Kevin Burke

A Chat With...Kevin Burke

This week, we are chatting with one of the finest Irish fiddle players,  Kevin Burke. Do check out his brilliant instructional videos on the Fiddlevideo website.

Quick bio

Instrument(s): Fiddle
Best known as: A soloist
Your band(s) or collaborations that we should know about: Bothy Band, Celtic Fiddle Festival, Christy Moore Band, Patrick Street, and duo work with Cal Scott, Jackie Daly, John Brennan.
Sub-genre: Irish traditional
Number of years on the folk scene: 50+
Greatest achievement or claim to fame: Don’t know yet

What are you currently working on, and what’s in the pipeline for the coming year?

A series of intimate sessions filmed in my cottage in Ireland with some of the foremost traditional musicians; solo performances in the UK, Scandinavia, US and Ireland; host musician on a music tour of Ireland’s west coast.

If someone is reading this who hasn’t listened to any of your music before, where should they start?

 A recording called “If the Cap Fits”.

What’s on your playlist at the moment, and why does it appeal to you?

The Wavy bow by John and James Carty. Great playing, great tunes, great arrangements. Soig Siberil’s Digor’ – great contemporary Breton guitar album with trad. influences.

Which folk albums, in your opinion, should everyone listen to at least once, and why?

Andy Irvine and Paul Brady (the purple album) – definitive, influential, groundbreaking singers. Anything by The Bothy Band who reshaped Irish traditional music. Also, Bob Dylan’s ‘the times they are a changing’ album. Powerful, stark ballad poetry where modern and traditional songs overlap.

Where are you most ‘at one’ with your instrument?

With a few musician friends in a quiet Irish pub with an empathetic bar person and no phone service.

Please tell us about your practice regime, or how you keep developing as an instrumentalist.

I play everyday, learning new tunes and reviving old ones.

What’s the most nerve-wracking thing you’ve done (musically), and what did you learn from it?

Can’t think of any one occasion but The fear of not being able to do justice to the music is always nerve wracking. Audiences don’t usually intimidate me but I am intimidated if I feel I’m not….. see next answer.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a musician?

“Get the music off the ground. It doesn’t matter how high off the ground. Just get it off the ground”.

What’s your dream band line-up (dead or alive)?

I don’t really have one, but I do regret never having seen Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Count Basie with Ella Fitzgerald and Little Feat. And of course I’d have loved to meet Michael Coleman and his brother Jim and Paddy Killoran.

To satisfy the instrument/equipment geeks amongst us, please tell us a little about the gear you use to make music.

My bow was made in 2000 by my brother Noel Burke. The fiddle was made in the same year by Mikael (Mick) De Hoog. I use Obligato strings, Bernadel rosin and my mic is an MB C603.

Is there a question you wish we’d asked you? Feel free to write (and answer it) here.

Do you feel privileged to have played with so many wonderful musicians?


Do you have any plans for solo shows in UK in 2024? 

No, but I would love to play over there. If anyone is interested please contact my agent, Ruby Hoy, on

Find out more:

Further listening

A lovely performance by Kevin with guitarist Michael O’Domhnaill in 1992

The Bothy Band playing the Kesh Jig

Here’s Kevin playing one of our favourite tunes, Mouth of the Tobique

A solo concert from 2019

Andy Irvine and Paul Brady with the opening track from their classic album

John And James Carty, The Wavy Bow

Little Feat

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