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JOHN SPILLANE
www.johnspillane.com
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In Spillane's early career he was involved with several bands but most notably were Nomos and the stargazers. Taken under the wing of renowned whistle player Noel Shine, Spillane spent several years playing with the local jazz vocal group the stargazers. It was at this time he studied in UCC - Cork - obtaining a degree in Irish and English. It was in 1992 when a young trad band called Nomos changed John's life. A young, fast and brilliantly talented band made up of such musicians as virtuoso concertina player Niall Vallely, the Donegal fiddler Liz Doherty, Bodhrán player Frank Torpey and Gerry McKee on mandocello. Spillane played acoustic guitar and fretless electric bass while also contributing songs to the group. Together they toured the world and produced two albums, “Set you free” and “I won't be afraid anymore”. Spillane then left to pursue a solo career.

Spillane is an advocate of the resurgence of the Irish language having released two albums almost entirely in Irish. The first being a collaboration with Irish poet Louis de Paor under the pseudonym ‘The Gaelic Hit Factory’. The album of the same name was critically acclaimed and Spillane and De Paor combined their talents to win the Realta Irish song contest two years in a row. The second being the recent double platinum selling album ‘Irish Songs We Learned at School’ which was recorded with students from a school in Ballincollig and features thirteen traditional Irish songs. Spillane is noted to have followed the release (and continues to do so) with a school tour in order to promote the Irish language through music to young people.

In October 2007 asked by TG4, John filmed a twelve day musical visit to Senegal in West Africa. It was part of a series called Ceoilchuairt which sent different musicians to different parts of the world to interact with musicians from different cultures and learn from them.

Here, an excerpt from his journal describes an experience from that trip: “Another day found us on the Isle de Goréé, the chief station for the deportation of slaves from West Africa to the Americas. A World Heritage Site and a museum to the appalling history of man’s inhumanity to man. “If all the sea were ink, and all the sky were made of paper, There would not be enough ink or paper to write down the human suffering caused by the Slave Trade”. The show itself was repeated due to its popularity and Spillane has since collaborated with TG4 on a documentary about emigration.

 

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