And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught…

Late last night I got the news that Scottish fiddler master Johnny Cunningham passed away at his home on the evening of December 15th. He was only 46 years old. I had just seen him at the Iron Horse (Northampton, MA) on his annual Christmas tour with Susan McKeown and Aidan Brennan on the 10th. As always, he gave an exquisite performance and was the life of the party. He was a great talent and a wonderful spirit. I am certainly lucky to have been introduced to his music. I have been privileged to see his traditional Christmas performance the last few years and also got the opportunity to take Michael to see Johnny’s Peter & Wendy show in New York when it returned to the New Victory Theater in February 2002 — one of the best evenings I’ve ever had. The world will not be quite so bright without his presence…

More on Johnny….

Johnny had been playing fiddle since the age of seven and was known for his lightning-fast reels and hauntingly beautiful Scottish airs. He also delighted audiences worldwide with his wry humor and stories.

Born in Portobello, Scotland in 1957, he was a founding member of Silly Wizard, the group that spearheaded the Scots side of the Celtic revival in the 70’s and 80’s. Johnny not only enjoyed a succcessful career as a solo performer but was greatly in demand as an award-winning record producer. Among other ventures he has toured with contemporary singer-songwriter and author, Bill Morrissey, and crossed over into the world of rock ‘n roll, appearing with Hall & Oates. His own alternative band, Raindogs, made two successful CD’s for Atlantic/Atco Records, and toured with artists such as Bob Dylan, Don Henley, and Warren Zevon. Collaborations also include projects with Cherish the Ladies, and Solas,…and lead to four CD’s and three “National American Independent Music Awards,” (N.A.I.R.D. for Best Album)

After completing a four-year stint with the international Windham Hill/BMG act Nightnoise, Johnny started working with acclaimed New York-based theater company, Mabou Mines, on their theatrical production, “Peter & Wendy”. He composed the music and lyrics for this adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”, which has already enjoyed numerous sold out engagements. Since Nov. 1, 2003, Johnny had been touring with Irish singer Susan McKeown and guitarist Aidan Brennan on the third edition of the Winter Talisman Tour. The show had been recorded and released on Sheila-na-Gig Music/Caledonian Musicworks in 2001.

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