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Interview with the Chieftains Paddy Moloney

The three remaining Chieftains
The Chieftains have begun their "Irish Goodbye" tour, which is the last tour of the 57-year-long band. (Photo Credit: Chieftains)

To say that the Irish band The Chieftains are one of the longest running bands in musical history is an understatement. The folk band started some fifty-eight years ago this year. And in that vast career, they’ve expanded the genre of Irish music by partnering with a slew of musicians outside the bailiwick of that country’s musical output, including heavyweights such as Van Morrisson (though, yes, he could be lumped in the same category), Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones and Ry Cooder

But they’ve also worked with lesser known musicians, such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Decemberists, the Punch Brothers and even with the U.S. Astronaut  Cady Coleman, who was loaned one of Paddy Moloney’s tin whistles and played it on the International Space Station. 

In bending and expanding their earlier realm of Irish music, they stretched the bounds by working with Ry Cooder on a magnificent Spanish album called “San Patricio.” This, was the nearly forgotten story of the San Patricio battalion, “a downtrodden group of Irish immigrants who deserted the US Army to fight on the Mexican side in the Mexican/American War (1846-48),” it says on the liner notes. The album features guest appearances from Lila Downs, Linda Ronstadt, Carlos Nunez, Moya Brennan, and Lost Tigres Del Norte.

The group has also traveled to Nashville, in which they recorded “Further Down the Old Plank Road.” This outing featured a line-up that included Chet Atkins, Linda Ronstadt (again), Roseanne Cash, John Prine and Emmylou Harris, just to name a few. 

In the interview, Moloney says he’s always learning more and wanting more when it comes to playing music. Dubbing this tour the "Irish Goodbye," which is a term that means you're sneaking out of a party without telling anyone to avoid any awkward so longs, is a clever way of (perhaps) capping off a long, historic career. Moloney says he still has several albums lined up that he wants to work on, which could allow for more shows. 

If you listen to the entire interview, you’ll hear a musician still captured by the magic of making music. You’ll hear how he started out as an accountant and how he used to play music for his family as a young boy. 

To say that interviewing Paddy Moloney was a thrill of a lifetime or honor is just the tip of the iceberg. It was both those things and more. He was engaging to speak with. 


-Ian Stewart/World Music Show/VPM Music 


Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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