The Music Recital Hall at the University of Montana will host Liam O Maonlai Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. for a night of traditional and contemporary Irish music and song presented by the Friends of Irish Studies and Humanities Montana.

O Maonlai was raised in a traditional Irish-speaking home and was also the front man and founding member of the Hothouse Flowers, a popular Irish rock band that has released seven successful albums. Maonlai has also got some recognition from a big-name in the music world.

“(Liam O Maonlai) is the best white boy soul singer in the world,” said Bono, the leading member of U2.

Influenced by the music and song tradition of West Kerry, O Maonlai became a master pianist, and is also very skilled on the guitar, tin whistle, harp and bodhran. His success with the Hothouse Flowers never stole him away from tradition, though.

“Even when the Hothouse Flowers were at the peak of their success, O Maonlai remained faithful to the traditional song of his roots,” said Traolach O’Riordain, director of UM’s Irish Studies Program.

O’Riordain added that O Maonlai sings in a style that that has been in the Irish tradition for thousands of years. O Maonlai will discuss that tradition and how it influenced his music during the concert.

“We always knew (O Maonlai) is someone we wanted here, but never thought it would be possible,” O’Riordain said.

This concert in Missoula is the one of the final shows of a five-part concert series, aiming to examine Irish music as O Maonlai will be stopping in Butte after the Missoula performance.

Tickets will be available at the door for $20, $15 for students or Friends of Irish Studies members, or at any Griztix outlets or online at friendsofirishstudies.com. Children under 12 get in for free.

Kendra Cousineau is a journalism major at the University of Montana and an intern in the Missoulian newsroom.

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