Dan Ar Braz

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Dan ar Braz
Dan ar Braz with his guitar
Dan ar Braz at Quimper in 2013
Background information
Born (1949-01-15) 15 January 1949 (age 67)
Quimper, Brittany, France
Origin Breton
Genres Breton Music, Celtic rock, folk

Dan Ar Braz, born as Daniel Le Bras in January 15, 1949, is a Breton guitarist and the founder of Héritage des Celtes.

Career[edit]

Apprenticeship & Alan Stivell years[edit]

At the age of 13, Daniel Le Bras obtained his first guitar after teaching himself how to play. He modeled himself on The Shadows, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. Daniel's father insisted that he study catering instead of music. At the age of 17, he performed locally in bals, interpreting folk-rock songs by Donovan, Van Morrison, and Rory Gallagher.

In 1967, while training as a waiter at a hospitality school in Benodet mostly to satisfy his mother's concerns about having a "proper job", Dan met Breton harpist and singer Alan Stivell who invited him to join his group.[1] Alan Stivell and his musicians embraced Breton, Scottish, and Irish music, and were also later joined by Gabriel Yacoub to form the Malicorne. Alan's father had made a reconstruction of the ancient Breton harp in 1953 and Alan learned to play the harp, bagpipes and Irish flute.

Stivell opened Dan's eyes to the possibilities of Celtic music and its proximity with rock. Stivell "bretonised" Daniel Le Bras into Dan Ar Bras to show that he belonged to Breton culture rather than French culture. The sound of his electric guitar made an exciting mix with Alan's Celtic instruments and voice, and Breton Music was undergoing a revival. After a successful tour in France in 1972-73, they traveled around Europe, North America, and Australia.

At the same time in 1972, Dan Ar Bras formed his own group called Mor. Compared to Stivell's group, this was the middle-of-the-road and it broke up shortly after recording one album titled Stations, released in 1973. A collegian album of Irish jigs and reels followed in 1979, entitled Irish Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes and Airs, featured Davey Graham, Dave Evans, and Duck Baker. It was not commercially successful.

Dan Ar Braz as a soloist[edit]

In 1976, Braz relocated to Oxfordshire and joined the band Fairport Convention. He changed his name again to Dan Ar Braz, and for about a year he toured with Fairport but did not record any studio albums with them. The experience renewed his confidence, and he returned to Brittany to record three solo albums in three years, each one using Celtic music. By this time, he was making sales in the United States.

1980s[edit]

For several years, Dan Ar Braz seemed to turn his back on Celtic music. In 1981, he toured Europe with his "Acoustic" album, a subdued collection of instrumentals, written by himself. He then joined a blues-rock trio. Between 1984 and 1987, he toured the United States over a dozen times. By the time he recorded "Musiques pour les silences à venir" in 1985, he was being described as "New Age". After making another instrumental album, he surprised everyone by recording a collection of songs in English – "Songs" (1990). Most were written by him, plus one each by Richard Thompson and Donovan. He teamed up with John Kirkpatrick to record a film score in 1992.

L'Héritage des Celtes[edit]

Formation and success[edit]

Dan Ar Braz's greatest moment occurred in 1992, when the organizer of the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper asked him to create a live show uniting traditional music with modern styles. Dan had many contacts in Britain, France, and America, and delivered beyond all expectations. Donal Lunny came from Ireland, Karen Matheson came from Scotland, Elaine Morgan came from Wales, and both Bagad Kemper and Alan Stivell came from Brittany. Altogether, 75 musicians were involved. The group called L'Héritage des Celtes performed their debut show at the Quimper festival in July 1993, then went on to Rennes in 1994. A hugely successful studio recording recreated the show. It sold 100,000 copies in over ten countries, and a live album followed. Their fame within France was so great that in 1996 they represented France in the 41st Eurovision Song Contest.

Finisterres[edit]

In 1997 they recorded the album "Finisterres" and again sold 100,000 copies. The music awards ceremony Victoires de la Musique awarded them "Best Traditional Music Album" in 1998. They went on tour in France and played on biggest stages of Paris Le Zénith and Bercy Arena on St Patrick's Day in 1999. But with more than 70 musicians on stage at once, the show was tremendously difficult to put on. In August 2000 the group played at the "Festival Interceltique" in the stadium of Lorient where Dan announced that it would be the final concert.

Return to solo work[edit]

Much to the disappointment of many fans, Dan Ar Braz returned to solo work. La mémoire des volets blancs (2001) is a tribute to the deceased friends from his childhood, and is an instrumental nostalgic piece. He performed in another huge show at the Stade de France on St Patrick's Day in 2002.

For the following albums, he worked with his friends' singers Clarisse Lavanant, Jean-Jacques Goldman and Red Cardell. In 2012, with Bagad Kemper, he produced Celebration in Brittany, an album and a tour unifier which gets closer to the spirit of L'Héritage des Celtes, but centers on Brittany.

In 2015, the album Cornouailles Soubdtrack was produced, which takes a more contemplative turn, telling the story of his life in instrumentals that range from Moon River and Oh Shenandoah to Dan's own compositions in a style that echoes his musical heroes, The Shadows.

Discography[edit]

With the band Mor (as a founding member guitarist)[edit]

  • Stations (1972)

With Alan Stivell (as a guitarist)[edit]

  • Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (1972)
  • Olympia Concert (1972)
  • From Celtic Roots (1973)
  • E Langonned (1974)
  • Live in Dublin (1975)
  • Treman Inis (1976)
  • Before Landing (1977)
  • Again (1993)

As Dan Ar Braz[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • Douar Nevez (1977)
  • Allez dire à la ville (1978)
  • The Earth's Lament (1979)
  • Acoustic (1981)
  • Music For the Silences To Come / Musique pour les silences à venir (1985)
  • Septembre bleu (1988)
  • Songs (1990)
  • Frontières de sel/Borders of Salt (1991)
  • Rêve de Siam (1992) (OST)
  • Xavier Grall chanté par Dan Ar Braz (1992)
  • Theme for the Green Lands (1994)
  • Kindred Spirit (1995)
  • La Mémoire des volets blancs (2001)
  • Celtiques (2003)
  • À toi et ceux (2004)
  • Frontières de sel (2006) (DVD & CD)
  • Les Perches du Nil (2007)
  • Comptines celtiques et d'ailleurs (2009)
  • Celebration (2012)
  • Célébration d'un héritage (2014) (live album)
  • Cornouailles Soundtrack (2015)

Various Artists[edit]

  • Irish Reels, Jigs, Airs & Hornpipes (1979) (with Duck Baker, Dave Evans, Davey Graham)

Solo compilations[edit]

  • Islands of memoriesLes îles de la mémoire (1992)
  • Made in Breizh (2002)
  • Bretagnes : ici, ailleurs, là-bas (2011)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harris, Craig. "Biography: Dan ArBraz". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Nathalie Santamaria
with Il me donne rendez-vous
France in the Eurovision Song Contest
1996
(with l'Héritage des Celtes)
Succeeded by
Fanny
with Sentiments songes