FolkWorld #76 11/2021
© Pío Fernández


John Walsh is Ireland’s leading Flamenco Guitarist. An accomplished musician and composer, John has been performing solo since 2006.

John Walsh: Irlandalucía

Artist Video

After obtaining a Diploma with distinction in classical guitar from Trinity College London in 2006, John dedicated his studies exclusively to Flamenco guitar. He studied with guitarist Francisco Garcia in Dublin before travelling to Algeciras (Andalucía, S-Spain), home of the legendary Paco de Lucia to study with Salvador Andrades. He has since studied with other masters of Flamenco such as Jose Manuel Leon and Juan Antonio Suarez.

From the duality of his personal & musical background, and even more from the title of his album, ‘Irlandalucía’ (Ireland-and-Andalucía), at first you could think that this is a crossover between Irish folk & Spanish flamenco music. But at least from my very limited knowledge on guitar playing and flamenco, what I hear in Walshe’s CD is a 7-song display of solid talent and hard work, all of it around the finest Spanish/Andalusian tradition on guitar playing.

The world of flamenco is surrounded by a legend of purism, where true experts in this tradition are capable to judge in the tiniest details when an artist (guitarist, or ‘cantaor’/singer), is consistently performing according to the orthodox patterns of this music heritage. I am light years away from that level of knowledge, but as already said, what I perceive when listening to songs such as: ‘Irlandalucía (Zapateado)’, ‘Dos Ríos (Soleá)’, or ‘Cassiopeia (Soleá por Bulerías)’, is absolute skill on neatly articulating on the strings the intricate melodic phrasings which characterize the legacy of guitarists such as the late Paco De Lucía.

Lydie Auvray

John Walsh "Irlandalucía", Air Music, 2020

But we also have to remember that these beautiful compositions have been written by somebody born, raised & still living in Ireland (in Kildare), thousands of miles away from southern Spain’s old towns & neighbourhoods where Flamenco was born and it is kept as an arcane tradition & cultural treasure for their inhabitants. Along with performing concerts throughout Ireland and venues in the UK and Spain, John Walsh has played in one of the most historically important flamenco ‘temples’, ’El Candela’ in Madrid, as well as being the invited International Artist for the 2014 Festival Flamenco de Consuegra.

In 2015 he had the honour of being a guest to play at the 2nd International Paco de Lucia Guitar festival, a major flamenco gathering event in honour of the great Paco de Lucia, in the Maestro’s hometown of Algeciras. John has also performed on stage with many acclaimed Spanish flamenco artists including: Salvador Andrades, Jose Manuel Leon, Maria Delgado, Alicia Carrasco, Karen Lugo, Luis de Luis, Antonio Sanchez, Juan Ignacio Gonzalez, Gines Pozas, Jaime Salazar Losada, Jaime Nadal Perez, Jose Torres, David Avila, Olayo Jimenez, Lucas Gonzalez, Mercedes Garcia Lopez, Pepe de Algeciras.

Aside from performing, John has a special passion for music education and with raising the profile and knowledge of Flamenco in Ireland. He regularly gives Flamenco workshops & masterclasses throughout the country, at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and in the UK.

Not much else to add from my side. Just get access to ‘Irlandalucía’ and enjoy with tunes such as: ‘Reflejo y Sombra (Minera)’, ‘Arco y Limonero (Alegrías)’, ‘La Añoranza (Taranta)’, or ‘Fuente Nueva (Bulerías)’. Note also that the title in each of the songs mentions (in brackets) ‘el palo’, the name given in flamenco for the different traditional musical forms. The other great musicians playing with John Walsh in this album are: Ruven Ruppik (cajón, percussion), Ginés Pozas (cajón, djembe, udu, frame drum), Pepe Rodríguez (cajón), Dani Bonilla & Jorge Pérez ‘El Cubano’, palmas (clapping hands). The mixing & mastering of ‘Irlandalucía’ was done by Alberto López at AIR Music Studios in Sevilla (Andalucía, S-Spain).

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) John Walsh (unknown/website).

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