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'King of the Pipers'; Irish music legend Paddy Keenan to perform at cultural center

Submitted photo Paddy Keenan is often regarded as the most accomplished uilleann piper still performing today.

Enjoy a musical odyssey to Old Ireland with a Paddy Keenan concert on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

Keenan plays the uilleann pipes, the Irish bellows-blown bagpipes. This is one of the oldest of Irish musical instruments, and is quite different from the well-known Scottish Highland Pipes, which are mouth blown and meant to be played outdoors.

Keenan will be performing with Celtic guitarist Eugene Durkee.

Keenan was born into a traveling family steeped in traditional music; both his father and grandfather were uilleann pipers. Keenan himself took up the pipes at the age of ten, playing his first major concert at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin when he was just 14.

Three years later, having fallen in love with the blues, Keenan left Ireland for England and Europe, where he played blues and rock. Returning to Ireland after a few years, he began playing around Dublin and eventually became part of a loosely-knit band called "Seachtar," the Irish word for "seven."

By the 1970s, Keenan was part of The Bothy Band, one of the most influential bands of the time. The Bothy Band forever changed the face of Irish traditional music, merging a driving rhythm section with traditional Irish tunes in ways that had never been heard before.

After the breakup of The Bothy Band, Keenan's style continued to mature, and he pursued a solo career. Today, he is generally acknowledged as the most accomplished uilleann piper still performing.

"Paddy Keenan has consistently been one of the enigmas of Irish traditional music," states Colin Harper of Q Magazine.

John O'Regan, of Rock'n Reel, states, "In Irish music there are legends, and then there's Paddy Keenan. Paddy Keenan's playing is now at its peak."

Recently, Keenan has played at various concerts, benefits and piping festivals around the U.S., in Canada and in Ireland.

Tickets for the show in NY Mills are available at the cultural center or by calling 218-385-3339. Bring a donation of food for the NY Mills Food Shelf and get $1 off the admission price.