The Doonan Family Band
Biographies
 


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Mick Doonan
 Flute, Piccolo, Pipes, Whistle


Mick Doonan is now the senior member of the band since his father John Doonan went of to join the great Irish session in the sky. Despite his Irish roots Mick began his musical career as a singer in a rock blues and soul band way back in the 60s. However his Irish genes would not be denied and with his fathers encouragement began playing flute and piccolo before also picking up the Uillean pipes.

He went on to be a founder member of the North East band Hedgehog Pie, which at the time included his brother Kevin, Stu Luckley and Phil Murray. Later incarnations of the band included Ged Grimes and Dave Burland.

With the demise of Hedgehog Pie the Doonan Family Band was formed, headed by the old man himself John Doonan.

Mick's influences from his earlier days can easily be identified in his bluesey singing and playing which has helped to give the band it's distinctive sound. He has also been in demand as a session player recording with such folk luminaries as Martin Carthy, Alan Taylor, Mike Harding and Ashley Hutchins to name but a few.


Phil Murray
Bass Guitar

 

Phil introduced the amazing acoustic bass guitar to live gigs and sessions in the 70's His is a unique and individual style which has been highly influential over the years.

His first musical collaboration was with his brother Jim and Mick and Kevin Doonan in the original Hedgehog Pie. Later he went on to feature with The John Doonan Ceilidh Band and more incarnations of the infamous Hedgehog Pie. Phil and Mick went on to form The King Bees a top northeast rhythm group and they both occasionally play together in the Solicitors Soul Band. He was also a member of the swashbuckling Jack The Lad, who also made a significant mark on the folk scene.

Unlike the older members of the band, Phil continues to support the economy by holding down a regular job. During reflective periods in the band's set Phil has been known to regale the audience with sensitive and politically correct fables and folk tales


 


Kevin Doonan
Fiddle


Kevin became inspired to play the fiddle when he heard Dave Swarbrick playing at his Mam and Dads house. Martin Carthy and he, often stayed when they were touring the north east folk clubs.  The turning point was one particular moment in the sitting room, when his dad was teaching Dave three tunes: Sport the Chase, Rakish Paddy and Toss the Feathers. Incidentally, he has always been proud of the fact that Dave went on to record those three tunes on the seminal album Liege and Lief with Fairport Convention. Another tribute to John.

 Folk Clubs in the late 60's formed a significant part of their social lives. The Viking in Jarrow followed by the Cricketer's in Bill Quay every Friday night, was what everyone looked forward to. The madcap Hedgehog Pie emerged from this and for a few short years Kevin was a part of that whirlwind of drink, hangovers, parties and laughter.

While studying at Liverpool uni, Kevin was privileged to be able to sit next to Eamon Coyne and Sean Macnamara every Sunday morning in the Irish Centre. Both these musicians had a profound effect on him and many other young fiddle players at that time: the late Mick Johnson being one. The wild, 'mad' technique of Eamon was balanced by the controlled thoughtful playing of Sean. When considering influences on his playing, Kevin always includes the master: Sean Maguire.


On his return from studying he was able to form the fledgling Doonan Family Band with father John and brother Michael, which within months developed to the full instrument and dancing lineup which we have today, with some changes in personnel.

Kevin still gets excited about playing with the band and cannot believe how lucky he is to have such talented friends and family with whom to play and perform.



Sarah Kirk
Flute & Feet


Sarah, John Doonan's granddaughter, began her Irish dancing career at the age of 4 at Margaret Miller's Dance School in Birtley, County Durham.  In 1981, 3 years later, Sarah moved to Leeds with her family and continued to learn Irish dancing at the Irish Centre.  The class was, in fact, run by Rosemary Jackson, sister to Margaret Miller (the two sisters were first cousins to Sarah's nanna, Julia Doonan).

After much dedication, training and practice Sarah went on to win many regional and national championships, often being accompanied by her grandfather, John on his piccolo.  At the age of 14 Sarah was delighted to be placed in eighth position in the World Championships in Ireland.  With this latest achievement she decided to call it a day, hang up her shoes and dedicate her time to following Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Team.

In 1995 Sarah blew the cobwebs away from the old dance shoes and dress and joined the Doonan Family Band.  She still lives in Leeds with her husband and son.


Stu Luckley
Guitar, Vocals


Stu started playing guitar at the age of seventeen at Wallsend Grammar with Ian Fairbairn (later Jack the Lad) and the late Alan Richardson (Boys of the Lough). He played his first gig at The Bay Hotel Folk Club in Cullercoats in 1968.

He went on to join Hedgehog Pie in the early 1970's and made two albums, 'Hedgehog Pie' and 'The Green Lady' and an EP 'The Lambton Worm'.

He left Hedgehog in 1977 to team up with Bob Fox and together they recorded three albums, 'Nowt So Good'll Pass' (folk album of the year in '78), 'Wish We Had Never Parted' and 'Box of Gold'. Bob & Stu still do the odd gig as a duo.

Stu joined the DFB in 1986 and is the brains behind most of the musical arrangements.

Over the last few decades, Stu has been involved in various other groups including a rock band called the 'Legendary 60's Band' and a Northumbrian Folk group called 'The Tight Alnwick Gadgies'.

Stu now lives in Limousin, France with his wife Dot after taking early retirement from teaching. He plays regularly in a local rock group and in the Irish Session Group.



Frances Doonan
Flute & Feet


Fran started dancing at the age of 4 at the local Irish dancing class run by her Auntie Maureen (aka Sarah's mum). She then moved to the class in Leeds where she danced for Rosemary Jackson until leaving school.

Having studied flute and sax from an early age, Fran joined the 'Solicitors' soul band at 14 and began to perform regularly alongside Dad, Mick on alto sax at pubs and clubs in the area. She appears on the band's 2nd album.

At the age of 18, she moved to Dublin to do her degree and became a regular dancer at Fitzsimmons in Temple Bar as well as playing flute in many of the local sessions.

After 4 or 5 years in Ireland, France & Spain, Fran moved to Chile where she taught Irish dance at the Sandra Claren School of Dance and performed on both flute and feet with 'Viento Celta', a trad group based in Santiago. She was also involved in the recording of their first album.

Upon returning, Fran has finally settled in Barcelona where she is choreographer and dancer in the newly formed dance company Celtic Caos. They work closely with Irish musicians in and around Barcelona and have produced two shows over the last two years, An Dulra and An Tais Teal.