The traditional Irish music scene, like traditional music scenes everywhere I suppose, is a complete universe and a very small village at the same time. The music is literally all over the world now, yet everybody involved in it seems to know everybody else, if not directly then by only a few degrees of separation. There'd be nothing surprising, for example, in an American guitarist meeting a French flutist in an Irish pub in Paris and discovering a natural chemistry...which is exactly what happened in 2000 at Connolly's Corner on the Left Bank, the night I met Michel Sikiotakis.
As soon as I heard him play, I realized that here was one of the genre's finest flute and whistle players. He also knew a thing or two about the music, as I later found out - he'd traveled through Ireland recording great musicians (flutist Kevin Crawford, for one, well before he shot to fame with Lunasa), he'd helped organize French concerts for the likes of the Chieftains, Altan and De Dannan, and of course he'd won two All-Ireland championships, one as a member of his first group and one as a tin whistle soloist.
As for me, I'd been rambling the Irish music circuit in North America for a while, first eleven years on the road with Helicon mixing Celtic tradition with its cousins from the rest of the world, then a year and a half touring and recording with All-Ireland button accordion champion John Whelan, as well as having the honor of teaching every July alongside some of the world's greatest Celtic musicians at North Carolina's Swannanoa Gathering. So my ears were primed when I came to Paris and heard Michel sailing through reels, jigs and heartbreaking slow airs, one after another, with the power and authority that only come from many years of mastery. We started hanging out at his apartment overlooking the Parc de la Villette, playing duo concerts around Paris, sharing tunes and laughs, and gradually realized that something was happening here that wanted to be documented...
Enter Dorian Recordings, et voila. It's an honor to join such a musician as Michel in a duo, and even more, to call him my friend. We offer you here a few tunes from our first couple of years of playing together, and we hope you enjoy them.