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John McGann


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The meticulous tune transcriptions found in Séamus Connolly and Laurel Martin’s Forget Me Not book come courtesy of John McGann, who also plays guitar and mandolin on one of the two CDs tucked inside the book. His original custom transcription service has proved popular with musicians from all genres because of the great care he gives to the work. The same care shows in John McGann’s own music. He plays acoustic, electric, and pedal-steel guitars, mandolin, octave mandolin, dobro, organ, and electric bass. This remarkable versatility is matched by remarkable virtuosity. In 1985 John won the National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas, and he has won several regional titles on both mandolin and flatpicked guitar. Composing is another skill John has honed.

“Canyon Moonrise,” for example, is a gorgeous slow waltz of his that has been recorded no fewer than three times, each with John playing on it. The tune appears on the Beacon Hillbillies’ Duffield Station album in 1992, on Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, and Christian Lemaître’s The Celtic Fiddle Festival album in 1993, and on John McGann’s own solo debut, Upslide, in 1995. Born in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1959, John was smitten by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Yes during high school.

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