Loretta Murphy began her musical journey on the button accordion, concertina and melodeon at the age of 7 as a student of Galwayman Pete Kelly, who taught hundreds of children in the Bronx and Long Island. She and her sister, Monica, were original members of the Shannonaires Ceili Band which competed and performed in the United States and Ireland, and was the first young people’s group from the USA to compete at the All-Ireland music competitions held in County Kerry in the early 70’s. Since that time, Loretta has taught group and private music lessons in Long Island, New Haven, Fairfield, and Monroe. Loretta has represented the USA four times in international competition. She has been a long-time member of Music In the Glen Band, the Shamrogues, and cohost for sessions and concerts with Joe Gerhard, Pat Stratton and PV O”Donnell at various locations throughout Connecticut. Last year she released her first recording, “Beyond the Watery Lane”, which was featured in a sterling review in the Irish Echo and included several renowned guest artists, including Kevin Burke, Michael Cooney, Deirdre Danaher and John Brennan, who also produced the CD.
Growing up alongside the beautiful beaches of San Diego, John Brennan’s early musical influences included soul, R&B, Latin and even “surf” music. But by age 14, Brennan had sold his surfboard to make the down payment on his first Fender Stratocaster, an event that he calls “a major lifestyle change.” By the age of 20, Brennan found work as a studio session player in Los Angeles where he traded licks with recording session icons Jim Keltner, Russ Kunkel and Lee Sklar, to name just a few. “It was a real musical education,” says the self-taught Brennan. He later split his time between his recording duties and touring with the likes of POCO, (where he established a songwriting relationship with bassist and future Eagle Timothy B. Schmit,) Graham Nash and original Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman. “The Chris Hillman Band was a great experience for me,” says John. “It was an amazing group of musicians. (featuring Loggins & Messina veterans Al Garth, Larry Sims and Merel Bregante,) and it was my first chance to really see the world.” After touring with original Eagle and Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon, John ventured into the world of commercial music where he won CLIO awards in the categories of both music production and composition for Miller Genuine Draft, (“It’s As Real As It Gets,”) and Campbell’s Soup. As his repertoire of instruments has expanded to include electric, acoustic and slide guitar, dobro, electric bass, mandocello and lap steel guitar, so have his musical tastes and aspirations. He has performed and recorded with button accordion master John Whelan, and with Irish fiddle virtuoso (and National Endowment for the Arts fellowship winner,) Kevin Burke. His current efforts include a musical partnership with the gifted Massachusetts-based fiddler, (and All-Ireland fiddle champion,) Sheila Falls Keohane. He is also a gifted and much sought-after producer, and produced, engineered and performed on Loretta Murphy’s marvelous debut CD which was launched at last year’s Festival.