Leo O'Kelly

Will CD just released

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Will CD

€12.99 for the album

€2 for postage and packaging in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

€3 for postage to the rest of the world and beyond!

Will CD including Shipping to:
Sirius

Live at Sirius CD

€12.99 for the album

€2 for postage and packaging in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

€3 for postage to the rest of the world and beyond!

Live at Sirius CD including Shipping to:

Proto CD

€10 for the album

€2 for postage and packaging in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

€3 for postage to the rest of the world and beyond!

Proto CD plus Shipping to:

 

Sirius

Biography

Leo O'Kelly used to be described as "The Recluse of Irish Music". That was years ago! Lately Leo has been seen and heard more in the media than perhaps in the previous twenty! Many people who were fans of his work with Tir na nOg hardly even knew what Leo looked, let alone sounded,like. Though still keeping a somewhat aloof distance, much of this mystery has been unveiled...or has it?

Starting with the release of his first solo album,the stunning "Glare",in 2001, and having appeared in the movie "Snakes and Ladders" singing his paean to perpetually unrequited love, "You Prefer Jim", things took a sharp turn towards the light... The making of the album was documented by filmaker Trish Mc.Adam from the first day of rehearsal to the final mastering. Having already been premiered in Dublin's IFI cinema, the documentary was broadcast on the prestigious "Arts Lives" series on Ireland's national TV station, RTE1, a series shared by such disparate Irish luminaries as Damien Dempsey and Bram Stoker! Irish audiences got a rare "fly on the wall" insight into the way Leo worked...impulsively, intelligently, temperamentally and diligently, until the result matched his vision.

Then, more recently, came the in depth radio interview with Carrie Crowley on her "Snapshots" series. Her show has come to being recognised as a virtual "Who's Who" of Irish personalities, from Arts to Politics to Business. Even friends who had known Leo his lifetime discovered things they hadn't known, teased out by Carrie's gentle, but most incisive, technique. He also debuted a new song, "I Pick Up Birds At Funerals"! For many, the enigma just increased...

Leo continues to be cited as a major influence as a songwriter and a performer for his work alone and with Tir na nOg...from the most covered Irish songwriter ever, Jimmy Mc.Carthy, and Luka Bloom, to new indie popsters, The Radio, and David Kitt.

Leo released his second album, Proto, in 2003. Proto is a collection of mostly unreleased songs recorded between 1975 and 2001. Although recorded over such a time span it is a strangely coherent and beautiful album, and opens with his version of Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" and includes the very first recording of Leo's fabulous "Venezuela", produced by Matthew Fisher (immortalised as the organist with Procol Harum on "Whiter Shade of Pale").

There are some who have only come to know Leo's work from Glare and Proto and from recent concerts, and who are unaware of the rich and diverse history which led to them...

Leo was born in Carlow,Ireland, and started playing with The Tropical Showband in 1964, at the peak time of the Showband Era, while he was still just a schoolboy. He joined The Word, a local psychedelic band in 1967 and started playing The Doors, Love and Byrds, and one or two of his own songs. Jimi Hendrix, who he saw on his birthday (and Jimi's!) on 27 November 1967 at Hendrix's only Irish appearance,in Belfast, left a lasting impression.

All this time Leo was also investigating the folkier element of music; Dylan, Donovan, Bert Jansch, Jackson C.Frank were, and still are, heroes. Leo hitchhiked the 52 miles to Dublin early 1969 and started playing the folk clubs...The Coffee Kitchen and The Universal were hotbeds of influence and melting pots of creativity. On any night you might see any combination of artistes from Sonny Condell to Donal Lunny to Phil Lynott to Terry and Gay Woods...from Gary Moore to Christy Moore!

A month or two later, Leo found himself touring Britain, Europe, USA and Canada with The Emmet Spiceland, the chart topping threepiece folk group(and probably Ireland's first Boy Band!) founded by Donal Lunny, who Leo initially replaced in the group, and who later returned for an American tour with Leo and the third Spicelander, Brian Byrne. Leo in the meantime was increasingly impressed with the songwriting and performing of Sonny Condell, who he'd first heard in Carlow a couple of years before. Though The Emmet Spiceland were such a wonderful vocal harmony and instrumental group, Leo's interest was in the more original and creative songwriting direction that Sonny was taking. Songwriters, good or bad, were almost unheard of in Ireland at the time...Sonny was good!

The next episode of Leo's career is probably the best documented...Tir na nOg!... Leo and Sonny arrived unannounced and with not even a place to stay in London on a sunny Saturday morning in May 1970, having saved £30 each, which they'd estimated would last them a month!... By the end of that day they had secured a two night weekend residency at The Bell on Petticoat Lane, a floor to sleep on(long term!)in Ealing, and a free demo recording sesssion in Soho which would secure them a contract with Chrysalis Records two weeks later!... A good days work!... By October they were playing The Royal Albert hall with Jethro Tull and Procol Harum as part of a British and European tour. They had in the meantime built up a very strong roots following on the London Folk Club scene with their timeless songs, close harmonies and engaging, between song banter, while Chrysalis organised the bigger concert and college tours around Britain and abroad. As well as headlining Tir na nOg gigs(with some interesting support acts including Richard and Linda Thompson,Supertramp,and Jasper Carott!)the pair found themselves gigging with some of their own heroes. Tours and concerts included gigging with The Who, Cat Stevens, T.Rex, Roxy Music, Elton John, The Velvet Underground and Hawkwind, to mention a very few. At one point Al Stewart, though quite a star himself, applied to join the band!

Their first album "Tir na nOg" was produced by the the legendary folk producer, Bill Leader. This achieved Melody Maker Album of The Month on it's release in 1971. Many radio sessions with the late,wonderful,John Peel followed, along with with Bob Harris and Kid Jensen shows... and even the great Alan Freeman was a self proclaimed fan.

Two more albums, A Tear and a Smile, and Strong in The Sun followed, along with incessant touring, till Leo and Sonny decided they were depleted and exhausted, having barely had time to unpack the suitcases they had hauled to England that day in May four years earlier! Their dream needed protection... They returned to their native Ireland having bid their brief goodbyes to managers, agents record companies, publishers, publicists, and for the time being, to each other... As well as his solo performances and those with new musician friends,Leo worked for a while as house producer for EMI Ireland and Polydor Records, a pursuit which had fascinated him with since working with illustrious producers like Bill leader and Matthew Fisher. Wanderlust kicked in again, and he spent much of the late 70s and 80s living and working abroad, with his bases in Amsterdam and London.

Leo plays mostly solo and with his long time friend, bassist Garvan Gallagher, treating his dark songs with echoing soundscapes, and, increasingly lately, with Sonny in some glorious Tir na nOg performances. Three more Tir na nOg albums have been salvaged, savaged and scavenged from various vaults, the most recent release being "Spotlight", BBC sessions and concerts with John Peel and Bob Harris. Leo lives in Dublin now,is married to Sacha, and is the father of their,now 6 year old son, Aaron. Another song from Leo's Glare album,"On My way Home" is to feature in a new movie release, titled "Trouble With Sex"... Work has started on Leo's third album...