Honored April 2, 2011
Manhattan native, John Reynolds is most often heard playing the fiddle with his wife Margie Mulvihill – in the “Pride of Moyvane Ceili Band” at céilithe and festivals in the New York area. He’s been playing publicly for almost 40 years – since first playing for the dancing competitions at the feis that was held at Yonkers Racetrack.
John was sent for classical violin lessons at the age of five. His mother, Eileen (from near Grange, Co. Sligo) had played the fiddle as a child. Although his father, Paul (a Boornacoola, Co. Leitrim footballer), did not play an instrument, he was very fond of traditional music and was a good whistler; John recalls getting a few tunes from him. After a few years of classical music, his mother sent him for Irish music lessons to see would he take more of an interest. The late Roscommon accordionist John Glynn was teaching in the neighborhood. Right from the start, John took an interest in the music — recognizing some of the tunes John Glynn was teaching from a few traditional records that his father had at home. John found some of the tunes on Sean McGuire and the Four Star Quartet and spent countless hours growing up listening to Sean McGuire’s recordings and also those of Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds.
After John Glynn’s untimely passing in 1971, John was sent to study with Pete Kelly. There, John was an early member of the Shannonaires, a ceili band that Pete taught and trained which competed in fleadhanna and toured in Ireland in the early 1970s. Influenced by Sean McGuire’s recordings and Pete Kelly’s teaching and encouragement, John won third place in the 1972 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Listowal, Co. Kerry. Throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, John played music for dancing competitions at the feiseana in the northeast, most often playing with Pete Kelly or Paddy Reynolds.
In the early 1980s, John started an almost 20 year association with Dublin-born ballad singer Michael Jesse Owens – a gig that started out by filling in for box-player John Nolan, who had been a fellow John Glynn student. Aside from playing lively trad music with Jesse’s band, John developed his skills for backing up Irish and folk ballads and songs of all types. Those skills have been for many years – and still are – in demand in the ballad and showband scene around New York and John often has been be heard accompanying singers like Guss Hayes, Kitty Kelly, Mike Byrne, Tom Birmingham, and John Morrison.
In the late 1990s, John joined the traditional group Morning Star – where he met his wife Margie Mulvihill – one of the founders of the group. For a few years, Margie and John — later joined by John Nolan on the box – backed up by guitar-player/singer Mary Courtney played to audiences in New York and at festivals and concerts up and down the eastern seaboard. They recorded two CDs — Gra and Away Ye Go, Now. After that group disbanded, John and Margie focused their attention on their family, teaching music (Margie teaches and John helps!) and also started the group the Pride of Moyvane – named after a reel written by Margie’s teacher and cousin Martin Mulvihill. Margie and John are usually joined by Felix Dolan on the piano and Patty Furlong on the box and Frankie McCormick on the banjo.