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Sebastian was born in Aintree, Liverpool in March 1957. His father's work took the family of seven all over England, and they eventually settled in Sussex, on the South East coast. On seeing a badly broken violin in the cupboard when he was 6 years old; Sebastian remembers feeling intrigued by it, and asking in vain if it could be repaired.
Sebastian took classical violin lessons from age 14, and feels he acquired his interest in Irish music from his mother's side, a large family of Dohertys. His mother is a pianist and also understands the violin. She gave him much encouragement by playing duets with him. Born in Liverpool to Irish parents, his mother was evacuated to Ireland during the war. She knew airs on the piano, like The Lark in the Clear Air and She Moved Through the Fair , as well as some jigs and reels.
His great uncle George O'Neillwas a sailor on the ships between Liverpool and Dublin and played violin and mandolin and was also a stand-up poet who used to entertain the other sailors on the ship. Sebastiannow plays the fiddle that belonged to him, and still has his old edition of The Roche Collection of Irish Music.
After 4 years playing classical music, Sebastian heard Dave Swarbrick, who has always been a favourite fiddler and a great influence. Whilst playing in various ceilidh and folk-rock bands in the early seventies, Sebastian met Duncan Wood, a Scots fiddle and mandolin player and artist, who lived just round the corner. They sat up all night drinking tea, learning tunes and listening to early recordings of Aly Bainand the Boys of the Lough . He was the first fiddler Sebastian met who played in a finer, more traditional style than the mainstream recordings he had heard.
After leaving home at 17, Sebastianhas interspersed professional fiddle playing with a range of occupations including reprographic printer, factory supervisor, administrator, freelance artist and event organiser. He also spent five years as a street musician; his busking travels included southern France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, England and Ireland, with spells on the London Underground and Paris Metro.
Sebastian 's first performance experience was in Sussex folk clubs in the early seventies. He fondly remembers the early days of the folk revival when a small pub back room would be jammed to the doors with people listening to well-known guest artists and floor performers.
Whilst in Ireland, he played on the street in Dublin and Cork and heard some great players at close quarters including Tony Linnane, Seamus Creagh, Kevin Burke, Paddy Keenan, Vincent Griffin and Mary Bergin . He also met Eoin O'Riada, Sean O'Riada 's younger son, and was fortunate to stay in the O'Riada home for a weekend.
Another great influence was Dirk Campbell, an ethnic wind player and composer who specialised in Middle Eastern traditional music in the UK. Dirk was an Uilleann piper and Gaida (Macedonian Bagpipe) player for theLyra Greek Dancers in London. He invited Sebastian to join the ensemble which was a challenging and enriching departure from Celtic music. They also played together in a London Celtic group called Shapechanger.
Sebastianmet his wife Hermina, in London in 1990. Their first child Davinawas born in Brighton, England. After bringing Davinato Australia to meet Hermina's family in the Goulburn Valley, they emigrated to Oz in 1995, and moved to Redland Bay, where Rolandwas born in 1996. They now live in Morningside, where their new son Daniel, was born on 3rd Aug 2000.
In between raising children, Sebastian and Hermina have been running an events organising business for the last four years, producing themed musical events with catering.
The Brisbane music scene was something of a renaissance for him as he had not performed regularly for a number of years. He has since played with various local bands and musicians including the Bale 'em Up Bush Band at Marawah Farm, Celticle, Potcheen, Fairly Lively, in a duo with Bluegrass musician Chris Ridgwayand more recently with Malarky where he enjoys playing alongside Martin Reese, Terry Jacob and Simon Wells.
He found making the Malarky CD last year very rewarding and is enthusiastic about the band exploring other rhythms and ethnic musics apart from Celtic, and their own material; seventeen of the twenty-two instrumental pieces on the CD are original as well as two original songs by Terry Jacob.
He has also made a CD with Potcheen, and features on CD's by Fairly Lively, Late Edition, and two compilation CDs Gathering Thyme& Thyme by the Bay, featuring various Brisbane musicians.
Two of his compositions feature on the CD Ireland by Dirk Campbell, which has been broadcast for advertising on Radio Eire in Ireland.
The sweetest appreciation he ever had was being tipped and warmly congratulated by Dame Judy Dench, whilst playing on the street in Brighton, UK. The sourest deprecation he ever had was having a bucket of water tipped over him from an overhead window whilst playing on the street in Avignon. "I should have played The Water Is Wide, but alas my bow was wet."
The Malarky CD - The Band That Plays At Night has just been released in the UK on the DJC label and will be distributed in the US, UK and Europe.
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