For twenty years fiddler and composer Andrew Finn Magill (Finn) has been pursuing parallel careers in traditional Irish music, Brazilian choro, jazz and American fiddle, the result of many years living abroad and a childhood growing up at The Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, North Carolina where he studied every summer with dozens of Irish, old-time, bluegrass and swing fiddle masters. His nine albums constitute thousands of hours dedicated to each genre and form the basis of Finn’s original music for which he received a 2019 North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in jazz composition. Over the last ten years he has performed with John Doyle, Rising Appalachia, Charm City Junction, Open the Door for Three, Greg Ruby, The Paul McKenna Band, and Malawian singer Peter Mawanga. He has performed in venues that include Milwaukee Irish Fest, Celtic Connections, Olympia Hall in Paris, France, DisneyWorld, and Malawi’s Lake of Stars Festival.
In 2005 he debuted with Drive & Lift, an Irish fiddle album that has been featured on NPR and multiple official Spotify playlists. In 2009 Finn was awarded a Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship to spend a year in Malawi co-writing and co-producing a concept album about HIV/AIDS with Malawi pop icon Peter Mawanga. The result, Stories of AIDS: Mau a Malawi, is a soundscape of traditional Irish and Malawian sounds reimagined as Afro-pop with a riveting message of social justice. It was the inspiration for a multimedia show of the same name Finn wrote and co-directed with Jon Haas and Joseph Megel and debuted at the University of North Carolina’s Memorial Hall in October 2011.
In 2016, Finn released the two-part concept album Roots and and Branches which documents a journey from traditional Irish music to new acoustic jazz. Roots debuted at #46 on the Folk DJ charts and writes Grammy-winning Americana artist Tim O’Brien:
“He has learned from and now plays with the best in the genre. On Branches you can hear a new musical voice emerging. I’m gonna keep listening for Finn Magill.”
In 2014 Finn moved to Rio de Janeiro to study Brazilian choro music. He has been an ambassador of Brazilian violin ever since and has founded many Brazilian music groups including O Finno, Violino no Choro, Brazilian Strings Trio (with fellow American violinist Ted Falcon and Brazilian guitarist Nando Duarte) and Canta, Violino! the album of which was released on Ropeadope Records in 2018. Says Brazilian percussion legend Airto Moreira of Chick Corea and Miles Davis:
“Its nice to see fresh, young musicians carrying on the traditions of Brazilian music. Finn Magill displays a love and authenticity that can fool you into thinking he is from Brazil. His style is playful and light, yet soulful and passionate. Congratulations!”
Fascinated by the connections between the fiddling traditions of Ireland and Scotland and their musical cousins of oldtime and bluegrass, in 2018 Finn created the lecture series “The Evolution of Irish & Scottish Fiddle in our Appalachian Mountains” which is a musical presentation for adults that explores the connections between these styles through their fiddle tunes. This lecture series is part of a larger commitment to music education and Finn has taught traditional Irish music, bluegrass, choro, and old-time at over a dozen fiddle camps across the U.S, Scotland, Brazil, and France.
Finn currently tours with Dave Curley (of Slide and One for the Foxes), Alan Murray (The Colin Farrell Band), Seán Gray (formerly of The Paul McKenna Band), Brazilian group Canta, Violino!, as a solo artist and as a periodic sidemen with dozens of other artists in various genres.