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Frankie Gavin


Biography (Courtesy of the Artist's site, 2005).
PLUS Musicians of Galway: (Courtesy The Knotted Chord Archive)

Frankie Gavin was born in County Galway in 1956 on the eastern side of Lough Corrib, in a place called "Corrandulla". Frankie hailed from a very musical family, and is the youngest of four, with older brother Sean playing the accordion and sisters Marion and Noirin also heavily involved in Irish traditional music. Frankie's father, J.J. Gavin played the fiddle, while his mother, Mary Crehan from Ballygar, and her brothers all played music on the accordion or fiddle.
Frankie has been playing Irish traditional music since the age of four when he started on the tin whistle. At the age of seven he made his debut television appearance on Irish TV and had appeared on American television by the age of nine. Martin Rabbitt taught him to read music in Galway, but he is largely self-taught and has a remarkable ability for learning music by heart.

In 1973, at the age of seventeen he was placed first in the All Ireland Under-18 Fiddle Competition and in the All Ireland Under-18 Flute Competition, both on the same day.

Frankie Gavin was heavily influenced by the early 78 US recordings of Michael Coleman and James Morrison, which he listened to at home and has always had a high regard for the latter.

In the early 1970s he started playing at the sessions in the Cellar Bar, Galway, with, among others, Alex Finn, the late Mickey Finn, Johnnie (Ringo) Mc Donagh and Charlie Piggot. The sessions moved to Hughes' Pub in Spiddal and in 1973 De Danann was formed. This was the same year he received his Leaving Cert. from the Bish in Galway, at the ripe age of seventeen.

His Currandulla connection came in useful when De Danann were looking for a singer, and it was he who came up with Dolores Keane from nearby Cahirlistrane. When De Danann brought out their first album, her singing of The Rambling Irishman gained a lot of airplay for the group.

Although De Danann has had many highpoints over a quarter of a century, particularly with the singing of Dolores Keane and Maura O'Connell and the box playing of Mairtin O'Connor, Frankie Gavin's fiddle playing has always been a central feature of its repertoire.

Nuala O'Connor, writing in The Irish Times in 1995, described him as a precociously gifted traditional musician. "Gavin was drawn at an early age towards the 78-rpm recordings of Irish American musicians such as Coleman, Morrison, The Flanagan Brothers, John McKenna and Joe Derrane. It undoubtedly had a liberating effect on his own playing."

She continued: "From his immersion, on the one hand, in the traditional repertoire of the regional hinterland of Galway, Clare and Sligo/Leitrim, and his excursions of the farthest reaches of 78's archives, came a vast store of tunes and a familiarity with arrangements and settings."

He also has a gift for absorbing and switching between styles and evidently has paid detailed attention to the variety of Irish regional styles. Philippe Varlet wrote of him: "Frankie Gavin's fiddle playing is technically complex, unabashedly brilliant, and has a pronounced, driving swing which harks back to the sound of the 1920s."

History and Education

Frankie Gavin was born in 1956 in Galway, Co. Galway to Mary Crehan and J.J. Gavin. Both of his parents played traditional Irish music. He was the youngest of a musical family of four. All of the children entered numerous traditional music competitions. Throughout his childhood, Frankie Gavin consistently placed first in fiddle and whistle.
At the age of seventeen he placed first in the All Ireland Fiddle Competition and in the All Ireland Flute Competition, both on the same day.
He received his Leaving Cert. from the Bish in Galway in 1973.
Frankie Gavin founded De Dannan in 1973, at the age of seventeen.

PLUS :Musicians of Galway: (Courtesy The Knotted Chord Archive)

Frankie Gavin(1956- ) Fiddle, flute, whistle.

Born in Corrandulla, County Galway youngest of four siblings. His father JJ played fiddle and his mother, Mary Crehan, played fiddle and concertina.

Frankie started on tin whistle at age four, fiddle at age ten and flute at fifteen. Besides some lessons from Martin Rabbit in Galway Frankie is self taught but came under the influence of the classic fiddle recordings of Coleman and Morrisson as well as The Flanagan Brothers, John McKenna and Joe Derrane.

The Gavin family played for John F. Kennedy in Galway during his visit to Ireland in the early 1960�s and Frankie has been appearing at various state occasions on both sides of the Atlantic since.

Frankie won underage All Ireland titles at fiddle, flute and tin whistle. As well his main instruments above he later took up the uilleann pipes, piano and accordion.

In 1973 along with Alec Finn he formed the group De Dannan which he has led since.

They have recorded 16 albums, their first in 1975 which included founder members Johnny "Ringo" McDonagh, Charlie Piggott and Dolores Keane. The band has been a hotbed for many of the best Irish musicians and singers including Johnny, Moynihan, Andy Irvine, Tim Lyons, Jackie Daly, Maura O�Connell, Mary Black, Elanor Shanley, Mairtin O�Connor, Brian McGrath and Colm Murphy.

The band continue to tour worldwide with Frankie and Alec as always at the helm.

His solo albums include "Croch suas e"(Gael Linn) in 1983, "Frankie goes to town"(Green Linnet) 1991 and his latest cd "Fierce Traditional"(Tara) which features his brother Sean on accordion.

Other duet/trio albums include "Irlande" in 1994 with Arty McGlynn and Dermot Byrne recorded live in France, "Jigs and jazz" 1993, a cd and video with Stephane Grapelli, "Omos do Joe Cooley"(Gael Linn) 1996 with Paul Brock and Charlie Lennon and "Traditional Music of Ireland" 1977 with Alec Finn.

Frankie featured on Charlie Lennon�s suite "Island Wedding" alongside the RTE Concert Orchestra.

He also has a compilation album "The Best of Frankie Gavin"(RTE).

He ability to innovate, and compose, has been a feature of his and De Dannan�s music over the years with such recordings as "Hey Jude", "Hibernian Rhapsody", a traditional version of Queen�s "Bohemian Rhapsody", and the last De Dannan album "Welcome to the Hotel Conemara" which take an even broader sweep at popular music in traditional settings.

He has also been in demand as a guest in the wider music community performing with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on "Wicked Angel" in 1988, The Rolling Stones "Voodoo Lounge" in 1994, and also with Elvis Costello, Earl Scruggs and Yehudi Menuhin. But as with his last solo album Frankie inevitably returns to his traditional roots.

You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.




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