The Chieftains

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"'U2 is maybe the most popular and successful musical export coming from Ireland today, but there's no comparison between the musical quality of what they do and what the Chieftains do. We play together here nearly every time they're in town and I love the sounds these guys make. I love the melodies and the chord changes, and especially the way their music is performed. Each member of the group is an expert on his instrument, not just in terms of technique, but in terms of the concept they have of what the final ensemble product is supposed to sound like. That is something you are only going to get with a group that has been together 30 years. People describe U2 as "post modern rockers", but what does that mean? Do they themselves know? And which would you rather have? Mediocre invention, or a direct linear descent from celtic culture, which is what I hear in the music of the Chieftains? The Chieftains are their own culture and I hear traces of not only celtic history but global history in their work, echoing back to the beginning of time. I've noticed that when they play here in my home with ethnic musicians from all over the world."
–Joe Jackson interviewing Zappa, 1993

The Chieftains are an Irish folk group. They were founded in 1963 and have made Irish traditional music globally popular. The group also performed with many famous musicians, including Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Tom Jones and Madonna.

Association with Zappa

The Chieftains, or at least a few of them, played at the Friday "soirées" at Zappa's home in February 1993, along with other guests such as Terry Bozzio, L. Shankar, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and the Tuvan Throat Singers. One of these parties is featured in the A&E Biography programme and the BBC special on FZ.

Five of the twelve tracks on The Chieftains' The Celtic Harp were recorded at UMRK - Zappa contributed to these uncredited.

Zappa especially favoured The Chieftains' rendition of The Green Fields Of America, which was also played at Zappa's funeral.