Brian O'Donovan | A Celtic Sojourn


Brian O Donovan  Brian O Donovan

"The best part of my job is WGBH in the universal sense: Our staff, the institution itself, and particularly the most important element—the community that watches, listens to, and participates in all of the programs and events we produce."

Background: I was born and raised in Clonakilty in West Cork, Ireland, a town of about 3,000 people in a beautiful area of the country.   Economic challenges still dominated the country at that time, so I grew up in a fairly rural setting that had remained virtually unchanged for the previous 50 years at least.  But then the 60s hit and our imaginations flew to America and England and rock and roll!   I knew I would leave eventually and after graduating university, headed for England and eventually Boston, where I had intended to stay for 3 weeks.  That was 29 years ago!   Yikes! I do love New England though and have enjoyed living here during those three decades during which I married, went to grad school (Emerson College), had two children, had a career unexpectedly in professional sports with the Patriots, and professional soccer, had two more children, and have since committed myself to my first loves of music production and public broadcasting.

Nickname(s):  None (that I know of!)

First album I ever owned:  Crosby, Stills and Nash (the original cover which was made of a particularly soft cardboard, and fell apart quickly)

Five desert island albums: Only five? Please, please, I’ll forgo water if I can have 10!   Paul Simon, Graceland; Nancy Griffith, Other Voices, Other Rooms; Crosby, Stills and Nash, Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Planxty, Planxty; Dire Straits, Dire Straits

Favorite podcast:  RTE (Broadcasting company of Ireland) Documentary on One.  Fascinating!

Greatest place to see live music:  Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. Small club, brill.  Now they have beer and wine, it creates an even more relaxed atmosphere, while keeping the respectful attention of the coffeehouse.

Most memorable concert:  Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton, together in the early 1990s.

Favorite movie about music/musician:  The Last Waltz, about The Band. (Still one of my favorite vids to watch at any time.)

Favorite book about music/musician:  Last Night’s Fun, Ciaran Carson.  It's about the wild nature of traditional music as it is played in sessions, late in the night and in obscure places around Ireland.

When not listening to celtic music, I listen to:   It would be easier to say what NOT!  A bit of everything, including Rock, Bluegrass, Classical, Afro, Blues, and—relatively recently—Jazz.

Finest moment on the air:  I interviewed the legendary Liam Clancy a number of years ago.  Without warning he began to recite a wonderful and powerful poem (Pegasus, by Patrick Kavanagh), I immediately thought of a piece of music that would go perfectly with it, and live mixed it under his amazing voice.  Worked perfectly.   It felt so good to create something like that live!

Most embarrassing moment on the air:  When I asked a Scottish highland Piper where he was from (pretty standard question huh!), he answered:  “I come from a part of the Highlands, where the men are few, the women are fewer ……. and the sheep are nervous.)

If I wasn’t a radio host I’d be:  A concert promoter/producer.  (I guess I am in a way…)

The best part of my job is:  WGBH, what else can I say.  And I mean WGBH in the universal sense: Our staff, the institution itself, and particularly the mot important element, Our audience who watch, listen to, and participating in all the programs and events we produce.

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