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Johnny Fean, Inspirational Celtic Rock and Blues artist is also guitarist/vocalist with Horslips.  Steve Travers renowned Irish bass guitarist, is perhaps best known for his time with the Miami Showband. In 2007 the pair have been  joined on drums by Blendi Krasniqi.

The band aims to deliver an exciting guitar orientated rock experience. As the set unfolds audiences are sure to be delighted by a musical mixture which includes; furious paced rock, grass root blues (Johnny's first love) and some Trad/Rock surprises. For good measure the band throw in  occasional classics from their earlier careers.

Johnny's Celtic Rock history is a matter of record. It's less well known that his early musical leaning was towards the Blues. You can read more about that in the passage below. Less well known again, is that Stephen Traver's career led him to find his own role for the Celtic bass guitar. By working the lower mid-bass tones and using bodhrán rhythms for his bass playing, Stephen feels his style marries naturally into traditional and new Celtic music. People will surely recognise rock and blues numbers from the live set, but the band doesn't use the diverse instruments (keyboards or fiddles etc) of previous Celtic Rock outfits. Instead there's a lot of bass-lead counterpoint and Johnny's guitar coverage really needs to be heard to be believed.  

Here's a race through some of the band's history thus far…

Johnny Fean
He was without guitar and naked when he first arrived in Dublin, for although he spent his early childhood in Limerick city it was Dublin that Johnny Fean was born, in 1951. By the age of 10, Johnny had begun to play the guitar and through his teens he'd be found on; guitar, tenor banjo, mandolin and harmonica in sessions near home and over the river in County Clare. As well as his traditional music, Johnny was hearing the typical rock and pop of sixties Ireland, but he became particularly interested in blues and was integrating the sounds he liked into his developing guitar style. Check this link to read Barry McCabe's interview where Johnny discusses Rory Gallagher and his own early blues influences.

Sweet Street and Jeremiah Henry
Late teens found Johnny touring near home with Eugene Wallace and electric fiddler Joe O'Donnell in an outfit called 'Sweet Street'. He followed this with a stint in a progressive country rock and blues band called 'Jeremiah Henry'.  You can read more about these bands as Johnny, in his own words, talks about Johnny Fean - The Early Days

There's been much written about Horslips elsewhere but a few words here are quite in order.

In 1970 Johnny parted from 'Jeremiah Henry' and returned home to play traditional music in Limerick and Clare. At the same time over in Dublin; Eamon Carr, Barry Devlin, Jim Lockhart, Charles O'Connor and Declan Sinnott were coming together as Horslips. By the time Johnny replaced Declan on guitar the guys had already released their first single - 'Johnny's Wedding' (on Oats, Horslips' own label, March 1972).

October 1972 found Johnny with Horslips, the Rolling Stones mobile studio and 30 bales of hay in Longfield house in Tipperary for the recording of their first album 'Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part'. Hot Press, in their special 25th year edition (July 2002), acknowledged the release of this album as a defining moment in Irish Rock history.

Horslips were always destined to do things differently, and from the moment they smashed onto the scene, the Irish music industry saw the band break almost every mould. Staying Irish based rather than heading to London for record deals they trod no beaten path. They functioned as an almost self-contained unit, formed their own record label, shared song writing credits. They conceived, researched, and wrote their own material, designed their own sleeve artwork and wrote their own sleeve notes.

When interviewed, the lads merrily projected a myth that they were rock stars by accident. But it was no accident, they were canny guys, streetwise, music-wise and amazingly well-read.

It is widely known that the Horslips sound, which became known as 'Celtic Rock', was based on crafted music with interwoven layers of traditional and rock. But Horslips' artistic strength drew from more than music and those who looked beneath the music found passageways into latter-day stories and long gone worlds of Celtic mythology.

Between 1972 and 1980 Horslips released 12 albums and a multitude of singles. They were ambassadors for Irishness as they relentlessly toured at home and in Britain, Germany, Canada and the United States. Hailed as the people's band they brought their unique musical package to just about every club, dancehall and ballroom in Ireland. It might be argued that Horslips' most important achievement was that they were ambassadors for Ireland, and Irishness to the Irish themselves.

The final few years saw tours in the US with the band on the brink of 'cracking' America. The formula they'd been using had brought critical acclaim and a measure of commercial success, but the individuals began to have irreconcilable views on where their music should go. Simply put, there were differing ideas on how strong the Celtic flavour should be and whether to mix it with the emerging new-wave sound, a commercial sound or anything else. In the end it wasn't America that cracked, it was the band's artistic consensus.

The final Horslips album was the live 'Belfast Gigs' recorded in the Whitla Hall, Belfast in April/May 1980. A few months later the band returned to Belfast to play their farewell gig in the Ulster Hall. There was no break up announcement, and the only public clue that people were witnessing the final performance was that they encored with the Rolling Stones' 'The Last Time'. So, it was the Rolling Stones studio for 'Happy To Meet' and a Rolling Stones song as they sadly parted.

Check out 'The Táin I Loved So Well', a recent interview where Johnny talks to Paul Bowen about the Horslips days.

The Zen Alligators
For Eamon and Johnny, 1980 saw both an end (of Horslips) and a beginning (of a new band). This was symbolised in the leading letters of the name of their new group the Zen Alligators. Actually the Z/A - last/first symbolism was accidental, since they were to be called 'The Alligators', but that name was already in use. Before the year (1980) was out, the Zens, a 4-piece outfit with Philip Fay on guitar and Gary Eglinton on bass, were on the road and had pressed a new single 'Thrill Party'.

The group set out to distance their style from Horslips, playing straight rock'n'soul on the Irish circuit. From the Horslips era, they took only 'When Night Comes' (B-side of Horslips last studio single) and Johnny's 'Shakin All Over'. The Zens recorded several singles, and a televised gig from the Top Hat Ballroom, Dun Laoghaire.

1983 saw Charles O'Connor reunite with old friends Fean and Carr. This ex-Horslips trio together with Peter Keenan (Keyboards) and Chris Page (Bass) formed Host and released 'Tryal', an album based on Joe Ambrose's Book 'Love's Dark Light'. Several singles were released from this album while again Host toured the Irish circuit. To the delight of many an audience Host's stage set included a number of Horslips standards.

John Ryan and Brian O'Briain (pipes) later joined with Host and Charles O'Connor departed. After O'Connor's time, Host released their final single 'The Hellhound Was My Name' (on Eamon Carr's Hotwire Label) and introduced new live set numbers including Maud Gonne (a ballad with Johnny on Banjo), the Hidden Curriculum (theme music for a play commissioned by ITV) and an extended instrumental piece with the working title 'The Celtic Overture'.

When Host dissolved Johnny continued as a professional musician and recorded with different people. This included another Hotwire release, in 1985, 'The Last Bandits' Album (with Simon Carmody, Nikki Sudden, Bernie Furlong and Des O'Byrne) . In 1986 Johnny moved to England to play with 'Treat' and later joined up with Stephen Travers in 'The Psychopats' (sic).

In November 2001 Johnny came home to Ireland to celebrate his 50th birthday at a bash with his old 'Lips friends. He's been here ever since!

Horslips re-grouped in March 2004 to open an exhibition of Horslips memorabilia in the Orchard Gallery Derry.  September 2004 saw them record a new album 'Roll Back' which was released in December 2004.

A DVD by Maurice Linnane titled 'The Return Of The Dancehall Sweethearts' was released in November 2005.  

Horslips come together for the occasional radio and TV interview, these include live performances. In December 2009 Horslips reformed for two concerts in Belfast and Dublin.  

Johnny continued to gig with Steve under the name 'Fean & Travers' until Blendi Krasniq jioned then on drums in 2007. The trio currently play as "The Johnny Fean Band". 

Stephen Travers
Stephen Travers from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary was born 12th January 1951. This was 10 months odd before Johnny showed up, so he qualifies as old man of the group! He was aged 14 before starting serious guitar when he paid five quid for his first bass guitar which was an Egmund. Serving his teenage apprenticeship on bass he played mostly with Gay Brazel and Dave Prim before eventually joining 'The Mick Delahunty Jnr. Orchestra' for a taste of the Showband scene. Stephen reckons he learned a lot about arranging and orchestration in that band, whose repertoire spanned 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' type material through to 'Glen Miller'. Leaving the Orchestra Stephen moved to the London scene, mixing wedding bookings and dance bookings with session work until in 1975 he returned to Ireland.

Home again and Stephen joined Des Lee, Brian McCoy, Tony Geraghty and Fran O'Toole in 'The Miami Showband'. It was the heyday of the Showband and the Miami were one of the leading bands of that era.  Stephen remembers first meeting Johnny Fean at the 1975 STARLITE music awards, in the Portmarnock Country Club, Dublin. The Miami won the award for 'Best Irish Band' that year, while Horslips won 'Best Irish Rock Band'. Rory Gallagher, who was at the awards, was very taken with Stephen's Rickenbacker Stereo Bass and, after carefully inspecting it and its gold plated fitments, he brought Johnny Fean and Barry Devlin over the do likewise. Other award winners that year were The Bay City Rollers for 'Best International Pop Band' and Van Morrison for 'Best Irish Solo Artist' .

Although the Miami were having incredible success, Stephen and Tony Geraghty had been tentatively planning to form their own progressive rock band, but due to a terrorist incident in Northern Ireland they never got that chance. Returning home from Banbridge July 31, 1975 Stephen was injured and Fran, Brian and Tony tragically lost their lives. The Miami reformed as the 'New Miami Showband' and toured onwards, but the following year, tired of recognition due to the terrorist incident rather than his music, Stephen set aside his performing career to take up bass guitar tutoring. 
On the 30th anniversary of the
terrorist incident Steve, along with Paul Ashford and  Mike Hanrahan organised a special weekend to remember the lost musicians. You can find out more here.

The Crack
In 1980 Stephen returned to performing, formed and toured with his own group 'The Crack'. With producer Barry Devlin they recorded an album 'The Dawn of Crack' and released singles including 'When The Time Comes', on which they'd set out to recreate a Beatles type sound. Paul McCartney himself is said have liked the album and interestingly when Beatles Producer George Martin heard the single he told Stephen it was "too close" to the Beatles sound. Stephen is still undecided to whether take this as criticism or compliment. The Crack's agent at that time was Arthur Walters, who was also the agent for Horslips and later the Zen Alligators (Check for his name on the rear cover of the Zen's Invisible Man single. After more session and recording work Stephen again worked with Barry Devlin. This time Stephen played bass on 4 tracks for Barry's own album 'Breaking Star Codes' which was released in 1983 and featured Jim Lockhart amongst others.  Make sure to check out this page with more information on The Crack

The Great Hunger
The Great Hunger was a band Steve played with in London the Mid 80s. Maurice McElroy  was on drums and Jimmy Bradford was on guitar. During that time Steve, Jimmy, and some West End session musicians became part of Susan McCann's stage band  at the Albert Hall.  Aloysius (Whisey) Patterson from Clough Mills Co. Antrim was on the drums.

Steve recalls walking out onto stage at the Albert Hall and  Susan telling the band she was going to change the set list from what they'd rehearsed.  This wasn't a problem for the Irish Lads since they were used to this happening at the showbands concerts, but it was something the London session musicians weren't accustomed to!! The Albert Hall night was Steve's second time ever playing with the Stienberger.

Back in London Stephen met Johnny in 1996 and they've been playing together ever since. Check this link to read Paul Bowen's piece about Stephen and Johnny.

I Am the One

Autumn 2002 saw the Johnny and Steve, with drummer Mick Rowley release  'I Am The One',  a CD Single in the Celtic Rock mould. You can get details  on the 'I Am The One'  webpage (in the discography part of the site ) and you purchase it online from this site! 

Recent Years Events

Listen to Johnny and Steve being interviewed from Radio Kerry in early 2005.  For details and dates of events regarding the band, including Steve's Miami night at Vicar St and Johnny's (Phil Lynott Tribute Concert) performance at The Point Depot, please follow the home page link below and check the news log and news log archives. 

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