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Tom McConville

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Tom McConville Tom McConville

  Tom was born on Tyneside and brought up in a pub on the famous Scotswood Road with clientele drawn from the Irish and Scottish communities. This is where he first experienced traditional singing and fiddle music; the Hornpipes of James Hill amongst his first influences. 50 years on Tom McConville is widely acknowledged as THE authority on the music of James Hill and produced the first CD devoted entirely to Hill’s compositions.

     Tom’s musical journey started in the North East folk clubs in the early 70s. Newcastle’s thriving Irish scene provided the opportunity, with his first band, to support Sean McGuire, John Doonan, The Fureys, Boys of the Lough and even a lock-in with The Dubliners. Tom still credits the legendary Sean McGuire, the fiddle genius from Belfast, for teaching him his bowing techniques.

     Turning professional in 1974 he joined Bob Fox in a duo then folk/rock band Magna Carta to play all over Europe. A memorable partnership with Kieron Halpin produced two award winning albums and top billing at The Cambridge Folk Festival.  

     His next group Dab Hand made several visits to the USA where Tom met with another of his hero fiddlers, Byron Berline.  After a spell with Syncopace and a partnership with guitarist Chris Newman, Tom spent the next 11 years recording & touring with Northumbrian piper Pauline Cato.

     Every new venture brought great success and immense respect from his peers and public alike. Throughout his many collaborations he has continued his solo show at venues large and small. “A sandpaper-dry wit, eye-watering skill on the fiddle, great vocals... you just can't help feeling that a performance by Tom is like visiting an old friend” is how one folk club organiser describes him.

     2006 saw Tom working with Scots instrumentalist of the year, Aaron Jones & All-Ireland Champion flute, fiddle and whistle ace Claire Mann. Along with Kieran Boyle, Peter Tickell, Dave Wood & Kevin McGuire, Tom completed a stunning solo C.D. Tommy on the Bridge. Musically brilliant,it attracted great critical acclaim. Two more solo albums followed: Tommy on Song and Tommy on the Road. Tours with these albums played a major part in Tom being voted Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

    Recently Tom has travelled extensively as a duo with David Newey and with three & four piece line ups featuring David, Shona Kipling, Phil Murray and Andy Watt.

     Renowned for his musical accompaniments, Tom has played on hundreds of albums. The list includes: Barbara Dickson, Richard Thompson, Allan Taylor and Lindisfarne. Whilst he has shared stages throughout the world with Stephan Grappelli, Sean McGuire, Mark O'Connor, Paul Brady and The Chieftains, Tom has never forgotten his roots and is as happy in the intimate atmosphere of a small folk club as he is at the largest festivals. Tom McConville is a world class act!

About Tom

“A great musician with a lovely flowing style, beautiful tone and faultless technique and is regarded by many as one of the finest fiddle players in the British Isles”

The Folk Song Society of Greater Boston

Tom is a great player, and a terrific singer, he also happens to be a number one bloke too. When I was poorly Tom would always make time to visit whenever he was playing anywhere remotely near to where I live. I think Tom plays as Tom is,  with honesty and passion, and an obvious love for the fiddle and traditional music. Long may you keep on bowing, Tom.

Love, Swarb”

Dave Swarbrick

“When Tom McConville takes a traditional tune or song, he really works on it. With either  fiddle or voice (or indeed both at the same time), he explores all the possibilities of pace, decoration, and expression, and whilst the product has the unmistakeable McConville sound, it’s always true to the tradition. What he has is the knack of knowing when to go wild with a tune and when to keep it tight, a fine judgement which only comes with experience and deep feeling for the music. He brings these skills to a wide range of material, from the 19th Century James Hill to the 21st century Richard Thompson. There’s lots of  talk at the moment about the younger generation taking over from the oldies. Well, let me tell you that Tom McConville is as fresh and as alive with new ideas as when he started, and never afraid to explore new combinations of sounds with other musicians. His latest CD, with Aaron and Claire, hits a new dimension in the interpretation of traditional music, and a technical excellence of the very highest quality.”

Pete Wood

A magical sound.....totally captivating"” Folkwrite

Tom McConville

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