Tommy got his practice set when he was 12. Mick O'Brien arranged Dan O'Dowd and Johnny Bourke to make the practice set for Tommy. This started Tommy on weekly lessons under the guidance of Mick O'Brien for a while.
As a 12 year old learning Uilleann Pipes, Tommy felt he was the only kid on the planet doing this. The appeal of TV and Football grew too tempting and the pipes were left under the bed for a while.
Six month later curiousity got the better of him and the Uilleann pipes came out from under the bed. A phone call to Mick O'Brien was made and classes were arranged again. But it was different this time, there were other students. Ivan Goff had been taking lessons from Mick for a year or so, and Mick's youngest brother John was just about to start. With Mick's teaching and encouragement from John and intimidation from Ivan, Tommy got stuck in and never went back.
By 1988, with the great help of Mick's tuition and guidance he won his first competition at the Annual Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann (traditional music competition festival), an event run by "Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann", (Literally, traditional musicians of Ireland). This organisation was founded in the 1950's to promote and foster Irish traditional music throughout the world as well as Ireland.
His professional career started in 1996 when he took a job organising and playing at Irish music nights in Irish pubs in Hong Kong. This led to more work in Asian cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore and Tokyo over the coming years.
Back in Europe, Tommy's talent and experience took him to perform in almost every country. Performances varied from solo events to playing with 5 piece folk bands. Since then his gigs have been as diverse as being an Uilleann Pipes tutor in New Zealand to performing with "Riverdance" in New York to recording with past members of rock band "Thin Lizzy".
In January 2004 Tommy had the honor to play a newly composed piece of music with the Chicago Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra.
His first solo CD, "Uilleann Piper", was released in 2000 and Tommy can be also heard on another 12 albums.
What are Uilleann Pipes?
The Uilleann (pronounced ILL-uhn) pipes are the traditional bellows blown bagpipe that is indigenous to Ireland , but nowadays, can be heard all over the world.
Although a bagpipe, Uilleann pipes are not as loud as the Scottish Highland pipes that people automaticaly think of when you mention bagpipes, but they're about the same volume as a fiddle. They have a range of two full octaves. Although not chromatic Uilleann pipes can be played in a variety of keys and modes. And, pitched at concert D, they are compatible to play with most common instruments.
The fingering is a bit similar to the penny whistle and simple system flute. The Uilleann pipe chanter can be completely closed off, making it possible to play both staccato and legato. Other features include: ability to change tone and volume by opening bell of the chanter (lifting chanter off leg) As mentioned, it is a bellows blown instrument, combined with the tactic of lifting the bottom of the chanter on and off the leg means that you have to sit to play them.
So no marching.
Also check out other cdbaby artist, Patsy O'Brien
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Dublin Lads/The Flags of Dublin/the Four Knocks Reels
2. The FIrst Slip/Hardy Man the Fiddler/The Yellow Wattle Slip Ji
3. The Cloone Hornpipe
4. Molly from Longford/The Wise Maid Reels
5. The Shady Woods of Truagh/Jack Wadeâ€™s Reel Slow Air/ Reel
6. Wallop The Spot/The Leg of the Duck/Temple Hill Jigs
7. The Maple Leaf/The Man of Aran Reels
8. Richard Dwyers/Late in the Night/Jack in the Box/Seamus Thompson
9. Humors of Ballykeal/Sgt. Earlys Jig/The Shady Woods of Old Limer
10. Terry Heigh Ho the Grinder/The Rakes of Drumlish Slip Jigs
11. Eleanor Kaneâ€™s/The Gooseberry Bush/The Spinners Delight Reels
12. The Fox Chase
13. Green Grow the Rushes O/The Jolly Banger Barndances