Never Learned to Dance
Robbie O'Connell was born in Waterford, Ireland and grew up in County Tipperary, where his parents had a small hotel. He began to play guitar and sing at age thirteen and soon became a regular performer at the hotel's weekly folk concerts. He spent a year touring the folk clubs in England before enrolling at University College Dublin where he studied Literature and Philosophy. In 1977, he joined the Clancy Brothers and two years later he moved to Franklin, Massachusetts. With the release, in 1982, of his first solo album, Close to the Bone, Robbie emerged as an artist of major stature. Soon after, he began touring extensively with Mick Moloney and Jimmy Keane, and also with Eileen Ivers and Seamus Egan in the Green Fields of America. In 1985, the trio's first album, There Were Roses, was released. Robbie also participated in The Festival of Mountain Music and Dance on a five nation tour of Latin America. In 1987, the trio followed up their very successful first release with the album, Kilkelly, the title track of which was voted 'Best Album Track of the Year' in Ireland. 1989 saw the release of a live concert recording of the Green Fields of America. Robbie has taught songwriting at the Augusta Heritage Arts Workshop in Elkins, West Virginia, the Catskill's Irish Arts Week, the Gaelic Roots Week at Boston College, and at the Summer Acoustic Music Week in Boston. His album of original compositions, Love of the Land, was voted the #1 acoustic album of 1989 by WUMB in Boston. In 1991, he won a prestigious Boston Music Award as Outstanding Celtic Act and was also featured in the highly acclaimed TV series 'Bringing It All Back Home.' In 1992 he performed at Carnegie Hall with the Clancy Brothers and was also seen by an estimated 500 million people worldwide on the telecast of a live tribute to Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden, a performance which Rolling Stone magazine described as 'breathtaking." Never Learned to Dance, his 1993 album of original songs, was critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1994 he headlined a celebration of Boston based Irish Music at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Older But No Wiser, his last CD with the Clancy Brothers was released on Vanguard in 1995, followed in 1997 by the Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy CD and in 1998 by The Wild & Wasteful Ocean, with Liam and Dónal Clancy. Robbie O'Connell Live, Humorous Songs and All On A Christmas Morning with the group Aengus, were released in 1998. A retrospective collection album, Recollections Vol. 1 was released in 2002. He is currently recording a new CD of original songs. Career: Since 1977 Robbie O'Connell has performed both solo and as a member of the Clancy Brothers & Robbie O'Connell, Moloney O'Connell & Keane, The Green Fields of America, Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy, and Aengus. He has recorded fourteen albums for such labels as RCA, Vanguard and Green Linnet, and he has appeared on an additional seven compilation albums. Winner of the Boston Music Award as Outstanding Celtic Act, he has appeared at almost every major venue in the USA from New York's famed Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. He has played almost every major festival, from Milwaukee Irish Fest to the New York Guinness Fleadh and from the Skagen Festival in Denmark to the Los Angeles Irish Fair. He has played on international stages in such countries as Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. With his vast experience, remarkable repertoire and relaxed humorous delivery, a Robbie O'Connell concert is a unique and memorable musical experience. Press Clippings: The Boston Globe describes Robbie O'Connell as "a writer of timeless-sounding, emotionally powerful and often hilarious songs" and places him "among the most respected guitarists, singer and songwriters in Celtic music." The Post Star says that "while alternating songs of heart breaking tragedy, with those of sidesplitting hilarity, he defined the Irish condition, both for natives and American-born, in intriguing and enthralling ways." The Springfield Union-News declares "...he made it quite clear...that there is more to being Irish than filing stereotypes. And through his music, he's bringing an inspired vision and a new voice of Ireland to American audiences." CD Reviews: "O'Connell is a songwriter of vision, awareness and maturity. He has the ability to take an everyday experience or thought and turn it into an effective structured song. All his material is melodic and accessible and his keen sense of humour is never far from the surface... 'Never Learned To Dance' is a terrific album..." - Paul Dromey, The Evening Echo, April 26, 1993 "O'Connell is... a songwriter of increasing international stature. On his delightful new Green Linnet album 'Never Learned To Dance,' he displays an uncanny gift for telling the clearest anecdotes in song..." - Scott Alarik, New England Folk Almanac, March 15, 1993 "Robbie O'Connell is rather special, a man blessed with an enviable turn of phrase and a gift for melody bestowed only on the few. Let's hope that unlike the recently discovered Caravaggio masterpiece, it takes much less than 300 years to realise that for a few quid we too could be in touch with a national treasure. Yes, 'Never Learned to Dance' really is that good!" - Chris Donovan, Hot Press, May 5, 1993 "... there's not a bad song in the bunch, and O'Connell approaches every aspect of his work with care and intelligence." - Daniel Gewertz, The Boston Phoenix, May 14, 1993 "... O'Connell has a unique perspective on life from both sides of the Atlantic. His music spans a wide spectrum of emotion, balancing cynicism with light hearted discourse and moving sentimentality... Although he has obvious roots in traditional Irish music, O'Connell is never limited by it's charm or range. Instead, he pushes his music further into the mainstream..." - Chris Fisher, The Minuteman Chronicle, July 3, 1993 " He may never have learned to dance, but Robbie O'Connell writes songs with soul, sensitivity, political and social awareness, and humour." - Steve Winick, Dirty Linen, August/September, 1993 " This recording sports great songs, fine singing, superb accompanists, and first-rate production by Johnny Cunningham...Allowing for the grace of O'Connell's songs, the disc would sound great even if he was singing mouth music. The music just flows and flowers. You'll take pleasure in repeatedly playing this disc." - R. Warren, Sing Out, Vol. 38 # 2. "In O'Connell's third solo album, he captures the reality of the Irish diaspora with extraordinary wit and power... This is a mature, fully realised work. For those who haven't watched O'Connell arrive, it'll be a pleasurable discovery." - Aaron Howard, Public News, March 17, 1993 "Robbie O'Connell is a very busy singer. In addition to performing with Aengus and Green Fields of America, he was for many years an important part of groups led by his famous uncles, the Clancy Brothers. For my money, however, Robbie is at his best as a solo performer. He does sing about serious subjects like war and emigration, but many of his best and most requested numbers are comic songs. A baker's dozen of these, both traditional and self penned, have been gathered together on Robbie O'Connell: Humorous Songs - Live! The disc does a great job of recreating the feel of a live performance, including the sound of the audience's enjoyment and Robbie's own dryly humorous spoken introductions to the songs. "You're Not Irish" was inspired by Robbie's early years as an entertainer in America, when he found that attempts to introduce audiences to traditional Irish music only annoyed folks who preferred "Danny Boy" and "McNamara's Band." "How Does Dennis Do It," is Robbie's answer to the question of how Mr Thatcher might have inspired himself to make love to Maggie. "Stick To The Crather" is a hilarious 19th-century paean to poitín. "The Night That Paddy Murphy Died" popularized by New York's Flanagan Brothers in the 1930's, is a song about an Irish wake that could rival Finnegan's for riotous behavior." - Don Meade -On The Fiddle- Irish Echo, December 1998.