by Laura Marjorie Miller
photo by Steve Green
Just about every weekend, you can find Josh Culley performing Celtic music with his trio Nosey Flynn. In the course of an evening, you might see him playing Irish flute, bouzouki, tin whistle or accordion, keeping time on the bodhran, or leading the crowd in a rousing shanty.
Culley, project coordinator of information technology in the Office of the Dean of Students, says playing Celtic music makes his heart soar.
“Irish music defines me,” he said. “I do this for enjoyment. It’s how I express who I am.”
Culley first discovered Celtic music as a ninth grader, when he heard the Tannahill Weavers’ version of “Johnnie Cope” on the Thistle and Shamrock radio show.
“It was the emotion of the song – the fast pace, energy and drive of it – that grabbed my attention,” Culley said.
He formed a band, Bards of a Feather, with fellow Hume-Fogg students, who taught themselves how to play traditional Irish instruments. “We were quite unusual to be high school kids playing Irish music,” he laughed.
Since that time, Culley has played in Irish bands in Washington, D.C., Memphis and Nashville and recorded several CDs.
Nosey Flynn’s repertoire comprises songs that date from the 14th century to the present day and represent a host of different moods. “The song ‘Caledonia’ embodies the sensitive side of Celtic music, and then there are the historic, battle-like songs – and, of course, the bar songs,” Culley added with a smile.
Connecting with the audience is what makes his performances so rewarding, he said.
“When what you are doing makes people start responding, tapping or clapping, there’s nothing like that in the world.”