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Tommy Potts

Biography

Musicians of Dublin: (Courtesy of The Knotted Chord Archive, 2002).

Tommy Potts (1912-1988) Fiddle.

Born and reared in the Coombe area of Dublin. His father came from Bannow in County Wexford and was a serious music enthusiast and accomplished piper who also played the concert flute and was a storyteller. Musicians were regular visitors to the house in the 1920’s and ‘30’s. Tommy, who started playing at age 15, attributes part of his playing style to the clarity and precision of his father’s playing. He received no formal training and among the influences he credits is Luke Kelly(fiddle), a Mrs Sheridan, Seamus Mahoney and his brother Edward. He also credits uilleann pipers Jem Byrne, Jimmy Ennis(Seamus’ father), Johnny Doran and John Kearney.

Tommy has always had a reputation, sometimes critically, as an improvisor but he was always committed to the basic structure of a tune. He analysed the music and experimented playing in different keys and different settings which gave him exceptional knowledge on top of his exceptional musicianship. Seamus Ennis described his style as ‘individualistic’, which it undoubtedly is and certainly has not been copied though he remains hugely popular, especially but not exclusively among fiddle players.

Micheal O’Suilleabhain, who carried out intensive studies on Tommy’s style and music, compared Tommy’s playing in the 20th century to that of Turloch Carolan.

He has one commercial recording, released in 1972, and called "The Liffey Banks: Traditional Irish Music played by Tommy Potts"(Claddagh). (SE/FV).



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