Who is Rick Fannin?
Rick Fannin, performing and recording artist, has been making music in the Dayton area for over 25 years.
As half of the popular duo, Fannigan's Isle, Rick has played Irish pubs and Celtic Festivals throughout the country. Fannigan's Isle has recorded two CDs on the Folk Era label, the same label that carries the Kingston Trio and the Clancy Brothers.
As a solo artist, Rick performs extensively in the Dayton / Cincinnati area, at restaurants, pubs, festivals, weddings and parties.
Besides his Irish catalogue, he has an wide repertoire of popular songs. On any given night you might hear anything from 50's pop to 70's folk-rock, featuring songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and lots more.
In 2004, Rick released a solo CD, Raised on Songs and Stories, a collection of Irish, folk and country songs.
Rick is also a member of a seven man bluegrass/ country rock ensemble called The Elderly Brothers.
Rick is well known for his rich and versatile singing voice. He plays guitar, banjo, harmonica, bouzouki (Greek stringed instrument), bodhran (Irish frame drum) and bones.
For venerable area guitarist Rick Fannin, one genre is simply not enough.
Local musician Rick Fannin, who recently self-released the solo acoustic album Raised on Songs and Stories, is sitting at a picnic table at Indian Riffle Park in Kettering. It is early afternoon on a blustery fall day, and the park is unoccupied. For Fannin, who grew up in the nearby Rolling Fields neighborhood, this is a treasured spot from his youth. "I spent a lot of time daydreaming in this park and playing my first acoustic guitar, my Yamaha guitar," said Fannin, a graduate of Fairmont East High School. "I first learned to play some of my favorite songs here, ones that are still my favorites and still in my repertoire."
For the past three decades, Fannin has divided his time between solo performances and group work with local acts such as Purgatory, the Dayton-Yellow Springs Band and the Rickenbackers. The singer and guitarist is best known today as half of the local Celtic duo Fannigan's Isle, but Fannin built his early solo career playing folk and country-flavored material.
"I started picking up Irish songs here and there in the mid-'70s … but not by Irish people," Fannin said. "I heard Don McLean do Mountains of Mourne, and I fell in love with it immediately. Ian and Sylvia covered some Irish songs like Nancy Whiskey, and those were some of the first that attracted me to the style. It's interesting, because I had an immediate feel for Celtic music."
Fannin, a resident of Spring Valley, got his real introduction to Celtic music in 1984 when he and Tom Scheidt formed Fannigan's Isle. "I didn't have an Irish repertoire until I started working with Tom," he said. "I knew a few Irish songs, and Celtic music was a direction I felt moved to go, but I basically learned Tom's backlog of material for our duo."
Fannin's new CD reflects his tastes, mixing Celtic music with folk and country. In addition to a medley of Hank Williams songs, Fannin included cuts written by Jesse Winchester and Henry Gross.
"Regardless of what kind of gig I do, even if it's an Irish festival set, I usually get something in there that isn't Irish but has a personal connection, like the Hank Williams medley. I did that for my parents, because those were some of their biggest courting songs. I always joke to audiences that I'm part of the Kentucky Irish, which is true. I knew nothing of my Irish roots growing up but I was definitely connected to my redneck, I mean, Appalachian heritage. Some people think it's strange to have Hank Williams on there with a bunch of Celtic songs, but for me there is a connection."
The tracks on the CD were recorded by Dan Hill in his home studio and have a nice, natural feel. There are a few overdubs, but the disc feels as if Fannin is playing right in the room with the listener.
"It only took us like five sessions to record everything," Fannin said. "I was lucky to have Dan, and I really consider him the producer. He realized my vision for it, which is 'simplicity is the key.' I've always been a live performer, so being in the studio used to feel unnatural to me. It can be disconcerting to go into a studio for the first time, but Dan kept me focused, even when I wanted to get out there in the wild blue yonder. He was great; I couldn't have done the project without him."
Although Fannin isn't working as frequently as he used to, he says the schedule fits the lifestyle of a man in his early 50s.
"I need to give the younger people a chance to play," Fannin said with a chuckle. "I've worked steadily since I started, and I've stayed busy. There was a long period of time when I didn't appreciate that; I wasn't counting my blessings. I've been fortunate to keep working steadily in my own town, and I do really appreciate that now."
Contact free-lance arts and music writer Don Thrasher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BYLINE: Don Thrasher For the Dayton Daily News
DATE: November 7, 2004
PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)
"What's amazing about Rick is that he has a steel trap mind when it comes to songs and lyrics. One of the joys of working with him is he can play anything, (from the) the Doors to hippy-country music...The man can do so much with an acoustic guitar. I think it's because of the love he puts into it."
- Tom Scheidt, Impact Weekly.
1984 - 2011
When Tom Scheidt died suddenly on September 5, 2011 it was the end of Fannigan's Isle. Rick and Tom played for over 27 years. It was a magic time for many of us. So much good music, so many adventures, so much laughter. Thank you all for your love and support of Fannigan's Isle, and may you always remember the good times!
Tom, Rick, and Pete from St Patrick's Day at Flanagan's.
Rick playing the harmonica and bones AT THE SAME TIME!
FROM ALL MUSIC GUIDE
Hailing from Dayton, OH, Fannigan's Isle uses the Irish pub music of the Clancy Brothers and the high-spirited American folk music of the Kingston Trio as a springboard for their own unique blend of traditional folk forms.
Comprised of Rick Fannin and Tom Scheidt, both having spent stints in rock bands in the '60s, the two came to a mutual respect of each other's talents and formed Fannigan's Isle in 1984 under the idea of recreating the music of their aforementioned heroes. The duo quickly gained a reputation for high-spirited live shows and garnered accolades for their accomplished performances on a wide array of folk instruments.
By the late '90s, Fannigan's Isle was a favorite on the folk festival, college, and pub circuit, as they had released two well-received collections on Folk Era records. The double set, Orange & Green, split between one disc of live tracks and one of studio recordings, provides an excellent introduction to their music.
~ Matt Fink, All Music Guide