KEVIN BURKE

* Your musical inspirations?

Here are a few:
Jessie Christopherson, my music teacher; the London Irish music sessions in the 60's, especially those with fiddlers Brendan McGlinchey, Bobby Casey, Sean McGuire, Mairtin Byrnes; going to the Marquee Club (to see Taste, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band; Ten Years After and countless other bands/artists.) Tamla Motown; Stax; the Brixton Bluebeat/Ska scene; The Band; Mike Raven's Blues show on BBC Radio; Robert Johnson, singer Joe Heaney, fiddlers Andy McGann & Paddy Cronin; accordeonist Jackie Daly 
 
* Favorite CD's, songs, or musicians?

Andy Irvine & Paul Brady's duo album
A Tribute to Michael Coleman by Joe Burke, Andy McGann & Felix Dolan
JJ Cale's "Naturally"
"Masterpiece" by the Temptations (it sounds like it's as much producer Norman Whitfield's record as it is a Temptations record)
Near;y everything by Ry Cooder,
Nearly everything by David Linley
Nearly everything by Mark Knopfler
The Times They are a-Changing by Bob Dylan (funnily enough the title track is my least favourite song on the record! Not to knock it, it's a great song but some of the other tracks  hit me so hard I get weak listening to them -  even today, 40 years later!)
Peter Green (from the original Fleetwood Mac)

 * Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?

Yes (I can't believe anyone would answer 'no' to this question!) . It has been the cause of some difficult times too!

"A lot of people think Irish music is wistful and melancholy. That's one side of it, but there's also a great, rough, resilient spirit in the music, an element of joy underlying even the most plaintive melody. I grew up listening to musicians with that spirit and I value it. So much in music today makes people passive, bored and boring: three things I never want to be."

Kevin Burke needn't worry. His sparkling, lyrical fiddle playing has earned him a reputation as one of the finest, most influential players in music today. From The Bothy Band to Patrick Street, he has defined Irish fiddling for a generation. His work with artists as disparate as Kate Bush, Arlo Guthrie and Christy Moore has given him an audience that not only spans continents, it defies attempts at categorization. Described as "one of the greatest Celtic fiddlers alive" by The New York Times, Burke was recognized with a National Heritage Fellowship Award by the National Endowment For the Arts in 2002, this country's highest honor in the traditional arts. In 2005, he was named one of Irish America's Top 100 by Irish America Magazine.

Born and raised in London, England, Burke picked up his first fiddle at age eight when his parents decided music studies were in order. "To this day I have no idea why they chose the fiddle, except that it's popular in County Sligo, where the family comes from and where we spent our vacations," he laughs. "For the next five years or so, I dutifully diddled around on it. Then I discovered Irish music. Suddenly I was hooked. I spent my teens wandering into pubs, waiting for a chance to sit in with the musicians."

London in the 1960s was a vibrant musical scene for the Irish; emigrants could be heard playing the styles of Kerry, Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Clare. And Burke was listening. Though he counts such masters of the Sligo style as Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran and Tom McGowan as primary influences, he also points to fiddlers Bobby Casey (County Clare) and Brendan McGlinchey (Ulster), and to a wealth of Irish musicians on the London scene as important in his development. "I had access to it all, whereas if I'd been living in Ireland, I might not have been so lucky."

Good fortune aside, Kevin's undeniable talents brought him to the attention of Arlo Guthrie in 1972, when he was invited to the States to play on Guthrie's Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys. Shortly after, Christy Moore, the great Irish singer/songwriter, asked Burke to Ireland to play in his new band. He stayed with Moore two years before joining what would become one of the most influential Irish groups of all time, The Bothy Band.

Hailed as "the Yardbirds of Irish music," the Bothy Band boasted some of the finest musicians in all of Ireland, including Matt Molloy (Chieftains), Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Tríona Ní Domhnaill (Nightnoise), Dónal Lunny (Planxty) and uillean piper Paddy Keenan. Burke initially joined the band as a temporary replacement for fiddler Tommy Peoples, but his role soon become permanent. His elegant, impassioned fiddling was a cornerstone of the band's legendary sound from 1976 until 1979.

During their years in the Bothy Band together, Burke and guitarist Míchéal O'Domhnaill discovered a rare musical rapport. When the band parted ways, the two men toured Europe and recorded a groundbreaking album, Promenade, which was awarded the "Grand Prix du Disque" at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival. They followed with Portland, named for the Oregon city where Burke has long resided.

In 1986, Burke joined an all-star cast of Irish musicians that included Andy Irvine and Jackie Daly for a tour that evolved into the legendary quartet Patrick Street. With Ged Foley on guitar and nine albums to their name, Patrick Street is one of the most powerful traditional groups in Irish music. Celtic Fiddle Festival is Kevin's other current group, a dazzling pan-Celtic ensemble that he founded in 1993 with legendary Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham and Brittany's Christian Lemaître. After Cunningham's untimely passing in 2003, the young fiddler Andre Brunet from Quebeçois group La Bottine Souriante came on board, and the Fiddles released their fourth CD, Play On (2005, Green Linnet), dedicated to Johnny.

As if that weren't enough, Kevin toured and recorded with bluegrass star Tim O'Brien and his acclaimed Irish-American group, The Crossing in 2001. Kevin also formed the group Open House during the 1990s, a critically-acclaimed project with American musicians Paul Kotapish, Mark Graham and dancer Sandy Silva. Open House released three CDs that explored music from all corners of the world.

Over the years, Burke has recorded a number of acclaimed solo albums in addition to those mentioned before, including his debut Sweeney's Dream and If the Cap Fits. In Concert, which came out in 1999 on Green Linnet, was Burke's first solo release in15 years, and features his inimitable In Concert fiddling on music drawn from throughout his remarkable career. The album was co-produced by noted Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, who also guests on three tracks.

"There are thousands of old tunes, good ones that haven't been played in years," concludes Burke. "When I find something I love, I play it. And when I find something I like, I bend it out of shape until I love it. Good music is good music. It should be heard."
www.kevinburke.com
www.greenlinnet.com/Kevin

JUDE JOHNSTONE

My favorites-I'd have to say the songwriters who continue to inspire me would be Tom Waits, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, Mark Knopfler, Lyle Lovett, Rodney Crowell, Joni Mitchell to name a few.

Favorite musicians and singers would be Knopfler again, Van Morrison, Buddy Miller, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, John Lennon, T-Bone Burnett, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn...

Has music gotten me through a difficult time?

Music has gotten me through all times, good and bad. It is the center for me. Without meaning to sound too precious about it, it is simply always there like a backdrop behind everything that I do.
JJ

“Intimate, honest, haunting, majestic.”  These are the words used to describe Jude Johnstone’s critically acclaimed debut CD, Coming of Age, released in 2002.  These characterizations also apply to Jude’s eagerly anticipated new CD, On A Good Day. Jude Johnstone is an award-winning songwriter whose songs have been covered by a stellar list of recording artists including Johnny Cash (“Unchained”), Bonnie Raitt (“Wounded Heart”), Trisha Yearwood (“Hearts in Armor,” “The Woman Before Me,” “When We Were Still in Love”), Bette Midler, Stevie Nicks and Jennifer Warnes.
 
Johnstone has made her living as a songwriter for over 20 years, but the experience of recording these two projects presented a new inspirational and reflective journey for her.  She describes how On A Good Day was given life:
 
“I was in a hotel room in Nashville listening to an old Tom Waits record and thinking what a great storyteller he is and it just prompted me to reflect on some stories from my upbringing in Maine.  That day I wrote the first song for this project, called ‘Evelyn.’  Then all of a sudden, it was like the floodgates opened and I could see the whole album.  At the same time, my family back home was still reeling from a couple of hard years where we lost my nephew and grandmother, along with the usual stresses and strains like divorce, addiction, politics and just plain fear.  Things kept happening and I kept writing and when I looked up I had all the songs for On A Good Day.  Perhaps the whole family connection is what made it such a labor of love this time.  That, and the fact that each singer who worked with me on the project I revere, and every note they sang was inspired. And I felt it.  Everyone in the room felt it.  It was very powerful. There was no mistaking it.”
 
On A Good Day showcases Johnstone’s trademarks of meaningful lyrics and beautiful melodies, while transporting the listener through a diverse range of feelings.  From the poignant “In This House,” and the haunting “The Hereafter,” to the engaging title track, the material reveals an artist who is unafraid to dive into deep emotional waters.  This project has attracted an impressive group of guest artists including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Rodney Crowell and Julie Miller. Their mutual respect for Jude and her music is expressed by several of the artists: 
 
“Jude is one of the most soulful, deep singer-songwriters I know.  On A Good Day is an extraordinary follow up to her brilliant first album, Coming of Age.” - Bonnie Raitt
 
“Jude Johnstone’s music brings to mind the poetic sensibilities of Laura Nyro and Jackson Browne.  And if that weren’t enough, the girl is blessed with the kind of charisma that flat out oozes dark mystery and Earth Goddess sensuality ala’ Chrissie Hynde.  High Praise?  You bet!  I’m a huge fan.” - Rodney Crowell
 
On A Good Day was co-produced by Johnstone and Charles Duncan at Groove Master Studio in Santa Monica, CA and at her home studio on the Central Coast of California.
 
Jude Johnstone - On A Good Day - BoJak Records, Distributed By Redeye
Release Date: February 22, 2005 /
www.BoJakRecords.com
www.judejohnstone.com
 

EMER MAYOCK

Your musical inspirations?  
 
Many of my influences come from traditional Irish music and I heard so many musicians play this music from my early childhood. There are so many great musicians that it's difficult to pick out one great influence. I would have to say that flute player Matt Molloy was and still is a great inspiration to me.
 
I listen to many kinds of music and people like Dylan and Tom Waits have always meant alot ot me. Also in there are the musics of many European traditions including Breton music and the great sounds from Bulgaria and Hungary.
 
 * Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?
 
I think that music is always helping me through my life- the good times and the bad. Playing music often helps me to take my mind off pressures and stress; once I take up an instrument something takes over to alleviate any problems that I might be experiencing at the time.
 

 Emer Mayock is a musician and composer from Co. Mayo. As a young musician she learned to play traditional Irish music on a range of instruments including the Flute and Uilleann Pipes.
 
 In 1996, aged 23,  Emer recorded her debut CD  ‘Merry Bits of Timber’ and released it on an independent record label. The music that emerged from this recording was a mix of both traditional music and pieces written by Emer. The response to the recording from the press and musicians alike was overwhelming and led to a series of tours and  live performances  as well as radio and television appearances.

 She has worked with among others,  traditional musicians Donal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Michael O’ Domhnaill, Cormac Breathnach, Flook!, Grada, guitarist John Doyle, flautist Jean-Michel Veillon, singer Damien Dempsey,  jazz musician Michael Buckley,  French music producer Hughes de Courson, Breton harpist Alan Stivell,  the Irish Chamber Choir, Italian  baroque ensemble il Giardino Armonico and Greek singer Eleftheria Arvanitaki.
 
Alongside a busy schedule of live work with her own band and the Afro Celts (she has worked with the band since 1999), Emer became increasingly interested in writing new music; for her second release she wrote thirteen pieces of music and gathered  together an array of musicians to record the music. ‘Playground’ was recorded in Co. Mayo, Dublin and New York in the Autumn of 2000 and released on Emer’s own record label Is Mise. On it’s release, The Irish Time’s review awarded it the highest rating of five stars  and said ‘Exceptional music, remarkable musician’; The Sunday Tribune said ‘ She breaks flute out into a new world’.
 
Emer  is currently writing music for her third release. She has continued to travel world wide with her music with highlights including concerts in China where she performed a new work written by Chinese composer Jia Daqun. Emer was part of the Masters of Tradition festival in Bantry in August 2004 where she performed with the festival’s artistic director Martin Hayes as well as  Steve Cooney and Altan members Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh & Dermot Byrne. 
 
She collaborated  with British musician  Nitin Sawhney on one of his compositions as part of The Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire and has recorded with the London based  band the Afro Celts for their forthcoming release.

Emer is joined in concert by her long -time musical partners Donal Siggins (Guitar/Bouzouki) and Robert Harris (Percussion). Donal and Robert create the musical backbone for both Emer’s albums and their rendering of the music in a live situation is a unique and blissful listening opportunity.

In addition to her own compositions, Emer draws from a rich and eclectic repertoire of traditional music from Ireland, Brittany and the Balkans.
 
What the press say:
 
“Merry Bits Of Timber”:
 
“A gifted flautist and torch bearer for tradition”
 The Sunday Times
 
“An auspicious start to her recording career”
  The Irish Times
 
“An inspirational debut album”
 Irish Music Magazine
 
“Playground”:
 
“…. In her ornament of passionate breath-dynamics, terrifically-sustained tone, and relentless energy she breaks flute out into a new world”
Sunday Tribune
 
 “Consorting lithely on flute, cello, pipes, whistle and fiddle, she waltzes, jigs and reels like few others. Exceptional music, remarkable musician” *****
Irish Times
 
“Playground gives Emer membership into that exclusive club of people who have the talent and ability to experiment with traditional music and help with its continuous evolution”
Hot Press
www.emermayock.com

MIKE RAGOGNA

My musical inspirations were singer-songwriters, mainly Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Jim Croce and Cashman & West (formerly Cashman, Pistilli & West). But I learned vocal harmonies from listening to 5th Dimension, Carpenters, Everly Brothers, Hall & Oates and Eagles records. My guitar style was inspired by Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel records, but I also think that Maury Muelheisen's country-classical back-up to Croce was genius.

My current favorite CDs are by John Mayer, Scissor Sisters, Deathcab For Cutie and Modest Mouse, with "Float On" being my latest favorite song. John Mayer's guitar-playing is incredible, up there with any of the greats.

Music has always helped me through difficult times, especially during rocky relationships and big life changes. Sometimes, without even "mood making" on my part, certain songs come to me, or I write certain kinds of songs to release what's inside.

In the music business since his teens, Mike Ragogna has worn quite a few hats. But whether it be as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, producer, arranger or even songplugger, he has always worked from the heart.

New York-born Mike Ragogna was signed at 15 as a songwriter by producers Terry Cashman & Tommy West (Jim Croce, Dion, Mary Travers) who spent years developing him as a recording artist for their label, Lifesong Records (Crack The Sky, Henry Gross, Dean Friedman, Gail Davies). With their guidance, Mike blossomed as a songwriter and his first cover was on the classic college-promoted album Spider-Man: Rock Reflections Of A Superhero. After writing and recording songs for Tippi Hedren's international hit movie, Roar, Mike teamed with producer Terrence P. Minogue to record his debut album. Titled Safari In America, released in 1982, was greeted positively by various music magazines including Billboard.

His first major label release appeared in 1985, when Tommy West signed him to MTM/Capitol Records--Mary Tyler Moore's Nashville-based record company. Mike's album The Almost Brothers (recorded Everlys-style with vocalist Steve Mosto) was released and critically acclaimed by all of the major country publications of the time. The album featured nine originals and one cover song. Of those, four were country charters--"Don't Tell Me Love Is Kind," "Birds Of A Feather," "What's Your Name" and "I Don't Love Her Anymore." Mike's first big hit as a songwriter came when his "Slow Boat To China," was recorded by label-mates Girls Next Door. The song climbed into the country Top Ten and was one of 1986's top-selling country singles. It was also the first major hit for MTM's publishing division, Uncle Artie Music, and received an ASCAP award honoring it as one of the most frequently-played country singles of that year.

Instead of following up with another country project Mike Ragogna and Steve Mosto decided to be more true to their craft. Moving on, they recorded and performed as the groups Body Politic and Bone People and as solo artists.

Mike's next solo album, Minefield Diaries, was independently released in 1999, and it contained eleven would-be anthems including the tracks "Easter," "Wonderland," "Recoverie," "Dinosaur Bones," "Bright Eyes" and a cover of Queen's "'39." But his 2003 effort, Invisible World, recast Mike Ragogna as a maturing recording artist and songwriter. The album was a heart-felt collection of soulful ("Valentine's Day," "Build Ourselves A Love") and jazzy ("Come To Rome," "Invisible World," "The Getaway") pop songs, mainly crafted by Mike and his former music partner. But also included were his loving interpretations of Paul Simon's "Something So Right," Stevie Wonder's "Golden Lady" and a Dion DiMucci nod--an updated version of that artist's take on the Smokey Robinson-penned, "The Way You Do The Things You Do." Musicians included drummer Zoro (Lenny Kravitz, Bobby Brown, New Edition), keyboardist Dick Simms (Eric Clapton), Joe Sublett (Stevie Ray Vaughan), Novi Novog (Michael Jackson, Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon) and jazz/blues-rock guitarist, Fino Roverato. Strings were compliments of arranger/conductor Terence P. Minogue, and are performed here as Orchestra Montego.

That brings us to 2004. Mike has recorded what many consider to be his finest project, Writer's Block, which actually was inspired by the affliction. "I had the worst case of writer's block but creatively, I felt the time was right for me to record the follow-up to Invisible World. So I kind of twisted the 'writer's block' concept and recorded some of my favorite songs by writers with depth, focusing on a Brill Building-style of songwriting. Adding those tracks on to my handful of originals, the album shaped itself into a story that, in the end, turned into a very personal project. And I think everyone who worked on the project had a really fun time at this writer's block party!" In addition to choosing favorites by iconic artists like Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Barry Mann, Mike championed some current favorites such as "Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five For Fighting and the jazz-pop noir of John Mayer's "Neon." He also covered a pair of songs by singer-songwriter Bob Hillman, an artist Mike discovered at NYC's Sidewalk Café. Musicians for this project include Fino Roverato on guitars, Steve Welch on all keyboards and string arrangements, Osama Afifi on bass, Richie Gajate-Garcia on drums, Warren Ham on background vocals and Lester Chambers, formerly of The Chambers Brothers, on harmonicas and "chats" on the title track.

In addition to writing and recording, Mike also has served as A&R Director for various record labels, including Razor & Tie, where he produced and oversaw catalog compilations and reissues throughout the '90s. He also handled the A&R aspects for the launch of BMG's reissue label, Buddha Records, which has since become BMG Heritage. He has been an integral member of the Universal Music Group's catalog division where he has compiled and produced high-profile anthologies by such diverse artists as Joni Mitchell, Crosby & Nash, Joan Armatrading, Herb Alpert, Gin Blossoms, Suzanne Vega, Joan Baez, John Hiatt, Flying Burrito Brothers, Steve Forbert, Joe Jackson, Rush, Aerosmith, Sammy Hagar, Helmet, Scorpions, Cinderella, Whitesnake, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Don Williams, Three Dog Night, 38 Special, Peter Frampton, Neil Diamond, Cher, Carpenters, Rita Coolidge, Olivia Newton-John, Al Green, BLACKstreet, Chanté Moore and Jodeci.

written by Robyn Flans
www.mikeragogna.com

DAVID PATON

Your musical inspirations?

There are many pieces of music that inspire me. Hearing Elvis when I was a
kid was the first thing that woke me up. I must have been pretty young
because it was the babysitter who brought her Elvis collection to the house
and we listened to the songs over and over. Dylan, The Beatles, Beachboys,
Free, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac. I've been inspired by so many artists the
list would just go on and on. I discovered Bach and Beethoven in the late
60's, but I was discovering lots at that time. Beethovens 9th symphony 4th
movement is a constant inspiration. I Love Earth Wind and Fire, Randy
Newman, Sinatra, and I'm still a huge Prince fan. Scottish music hits the
spot for me too, bands like Capercaillie, Deaf Shepard, Wolfstone and I
love pipe bands. I appreciate great musicianship, but it is the writers
that truly inspire me.
 
Favorite CD's, songs, or musicians?

Favourite CD's of the moment are The Stands and I like the Oasis CD.
Rubber soul, 'In my life' had me in tears not just the lyric but the shear
craftsmanship, Surfs up, God only knows, I think songs like these helped
give pop music respectibility. McCartney was my biggest influence in the
60's and 70's. In the 80's and 90's Prince, and now it's individual songs
by a variety of artists. 

Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?

Music has made me what I am. I can't imagine being without it. It means
everything to me and there's a piece of music for every mood and occasion.
Being able to create music is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. When
I discovered I could play it changed my life forever.

The name David Paton doesn't conjure up images of Grammys, glitz, or gyrating hips. His face may never have appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stone and he hasn't headlined the half-time show at the Super Bowl. Yet, David has left an indelible mark on the Rock and Pop world. Clearly one of the most respected, underrated, and versatile musicians in the business, David Paton has been writing, singing, and playing great music for over a quarter of a century.

Early on in his music career, David's talent as a songwriter was quite evident. His catchy pop tunes Magic and January propelled his band to the top of the charts. There were few bands soaring as high as PILOT in 1975. Unfortunately, some crew changes, poor management, and the demand for the individual members as session players ultimately led to the band's grounding in 1977. But a legacy of hit singles, 2 charismatic tours, and 4 remarkable albums proved PILOT wasn't just some fly by night teenybopper band. The band took its music seriously and it showed.As a singer, David is equally as impressive. The appealing melodies and distinctive harmonies he displayed with PILOT complimented each other and commanded your complete attention. As David moved on to other bands such as THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT and CAMEL, his vocals continued to captivate the ear. While most people are familiar with his Project vocals, some of his more obscure vocal work is worth noting. His vocals on "Heroes" from CAMEL's 1982 album Single Factor are simply mesmerising. Once they get in your head, the haunting melodies may never leave. His vocals on his own traditional Scottish albums bring out the best of his versatility and ability to write in a particular style and arrange pieces of music by the likes of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

As a player, whether in the studio or on the stage, David is up there with the best. His bass licks on ELTON JOHN's tunes such as Nikita and live performances with Elton were simply brilliant. His classical guitar work with RICK WAKEMAN is equally as memorable. The list of artists he has worked with is long and diverse ranging from the Hard Rock of JIMMY PAGE, to the Progressive Rock of FISH, to the traditional Scottish tunes of such artists as PHIL CUNNINGHAM and DICK GAUGHAN.When one sees David play live, you really see what he is all about; straight forward, no nonsense, passionate music! David's too modest about his accomplishments and the last person inclined to herald The Alan Parsons Project anthem of "Let's Talk About Me". So if you want to know more about his accomplishments and current work, click away and experience the MAGIC of DAVID PATON!
www.davidpaton.com

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 2003-2005