John debuted in Connecticut with a new musical collaborator, John Brennan on January 4 in a fabulous sold out event.
John Whelan "All these things - my childhood memories, my father's love of music, the way I can relate to an audience … are why I love to perform".
(scroll down to read about Flynn Coen solo artist & member of The John Whelan Band)
Although he grew up near London in Dunstable, England, John Whelan was raised on the fiddle and pipe music of Ireland. At the age of 14, already a seasoned winner of numerous accordion championships, John recorded his first album. Named in honor of his father, Pride of Wexford was no passing fancy - the album is still is print and selling steadily.
John's artistry blossomed in America. He moved to the U.S. in 1980 and soon was performing with Riverdance fiddler Eileen Ivers in one of the most celebrated Irish duos of the decade. His solo album From the Heart became a 1991 finalist in the Celtic/British Isles category of the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and Manufacturers (NAIRD) awards. In 1996 he signed with Narada and released his first solo album on the label, Celtic Reflections. His next release Celtic Crossroads spent more than two months in the top 10 of Billboard's world music charts.
In late 1997 John formed the JOHN WHELAN BAND. In 1998, the band enjoyed a milestone year, thrilling audiences at such major American music events as the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Washington Irish Folk Festival, as well as throughout Europe on a junket sponsored by Virgin Records, Narada's parent label. Going solo, John appeared in the critically acclaimed "Once Upon an Accordion" North American Tour. Additionally he appeared in his first motion picture Ride With The Devil directed by Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, Ice Storm).
Named Traditionalist of the Year by Irish Echo magazine in 1998, John won high praise from Celtic music authority Earle Hitchner "As an instrumentalist, composer, producer, and arranger who brings both passion and playfulness to his music while respecting the tradition it's rooted in. John Whelan has richly earned the Irish Echo's highest honor for traditional music in 1998."
John's latest album, "Come To Dance", serves notice to genre purists that the seven-time All-Ireland Champion is as instrumentally agile as ever. It also reveals his consummate understanding of a centuries-old repertoire. The album was recorded live in his hometown church, St. Gabriel's in Milford, Ct. John says, "There were no fixes, no second chances, no overdubs - everything is as live as it can be. Sometimes I would check the tracks by dancing to them. If the rhythm is there, if the feel is there, people are going to enjoy…" He continues, " many of these tunes have a personal significance to me. The Concert Reel is a tune I played for my first All-Ireland Championship, and Father O'Flynn is the very first tune I ever learned to play".
John resides in Milford, CT. with his wife, Louise, and their two sons.
Flynn Cohen is one of the country's premier guitar accompanists. He began playing guitar at the age of eleven, and subsequently studied under such luminaries as John Renbourne (Pentangle), Scott Nygaard and Paul Brinkley (Modern Mandolin Quartet). Flynn has degrees in music from Dartington College of the Arts in England and Mills College in California. He currently lives in Boston where he plays bluegrass in addition to Irish traditional music. This past year he joined the John Whelan Band, most recently accompanying John on his highly successful and critically acclaimed European tour.