Irish Songs, Stories & Dances
John hails from the County Longford, in the heart
At the tender age of 8 years he commenced his musical career as
in the Longford Cathedral Choir. Under the watchful eye and skilful
of Choirmaster Tommy Devine, John was soon singing very demanding
Simultaneously, John began taking banjo and mandolin
lessons at the local school.
This training, coupled with his vocal training was later to prove
furthering his career. After completing secondary school in 1969,
John emigrated to the big City of "Dublin" where he commenced training
Copy Editor at a large international film printing company.
Soon, John met up with friends who had a mutual
interest in playing
Irish music. John´s first ever live gig in Dublin took place in
Capel Street in 1972. The weekly session was called "The Mugs Gig"
and was ran
by Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny, later an integral part of Planxty.
In 1972 John renewed contact with Frank McLynn
a fiddler from Tang, Co. Westmeath and an
old acquaintance from his early schooldays. Previously in their
youth they had played
together in a céilí band which won several competitions including
the All-Ireland Fleadh
Years later after a chance meeting in Dublin in 1973,
John and Frank along with ballad singer and guitarist Brian Flynn,
a former school
companion from Athlone, formed the group "GREENSLEEVES".
The early seventies was the time of the folk revival
scene both in Ireland and the UK.
Sweeny's men had disbanded, the Johnstons with Paul Brady and Mick
setting the pace in the USA, and Dublin was a buzzing city offering
and great musicians.
Greensleeves became an integral part of this exciting
scene. They played regular gigs
at clubs such as the "Old Shieling Hotel", Purty Kitchen", "Baggot
in Capel Street, Meeting Place and many more. On many occasions,
they shared the
bill with celebrities like Christy Moore, Paddy Reilly, Andy Irvine
and Paul Brady.
In 1976, Greensleeves decided to try their luck
in Europe and the USA. Although the
group only comprised a 3-part act, they offered a very unique sound
and became a
big name in southern Germany. John was lead singer and in addition
mandolin, banjo and the Irish flat-back Bouzouki. Brian played the
guitar and was
responsible for harmony vocals, whilst Frank fiddled like a demon.
Towards the end of the seventies, Brian returned
to Ireland and was replaced by
Englishman Paul Wyett. Paul is an excellent guitarist and as well
as being a
fine songwriter, he is equally adept at accompanying Irish Music
as well as
playing the blues and a variety of other guitar picking styles.
After their great success in Germany Greensleeves
decided to move to the USA, where
they played for several months on the east coast. Their initial
LP recording "Irish Folk Songs
and Dances" included the original band line-up. Paul Wyett had already
the band for their second album "Rare Old Times". Both recordings
been discontinued, (see discography).
In the spring of 1988 John left Greensleeves to
pursue a solo career.
John´s solo programme comprises classical old Irish
stories, dances as well as contemporary and self-composed songs.
In 1994, John produced his first solo CD "SOME
OF THE BEST".
The CD includes a variety of guest musicians and friends. There
self-composed pieces and all numbers are self-arranged.
In 1994, John met up with fiddle player and piper
Keith Smith from Scotland.
Although Keith was living in U.K. and John in Germany, they decided
form a duo. Despite the fact that they can only get together a few
times a year,
and practice time is very limited, they succeeded in producing their
first CD in
1999 entitled "ONE FOR THE ROAD". This co-production includes original
both artists as well as rare Scottish and Irish songs and dance
John and Keith harmonise very well together. Their
live show is very balanced and
they know exactly how to integrate their audience fully in a programme
diverse themes as love and marriage, the Irish way of life, drinking,
troubles in the North and songs that allow a closer insight into
the history of Ireland.
John and Keith invariably succeed in animating
their audience into singing along with
their songs. It is not uncommon at the end of the evening, to see
the audience sauntering
home, humming or even singing a few new bars of a song.
For the past number of years, John and Keith have
toured regularly in Germany around
St. Patrick´s Day. The year 2001has been no exception. They played
ten sold-out concerts
and introduced their latest CD
"THE TUNE THAT CAME OUT".
For more details regarding tours, etc. check out
the section Tour Dates.
Keith will be joining John for a mini-tour in December
(see Tour Dates)
and of course the St. Patricks tour 2002.