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He tried to fight in those early years, but, music was in Hugh Buckley’s blood – and playing music was pretty much a family business.

Dad, Sean, played a multitude of instruments, just like his brother, Dick, whilst the latter’s two sons, Michael and Richie, were each up onstage whilst still barely out of shorts.

Young Hugh just didn’t quite believe that you could make a living from playing guitar. He was wrong.

Regarded today as one of Ireland’s finest jazz guitarists, ever, Hugh has played with everyone from Brad Mehldau to Bernard Fowler, from Ronnie Drew and Van Morrison to Ruben Gonzalez and the RTE Concert Orchestra. And this Saturday, he’s teaming up with the acclaimed Cello Ireland for an afternoon of musical fireworks.


In the meantime, we asked young Hugh to tell us a little about those early, formative, hesitant years, and to list just a few of the songs that have managed to make him break down and cry…

There was always music around the house. My dad, Sean, was a part-time musician and played bass in a number of bands. At home he played a range of other instrumentspiano, fiddle whistle, mandolin. If someone began to sing, we would all join in, picking out whatever harmony parts worked for us.

My uncle Richie (known as Dick, and father of Richie and Michael) was also a part-time musician, and played with Louis Stewart, Noel Kelehan and Jim Doherty among others. On Sundays, the extended family would all turn up at my grandparents house and there was always music there.

From an early age I had a real love for music, but would never have thought it possible to make a living from it. I remember that, long before I began to play an instrument, friends would say “You should be in a band”. In hindsight, it was probably the fact that my cousin Richie went out and began playing full time when he was in his teens that gave me some belief that it was possible.

It has been and, continues to be, a great trip that I wouldn’t change. Now here goes with of my favourites. I could pick hundreds and it still wouldn’t come close to the amount of music that has touched me or moved me.

George Benson Stardust

One of my all-time favourite guitar solos. My dad always that said that this Hoagy Carmichael composition was one one the truly great songs, and I agree. It’s also a fantastic vocal by Benson and a wonderful orchestration by Marty Paich. Benson’s solo builds beautifully, melodic and lyrical and he displays great chops that at all times serve the music. I love his use of space and his phrasing and tone.

Keith Jarrett Somewhere over the Rainbow

One of the great songs played by one of the greats of the piano. Complete mastery, soul and expression.

Tony Bennett & Aretha Franklin How Do You Keep The Music Playing

One of the all-time foremost interpreters of the Great American Song Book and the Queen of Soul deliver an amazingly emotionally charged rendition of this song composed by Michel Legrand, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Two masters, in their later years, doing what they do best. This always brings a tear to my eyes, as it does to Mr.Bennett at the end of this video…

Martin Hayes Dennis Cahill

I love to perform in the duo format…the intimacy and the freedom. This wonderful fiddle and guitar duo is as good as it gets.

Thelonious Monk ‘Round Midnight

Classic jazz quartet. Monk is one of my all time favourites. Such a unique voice in music. He’s a wonderful composer also and there’s so much to learn and enjoy by playing his tunes. ‘Round Midnight is his most well known composition.

Paco de Lucia Live in Sevilla

Flamenco is such a passionate music. Paco is the master, phenomenal spirit and technical mastery. Just beautiful…

You can catch Hugh Buckley and Cello Ireland at The Whale on Saturday, February 16th at 8pm. Info and tickets here. You can find out more about Hugh Buckley here, and about Cello Ireland here.

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