FolkWorld #81 11/2023
© The London Lasses

London Lasses

Past & Present of Irish Music

LL25 - the 25th Anniversary Album from The London Lasses.


Artist Audio The London Lasses "Ll25", LoLa Records (in association with Cló Iar-Chonnacht), 2023

The London Lasses are excited to announce the release of their 25th anniversary album, LL25. Featuring all-new material and including both past and present band members, the recording celebrates the band’s musical journey over the past quarter-century and showcases the powerfully traditional signature sound which they've become known for.

The album spans four centuries of Irish music, from ‘Planxty Thomas Burke’ penned by the harper-composer Carolan (1670-1738) to newly composed tunes by concertina player Edel Fox, flute player Tommy Fitzharris and harper Michael Rooney. Captivatingly sung by vocalist Bróna McVittie, the album's four songs include the beautiful 'Bánchnoic Éireann Ó (The Fair Hills of Ireland)', a song in praise of Ireland dating from the 1700s.

Karen Ryan (London Lasses)

London Lasses @ FROG

LL25 is also a celebration of both the close-knit group of musicians who have been part of the Lasses’ story so far, and the long history of traditional Irish music in London, a rich cultural heritage which they are extremely proud to be part of. As band leader Karen Ryan, Director of the annual Return to London Town Festival and one of the leading lights of traditional Irish music in London, says: “This album is one that’s very close to my heart. It brings together 16 wonderful musicians and brings back a lifetime’s worth of musical memories and friendships.”

Over the last 25 years The London Lasses have brought their music to some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls, including Cambridge Folk Festival, the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Glastonbury, Dublin City Hall, Philadelphia Irish Festival, Mayor of London’s St Patrick’s Festival (Trafalgar Square) and the Royal Albert Hall, where they performed the first ever BBC Proms céilí as part of the 2008 season and supported The Chieftains on their 50th Anniversary tour in 2012. They have been included on the 3CD compilation Beginners Guide to Ireland (2005) and the Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk (2014). TV and radio appearances include TG4’s Hup and Geantraí, BBC One´s EastEnders, BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and more.

It all began in 1997, when fiddle players Karen Ryan and Elaine Conwell, together with banjo player Pauline Conneely, took a trip to the US where they played a number of concerts from New York to San Francisco, by way of Chicago and other stops. Intended as a one-off musical holiday and with accompaniment provided by guests in each city, the trio had such a great experience and were so warmly received that they decided to continue performing together under the title The London Lasses on their return to London, inviting flute player Sharon Whelton to join them. In 1999, the band, now with Bernie Conneely on banjo, recorded their eponymously titled debut CD with Liverpool pianist Pete Quinn, along with vocalist Sue Cullen and whistle player Grace Kelly.

Over the following two decades the band performed extensively and recorded a further four albums. Line-ups changed over time and included band members Dee Havlin (flute, whistle), Maureen Linane Hankins (accordion), Kathleen O´Sullivan (vocal), Elma McElligott (flute, whistle, sax), Bróna McVittie (vocal), Brogan McAuliffe (concertina) and Chris O´Malley (piano). The band has also enjoyed working with other guests down the years, some of whom feature on this and other Lasses CDs.

The Lasses are delighted to include a number of past and present band members on this celebratory recording, and to feature members of the next generation of traditional Irish musicians in London: Karen Ryan (fiddle, banjo, whistles, mandola), Elaine Conwell (fiddle), Elma McElligott (flute, saxophone, whistle), Brogan McAuliffe (concertina), Bróna McVittie (vocal, harp), Pete Quinn (keys), Dee Havlin (flute), Maureen Linane Hankins (accordion), Bernie Conneely (banjo), Chris O´Malley (keys), Teresa Connolly (fiddle), Annie Quinn (uilleann pipes, banjo), Katie Quinn (accordion, fiddle), Rachel Isherwood (fiddle), James and Orla Earnshaw (fiddles).

From mellifluous vocals to lively instrumentals, The London Lasses invite you to join them on this special musical journey and experience the beauty and richness of traditional Irish music. The band is planning a series of live performances in the UK and Ireland to celebrate the release. The London Lasses bring the tour celebrating the release of their 25th anniversary album, LL25, back home to London’s Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith with a special Christmas Hooley event on 22nd December!

London Lasses

Photo Credits: (1ff) The London Lasses (unknown/website).

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