is a well known cliche, to describe a fiddle player as "a
devil fiddler" but in Dezi Donnelly's case this is more
of an understatement! The sibling of a Manchester fiddler dynasty
is both All Britain and All Ireland Champion, a title truely
deserved for his brilliant jigs and reels.
Having played the fiddle since the age of 7,
Dezi was North West and All Britain fiddle champion by the age
of 9. Amazingly, by the age of 15, he had won the All Ireland
championship an astounding 5 times!
Dezi joined legendary Manchester-Irish band,
Toss The Feathers, whilst still in his teens. Between 1988-91
and 1994-95 he appeared on the brilliant "Columbus Eclipse"
and "Awakenings" albums.
It was during this period (in 1989 to be precise)
that Dezi recorded some tracks with Mancunian flutist Michael
McGoldrick. Mike's flute and Dezi's fiddle gently spar on most
of the tracks, however each take the lead when required and
the arrangements allow them to swap leads within sets to great
effect. The tracks were later released on the album, "Champions
Of The North", and Dezi also featured on Mike's amazing
On the critically-acclaimed 1995 album, "Welcome",
Dezi duos with guitarist Skirm and they compliment each others'
playing superbly. Described as a unique musical experience,
the album is a masterpiece of improvised brilliance and received
1997 saw Dezi become runner-up in the BBC award
"Young Traditional Musician Of The Year", a title
previously held by Michael McGoldrick. He is no pure traditionalist
however. He is the unpredictable wonderboy of fiddle improvisation.
Dezi went one better in 1998, scooping the "All
Ireland Young Traditional Musician Of The Year". The award
pocketed him IR£5000 and a recording contract. The best
prize however was on his doorstep when he arrived home, in the
form of a congratulatory letter from his idle, ex-Manchester
United legend, Eric Cantona.
The "All Ireland" award created a
very productive period for Dezi. He was invited to join Irish
traditionalists, Stockton's Wing in May '99 and by July he had
released his debut solo album. "Familiar Footsteps".
"Familiar Footsteps" is already recognised
as one of the greatest traditional fiddle albums of all time
and has won rave reviews. An achievement so scary for a musician
With fellow Mancunian guitarist,
Kieran Cunningham, Dezi has also found time to form Quare Craic
which has given him a further stage to astound new audiences
all over Europe with his energetic fiddle playing. He is fast
becoming recognised as the greatest fiddle player alive today!