Joe Monahan is a native Chicagoan who has been performing across the Midwest for over twenty years. An acoustic guitarist and singer, Monahan has acquired a repertoire of hundreds of songs. These include popular country & western favorites, classic rock and Irish ballads.
There were two important events that influenced Monahan's early musical influences. “My father turned me on to Johnny Cash,” he recalls. “That image of a man telling a story with a guitar really struck me as the coolest thing I had ever seen.” A couple of years later one of Monahan's brothers came home with an early Clancy Brothers record. It became a favorite and included many of the songs Monahan still plays to this day.
The Chicago folk scene was in its heyday when Monahan was a teen. The music of local favorites like Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, Michael Smith, and John Prine impressed Monahan. “In high school everyone was listening to Led Zeppelin but I was excited because I had the new John Prine album.”
“Give Us a Song!”
In the late 1980's Monahan's interest in music lead him to a small unassuming Irish tavern on the south side of Chicago. The 6511 Club was one of the few places in the city that featured traditional Irish music. There he heard music played and sung by native Irish musicians who encouraged Monahan to sing and play. It was only then that Monahan finally took up the guitar and began performing. He became a regular on Friday nights with the legendary Kevin Henry.”
And the Award Goes to...
Monahan has won several awards for his singing. He has won the Midwest Region traditional singing competition three times and in 1998 represented the United States in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil held in Ballina, Mayo, Ireland.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Since those early years Monahan has played at countless Irish taverns and parties for almost every occasion. In addition country & western music has become a large part of his current repertoire. Embracing the music he grew up on he includes a healthy dose of Johnny Cash, George Jones, Willie Nelson and other legends of country music.
“I enjoy the flexibility of being a solo performer. I can go from genre to genre depending on the wishes of his audience.” Take a look at the set list and you will get a better idea of his wide ranging repertoire!
In 2012 Joe Monahan contributed three original compositions co-written with long time friend Dennis Keane to the independent film Morton's Crossing. This included the theme “Ashes.” The film went on to win several awards.