John C. Falstaff's Background
John C. Falstaff is one of the great connoisseurs of Celtic music today, with a
following that over the years has expanded to include listeners all over the
world for his radio program, "The Celtic Show" broadcast every Sunday from
Atlanta, Georgia. With a lively ear for cutting edge work, John also has a keen
appreciation for the sources of traditional music in deeply rooted communities.
He not only knows the music but the musicians who keep that music alive. Because
of their respect for him, John is the first port of call for traditional
musicians who wish to reach discriminating audiences with their new releases.
– Prof James W. Flannery, Irish tenor and Founder/Director of the WB Yeats
Foundation, Emory University
John grew up in Dublin, and saw plenty of live music in the 1970s, including
fiddler Paddy Glackin (at Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann HQ in Monkstown), legendary
Scottish revivalist Ewan MacColl (with wife Peggy Seeger, at the Universal Folk
Club), and the Bothy Band (in the Phoenix, Cork), as well as Celtic Rock pioneers
Horslips and Breton harper Alan Stivell (at the Stadium).
He made his radio debut on Sunday 13 Dec 1981, co-hosting an all Irish music show
on WICB FM (Ithaca College), in upstate New York. In the late 1980s, in Atlanta,
he became a volunteer at WRFG, and was soon co-hosting The Good Earth, an
alternative rock show which went out late on Monday nights, with Eric Price.
During his tenure on this show, there was always a live band, such as Swimming
Pool Qs, Tombstones, Flap, Homemade Sister (later to find fame as Magnapop),
Kevin Dunn, and the late lamented Vic Chesnutt.
For fifteen years, starting in the late 1980s, John also
about music, most notably for Dirty Linen and Atlanta's Creative
Loafing. His first published piece was an obit of Ewan MacColl for the
former, in 1989.
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day 1995, WRFG devoted an entire day to Irish music.
Since the then hosts of The Celtic Show (John Maschinot of the Buddy O'Reilly
Band, and John Adcox) had the trad angle covered, John C. Falstaff's contribution
was three hours of "Irish classic music," from the piano nocturnes of John Field
and some neo-classical work by Sean O Riada, to Shaun Davey's "The Brendan Voyage"
(essentially a concerto for uilleann pipes and orchestra) from 1977, and Bill
Whelan's Irish/Spanish hybrid "The Seville Sweet" from 1992 (in hindsight, a kind
of dry run for the multicultural music at the core of "Riverdance" a few years
Within a year John found himself hosting The Celtic Show, and apart from some
time off in 2001-2005–during which he lived in Spain for a while–he's been
at it ever since.
In 1996, John lead a team of three from WRFG to Ireland–thanks to Delta for
throwing in plane tickets–where they hooked up with Dublin's Radio Anna
Livia, then located in Grafton Street. There were simultanous live broadcasts
to both Dublin and Atlanta from the city's St. Patrick's Day parade. John
interviewed a government minister named Enda Kenny who survived the experience
and went on to become taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland.
Over the years, many of the biggest wigs in Celtic music have been interviewed
live on The Celtic Show on WRFG, from piper Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains,
Altan, singer Susan McKeown, fiddler Kevin Burke and Riverdance composer Bill
Whelan, to Scottish singer Andy M. Stewart, Battlefield Band and Welsh bard
In May 2011, while on a trip home to Dublin, John had the good fortune to see
Paddy Glackin once more, with Donal Lunny, as part of an amazing
charity show at the Button Factory in Dublin's Temple Bar. Also on the bill
were Kila, T With the Maggies, Liam O Maonlai, Dervish, MacDara and Altan.
Video footage of this may be found at
the Livetrad site.