As a young rising star in the Irish music world, having grown up not in Ireland but in London, Kevin Burke was greatly influenced by the County Clare fiddler Bobby Casey (among others). In far-off (and far out) Northern California, Bobby Casey was idolized by the hippies who had been hanging out and learning from Joe Cooley and Kevin Keegan, both great County Clare accordion players who had settled in San Francisco.
Friends who visited London returned to California raving about a wonderful young fiddler, Kevin Burke, who played the old music in the approved traditional style, but with an exceptional freedom and freshness, and his work with Planxty and the Bothy Band had enormous impact on Irish fiddlers everywhere.
Kevin migrated to the U.S., where he’s been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, and now lives in Portland, Oregon.
After hearing about him for years, when I finally got to hear Kevin in person, it was with the band Open House – – and so I am thrilled that the entire band will be with us at Fiddle Tunes!
Open House combines Kevin’s charismatic fiddling with the virtuoso harmonica and stellar songwriting of Seattle’s Mark Graham, the rhythm groove machine (whether on guitar, mandolin or bouzouki) of Paul Kotapish, and the percussive dancing of Sandy Silva, now living in Quebec.
Combining various kinds of traditional music is like cooking with spices. Sometimes you just get an unidentifiable flavor that isn’t too appetizing, but when done with attention, flair and inspiration, it is possibleto the elements of the individual components while creating something that is new and wonderful.
This is what Kevin Burke and Open House do and it is a marvel and joy to behold!
– Suzy Thompson