NEIL BYRNE - SOLOIST
Neil fell in love with music as a kid when he dragged some suitcases down from the attic and started drumming on them. His destiny was sealed when he was six and watched his father’s three-piece band play at a wedding. “The sound just completely blew me away,” he recalls. “I didn’t really understand what I was listening to but I just understood it was absolutely wonderful.”
Shortly after Neil swapped his drums for a guitar and then added vocals at the recommendation of his dad. “He told me, ‘Listen, if you learn to sing, you’ll never go hungry.’” Neil took the advice and started playing professionally with his father’s band before branching out into jazz and then forming a retro funk band called Hipple Street that had a fair amount of chart success. At the same time he was fortunate to play (and study) alongside one of Irelands most renowned jazz bass players, Frank Hess, and begin to learn about musical arrangements.
If he woke up one day to find that playing music wasn’t a career option, Neil would be designing expensive automobiles. “In addition to being a full time musician, my dad was a Mercedes mechanic,” he explains. “He used to bring home some of the big S-class Mercedes sometimes and as kids, he used to bring us out in them on the duel carriageway.”
A mutual friend invited Neil to play at a function for one of Ireland’s most renowned songwriters and producers, Phil Coulter. This led to him playing bass in Phil Coulter’s band on a full time basis. From there Neil was asked to record backing vocals for the Celtic Thunder DVD, from there he moved to lead guitar position in the Celtic Thunder band and eventually became one of the lead vocalists in the show. In 2010, Neil also released “Sensitive Souls” a solo EP, which Hotpress Magazine says, “shows him as a classy singer of soulful pop,” proving that his dad knew what he was talking about.
Since joining Celtic Thunder Neil has toured America, Canada and Australia extensively with the show and has with joined Keith, Ryan, Colm, and Emmett as a lead vocalist in the show. 2014 saw Neil on the road with Celtic Thunder again. He toured Australia in May with the Mythology Tour and the United States in the fall as part of Celtic Thunder Symphony. He was also onboard the 2nd Celtic Thunder Cruise which sailed from Miami to the Caribbean in November 2014.