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|Dan ar Braz|
Dan ar Braz at Festival de Cornouaille of Quimper in 2013
15 January 1949|
Quimper, Brittany, France
|Genres||Breton music, Celtic rock, folk|
Dan Ar Braz (born Daniel Le Bras on 15 January 1949 in Quimper) is a Breton guitarist-singer-composer and the founder of Héritage des Celtes, a 50-piece Pan-Celt band. Leading guitarist in Celtic music, Dan Ar Braz has recorded as a soloist and with innovative Celtic harp player Alan Stivell. He represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest 1996.
At the age of 13, Daniel Le Bras obtained his first guitar after teaching himself how to play, inspired by guitarists like Hank Marvin, Bert Jansch, Pretty Things. Daniel's father insisted that he study catering instead of music. At the age of 17, he performed locally in Bal-musette, interpreting folk-rock songs by Donovan, Van Morrison, and Rory Gallagher.
In 1967, Dan met Breton harpist and singer Alan Stivell who invited him to join his group. Alan Stivell and his musicians embraced Breton, Scottish, and Irish music, and were also later joined by Gabriel Yacoub to form 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 rebranded Daniel Le Bras as "Dan Ar Bras" to show that he belonged to Breton culture rather than French culture. In 1971, with "Pop Plinn", "for the first time rock music was put in service for a traditional Breton dance song." His electric guitar made the "essential element of Stivell's sound for more than a decade" and made contributions to nine of Stivell's albums, including the influential "Renaissance of the Celtic Harp" and "Olympia Concert" in 1972. After a successful tour in France in 1972-73, Breton Music was undergoing a revival and 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[clarification needed] and it broke-up shortly after recording one album, Stations, released in 1973.
In 1976, Braz relocated to Oxfordshire and joined the band Fairport Convention. He changed his name to Dan Ar Braz (with a "z"), and for about a year he toured with Fairport but did not record any studio albums with them. This experience was allowing him to cot for long-term Anglophone musicians (Dave Pegg, Rory Gallagher, etc.) and to make the cover of Melody Maker (February 1976).
Homesick for Brittany, Dan releases in 1977 an instrumental progressive folk album, "Douar Nevez". In three years, he record three Celtic music solo-albums. By this time, he was making sales in the United States.
Braz released a collegian album of Irish jigs and reels in 1979, entitled Irish Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes and Airs with a band featuring Davey Graham, Dave Evans, and Duck Baker. It was not commercially successful, and for several years, Braz seemed to turn his back on Celtic music.[according to whom?] In 1981, he toured Europe promoting his album Acoustic, a subdued[according to whom?] 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 (Music for the Silences to Come) in 1985, he was being described as "New Age".[according to whom?] After making another instrumental album, he moved in a new direction 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.
Dan Ar Braz's greatest moment[according to whom?] 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.
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 the 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.[according to whom?] 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.
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 a nostalgic instrumental-piece.[according to whom?] He performed in another major show at the Stade de France on St Patrick's Day in 2002.
For the following albums,[clarification needed] 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 Soundtrack was produced, which takes a more contemplative turn,[according to whom?] 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.