April 7, 2012
On April 6, musician John McGann passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind a wife and young daughter. He was known in the Irish, bluegrass and jazz worlds locally and abroad, and taught at the Berklee College of Music. The Cantab Lounge in Cambridge will host a special tribute to McGann on April 10.
What Brian O'Donovan had to say about John McGann....
I first met John at a party at Johnny Cunningham’s flat in Newton in the late '80s, and knew him subsequently as one of the best accompanists of trad. music in the area, and just a great guy to be around. But it wasn’t until my daughter Aoife enrolled as the New England Conservatory and immersed herself in the burgeoning young roots music scene here that I became aware of John’s almost absurd range of musical talents.
Since that time, what I often refer to as a "genius cluster" of young musicians has been drawn to Boston, initially by the masters of tradition who were here: Seamus Connolly, Matt Glaser, Hankus Netsky, Berklee itself, Ran Blake, Club Passim, broadening attitudes at the conservatories, to name just a small few. Often understated and in the background but omnipresent: John McGann.
His virtuosity on so many instruments, his encyclopedic knowledge of so many genres (and sub-genres), his ability to teach and draw young people in, and what I will remember most — his generosity of spirit — became a crucial part of what in the future will be written about as a truly special period and a special place, indeed, for music; Irish, Appalachian, Cape Breton, bluegrass, jazz and everything in between.
There is a hole in the heart of Boston music.
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