Seamie O Dowd is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter who also plays fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, and a number of other instruments.
He has travelled worldwide playing music and has shared stages and played with many great musicians and bands including the following;
Mairtin O'Connor, Cathal Hayden, Christy Moore, Declan Synott, The Chieftains, Jimmy Higgins, Tommy Emmanuel, Dervish, Steve Wickham, Matt Molloy, Liam O' Flynn, Thom Moore, Dick Gaughan, Cathy Jordan, Rick Epping, Kieran Quinn, John Joe Kelly, Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and Cathal Roche.
His experience also includes recording production, teaching and more recently, film soundtrack work, and encompasses solo performance as well as extensive work with bands and small groups as both a member and a session musician.
Seamie’s public musical experience spans four decades. He made his first radio appearance at the age of ten on a Radio Eireann programme called Young Musicians and began playing publicly with his father, the renowned Sligo fiddle player Joe O’Dowd at around the same time.
He has been a tutor at the South Sligo Summer School in Tubbercurry, Co.Sligo on a regular basis since its beginnings in the late 1980s, teaching fiddle for six of its first seven years and teaching traditional guitar since the mid 2000s up to the present day.
He was awarded The Freedom Of The Borough in 2004 by Sligo Corporation while a member of internationally renowned traditional group Dervish and acknowledged again in 2010 at a civic reception given by the Mayor of Sligo for his personal contribution to the cultural life of the area.
He also worked with film score composer George Fenton in London’s Abbey Road Studios on part of the film score of Jimmy’s Hall, a film made by Ken Loach in the Sligo/ Leitrim area.
As part of the Masters of Irish Music project devised by Martin Hayes, he, along with Mairtin O'Connor and Cathal Hayden played the group’s concerts in the Sydney Opera House as well as a flagship performance at the Lincoln Centre in New York.
He also joined the project on three US tours.
He played and recorded with Dervish for six years, during which time he played with them at the legendary Rock in Rio festival in Brazil.
He was nominated for the Best Folk Musician award in 2018 in RTE’s inaugural Irish Folk Awards.
SEAMIE O DOWD..... FULL BIOG BELOW
Seamie O Dowd was brought up by parents steeped in the musical traditions of South County Sligo, Ireland. His mother, Shiela, was a highly respected musician and teacher whose father and brothers all played fiddle, while his father, Joe, was renowned as a fiddle player among musicians and music lovers worldwide. Seamie himself began playing fiddle at about eight years of age.
Making his first radio broadcast when he was ten years old,he established himself in competition and elsewhere as one of the finest fiddlers of his age in the west of Ireland. He began to cut his teeth in the local session scene alongside his parents and by the age of eighteen he was playing guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, bodhran and fiddle, as well as starting to gain a reputation as a singer. Fred Finn, Peter Horan, Noel Tansey, Seamus Tansey,Thom Moore, Rick Epping, Brian Taheny, Loretto and Marie Reid, Verona Ryan, Johnny Henry, Josie Mc Dermott, the Collis family, the Walshe family, Shane Mitchell, Liam Kelly, Brian Mc Donagh,Martina Bree, Josephine Judge, Aileen and Kenny Donagher, Seamie's uncle Mick Regan and many others were part of the early stages of Seamie's involvement in traditional Irish music.
The influence of well known people and groups like Planxty, The Bothy Band, De Dannan, Sean Mc Guire, Kevin Burke, Mary Bergin, Arty Mc Lynn, Dick Gaughan, Christy Moore and others also was part of Seamie's early musical development.
BEYOND THE TRADITION.....
Like many of his generation, Seamie was drawn to the music made by Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Horslips, U2, Big Country, Canadian band Rush, and other rock bands of that period. He was also exposed to older American folk traditions through the music of Sligo based American band Pumpkinhead, whom were family friends.
He soon immersed himself in the extremely vibrant local rock and alternative music scene that existed in Sligo in the mid to late 1980s, becoming quite a talking point as an electric guitarist.
His first rock band, "Peel The Grape" gained national airplay and local notoriety before breaking up in the late 1980s.
He subsequently played with musical neighbour Gerry Grennan in a few acoustic and electric folk/blues outfits around Ireland as well as the theatre/folk pub circuit in Germany until the early nineties.
Donal Cunnane, Tommy Kivlehan, Hugh Lowery, Declan Doyle,Seamie Mc Gowan, Francie Lenehan, Dave Carty, Flukey Gorman, Tom Jameson,Brendan Emmett, Jarlath Mc Ternan, John Woods, Imelda Devaney, Cliona Mc Namara, James Blennerhasset, Barry Brennan, Padraig Meehan, Eddie Lee and Christy Behan all were part of this musically formative period of Seamie's musical life.
After a spell playing mainly around the north-west of Ireland,he was approached by a few aforementioned friends who had established a band called "Dervish" and become one of Irelands major musical exports.
They toured world-wide playing to some of the biggest audiences that any band of any genre has ever played to. Seamie devised a new tuning for guitar and,along with Brian Mc Donagh and Michael Holmes, created a three-way rhythm section that became a hallmark of the band sound for the next six years.
The line-up recorded two award-winning albums, Midsummers Night and Spirit. In 2004 they were presented with the Freedom of Sligo Borough at a function held for them by Sligo Corporation.
MAIRTIN O'CONNOR AND CATHAL HAYDEN.....
In the late 90s, Seamie was introduced to Mairtin O'Connor, arguably Ireland's most innovative accordion player to date, for what was initially planned as a one off performance, but out of this grew a long standing working relationship that has seen them work as a duet, in larger groups and along with renowned Tyrone musician Cathal Hayden in a trio that has toured worldwide.
Seamie was actively involved in the making of two of Mairtin's solo albums, The Road West and Rain of Light, both of which received critical acclaim. The response to Seamie's playing on these albums (in particular, The Road West) as well as two acclaimed albums recorded by the O'Connor/ Hayden/ O'Dowd trio ("Crossroads" and "Going Places") have served as confirmation that he can musically hold his own with the very best.
They have also toured the US as part of the "Masters of Tradition concerts" organised by musical director and top flight Irish fiddle innovator Martin Hayes. "Crossroads" has received widespread acclaim, including being voted one of the top Irish albums by New York's Irish Voice publication.
The trio have also toured and collaborated with the legendary Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, as well.
They also toured with the legendary Christy Moore, with whom they guested on three albums, "Lily" and the live recordings "On The Road" and "Magic Nights."
Seamie recorded his first solo album, Headful Of Echoes, in 2006. It received critical acclaim from many sources and was playlisted on radio programmes in Ireland, the U.K., mainland Europe, Australia, and the U.S.
His second solo CD "Wood And Iron" is an all instrumental traditional Irish guitar album that was cited as among the top Irish guitar recordings by Irish Music Magazine. Also guesting on the album were his son Stephen, Cathy Jordan, Kieran Quinn, Claudia Schwab, Aminah Hughes, Si Mallumby and the mighty Tommy Emmanuel.
Seamie also released a live solo CD in 2019 entitled "Live At The Hawk's well." Already favourably reviewed, the album was recorded at one of Seamie's regular performances in Sligo's Hawks Well Theatre.
In 2010 Seamie was granted a further honour by Sligo Borough Corporation when the town's mayor afforded him a civic reception in acknowledgement of his contribution to the cultural life of Sligo.
THE UNWANTED, LIAM O'FLYNN AND MORE....
As well as playing with uillean piping legend Liam O'Flynn,and producing a number of critically acclaimed albums for artists like Mary Mc Partlan, Tony Reidy, traditional group Ceide, Galway based group Na Bac, Ann Kirrane and whistle player Fiodhna Gardiner-Hyland, Seamie has involved himself with a number of musicians and projects.
"The Unwanted", features himself, Dervish singer Cathy Jordan and harmonica player Rick Epping. Their CD "Music Of The Atlantic Fringe" was picked in Irish music publication "Hot Press" as one of their top ten albums of the year. They also tour and play festivals in Britain and mainland Europe.
Seamie has also played concerts with the legendary Chieftains, as well as helping to form one of the many line ups of Galway bodhran master Johnny "Ringo" Mc Donagh and Kerry pianist Patsy Broderick's renowned band "Arcady".
"New Road", named after one of piper Leonard Barry's recordings, was formed by Seamie, Leonard, Rick Epping, Andy Morrow and Dublin flute player Conor Byrne. The group perform occasionally at festivals with a varying line up of guests and draws on the long experience of the musicians involved in tradtional Irsih music with the occasional experiment beyond.
Seamie maintains working relationships with many of the people mentioned above and has also recorded an album with Kieran Quinn, an extremely gifted pianist from Sligo.
Almost all original music inspired by the concept of fusion of jazz and traditional Irish idioms,, they based the album, entitled "Melodic Reflection" almost entirely on acoustic guitar and piano which is not common in jazz circles and almost unheard of in traditional Irish circles.
The pair have begun working with bodhran/ percussion player John Joe Kelly and saxophone/ clarinet player Cathal Roche from the Irish jazz scene on a musical venture called The Gateway City Project that has already made waves locally as well as attracting positive reviews.
Site author Seamie O'Dowd 2020