“Burke imparts a rhythmic intensity that is remarkably powerful. A superior instrumentalist in any idiom. Impressively virtuosic.” – The New York Times
Philadelphia Ceili Group
(at Baltimore Avenue)
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Kevin Burke is one of the most influential musicians to emerge from the Irish traditional music revival of the last 30 years. His work as a solo musician, band leader, and with Christy Moore, the Bothy Band, and Patrick Street has brought him acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic: he won his first All-Ireland fiddle competition in 1966, at the age of 16 and was one of only 15 artists that the US National Endowment for the Arts designated a National Heritage Fellow in 2002.
Kevin Burke grew up in London’s Irish immigrant community, where he played regularly at pub sessions and ceilis from his early teens on. London had a vibrant Irish music scene at the time, including music in the styles of Kerry, Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Clare. And Burke was listening. Though he counts such masters of the Sligo style as Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran and Tom McGowan as primary influences, fiddlers Bobby Casey (County Clare) and Brendan McGlinchey (Ulster), and a wealth of Irish musicians on the London scene were also important.
In 1972, Arlo Guthrie invited Kevin to the States to play on his album “Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys.” Shortly after, Christy Moore, the great Irish singer/songwriter, asked Burke to Ireland to play in his new band. He stayed two years before joining what would become one of the most influential Irish groups of all time, The Bothy Band. While he initially joined the band as a temporary replacement for fiddler Tommy Peoples, but his role soon become permanent. His elegant, impassioned fiddle was a cornerstone of the band’s legendary sound from 1976 until 1979.
In 1986, Burke joined an all-star cast of Irish musicians that included Andy Irvine and Jackie Daly for a tour that evolved into the legendary quartet Patrick Street. After settling in Portland, Oregon in the late ’80s, Burke formed Open House, a short-lived but critically acclaimed project with American musicians Paul Kotapish, Mark Graham and Sandy Silva that stretched beyond his Irish roots to explore music from all corners of the world. He spent much of the 90’s recording and performing in a series of highly successful concert tours with Johnny Cunningham from Scotland and Christian Lemaitre from Brittany as Celtic Fiddle Festival.
In 2002, Burke was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honour given in the United States for folk and traditional music.In recent years, he has worked extensively with Ged Foley and Cal Scott and continued to tour with the current Celtic Fiddle Festival lineup. In 2007, Burke started an independent record company, Loftus Music, in order to release his own recordings.