He received some formal training in music, but his musical ability on the fiddle is mainly self-taught. When 17 years old, he gained first place in both the All Ireland Under-18 Fiddle and Flute competitions.
Mainly learning by ear, he was strongly influenced by the 78 recordings of Michael Coleman and James Morrison. In the early 1970s Gavin played musical sessions at Galways’s Cellar Bar, with Alec Finn (bouzouki/guitar), Mickey Finn (fiddle), Charlie Piggot (banjo), and Johnnie (Ringo) MaDonagh (Bodhrán). This led to the formation of De Dannan in 1973. His Currandulla connection came in useful when De Danann were looking for a singer, and it was he who came up with Dolores Keane from nearby Cahirlistrane. When De Danann brought out their first album, her singing of The Rambling Irishman gained a lot of airplay for the group. Although De Danann has had many highpoints over a quarter of a century, particularly with the singing of Dolores Keane and Maura O’Connell and the box playing of Mairtin O’Connor, Frankie’s powerful virtuoso fiddle playing has always been at the core of the De Dannan sound.
Frankie has recorded 16 albums with De Dannan as well as a number of solo albums, and three collaborations: one a tribute to Joe Cooley entitled ‘Omos do JoeCooley’ with Paul Brock; a fine collaboration with fellow De Dannan member Alec Finn; and one with Stephane Grapelli exploring the languages of jazz and traditional music. He has also guested with The Rolling Stones on their ‘Voodoo Lounge’ album, with Keith Richards on ‘Wingless Angels’ and with Earl Scruggs the great banjo man. Exposure to American audiences began in 1976 when he played with De Danann at the American bicentennial celebrations in Washington DC, with artists such as Junior Crehan and Micho Russell. Frankie has also been invited to play for numerous State officials including President John F. Kennedy on historic visit to Ireland in 1962, French president Francois Mitterand and England’s Prince Charles. Of a special event in America, United States Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith is reported to have commented that “The best all ’round performance of the entire week at Kennedy Center was by DeDannan.” 2009 saw Frankie Gavin back on the road and with a new De Dannan line up which which introduced Michelle Lally on vocals, and in 2010 became reputedly the fastest fiddle-player in the world, with an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
BARRY BRADY – has had many influences on his music over the years, from instruments such as fiddles and uilleann pipes to musical genres like baroque music and jazz. These influences have shaped the music that he plays today. Having started on melodeon Barry progressed to B/C system which he played for 13 years before again changing to C#/D system which he has been playing for the last 9 years. With the two Irish accordion systems and his love of fiddle music, Barry takes the best of both worlds to create his own unique style based off of punchy rhythm and sleek ornamentation.
BERNADINE CASSERLY – is the new singer in Frankie’s De Dannan. The young Frenchpark native is a former ‘Roscommon’s Got Talent’ winner and is well-known as a wedding singer all over the West of Ireland. However, her career has moved up several notches since Christmas 2014 after she joined the band as our lead vocalist. Bernadine’s predecessors as lead vocalist with De Dannan include Dolores Keane, Mary Black, Maura O’Connell and Eleanor Shanley. Now she is gigging with us around the country and internationally. She still sings at weddings and continues to work at the local crèche in Frenchpark.
DANIEL BODWELL – studied classical double bass at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and jazz double bass at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen. He is a founder member of the New York based Micah Gaugh Trio with Kevin Shea. In Ireland, he has played with, amongst many, Louis Stewart, Mary Coughlan, and Michael Buckley, and has toured internationally with the Crash Ensemble. He currently performs with Mary Coughlan, Duke Special, Declan O’Rourke, the Nigel Mooney Quartet, the Francesco Turrisi Trio, Julie Feeney, the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, the RTE Concert Orchestra, the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, the Quiet Music Ensemble, the Irish Composer’s Collective, and the Crash Ensemble, with whom he has premiered new works by Donnacha Dennehy featuring Iarla O Lionaird and Dawn Upshaw.
Recent recordings include Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘That the Night Come’, Ian Wilson’s ‘Double Trio’, Francesco Turrisi’s ‘Si Dolce e il Tormento’, Nina Hyne’s ‘Goldmine’, ‘Linley Hamilton Quartet’, David Lyttle’s ‘True Story’, Vyvienne Long’s ‘Caterpillar Sarabande’, the ‘Bremer Stadtimmigranten Orchester’, Mary Coughlan’s ’25th Anniversary’, and the Dubliners 40th Anniversary.
COLM O’CAOIMH – has been a huge presence on the Kilkenny music scene in recent years and is a founding member of Caladh Nua who have burst onto the Irish music trail with two exciting albums “Happy Days” and “Next Stop”. His solidly imaginative playing and delicate finger-style is described as being both the backbone and powerhouse of Caladh Nua.
The mediaeval city of Kilkenny is synonymous with the meeting of culture and tradition. It was here; in an artistically nurturing environment that Colm O’Caoimh took his first tentative steps in music through classical piano and violin. But it was his intrinsic passion and love for Irish music that eventually drew Colm to the guitar.
Through a distinctive and unfaltering style influenced by guitarists such as Jim Murray and John Blake, his abilities were soon in popular demand both as a live performer and a studio session player. As an accomplished pianist and bassist, Colm is a regular guest of the trail-blazing Jeremy Hickey of RSAG (Rarely Seen Above Ground). He has also teamed up with fellow Kilkenny-man Mick McCauley and New York’s Winifred Horan, both of Solas fame, to record their debut album “Sailing Back To You” and with whom he has performed and toured extensively.
Colm has re-defined the guitar accompaniment of Irish Music, bringing to it influences of Jazz and swing, all the while grounding the music with his own unique driving, earthy rhythm. Coupling that with the subtleties of his numerous finger picking styles, it is widely believed that Colm is one of the most versatile and talented guitarists in any genre of music today.