John Joe Kelly grew up in a Manchester Irish family. He started the drums by using his sister Grace's whistles as drumsticks. He then progressed on to the bodhrán and was heavily involved in the very vibrant Manchester Irish music scene. The Manchester Irish traditional music scene has been in existence for over sixty years and undergone many changes. Today Manchester has one of the most vibrant Irish traditional music scenes outside of Ireland, possibly the best. The City has an exceptionally high number of very talented musicians most of whom are second and third generation Irish. Many got their music from their parents but also took lessons from older musicians.

In this way there is a continuity consistent with the notion of a living tradition founded on oral transmission.

John Joe was influenced in his playing by great (still young) musicians such as Michael McGoldrick (Flute) and Dezi Donnelly (Fiddle), and would also be close friends of musicians of high calibre such as: Eamonn Dinan (Button Accordion), Grace Kelly (Whistles), Paul Farrell (Fiddle), Colin Farrell (Fiddle), Kevin Madden (Fiddle), Andrew Dinan (Fiddle), Sean Regan (Fiddle), Keiron Atherton (Flute/Whistles), Ged Stenson (Flute/Whistles), Shane Brown (Banjo), Colin Harries (Guitar), Brendan Dempsey (Banjo), Geraldine Lyons (Banjo), but to name a few.

John Joe holds various all All-Britain and All Ireland titles such as: 1st place in both the Drums and Lilting competitions (12-15) in 1990, in 1991 John Joe came 1st in the All Ireland Bodhrán competition (15-18), and second in the 1992 (15-18) Lilting competition.

John Joe toured extensively with St Malachy's Ceili Band with his friends in his younger days and was already a natural entertainer from these early years. With his friends from St Malachy's Ceili Band, John Joe then went on to play with a band that they founded called Ceile, for a few years.

John Joe has played with Altan and Paul Brady, and is currently playing bodhrán with FLOOK! and has been described by many as the best bodhran player in the world.

" say John Joe Kelly plays the bodhrán, is like saying Mount Everest is a bit of a climb" - Sidmouth Music Festival, Paul Saunders, March '99

Instruments played: Bodhrán, Drums

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