I hope that you were able to see and hear Patsy O’Brien at last year’s Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival in 2018.  If you did I feel sure that you were thoroughly pleased.  Patsy is perhaps first and foremost an entertainer.  He clearly enjoys the interaction with his audience.  Think Máirtín de Cógáin, but with somewhat less story and somewhat more song, and lots of really good guitar.  His style and song writing definitely don’t fit in a box but he definitely fits the Festival!  Well, if you did miss Patsy last year we’re excited to say that Patsy’s coming back!

Teaching at the Deerprint – Photo by Bob Kennemer

As Patsy describes his own journey and approach, “I fell backwards into the world of traditional Irish music. I moved from my native Cork to Dublin to study music, mostly Jazz, and found myself hanging around in bars with lots of  live traditional Irish music.

Although Irish music, traditional and otherwise, was obviously something that had been around me from childhood, I, like many a young guitar student, was more interested in  rocking out like my heroes: Jimmy Page, Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix et al.

It was in some of these aforementioned Dublin bars that I was offered the opportunity to sit in with a guitar, and I quickly learned two things:

  1. Traditional Irish music deserved more than a passing glance, being endlessly fascinating and incredibly beautiful, revealing more and more layers the deeper I explored.
  2. I had no clue what I was doing.

Since then, though, and with the guidance of some very fine (and very patient) Dublin musicians, I developed an approach to Irish guitar playing (or Celtic guitar, as some like to call it) within the music that (I hope )serves the music well and has definitely served me well, affording me the opportunity to tour world wide and record in the guitar seat with some of the giants of the genre like Paddy Keenan,Tommy Peoples, Eileen Ivers, Cathie Ryan, Teada, to name a few. Yup, I’m a lucky guy.

I love to introduce these approaches to the music to other guitarists and beginners alike, because they invariably find out that the style offers a lot of creative freedom even in their role as accompanist, with endless opportunities for subtle improvisation.”