Seamus O’Dowd aka Seamie O’Dowd is a native of Maugheraboy, in Sligo Town and a former member of the well-known Irish traditional music band Dervish.
Seamie is the son of noted Irish musicians Sheila O’Dowd (nee. Regan) and fiddle player Joe O’Dowd.
Growing up, Seamie began attending Irish music competitions and music sessions where he made contact with and learned from other musicians. Among those musicians were a young accordion player called Shane Mitchell and a tin whistle and accordion player called Liam Kelly.
A few years later Seamus, along with his father Joe, was regulars of the music sessions in the Trades Club where they heard musicians from all over the world.
Early influences in Seamus musical life were his parents, both of whom came from musical families in the Irish music stronghold of South County Sligo.
Going to sessions as a youth brought him into contact with musicians from the area such as Verona and Johnny Henry, John Joe Gardiner, P.J. Hernon, Carmel Gunning, Fred Finn and Peter Horan as well as a group of Californian musicians living in Sligo, called Pumpkinhead where he heard appalachian, American folk and Irish music played by them.
Seamie O’Dowd was noted for playing the mandolin, fiddle and bodhran but it was through the guitar that he started to explore his interest in rock and blues. Sligo’s diverse music scene enabled him to get involved with musicians from electric rock, acoustic bluegrass or country blues.
Seamie played in various bands and in the mid to late 80’s he began to play some in traditional Irish ceilis with Shane Mitchell, Liam Kelly, Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes.
O’Dowd and fellow Sligo guitarist/singer Gerry Grennan then formed a duo that played bluegrass, Irish traditional and ragtime to blues and acoustic rock. They toured Ireland and Germany, sometimes as a trio with a mandolin/guitar player from county Roscommon called Brendan Emmett.
This musical outfit lasted for four years and after this, Seamus spent the mid 90’s playing mainly around Sligo and the North West of Ireland, initially doing solo gigs, but some band work as well. One of the bands that used to get together occasionally had Seamus playing along with Cathy Jordan. He learned to play the harmonica by this time and began to play more traditional Irish music. He joined a Celtic rock band called The D.T.’s, an energetic but short-lived band that took Sligo by storm with the piping of Jarlath McTiernan (Sligo) backed with a powerful electric band.
After The D.T.’s split up, Seamus joined Dervish, first as a fiddle player to replace Shane McAleer who had emigrated to New Zealand. With the subsequent addition of Tom Morrow’s fiddle playing to Dervish melodic front-line, Seamus began to play more guitar as well as harmonica and fiddle.
‘Midsummer’s Night’ is the first Dervish CD to feature Seamus O’Dowd, from then on Seamus had great success with Dervish though he has now left the band to pursue a solo career.