Irish Philadelphia published an interview with John Doan called “Harp Guitar Performer John Doan Brings Celtic Music and Mysteries to Newtown” to promote his upcoming show outside of Philadelphia.
In the article, John talks about his roots and how he came to the harp guitar and his journey into Celtic music, and how his first pilgrimage to Ireland eventually connected him with Billy Oskay, the man who would help him make his Celtic visions a musical dream come true.
Doan first visited Ireland in the ‘80s—roughing it, hitchhiking, sleeping under the stars. One night, he says, he yearned for a real bed and a shower, and he scraped together enough cash for a stay in a bed and breakfast. The two aged “aunties” who ran the place kept him well entertained, he said, and they told him that when he went back to the States they should look up their nephew Mícheál, who also lived in the Pacific Northwest. “Tell him he should visit us,” they said.
When he got back home, he called the phone number he’d been given and starting chatting up Mícheál, who turned out to Mícheál Ó Domhnaill the former leader of the famous Irish group the Bothy Band. He in turn introduced John to Billy Oskay, the fiddler and producer of Nightnoise.
Over the years, the two became friends, and Oskay became a fan of the Doan’s harp guitar. In the ‘90s, Oskay asked Doan to contribute an Irish-sounding piece for the first Celtic Twilight album from Hearts of Space. By the time Celtic Twilight 2 came along, Doan had composed more Celtic music. Before too long he thought to compose an entire album for Celtic harp guitar.