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     Band     Current members      Former members     History         [français]

The Siamsa Montréal Ceili Band Montréal's Irish ceili band is made up mainly of present and former Siamsa teachers, with occasional star guests.

The band plays traditional and modern Irish dance tunes in an authentic ceili-band style, injecting into the tunes the lift and drive that dancers love.

(Note: We include “Montréal” in the name to dispel any possible confusion with the Siamsa Ceili Band that was well known in Ireland up to the 1960s.)

Siamsa Ceili Band

The band at Celtic Harmonies festival, 2015. Photo: Sylvain Lair

This video shows Bill White and the Siamsa Ceili Band (augmented with members of Irish band Comas) playing at a special "Veillée Québec-Irlande" at La Grande Rencontre Festival on May 9, 2015.

Current members: This season's ceilis are likely to find a selection of the following musicians on stage: Steve Jones (leader, accordion); Philippe Murphy, Brad Hurley, In-Ah Sophie Gagné (flutes); Thomas Brenneur, Marie-Claire Saindon, Siobhán Ní Mhaolagáin, Kate Bevan-Baker (fiddles); Martine Billette, Gareth Jones (piano); Gino Beaupré (guitar); Fred Graham (drums).

From time to time distinguished Irish musicians have sat in with the band, including veteran ceili band musicians from County Clare, Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin and (on one memorable occasion!) Martin Hayes.

Siamsa Ceili Band

St Patrick's ceili 2013. Photo: Brad Hurley

Former members. Among the many musicians who have played with the band (some of whom may join us occasionally in future) are Jean Duval (previous leader), Kelly Symons, Sarah Frank, Théo Baumard, Finola Hackett, Marjorie Deschamps, Christophe Comte, Emily Andrews, Marc-Antoine Bérubé, Golo Goerner, Jocelyne Goerner, Karen Iny, Yann Falquet, Kara Doyle, Dorothée Hogan, Guy Berniquez, Guillaume Métayer, David Papazian, Jessica Gal, Paul Legrand & Bob Cussen. See below for more photos and a brief history of the band.

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Siamsa Ceili Band

The band in 2012. Photo: Caroline Wathier

Siamsa Ceili Band

At La Grande Rencontre, May 2011. Photo: Barbara Vogt

Siamsa Ceili Band

Special guest at La Grande Rencontre. Photo: Marilyn Aitken

History. In the late 1980s a group of musicians led by Steve Jones, David Papazian and Jean Duval played for ceilis organized by various Irish organizations in Montréal. Championed by Willy Fahy (who with his wife Anna has been a loyal supporter of Siamsa ceilis of the years) the group, despite a shifting membership, became known as the Montréal Ceili Band, and eventually played for the grand Friday night ceili at the 1992 North American convention of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann, held in Montréal.

The same group of musicians began playing for Siamsa ceilis in the early 1990s. Membership remained fluid, rehearsals were utterly unknown, and yet the band always came through to provide great dance music. In the late-2000s, under the direction of Steve Jones, the band's sound moved closer to that of a traditional ceili band, with a rhythm section of piano and drums (Kelly Symons and Fred Graham respectively). More Siamsa teachers joined and (shock horror!) regular rehearsals were introduced.