Joe Burke (accordionist)

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Joe Burke (born 1939) is one of the foremost Irish button accordion players of all time. Born in Kilnadeema, south of Loughrea in east County Galway, he began playing at age four, and in the 1950s bought an accordion (which he still owns) in Walton's of Dublin for £5, he won the All-Ireland Senior Accordion Championship in Thurles in 1959 and again in 1960 in Boyle.[1] Together with fiddler Aggie Whyte, he won the duet championship in 1962 in Gorey, Wexford.

In 1956 Burke was a founding member of the Leitrim Ceili Band (named for the east Galway parish, not the county). Other members of the band, which won All-Ireland Championships in 1959 and 1962, included flute players Paddy Carty, Ambrose Moloney and Tony Molloy; button accordionists Mick Darcy and Sean McGlynn; fiddlers Michael Joe Dooley, Paddy Doorhy, Aggie Whyte and Séamus Connolly; drummer Sean Curley and pianist Anne-Marie Courtney; the band toured in England and released an LP on the New York-based Dublin label.

Burke first toured in the U.S. in 1961 and lived mainly in New York from 1962 to 1965, during which period he formed a musical partnership with fiddler Andy McGann. With McGann and pianist Felix Dolan, he recorded an LP, A Tribute to Michael Coleman, first released in 1966 on Burke's own Shaskeen label. Burke would later record again with this trio, issuing The Funny Reel LP on the Shanachie label in 1979. Other musical collaborators over the years have included Belfast fiddle great Séan Maguire, piper Michael Cooney, harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh, fiddler Kevin Burke, pianist Charlie Lennon and his wife Anne Conroy Burke (guitar, button accordion), whom he married in 1990.[2]

Burke's first solo LP, Galway's Own was released in 1971 and he toured extensively for the next two decades, including with groups sponsored by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. From 1988 to 1991, he lived in St.Louis, Missouri and had a musical residency at John J. McGurk's Pub as well as hosting radio programmes at two stations, one of them the "Ireland in America" programme on KDHX, he represented Ireland in 1989 and 1992 at the International Accordion Festivals, in Montmagny, Quebec, along with accordion greats who included Cajun player Marc Savoy and jazz accordionist Art Van Damme.

Burke returned to live in Kilnadeema in 1992, and continues to teach and perform music.

Among the awards he has received are RTÉ's Traditional Musician of the Year (1970), the AIB Traditional Musician of the Year, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the 'Irish World (both 1997), an award in Musical Mastery (Boston College, 2000), and Gradam an Chomhaltais (2003). A Joe Burke Tribute Concert was held in Galway in 1997 on his reception of the AIB award.


Solo albums[edit]

  • Joe Burke (1973). Outlet SOLP 1015, reissued as Outlet PTICD 1015.[3][4]
  • The Tailor's Choice (1983)
  • Happy To Meet Sorry To Part (1986)
  • Pure Irish Traditional Music On The Accordion (1997)
  • The Morning Mist (1999)

Collaboration - Sean McGuire and Joe Burke[edit]

  • Two Champions (1971)

Collaboration - Joe Burke and Charlie Lennon[edit]

  • Traditional Music of Ireland (1973).
  • The Bucks of Oranmore (1996).
  • The Morning Mist (2002)
  • Two Classic Albums (2 CDs). (a reissue of The Bucks of Oranmore plus The Traditional Music of Ireland)

Collaboration - Joe Burke, Andy McGann and Felix Dolan[edit]

  • A Tribute to Michael Coleman (1966)
  • The Funny Reel. Traditional Music Of Ireland (1979)

Collaboration - Joe Burke, Brian Conway, and Charlie Lennon[edit]

  • A Tribute to Andy McGann (2007)


External links[edit]