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Dún an Doras

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Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Dún an Doras is a Celtic folk-rock band with an unlikely location: the Czech Republic. While Celtic folk-rock outfits are quite plentiful in Ireland and Scotland, the Czech Republic is hardly the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of Celtic music. But Dún an Doras is, in fact, a contemporary Celtic outfit with a Prague address, and their members have ranged from Czech musicians to immigrants from other parts of the world.

Although Celtic-oriented, Dún an Doras is not a group of Celtic purists -- Celtic folk-rock isn't Celtic music in the traditional sense (even if it's played in Scotland, Ireland, or Brittany), and the band has incorporated different types of world music. On a Dún an Doras release, one is likely to hear the usual Celtic instruments (such as the fiddle, the flute, and uillean pipes) alongside various instruments that aren't traditionally Celtic -- instruments that have included Indian tabla drums (which are usually associated with raga playing), the cajon (a South American instrument), the djembe (which comes from West Africa), and the Aboriginal didjeridoo. Dún an Doras includes traditional Celtic songs in its repertoire, but what the group does with them isn't necessarily traditional.

Dún an Doras was formed in Prague in 1997. Along the way, the band has had more than its share of lineup changes. The band's early members included, among others, Katerina Garcia (lead vocals), Nilla Axelsson (a female fiddle player who is originally from Sweden), Simon Delaney (a guitarist who grew up in Ireland), and Scott Mavroudis (who plays the uillean pipes and is also a native of Ireland), Tom English (bodhran), and founder René Starhon (who plays bass as well as the bouzouki, a string instrument that is usually heard in Greek music). By late 1999, most of Dún an Doras' original members had left the band, including Axelsson, Delaney, Mavroudis, English, and Starhon. But Garcia and Starhon remained, and for a while, the two of them performed together as a vocals/guitar duo. But that downsized version of Dún an Doras was only temporary, and the early 2000s saw the arrival of Pepa Janicek (banjo), Petr Kosumbersky (a guitarist who used to play with the Celtic band Shannon), Radvan Markus (flute), Jonathan Tennant (didjeridoo, percussion), Daniel Malczyk (fiddle), and Kristyna Kyndlova (percussion). But Janicek, Tennant, and Kyndlova didn't stay; Janicek left in late 2001, Kyndlova in late 2002, and Tennant in 2003. May 2003 saw the arrival of Jakub Severin (tablas, darbuka, djembe), and in late 2003, Dún an Doras had a six-person lineup that included original members Garcia and Starhon as well as more recent arrivals Markus, Kosumbersky, Severin, and Malczyk.

Dún an Doras' first album, Bossa Nudski, came out in 1999; it was followed by Sweet & Sour, which was recorded in 2003 and released on Indies Records (a small independent label that is based in Brno, Czech Republic, and has been documenting the post-communist Czech music scene since the early '90s).