To witness the passion of a John Williams' live performance is truly
astounding. The depth of Williams' gifts as an artist and musician are awesome.
His playing seems to come from beyond him, as if the accordion is playing him
instead of the other way around.
- The Irish American Post
Navigating between explosive ensemble playing and masterful understatement, Williams is out on the ocean of sound in a steam packed tradition taking soundings as deep as the sea.
- Micheal OSuilleabhain
John Williams makes the sound almost orchestral. I couldn't help thinking of tango composer Astor Piazzolla's skill at getting maximum color out of a small ensemble. Refreshing and lovely without being overly precious.
- The Celtic Connection
John Williams is internationally regarded as one of the foremost players of Irish music today. With five All-Ireland titles to his credit, John is the only American-born competitor ever to win first place in the Senior Concertina category. His additional talents on flute, button accordion, bodhran, and piano distinguish him as a much sought after multi-instrumentalist in the acoustic scene around the world.
Born and raised on the Southwest Side of Chicago, John spent his summers during college on the Southwest coast of Ireland in his father’s village of Doolin, Co. Clare. Like Chicago, Doolin became a major musical crossroads for John and countless other local and international musicians to meet and exchange music. Gigging every night in the pubs of Doolin and Lisdoonvarna soon led to performances in Galway, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Paris, Britanny, Zurich, and New York City.
Forming the groundbreaking Solas in 1995 with Seamus Egan, Winifred Horan, Karan Casey and John Doyle, Williams received wider recognition playing to sold out audiences internationally and earning two NAIRD awards and Grammy nominations for the ensemble's 1996 and 1997 releases Solas and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers. The Irish national broadcasting network RTE has featured Williams as the subject of the radio program The Long Note, the television series The Pure Drop, and the Gaelic language and music programs Geantrai and Failte.
Outside of traditional music, John has collaborated on productions with Gregory Peck, Doc Severinson, Studs Terkel, Mavis Staples, jazz pianist Bob Sutter, bluegrass legend Tim O'Brien, Syrian oud player Kinan Abou Afach, Oscar winning director Sam Mendes, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Irish Chamber Ensemble. U.S. audiences recognize Williams from numerous appearances on Mountain Stage, A Prairie Home Companion and The Grand Ol' Opry as well as guest performances with The Chieftains, Nickel Creek, and Riverdance.
On the silver screen, John Williams appears as a bandleader, music consultant, and composer in Dreamworks' classic Chicago thriller Road to Perdition. Centrally featured in the Academy Award-Nominated score by Thomas Newman, Williams' autumnal Perdition Piano Duet was released on the 2002 Universal soundtrack album as performed in the film by stars Paul Newman and Tom Hanks. Regarding the original piece by Williams, The Los Angeles Times wrote “Closeness is beautifully and wordlessly conveyed in a quiet piano duet...a lovely thing.” Reviewing the entire score, The Denver Post printed “Brilliant, beautiful, brutal...the music in the film feels almost like a character itself.”
In August 2003, Chicago Magazine selected Williams in their annual Best of Chicago issue as one of the city's finest instrumentalists. His acclaimed duet album Raven with guitarist Dean Magraw was released last year on Compass Records of Nashville. John has recently performed in Scotland with Dean Magraw and Solas to capacity audiences at the Trongate Theatre and the Royal Concert Hall of Glasgow as well as recording a live radio special for The Folk Show on BBC Northern Ireland. The music and the fun were flowing this Easter when John Williams swung back into O’Connor’s and McDermott’s Pubs of Doolin for ten incredible nights with Christy Barry, Eoin O’Neill, Kevin Griffin, Noel O’Donoghue, Michael Kelliher, Sean Tyrell, Amy Shoemaker, and Terry Bingham.
John Williams returns to the Dublin National Concert Hall on June 14th for a concert with Japanese samisen player Masahiro Nitta and guitarist Dean Magraw in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Japan/Ireland diplomatic relations. This multicultural trio is in concert at Cork City Hall on June 16th and at Donegal Tullyarvan Mill on June 18th joined by percussionist Jimmy Higgins.