Biography - Short:
Over the past 20 years and more he has established himself as the guitarist-accompanist of choice for not only Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter but also the great Chicago-born Irish fiddler Liz Carroll and bluegrass stars Tim O’Brien and Dirk Powell.
Add in a GRAMMY nomination for the album Double Play, 2024 Eric Clapton recording sessions and his place in the Transatlantic Sessions band, singer songwriter John Doyle is one of the greatest folk artists of our time.
"Doyle on guitar has risen to a level occupied by him alone. No one in Irish traditional music is a better guitarist than him right now."
- The Wall Street Journal
Biography - Long:
Name many of the most notable recordings and/or performers in Irish music and it's a fair bet that John Doyle had something to do with them. Liz Carroll; Eileen Ivers; Karan Casey; Solas; Michael Black; Mary Black; the trio of McCusker, McGoldrick and Doyle; The Teetotalers (Martin Hayes, Kevin Crawford, John Doyle); and now Usher's Island (Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Mike McGoldrick, Paddy Glackin and John Doyle) - a vertible who's who of the greatest names in Irish music. These are just a very few of the stellar artists for whom John Doyle's signature guitar sound, singing or songwriting is essential.
From a musical family in Dublin, John’s influences include well known English folk singers Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, and The Watersons; Scottish singers Dick Gaughan and John Martin; and fellow Irishmen Paul Brady and Al O’Donnell as well as his father, Sean Doyle - probably the biggest influence of all. John went on the road as a pro at 16 with the group Chanting House which he formed with Susan McKeown and which eventually included such great players as Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, & Donogh Hennessy. John went on to form the highly acclaimed super group, Solas, with Seamus Egan, John Williams, Karan Casey and Winifred Horan which took the folk and Celtic music worlds by storm, in no small part due to John’s powerhouse rhythmic guitar style and innovative arrangements. As a member of Solas, John performed to sold out audiences nationally and internationally as well as appearing on many national TV and radio programs: NBC’s The Today Show, various programs for National Public Radio and Public Radio International, A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, E-Town and World Cafe as part of that critically acclaimed group, he also received three NAIRD awards and a Grammy nomination for the band’s self-titled first recording.
After leaving Solas, John has gone on to perform and tour with other greats in the Folk, Celtic and Bluegrass worlds - as music director for folk icon Joan Baez, guitarist for Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien (John was included on Tim’s 2006 Grammy-award winning CD, Fiddler’s Green), Linda Thompson, Kate Rusby, Cathie Ryan, Cherish the Ladies, and many others. He has appeared on soundtracks for the feature film, The Brothers McMullan, Soldier, PBS’s Out of Ireland and also composed the music for the film Uncle Robert’s Footsteps and the play Down the Flats as well as performing on countless recordings as guitarist and/or singer for other notable artists such as Kate Rusby, Linda Thompson, Tim O’Brien, Alison Brown, Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, Mick Moloney, Cathal McConnell, Karan Casey and so many others (check out the discography page for a full list). John is a featured regular for many years in the hugely popular BBC Scotland "Transatlantic Sessions" regularly broadcast in Ireland and at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow having performed there with Americana greats Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, Rodney Crowell, Sara Watkins, Kathy Mattea, and many others.
"Doyle on guitar has risen to a level occupied by him alone. No one in Irish traditional music is a better guitarist than him right now. His chops, always assured and adroit, have now entered a rarefied zone of inspired, instinctive, in-the-moment creativity that made me gasp in awe and for breath. In my Wall Street Journal article on him this past March, I described John as one of the world’s best acoustic guitarists. I now think that may be an understatement. In addition, his vocal delivery and his songwriting have never been more impressive, reaching an apogee in “The Arabic,” where his singing and guitar accompaniment (this is really a misnomer: his self-backing and instrumental fills and runs on guitar constituted a tour de force in and of themselves) on his own song were unforgettable. What are they putting in the potable water where John resides that has made him so mind-vaultingly good?"
Earle Hitchner, The Wall Street Journal and the Irish Echo
"A complete rhythm section all on his own" Chicago Tribune
"More talent than anybody deserves to have all to themselves" Philadelphia News