FROM EMERALD TO GOLD

AFTER THREE DECADES OF CULT STATUS AS AN IRISH FOLK BAND, THE CHIEFTAINS HAVE A HIT WITH HELP FROM MICK JAGGER AND STING

They are perhaps the world's best-loved instrumental group. For more than three decades, in exotic venues from the Vatican to the Great Wall of China, the Chieftains have played traditional Irish music--half a millennium's worth of jigs and reels--on such contraptions as the tiompan, the uilleann pipes, the bodhran and the tin whistle. The only instrument they lacked was a charismatic human voice. It's true that one band member, Kevin Conneff, was given to "singing the odd song now and again, when we let him," as the Chieftains' chief, Paddy Moloney, said in 1991 on their Grammy-winning album An Irish Evening....

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