At the age of 13 Daniel Le Bras owned his first guitar. He modelled himself on The Shadows, then Bob Dylan then Jimi Hendrix. Daniel's father insisted that he study catering instead of music. In 1967, while on a catering course in Benodet he met Alan Stivell who invited him to join his group. Alan Stivell and his musicians embraced Breton, Scottish , Irish music, and included Gabriel Yacoub who later formed Malicorne. After a successful tour in France in 1972 they travelled around Europe, North America and Australia. Alan's father had made a reconstruction of the ancient Breton harp in 1953 and Alan learned to play the harp, bagpipes and Irish flute. Daniel Le Bras changed his name to Dan Ar Bras to show that he belonged to Breton culture rather than French. The sound of his electric guitar made an exciting mix with Alan's celtic instruments and voice.
In 1972 he formed his own group called Mor. Compared to Stivell's group, this was middle-of-the-road (MOR) and broke up shortly after recording one album. A solo album of Irish jigs and reels followed, but was not commercially successful. In 1976 he relocated to England and joined Fairport Convention. He changed his name again, this time to Dan Ar Braz. For about a year he played in concerts with Fairport but did not record any studio albums with them. The experience renewed his confidence. He returned to Brittany to record three solo albums in three years, each one using Celtic music. He sang in French and English. By this time he was making sales in the United States.
For several years Dan Ar Braz seemed to turn his back on Celtic music. In 1981 he toured Europe with his "Acoustic" album, a subdued collection of instrumentals, written by himself. He then joined a blues-rock trio. Between 1984 and 1987 he toured the United States over a dozen times. By the time he recorded "Musiques pour les silences à venir" in 1985, he was being described as "New Age". After another instrumental album, he surprised everyone by recording a collection of songs in English - "Songs" (1990). Most were written by him plus one each by Richard Thompson and Donovan. He teamed up with John Kirkpatrick to record a film score in 1992.
Dan Ar Braz's greatest moment occurred in 1992 when the organiser of the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper asked him to create a live show uniting traditional music with modern styles. Dan had many contacts in Britain, France and America and delivered beyond all expectations. Donal Lunny came from Ireland, Karen Matheson from Scotland, Elaine Morgan from Wales and Bagad Kemper (bagpipers) and also Alan Stivell from Brittany. Altogether 75 musicians were involved. The group, called "L'Héritage des Celtes" performed at the Quimper festival in July 1993 then went on to Rennes in 1994. A hugely successful studio recording recreated the show. It sold 100,000 copies in over ten countries. A live album followed. Their fame within France was so great that in 1996 they represented France in the 41st Eurovision Song Contest.
In 1997 they recorded "Finisterres" and again sold 100,000 copies. The music awards ceremony "Victoires de la Musique" awarded them "Best Traditional Music Album" in 1998. They went on tour in France and played at Le Zenith in Paris on St Patrick's Day to 3,000 fans. In August 2000 the group played at the "Festival Interceltique" in Lorient where Dan announced that it would be the final concert.
Much to the disappointment of many fans, Dan Ar Braz returned to solo work. "La mémoire des volets blancs" (2001) is a tribute to deceased friends from his childhood. It is an instrumental nostalgic piece. Clearly Dan has two very different sides - the personal and the public. He performed in another huge show at the Stade de France on St Patrick's Day 2002. He has a huge catalogue of recorded works.
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