Photo by Lucian Dixon, December '05
"Nolan has used his broad knowledge of traditional Irish songs, as well as other kinds of music, to develop into a very fine songwriter whose work is steeped in the traditions that he's mastered." -- Mike Regenstreif, Sing Out! Magazine
Brendan Nolan was born and reared just to the north of the city of Dublin. When he was growing up in Ireland in the sixties and seventies there was a resurgence of interest in Irish music. Spearheading this musical rebirth were groups like The Dubliners, Planxty, The Bothy Band, and others. Around the same time the singer-songwriter boom in North America had taken off. Both of these genres would ultimately influence his own music.
After starting out in the vibrant Dublin Ballad scene of the mid-seventies he moved to Canada in 1979. His musical life in Montreal was marked by a very extended run at the Old Dublin Pub. For nearly 14 years his name was synonymous with the Old Dublin. During his tenure it was voted most popular pub in the city by the Montreal Mirror. He also headlined concerts at acoustic venues across Canada and performed at numerous festivals including Winnipeg, London Home County, Miramichi, and Lunenburg Folk Harbour Fest. In August of 2009 he performed in Quebec City as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the unveiling on the Celtic Cross on Grosse Isle. Back in 1997 he performed on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City as part of the 150th anniversary of the Irish famine.
He has been based in St. Pete Beach, Florida since 1993. He has been featured several times on WMNF "Live" in Tampa. He has performed and was interviewed on Channel 10 (CBS affiliate) on their morning TV show "Studio 10". He has played at many festivals in the state including the Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival, Florida Folk Festival, Gamble Rogers Fest, and Wings and Strings. He has been a headliner on three occasions at the North Texas Irish Festival in Dallas. He has also played the Milwaukee Irish Festival, Jackson Mississippi Celtic Fest, Savannah, Kansas City, as well as and several others across the U.S.
Brendan has six solo albums to his credit. His most recent recording is titled "Song Brook." It has an eclectic mix of material that includes ballads like The Mountains Of Pomeroy, Dan O'Hara, and Icarus, to comical songs like The Errant Apprentice, Paddy McGinty's Goat, and A Bottle O' The Best. There are also a couple of instrumentals on the disc; "The Lark In The Clear Air and the original "Twilight." His next to last recording "Where Do I Go From Here", released in '03, was well received by audiences and critics alike. The CD was mostly a showcase of original work. Standout songs include the title track 'Where Do I Go From Here' and 'Old Ned', a story about one of the last milk-carts in Dublin city. It highlights Nolan's gift for story-telling which was also evident on his Emigration album "Across The Great Divide." One of the tracks from that CD was titled 'Far From Their Home'. It tells a harrowing story about Grosse Isle, an island burial ground in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City for victims of the Irish Famine. The song was published in Sing Out! Magazine.
What the Critics Say
"Nolan has been blessed with a rich Irish voice and an Irish way with words. In his singing and his musical arrangements he helps his listeners to feel the pain, the joy, the humour, the triumph, the sadness, the longing, as deeply as did the old songs of the tradition."
-- Ron Duffy, Canadian Folk Music Bulletin, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Complete article)
"Brendan's songwriting abilities are equal to any of today's contemporary writers. They all leave a mark upon your life."
-- William Ramoutar, Irish Ways program, WFCF Radio, Florida.
"Excellent!! It shouldn't amaze me that those who do their traditional home work always create the best songs, that tell stories and have music that matches the song."
-- Tor Jonassen, WRDV FM Radio, Delaware Valley.
"Brendan Nolan, an Irish emigrant, can't be chastised for singing only well-known songs. Nolan's original songs are a highlight of this album for me ... A sweet and powerful voice."
-- Steve Winick, Dirty Linen Magazine, Baltimore, Maryland
"Brendan Nolan is an exceptional musician who provides musical entertainment of the highest calibre."
-- Garth Wilton, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland
"This is the bard at one with his music, far removed from the din of determined drinkers."
-- Mo Elnuaimy, Hour Magazine, Montreal, Canada.
"Nolan's poignant story-telling songs are expressed through traditional Celtic/Irish stylings, but Nolan can be considered a contemporary artist using old tools."
-- Anthony Starez, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida.
"His accompaniment, whether on guitar or bodhrán, was never intrusive but helped to set the mood needed by each song and along with his straight-forward and unpretentious musical delivery left the audience in a mellow and satisfied frame of mind."
-- Gary Muir, The Expositor, Brantford, Ontario, Canada.
"The songs will touch all who have left their country to try and find a better life somewhere else."
-- Kelly Wilton, The Montreal Downtowner, Montreal, Canada.