Born in Holywood, County Down, in 1948, the Davey family moved to Dublin when Shaun was a teenager. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1971 winning a scholarship to the Courtauld Institute of Fine Art where he took a Masters Degree. He was in a band called The Blues Assembly with James Morris (bass and violin). They recorded a demo with Donal Lunny in Lunny's flat in Merrion Square. As Davey & Morris they recorded an LP for the York label. This has become extremely difficult to find. The tracks I've heard are difficult to describe, a mixture of early 70s singer-songwriter and progressive folkrock with orchestral interjections. If it had come out on a major label, from a stylistic point of view, that label would've been Charisma.
Morris worked in the Players Theatre and later became involved in the creation of what became Windmill Lane studios in Dublin, where he is now chief executive.
Returning to Ireland, Shaun Davey formed an experimental band with Donal Lunny called Bugle. They played only four gigs, all in Dublin, and recorded some demos. Davey began to feel the call of what he is now known for, large scale orchestral pieces which cross boundaries, tieing elements from different traditions together. He made a living writing advertising jingles, one of which 'The Pride Of The Herd' became a hit single and sowed the seeds for 'The Brendan Voyage'. The B-side is a remarkable experimental electronic piece. He also composed TV soundtracks (Ballykissangel, Waking Ned, Trevor Nunn's film version of Twelfth Night, a stage musical of CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe, a play based on James Joyce's The Dead and much else besides, including a credit on Bosco LP).
Shaun's first major success was The Brendan Voyage, an orchestral suite inspired by Tim Severin's filmed re-enactment of St Brendan's legendary voyage to America, which was first performed in 1979, to great acclaim. The suite was written for uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn plus orchestra. It was a ground-breaking work and led Davey down a compositional path of similar large- scale works, beginning with the incredibly ambitious 'The Pilgrim' - featuring musicians and languages from the seven Celtic nations of Europe, and requiring a cast of around 200.
More to follow.
Donal Lunny - Bazouki, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Bodhran
Pat Halling - Violin
Claire Denise - Cello
Dave Lambert - Electric Guitar
Geoff Strodzinski - Organ on "You Come Now"
Richard Hudson - drums
All songs written, composed and arranged by Shaun Davey and James
Morris. Recorded at Nova Sound Studios in 1972. Produced by Tony Hooper.
Morris is credited with vocals, bass and violin, and Davey with vocals, keyboards, acoustic and electric (on "Grape Street") guitars, harmonica and orchestral arrangements. The lyric sheet also features engravings by Davey.
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