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The Chieftains

The Chieftains

To commemorate 50 years together as the world’s preeminent Irish folk band, this week The Chieftains released a collaborative album that highlights both the international appeal and provincial specificity of traditional Irish tunes. More than any other act, The Chieftains are responsible for global familiarity with the sounds of the Emerald Isle, and on Voice of Ages the band enlists modern folk, Americana and indie-rock acts to spread the word. The impressive roster of collaborators includes The Civil Wars, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Decemberists, Paolo Nutini, Imelda May and the newly ubiquitous Bon Iver.

“There seems to be a great interest in the fact that we’ve gone down this road,†says bandleader Paddy Moloney, who plays traditional pipes and whistles. “It’s sort of like when we joined up with people of our own generation—Sting, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones—who have been on our albums in the past. But this time, it’s newer groups. We met up, and we had a great time.â€

Produced by T Bone Burnett, Voice of Ages reunites Moloney and Matt Molloy (flute), Kevin Conneff (bodhrán) and Seán Keane (fiddle) with original Chieftains Seán Potts and Michael Tubridy. Of the band’s longevity and desire to maintain old and build new traditions, “It just keeps on going,†says Moloney. “I’m already looking ahead at 2013. Now that I have the recording bug again, I’m mad for it. Retirement is something I should be thinking of, but I think it’s going to be a ‘boots on’ job with me: I’ll go out with my boots on.â€