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From U2 to Sinead O Connor, The Waterboys to Clannad, the name Vinnie Kilduff has long been subtly synonymous with the cutting edge of contemporary Irish music. Equally comfortable playing a small session or a sold-out stadium, The genre-hopping, multi-instrumentalist from County Mayo has worked with practically all the big names. Raised on the wild and rugged west coast of Ireland, Vinnie’s childhood was steeped in music.

A virtuoso of the tin whistle at the age of six by his early teens he’d also mastered the guitar, piano, flute, uilleann pipes, mandolin, harmonica and various other instruments besides. His parents were also talented musicians, and Vinnie's youth was spent playing at sessions and a never-ending series of Irish Fleadh Ceols. However, his tastes were not solely confined to traditional music. He was listening to the Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Velvet underground, Bob Marley, whatever. “I just loved music full-stop”.

After school, Vinnie moved to Dublin to study at the Chatham Row College of Music.  Very much in the right place at the right time, it wasn’t long before his considerable musical talents were spotted. He first set foot inside a professional recording studio when U2 asked Vinnie to play uilleann pipes on their October album. He then guested with the band at their now-legendary 1981 live show in Slane Castle. A brief foray into film editing working on movies such as The Outcasts and James Joyce’s Women distracted him from playing music professionally for a couple of years though he did write the music for Fionnula Flannagan’s acclaimed production of James Joyce’s Women and the RTE documentary Reflections among other RTE productions. In 1983, U2's Bono invited him back again to play on the band’s War tour. Later that year, Vinnie s own band In Tua Nua became the very first act signed to U2's label Mother Records. After a few years and a couple of hits he parted with the band.  Mike Scott of The Waterboys then invited him to join the recording sessions for the Fisherman’s Blues album. He ended up playing guitar and uilleann pipes and co-producing several tracks on the album. Vinnie spent the next couple of years touring with the Waterboys.

Following the Fisherman's Blues tour, a newly enthused Vinnie released his first solo traditional album, The Boys From The Blue Hill which was nominated by Rolling Stone magazine for 1990s Folk Album of the Year. In a curious counterbalance, Vinnie then relocated to the Aran Islands for a five-month rock and roll writing session. While writing out there, he recorded many local traditional musicians and sean-nos singers as a side project. With a little help from Hollywood star Patrick Bergin and Mike Scott these unique recordings were eventually released in 2006 as a successful charity album called The Aran Lifeboat Collection. Vinnie returned to Dublin in the early 1990s to launch his own rock band The Rocking Chairs. He enjoyed the experience, but now says that their timing was totally wrong:  "We wound up being famous for doing more TV shows than gigs" he laughs, "but it was boyband time so it was extremely hard to get signed as a rock band".

Still very much in demand as a session musician, Vinnie was kept busy throughout the 1990s, recording and touring with the likes of Clannad (with whom he played on their Anam, Lore and Landmarks albums). Clannad won a Grammy Award in 1998 for Landmarks.

Vinnie never stopped writing and recording music and in 2006 worked with Sinead O'Connor on the live DVD for her album Theology. As an ever versatile producer, he worked with traditional musicians such as Steve Cooney, Charlie Lennon, Ciaran Brennan and Arty McGlynn and also indulged in his previously unexplored love of techno and hard rock with Newry band The 4 Of Us.

Over the past number of years, Vinnie has been building an exciting new company Parakeet which offers a simple intuitive system of learning musical instruments for music lovers of all abilities.

Now, one of Ireland’s most original, talented and versatile musical sons is back somehow sounding like he‘s never been away . . . but also like he never did before!

Olaf Tyaransen