For the past 25+ years I've been playing traditional Irish music on a variety of instruments including Uilleann pipes, tin whistle, wooden flute, Anglo concertina, and B/C-tuned button accordion.
Since January 2000, I've co-hosted the weekly Tuesday night Irish session at The Ould Sod in San Diego, CA as well as being in the hosting rotation for the Sunday afternoon session at The Auld Dubliner in Long Beach, CA.
I've played Uilleann pipes and Tin Whistle on the soundtracks for two movies, working with composer Patrick Cassidy: "Kill the Irishman" and "Calvary". I've also done studio recording work for the local Southern California band "Sligo Rags" and others.
In my professional life, I've been a software developer for over 40 years.
Currently, I am a Senior Systems Architect Emeritus for SmartDraw, working on strategic Kubernetes, Azure DevOps, and OpenAI-related projects.
At SmartDraw, I was the lead developer of SmartDraw and VisualScript add-ins for Atlassian Confluence and Jira, both Cloud and Server as well as a senior developer on the SmartDraw Cloud team.
Before coming to SmartDraw in 2012, from 1990 until 2012, I developed Windows video capture and Microsoft Broadcast Driver Architecture (BDA) kernel-mode device drivers for chipmaker Conexant Systems.
In additional to working as an software developer for other companies, I also have developed a whole family of traditional musical instrument mobile apps for iOS and Android under my AppCordions brand.
I'm always open to the possibility of working on interesting software projects.
Click here for my employment resume page:
AppCordions Traditional Musical Instrument Apps
ABC Transcription Tools
ABC Transcription Tools is a free, web-based, open-source tool I built for converting music in ABC and MusicXML format to standard notation and tablature.
It runs 100% client-side in your browser. You can even copy the source code from GitHub (link in the User Guide) and run it locally on your computer. No server required.
This tool can generate standard music notation from ABC and MusicXML files, play tunes with multiple instruments, show note names along with notation, transpose tunes to any key, and create tablature for Mandolin, GDAD Bouzouki, CGDA Mandola, Standard Guitar, DADGAD guitar, Bass, B/C or C#/D Button Accordion, Anglo Concertina, Tin Whistle (D), and even traditional Chinese Dizi bamboo flutes in multiple keys.
The rendered tune audio from the player can be saved as .wav or .mp3 files.
You can also export all your tunes in a collection at once to .mp3 format.
Tunes can also be exported as MIDI files.
It can generate PDF tunebooks (Letter or A4 size) in tune-per-page or multiple-tunes-per-page formats with many options for adding a title page, hyperlinked table of contents and/or index, page numbers, page headers and footers, playback and other hyperlinks, or even include a QR code for sharing the set at the end of the tunebook.
Try it out here:
Check out the User Guide:
Tunebooks Created with My ABC Transcription Tools
Various PDF tunebooks created with my ABC Transcription Tools:
Resources for Irish Button Accordion Players
One of my recent projects has been writing up tune transcriptions for B/C button box complete with bass and chord indications for players learning to play the bass side.
I also have available several tunebooks in B/C and C#/D tablature for newer players.
Click here for more information:
Music Class Recordings, Videos, and Books For Sale
I have several tin whistle tune class recordings, instructional videos, and Irish button accordion related products for sale
Click here for more information:
The Ould Sod Pub Session
The Ould Sod Virtual Session on Zoom
This weekly event is currently on summer break.
Join us next on Thursday, October 12th, 2023!
Since March 2020, I've been hosting an open session on Zoom, currently every Thursday night from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Pacific. (9:00 PM - 11:00 PM Eastern)
Click here for the Zoom meeting link and more information:
Learning Tunes by Ear Using Transcribe
Here's my detailed process for learning tunes by ear:
Creating PDF Tune Transcriptions Using Transcribe
Here's my detailed process for creating notation transcriptions of tunes:
iPad-based Zoom Audio Processor
Being on Zoom all the time, I really wanted the best possible sound quality for both voice and instruments, so I put together a flexible iPad-based audio processor:
Click here for more information:
I put together as a "text board" to allow me to quickly copy and paste text into the chat on Zoom meetings by just clicking buttons on a web page
It's very easy to customize the source code to create your own Zoombuttons board
John Whelan's "Taking Time" Session Recordings Archive
John Whelan's "Taking Time" session recordings from 2020-2022:
Riggy Rackin - "Jews in Irish Music"
In September 2021, I had the honor of being included in
Riggy Rackin's "Jews in Irish Music" project
My page is here, has the whole crazy story of how I got into playing traditional Irish music:
"Thank you for hosting the Whistle Workshop earlier this week on Monday evening. It was a delight!
The educator in me wants to over-analyze everything you did that set us up for success together, and provide feedback. I really appreciated how smoothly you led the group and facilitated great thinking for each of us and all of us at the same time. Thank you for taking the (important) time to let us get to know each other a bit in the beginning, that helped remove a lot of the pressure or nerves for participating in an online forum.
You lead us through a great balance of playing/listening, as well as philosophical conversations regarding playing, sessions, etc. And, you honored the journey that each of us is on, while also acknowledging none of us is ever at the end—modeling a humble and healthy growth mindset. As I mentioned, I trained classically at a Conservatory, and the politics of that environment is in such stark contrast to my experiences so far in the folk music community—and a welcome and warm contrast! The conversational nature of your workshop felt appropriate as a coming together of minds to celebrate and enjoy Irish trad music and whistle techniques. I am grateful for the experience, and would be interested in attending a future event.
"Thank you so much for the masterclass!
I really enjoyed it and find your humility refreshing. I learned a lot.
Would love to do some lessons with you if you have availability. I'm planning to join the session tomorrow night as well.
- David Renfro
If you find my workshops or handouts useful, please consider buying me a beer
by tossing a few bucks into one of my virtual tip jars:
If you have any questions, please email me at: