From a musical family in Dublin, John’s influences include well known English folk singers Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, and The Watersons; Scottish singers Dick Gaughan and John Martin; and fellow Irishmen Paul Brady and Al O’Donnell as well as his father, Sean Doyle – probably the biggest influence of all. John went on the road as a pro at 16 with the group Chanting House which he formed with Susan McKeown and which eventually included such great players as Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, & Donogh Hennessy. John went on to form the highly acclaimed super group, Solas, with Seamus Egan, John Williams, Karan Casey and Winifred Horan which took the folk and Celtic music worlds by storm, in no small part due to John’s powerhouse rhythmic guitar style and innovative arrangements. As a member of Solas, John performed to sold out audiences nationally and internationally as well as appearing on many national TV and radio programs: NBC’s The Today Show, various programs for National Public Radio and Public Radio International, A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, E-Town and World Caf笠As part of that critically acclaimed group, he also received three NAIRD awards and a Grammy nomination for the band’s self-titled first recording.
After leaving Solas, John has gone on to perform and tour with other greats in the Folk, Celtic and Bluegrass worlds – Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien (John was included on Tim’s 2006 Grammy-award winning CD, Fiddler’s Green), Linda Thompson, Kate Rusby, Cathie Ryan and many others. He has appeared on soundtracks for the feature film, The Brothers McMullan, Soldier, PBS’s Out of Ireland and also composed the music for the film Uncle Robert’s Footsteps and the play Down the Flats as well as performing on countless recordings as guitarist and/or singer for other notable artists such as Kate Rusby, Linda Thompson, Tim O’Brien, Alison Brown, Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, Mick Moloney, Cathal McConnell, Karan Casey and so many others (check out the discography page for a full list).
In recent years, John has gained major prominence in the Celtic and Folk worlds in duos with Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll (their recording, “Double Play” received a 2010 Grammy nomination for “Best Traditional World Music Record”); as Karan Casey and John Doyle; as McGoldrick, McCusker and Doyle (with the greats Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker); and as 1/3 of the stella trio “The Teetotallers” with Martin Hayes and Kevin Crawford. 2008-2010 saw John on the road with the legendary Joan Baez as her music director and guitarist.
With the release of John’s most recent solo recoding, “Shadow and LIght” (Compass Records) in 2011, his significant talents as songwriter and singer are finally coming to the fore. Impossibly in demand in the studio and on the road, immensely talented and blessed with an acute ear, a wicked sense of rhythm and seemingly endless bag of chops in his playing, composing, performing and producing, John has firmly established himself as one of the most versatile, creative and prolific voices in folk and traditional Irish music.