sound of duelling Uilleann Pipes, unique to the band.