Sunday, 8 January 2017

Donal Kavanagh (1928-2016)

As many of you know on Christmas Day 2016 we lost our friend Donal Kavanagh, at the age of 88.

Don was a wonderful musician, known mostly for his incredible skills plying Irish traditional music on a variety of harmonicas, and particularly known for his hornpipes. On at least one occasion I was blessed to hear Don whistle music (with his mouth, not a penny whistle) and that was wonderful. Both of these musical skills are not as common in the music as they once were, and so hearing Don play was always something that made the room go silent and attentive. Don's knowledge of Irish music, his respect for the tradition of it, the appropriate playing of it, and his support of others who either loved the music or played it, were second to none. I saw Don play on stage (National Arts Centre) once with The Chieftains, he being the godfather of Kevin Conneff, bodhran player and singer for that iconic group. When I was organising concerts, living legend Paddy Keenan (The Both Band) invited him on stage. Paddy told me after the concert that Don was one of the best harmonica players he had ever heard, and Paddy has been around.

Besides Don's playing was his friendship. Such a warm person, not afraid to tell you what he felt, but you knew you always got the straight goods from him. In his late 70's, when I first met Don, he volunteered to distribute posters promoting one my concerts. He did a lot of work, he didn't have to, but he was so supportive, and worked tirelessly for his friends and the music. It was inspiring. We need more Don's. He was interviewed on CBC Radio Morning (Ottawa) just ahead of Saint Patrick's Day one year. He mentioned my, the website if his friend. The website statistics went through the roof. I was floored. I was humbled. That was his influence.

 Thanks, Don. We will miss you terribly.


No comments: