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Johnny Cunningham & Susan McKeown

Country of origin:

Scotland, Ireland and U.S.

Type of music generally:

Traditional and contemporary folk


Only release as this combo, a winter talisman (2001); Johnny Cunningham died in 2003.

See also:

Johnny Cunningham's site

Susan McKeown's Facebook page

The Ectophiles' Guide entries for Susan McKeown's other projects: her solo work, her work with The Chanting House, her duo work with Lindsey Horner, and her work with Cathie Ryan and Robin Spielberg


Susan McKeown's other projects

Covers/own material:

Traditional and own

General comments:

The combination of wonderful traditional and neotraditional vocalist Susan McKeown and vocalist and fiddle-player Johnny Cunningham, with the additional talents of guitarist Aidan Brennan is a wonderful combination live or on disc for anyone who likes traditional Irish music and tunes and delightful harmonies and amusing banter. (Neile)

Comments about live performance:

The show was great. Even though it was billed as a "songs for the winter season" show, there was really very little of that: a few songs from Lowlands, one or two from Bushes and Briars, a few of Johnny's, and then a set of songs from Peter & Wendy. In between, Johnny had everyone rolling in the aisles. That man is one of the funniest human beings ever. He would get Susan going, and between the two of them I'm amazed any music happened at all. During the encore ("Blue Christmas" into "Blue Moon"), Aidan put on a pair of flashing antlers and Johnny donned a Santa hat, and Susan completely lost it so she couldn't finish the first part of "Blue Moon" and they just had to do it instrumentally. When Susan could sing, she sounded lovely as always. They're a great trio. Susan said they hope to do this tour annually, which would be a good thing. (12/00,

Susan, Johnny, and Aidan were wonderful as always. The set was about an hour long and though Susan and Johnny weren't quite as active in their banter as the last time I saw them, still quite amusing. There was quite a crowd, though I don't know if there was much press about it. And Susan made out like a *bandit* selling discs after the show!
     One of the highlights was finally getting to hear Susan sing "Auld Lang Syne", one of her recordings.
     Interestingly, given that this was a song of winter music, they only played two songs from that album—the other being the title track. Beyond that, they played stuff from Lowlands and a few other misc songs. (12/00,

Got to see Susan McKeown and Johnny Cunningham with guitarist Aidan Brennan in Denver last Saturday night, doing "Songs for the Winter Season". Susan's voice was beautiful—really gorgeous—and the setting was great—an old Church in the Washington Park neighborhood lit entirely by candlelight and Christmas lights.
     The highlights of the show for me were "The Snow That Melts the Soonest", and the songs from Peter and Wendy, but the whole show was excellent, and the stories were great—both Susan and Johnny have a great sense of humor.
     Aiden Brennan's guitar work was beautiful (as were his harmonies) but overall he took a back seat to Susan and Johnny.
     They ended the show with a "very very old Traditional song"—"I'll Have a Blue Blue Christmas Without You" mixed with "Blue Moon". Susan was having a lot of fun with the vocals on both of these. (11/00,

There's not much to be said about a Susan and Johnny show that hasn't surfaced in these parts at some time. They were funny. They played and sang great songs. Mostly from Lowlands and the new album (a winter talisman). They did the Peter & Wendy mini-set, which still brings a tear to my eye, and Susan brought the house down (as usual), with her campy "Crocodile Tango". (11/01, neal)

Recommended first album:

a winter talisman is their sole release as a duo


a winter talisman

a winter talisman

with Aidan Brennan

Release info:

2001—Sheila-na-gig Music—SNG 702


Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of traditional and neotraditional music

Group members:

Johnny Cunningham—vocals, fiddle
Susan McKeown—vocals, bodhrán
Aidan Brennan—vocals, guitar

Produced by:

Johnny Cunningham, Susan McKeown & David Seitz


This is a collection of winter songs that Johnny Cunningham, Susan McKeown and Aidan Brennan toured with in the winter of 2000 and 2001. Amazingly enough, this combination of people is just as wonderful on disc as they are live—sometimes such things just don't have as much energy when they're recorded, but these songs have life and energy to spare. And charm. And anything anyone could want in a traditional disc. (Neile)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2022-01-26 18:14:04.
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