Irish accordionist celebrates move to Vashon with show

Upcoming concert will mark beginning of John Whelan’s participation in island music scene.

  • Wednesday, August 21, 2019 12:54pm
  • Arts
Irish button accordionist John Whelan will perform with fiddler Brian Conway at 7 p.m. Aug. 25, at Vashon Havurah (Courtesy Photo).

Irish button accordionist John Whelan will perform with fiddler Brian Conway at 7 p.m. Aug. 25, at Vashon Havurah (Courtesy Photo).

A night of Irish accordion and fiddle, with all-Ireland champions John Whelan and Brian Conway, will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at Vashon Havurah, 15401 Westside Hwy.

Long recognized as major players in the world of traditional Irish music, the duo have performed together for more than 30 years.

And in what will certainly be seen as a stroke of good luck for fans of traditional music, Whelan, who plays Irish button accordion, recently moved to Vashon. The upcoming concert will also mark the beginning of his participation in the island music scene.

He’s a seven-time All-Ireland Champion who was raised in the vibrant London Irish music scene of the 1970s. He learned his craft from such players as Lucy Farr, Roger Sherlock, Paddy Taylor and Brendan Mulkaire, before moving to the U.S. in 1980. Along with his All-Ireland championships, he was twice awarded musician of the year from the Irish Music Association. He has recorded 15 CDs and has performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and his music has been featured on television shows including “Sex and the City.” For more on his music and recordings, visit

Conway, who is Irish-American, has won numerous all-Ireland fiddling competitions, including the prestigious All-Ireland senior championship. He plays in the highly ornamented Sligo fiddling style made famous by the late Michael Coleman and passed on to him by players including Martin Wynne and Andy McGann. More about his music and recordings can be found at Tickets to the concert are $20 at the door and can be reserved in advance at

Both Whelen and Conway also play in the band Gailfaen. The group also includes Máirtín de Cógáin, on vocals and bodhran, and Don Penzien on guitar.

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