The Here & Now is one of the most exciting ensembles performing traditional Irish music in Texas and has garnered national recognition for their exceptional talents and energy on stage. Three of the four members are former instructors at the O’Flaherty Retreat, and it is fitting that they kick off our 18th O’Flaherty’s with a concert on Thursday night. Here is the lineup:
Chris Buckley grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s been a student of the violin since the age of 3 and began studying Irish fiddle at the age of 14. His classical training culminated with a degree in viola performance at the University of Minnesota and graduate work at UT Austin. His Irish music roots came under the tutelage of Martin Dowling, Liz Carroll, Brendan Mulvhill and James Kelly. Christopher has received numerous awards and recognitions for his outstanding achievements in Irish music. He competed in three All-Ireland world competitions. Shortly after arriving in Austin in 2001, Chris combined forces with other traditional Irish musicians as founding members of the highly energetic Texas Irish band Cluan. Since then, he has been a member of and recorded with several other Texas based ensembles including Blaggards, Aidan and Tea Merchants, who won the 2007 Austin Music Award for Best World Music. Christopher has not only performed throughout the United States and Ireland, but at home in Austin is a widely respected fiddle teacher with an extensive roster of students. Once again, Chris has combined forces with several other highly acclaimed traditional Irish musicians as founding members of The Here & Now.
From Tara, Co. Meath in Ireland Niamh moved to Austin in August 2014. As a child Niamh took lessons with the infamous Antoin McGabhann and still quotes him as one of her biggest influences. Niamh has enjoyed a varied career as a musician having toured extensively with notable acts such as Riverdance, Project West, The Dhol Foundation, John Williams and many more to boot. Prior to moving to Austin, Niamh lived in London where she carved out career as a recording session musician while also undertaking a masters in Music Therapy. Niamh now works as a contract music therapist and session musician in Austin and is excited about the prospects for The Here & Now.
Rob Forkner claims he was born on a paddle-wheel gambling boat in Louisiana. Moving away from the boat a short time later he was fortunate enough to spend time living in many parts of the world. While living in Alaska, he discovered Irish music after a friend gave him an old cassette tape. He decided to learn how to play the bodhran after hearing the playing of the great Johnny McDonagh. Since he needed a drum, and it was impossible to find one in Alaska, Rob started building his own in the basement of his parent’s house out of birch bark and salmon skin. Many years later, Rob used the time to refine his drum building skills, building a highly successfully business, Metloef Irish Drums. For fun, Rob studied Geology and ended up at the University of Texas. The world calls him Dr. Rob now. He also honed his skills as a mighty fine bodhran player. He became a regular sit-inner with Cluan and was a founding member of Tea Merchants, both local Austin Irish music bands. In 2007, Tea Merchants were awarded the Austin Music Award for Best World Music. Rob has competed in and medaled in a few of the fleadhs both in the US and in Tipperary. And yes, it is a long way there. A few years ago the Geology thing took Dr. Rob over the pond to Denmark and Belgium. But alas, Austin has him back as a founding member of The Here and Now.
Though still a young man, guitar-player Joseph Carmichael has already collected an impressive resume. His primary project Flashpoint — a contemporary Irish trio — has recorded two albums, and performed at concerts and festivals throughout the southern US and has shared the stage with top-flight Irish music groups FullSet and the legendary Solas. He is a regular member with Ashley Davis, a singer/songwriter from Lawrence, KS. 2013 saw Joseph in his first overseas performance, playing with Gregory and Alex Grene of the Prodigals, as part of the Ag Seinm Traditional Arts camp in Cavan. Joseph has also performed with nationally touring Celtic-Rock band Needfire, traveling as far as Virginia and California, as a continuing duo with fiddler Hailey Sandoz (now under the name Óga), as well as a host of Irish music luminaries including James Conway, Brendan Power, Cormac De Barra, Buddy Connolly, Oisín MacDiarmada, and Liz Carroll. And now, Joseph is an integral founding member of the Austin based group The Here & Now.