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Boston Acoustic Scene Remembers John McGann

The following post was written by Matt Glaser, artistic director for Berklee’s American Roots Music Program. Photographer Erin Prawoko provided the images.

Last Tuesday night at the Cantab Lounge there was an outpouring of love and grief for our dear, departed John McGann. The Boston acoustic music scene has become a very tight-knit community, with Berklee at its epicenter and John at the epicenter of the epicenter.

Matt Glaser and Bruce Molsky. Photo by Erin Prawoko.

John, as you may know, was an extraordinary mandolinist, guitarist, teacher, arranger, composer, and all-around deep scholar of all things musical.

Some of the greatest string players in the world live and work in the Boston area, specifically at Berklee, and came out in full force to pay tribute to the man who we regarded as the Einstein of musical knowledge. I can’t count the number of times that I stood on stage at the Cantab and watched John McGann play one blistering, inventive solo after another, but there were many.

Rachel Sumner, Molly Tuttle, and Jen Starsinic. Photo by Erin Prawoko.

Eric Robertson and Joe Walsh. Photo by Erin Prawoko.

John played and wrote in a variety of musical styles: Beatles-influenced pop, jazz in the Django Reinhardt mold, traditional Irish, and bluegrass, as well as modern classical music.

John was also one of the funniest people you’d ever meet and the stage at the Cantab Tuesday was on fire with funny recollections of his antics and his inventive wit.

We are all devastated by this loss.

I’m very proud to be a member of this loving community.

Thank you, John, for everything and we miss you terribly.

Lesley Mahoney
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1 Comment

  1. Julia Borland-Ferneborg

    John worked with Childsplay a couple of our winter tours. 17 of us fiddlers played John’s rather long and
    magical piece Canyon Moonrise. Years later whenever I visit my family in Colorado or California, I feel that music in my bones whenever I find myself in a canyon and imagine the moon rising. He really connected music and nature in that music. Goodbye John, our world will miss you.

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