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Afro Celt Sound System


"Irish & African Influenced Music Group"

Afro Celt Sound System Biography

When Simon Emmerson began to piece together the Afro Celt Sound System in 1992 he had no idea where the journey would take him. But Emmerson's fascination with the link between Irish and African traditions introduced him to three like-minded souls - co-producer and multi-instrumentalist James McNally; vocalist and lyricist Iarla î Lion‡ird; co-producer, engineer and programmer Martin Russell. The bonding of these four members turned the Afro Celts from a project into a band."The big change came when we took the first album onto a live arena. We had to become a band; before that we were just a concept," Told McNally. Then, just as the group were preparing to record their second album, keyboard player Jo Bruce died suddenly from an asthma attack in November 1997."He was a lot younger than any of us, a vibrant central figure in the band. There was a lot of grieving. When a guy like that whom you closely worked with dies suddenly, it's a massive blow," recalls Iarla. For some time it seemed like the Afro Celts' journey had come to an end, that the tribe would go their separate ways. "We gave so much of our lives to it at that point, if we hadn't we'd just have fallen apart," says James. "It was our way of surviving the trauma," adds Simon. "The first album was a project, the second album was by a band and the third album is by a much better band than the second."Volume 2: Release was understandably a darker record than its predecessor, but out of the loss and adversity the band discovered new strength. Again, the Afro Celts' focus became sharper and their personality grew as they hit the international live circuit. The effect these performances had on the audience was also felt in the band. "You can see what each member brings to the overall picture more readily live," says Emmerson. " We write with the live show in mind - this is the point where Johnny (Kalsi, dhol drum player) comes to the fore, here's the part where James plays a tune. You can almost see the show develop before you as you write; the entry points are marked out very clearly."


Previous Events:
Festival date:
  • Summer Sundae 2002
  • 06-07 Jul 2002
  • Glastonbury Festival 2003
  • 27-30 Jun 2003
  • Guilfest 2003
  • 04-06 Jul 2003

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