[News] Bio [Shatter the Calm]

I first became interested in Irish music after listening to a Pogues recording. The sound was unlike anything I had listened to before, highly structured and emotional in way that was completely new to me. I started collecting Pogues EPs & singles voraciously, that was where they seemed to be at their least polished and most true to their roots. Their "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" album contains an instrumental track called "The Battle March Medley" (track 6 on "Shatter the Calm"!)- I heard this and fell in love with the sound of the bouzouki played by Terry Woods. Not knowing what a bouzouki was, I read "mandolin" in the liner notes and assumed that was the instrument being played, so I went off and bought an old beat-up roundback washburn mandolin. It took me nearly 3 years to discover that I made a mistake, when I saw Altan in concert in Madison, WI; and had a chance to strum Ciaran Curran's Sobell bouzouki after the show.

I went through a number of mandolins at this time, always hunting for a sound I had in my head. I played in a number of Milwaukee bands, foremost among them 180 & the Letter G, an oddly-named quartet (or quintet!) that was a regular fixture at the Black Shamrock pub. At this time, I got my first "real" bouzouki, the Sobell 10-string mandola that I play on "Shatter the Calm". I mostly play a Steve Smith Bouzouki these days, and a Bluegrass-style F5 Lebeda Mandolin. I'm also a very lucky person and borrowing a spectacular vintage mandolin from a friend I hope to be able to tell everyone about soon!

Along the way, I met & became friends with Roger Landes & luthier Stephen Owsley Smith, both of whom have influenced my playing in profound ways. Roger and I were early members of the wonderful Cittern email group, to whom I also owe a profound thanks! Roger introduced me to Zan McLeod while he was recording "Dragon Reels", and I met Paul Kotapish while doing an article on Kevin Burke's Open House for CelticMusic.Com (something I thought of more as a magazine at the time!).

"Shatter the Calm" is a culmination of all the assorted noodling around on mandolins, bouzoukis, tenor banjos, harmonicas etc I've been doing for the last 14 years or so. It's been a wonderful process to work on the recording, and I'm greatful that Zan & Paul were able to help out!

I work as a Unix/Linux administrator at a bank in London these days.

Photo by Mark Fitzsimons