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Solo John Doyle is incomparable - VIDEO

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John Doyle. (Photo by Con Kelleher)
The fall of the Celtic Tiger, or that amazing period where Ireland was punching way above its weight on the global economic scene, also brought greater attention to a very vibrant Irish music scene and seemingly inexhaustible pool of musicians who could take advantage of the Riverdance rising tide.

Even in the realm of traditional Irish or Celtic folk music, things were changing rapidly and fluidly back and forth across the Atlantic as new artists emerged on the scene bursting with talent and potential.

One of those who took the familiar path across the Atlantic was a young Dublin musician named John Doyle, who made his way to New York City over 20 years ago and has become one of the superstars in the trans-Atlantic music scene ever since.

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While he may be considered a supernova talent-wise, his demeanor is anything but that as he lets his creativity speak for him while he quietly but steadily hones his craft and simply tries to be the best that he can be.  

For a long time we have seen him as a peerless accompanist who is gradually finding his own voice and center stage spotlight that his creative skills warrant. His recently released CD Shadow and Light will do much to accelerate that direction.

Around New York in the early 1990s Doyle made a fast impression as an accompanist and guitar virtuoso to be reckoned with, first with Chanting House and then later as a founding member of Solas, the Irish-band born on American soil that was rock-solid in its early years.

He then was ready for solo work or the freedom to work with other musicians offering different challenges. He has built a sensational career doing just that, even if it keeps him on the road touring three quarters of the year.

It has also allowed him the pleasure of working closely with fiddler Liz Carroll, with whom he has made two superb CDs (the last one, Double Play, was nominated for a Grammy) and singer Karan Casey (also an original Solas member) on Exiles Return, as well as Mick Moloney’s Green Fields of America ensemble.

Plus he is a staple of Celtic Connections and its extraordinary series of crossover talent shows, “The TransAtlantic Sessions,” where he is a critical cog in the musical wheel from Nashville to Dublin to Glasgow.

His steady work and musical prowess also caught the eye of folksinger Joan Baez, who employed him for a couple of years as her musical director which gave him the time and opportunity to hone his song-writing skills as well.

In the downtime, and much needed family time with his wife Cathy and daughter Rossagh, in his home base in Asheville, North Carolina, he finds it easier to work on researching and writing more and more songs.

In recent years we have seen more evidence of his clever wordsmithing and music writing creep into more and more shows with others and in some solo work, but this new recording will finally confirm Doyle to be a first rate storyteller in the Irish and American folk idiom.

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Having spent half his life in Ireland and half in America, he has a special mid-Atlantian prism from which to view the past and interpret the present and maybe the future.

With the new recording on Compass Records, a long-time supporter of his music, there is now the chance to revisit the experience of Irish American immigrants in the Civil War, Montana mining towns or as cannon fodder in World War I, and even one about a Roscommon relation whose gripping tale at sea attempting to emigrate is colorful and dramatic.  We also can witness the tenderness of a little child in “Little Sparrow,” a classic folk song newly born.

There is a rare opportunity to see the solo Doyle upcoming in the tri-state area starting at the Turning Point Café in Piermont, New York on Thursday, November 10 at 8 p.m. (468 Piermont Avenue; 845-359-1089).

The Shamrock Irish Music Society hosts him in a house concert on Thursday, November 17 (www.shamrockirishmusic.org for reservations) and finally at the Towne Crier in Pawling, New York on Sunday the 20th at 7:30 p.m. (130 Route 22; 845-855-1300).

All of them are intimate venues offering a perfect opportunity to get to know this singer songwriter a little bit better and encourage his movement from the shadows into the light.

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