Early London Days
I first started playing music at age 11 when my brother came back from New York with an Orpheum round back Mandolin from the famous “House Of Guitars” in Rochester NY. I learned the mandolin and the guitar while at secondary school and after regular visits back to Galway with my guitar in tow, I heard the dulcet tones of Alec Finn playing the bouzouki and decided that that was for me. I bought my first bouzouki from Guy Crayford in London. This was the instrument that I learned on and alas, it is currently out to grass. I asked Joe Foley to make me one in 1993 and that is the instrument that is still my main axe. The Joe Foley saw me through some amazing countries playing alongside some great trad players and musos from other genres. It is still in good shape and sounding very sweet. I met some life long friends and musicians in London, notably the gifted concertina player Graham Jenkins and the late composer/woodwind player Undine Hornby both members of the fabulous Late Night Band.
The Kiwi Days
I spent 13 years in New Zealand where I was an integral member of the groups Rua, Claddagh and The Wylde Takafoleys. Members of these groups Davy Stuart, Barrie McDonald, James Wilkinson and Jimmy Young were not only close friends but gifted players that I learned so much from in my New Zealand sojourn. I recorded and co-produced “Bazuki Joe” – an Irish / Pacifica hybrid CD with cutting edge producer, Jody Lloyd (Trillion). I was lucky to have been the recipient of two New Zealand music awards for work with Claddagh and Nelson flautist, Brendyn Montgomery for his inaugural CD, “Mountain Air”. I played gigs with many other musicians of note in New Zealand including Bob McNeill, David Lloyd, Nathan Torvik. I spent 5 years promoting Irish music in NZ including Lunasa, Alan Kelly and Grada and I taught music privately & at the University of Canterbury.
A sample pack of my recent EP Permanent Resonance
Kinvara, Brooklyn, Hollywood!
I returned to live in Kinvara Co.Galway in 2005 to play music, take photographs and build my arts consultancy business. I played with musicians from the West Coast of Ireland during the next few years and had some great gigs with Cormac Breatnach in Kinvara and New York, with Brian McGrath, Aidan Flanagan, John Faulkner and Alan Kelly. I attended the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance and obtained my Masters in Traditional Irish Music Performance followed by a move to Brooklyn, NY. I soon started to play with the NY/Sligo style fiddler, Tony DeMarco at the 11th Street Bar. I met many musicians and played regular seisiúns with Tony, Cillian Vallely (Uilleann Pipes/Whistles) & Ivan Goff (Uilleann Pipes/Flute/Whitle) in various NY Irish bars. Another quick move to Rochester for a few months to pick up Ziggy our hound, then onto Los Angeles and Hollywood where I have lived since 2010.
- Lewis Santer hand crafted Irish Bouzouki
- Joe Foley 1993 Irish Bouzouki. Cedar/Walnut.
- Martin D18 GE
- Lowden O22 Guitar 2008 handcrafted in Downpatrick, NI.
- Miami (Martin Employee made) 1939 Tenor Guitar
- Christain Hedwischak Bodhran (Spicy skin). Tippers by Pete Polansky
Current Music Projects
I have recorded for Disney and Dreamworks here in Los Angeles & my bouzouki/guitar tracks has appeared on numerous Trillion videos in NZ and Australia. I teach bouzouki, guitar and bodhran and play with musicians in Los Angeles from all genres and walks of life. I am currently working on a new CD featuring bouzouki and some close musical friends in ireland that I have played with for many years.
Music Days in The West
I have been travelling from hemisphere to hemisphere for 22 years and I am proud to have called New Zealand, London, Kinvara and now Hollywood home. I travel home to Ireland’s West Coast at least once a year to soak up the light, clean air and listen and play music with friends. I have organized numerous itineraries for colleagues, acquaintances and good friends that take in the area which I feel most connected to – North Co.Clare & South Galway’s Burren region. The hills are my muse and encourage my music and writing.
Greg Johnson collaboration