The Irish Music World has Lost a Local Legend

Joe Derrane outside his home, 2006. Photo: Tom Pich

We were deeply saddened to learn of Joe Derrane‘s death this past weekend. A brilliant musician who was highly regarded in the world of traditional Irish music, Joe Derrane had a heart of gold.

In 2003, I had the good fortune to sit down at Joe’s kitchen table in Randolph, MA to interview him for our archive. The interview became source material for a radio feature that aired on WUMB in 2003. For those who knew Joe, it may bring some small comfort to hear his voice. For those who never met him or heard him play, you missed a gem.


Joe Derrane's button box. Photo: Jason Dowdle

Joe Derrane to be feted at Boston College

Boston-born button accordionist and composer Joe Derrane is a living legend of Irish music.  We’re delighted that he will be celebrated at Boston College in a lecture/concert titled, “The Genius and Growing Impact of Joe Derrane.” The program will take place in Gasson Hall, on September 22 from 7-9pm. Featured presenters are Wall Street Journal and Irish Echo music writer Earle Hitchner and Berklee College of Music professor John McGann. Derrane will provide commentary. A live performance will feature fiddler Seamus Connolly and multi-instrumentalist John McGann.

Don’t miss this evening honoring one of our country’s National Heritage Fellows. Learn More.

NEA Heritage Award Fellows

Ever since 1982, The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded National Heritage Fellowships, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Although this year there are no Massachusetts artists in the mix, there have been in the past. Fellows from the Bay State include: Cape Breton fiddler Joe Cormier (1984), tap dancer extraordinaire Jimmy Slyde (1999), Irish American button accordionist Joe Derrane (2004), and folklorist Nancy Sweezy (2006). Be sure to check out their profiles on our online archive.

We have also nominated several other individuals. In fact, if you want to nominate someone, you can by submitting a letter and support materials to the NEA.