Artist Biography by Craig Harris
The traditional music of Ireland's County Galway is preserved through the playing of Jack and Charlie Coen. Living in the United States since the 1950s, the brothers continue to keep the music of their homeland alive. Their album, The Branch Line, recorded at Jack Coen's house in the Bronx, NY, and produced by Mick Moloney in 1976, remains a highly cherished sampling of the Coen brothers' traditional flute and concertina melodies. Born into a large family of nine children on a farm in Drimnamuckla, close to Woodford in Galway; Jack and Charlie Coen displayed musical talent at young ages. Playing tin whistle since the age of eight, Charlie won seven All-Ireland competitions in concertina, flute and whistle playing, and English and Irish singing. Together with concertina player Paddy O'Brien and fiddler Larey Redican, Jack won the All-Ireland Trio championship. Much of their repertoire was acquired from original sources, including Father Kelly, Tommy Whelan, Paddy O'Brien, and Sean Ryan. The first brother to leave Ireland, Charlie settled in the United States in 1954. He entered the priesthood in 1968. Jack, who followed his brother to the U.S. in the late '50s, has remained active as a musician. He performed with Moloney's Irish American group the Green Fields of America and, in 1991, was awarded a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment of the Arts. Accompanied by his son Jimmy on guitar, he recorded a solo album in 2001.
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