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Joe Derrane

Biography

Musicians of America: (Courtesy of the Knotted Chord Archive).

Joe Derrane(1930- ) Accordion.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts to Irish immigrant parents. His father, Patrick, was from Inis Oirr in the Aran islands and his mother was from Roscommon.

His early teacher was Jerry O’Brien, a highly regarded player originally from Kinsale, Co. Cork. The musician who probably most influenced player Joe was the famous Brooklyn(of German extraction) melodeon player John J. Kimmel who’s 78’s Joe studied intensely. Joe played a D/C# accordion from an early age and is regarded as it’s key exponent over time.

When only in his late teens Joe made a number of 78’s for the Copely label between 1946 and 1947. They were mostly solo but also with his teacher Jerry O’Brien. Some recordings were also made with The Irish All-Stars band and the All-Star Ceili Band whose number included his brother George who played banjo. Among the session musicians on these recordings was Frank Neylon from Corofin, Co. Clare who played flute and piccolo. A number on the 78 recordings were later reissued on the Rego label.

From this period up to the mid 1950’s he played on the thriving ballroom scene on Duxbury Street, in Roxbury, Mass. where there was five major halls for live music. When this scene died out he moved on to piano accordion, playing with mostly non-Irish bands. These bands tended to specialise in Italian, Jewish, Jazz, Broadway show and Rock music. The only traditional music alternative at this time was to move into the emerging pub scene which was far >from ideal for a virtuoso player like Joe. It was to be nearly forty years before he would play traditional music on the button accordion again.

The comeback happened at the 1994 Irish Folk Festival in Wolf Trap, Virginia. The reaction was such that within a year he had recorded a solo album "Give us another(Green Linnet), followed by two more solo’s in 1996 "Return to Inis Mor"(Green Linnet) and in 1998 "The tie that binds"(Shanachie). A number of the selections contain his own compositions. These recordings have helped re-establish Joe as one of the greatest accordion exponents in Irish music earning high acclaim and numerous awards.

Living in Randolf, Mass. Joe continues to compose as well as teaching and performing all over the world. (FV/EH)



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