How it’s (Massachusetts) New York: Joe Derrane grew up in Boston, and influenced many, many musicians up and
down the East Coast.
How it’s Irish: Irish-American heritage Derrane was a master of Irish Trad accordion.
Word from accordion player and National Heritage Award-winner Billy McComiskey that Joe Derrane has died. Here is an article written for Irish Examiner USA in 2010, on the occasion of concert honoring him presented in Connecticut.
Would you rather play, or talk? That was the question the Wolf Trap Festival in Vienna, Virginia, organizers put to Joe Derrane when he made his comeback there in 1994.
He was out of practice. For 35 years, he’d been playing other kinds of music-the Irish ballrooms had closed and so
“One night I had to give up my chair; they set me on the kitchen counter. Twice I almost got knocked over. I took off my shoes and socks and stood in the sink!”
Then in 1993 his early 78 recordings were reissued on Rego on CD, and discovered by Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo. Earle was bowled over. He called Joe up, wrote about him, and got Joe invited to Wolf Trap. The organizers said if he didn’t feel up to playing, he could just have a tent, talk about his life in music. People were eager to hear from him.
“I’d rather play!” Joe said.
There were 1200 people in the tent, and hardly a dry eye in the house by the end, Derrane recalls, talking to me from his home in Randall, Massachusetts, “They wouldn’t let me leave the stage. I had to pledge not to quit again.”