L.E. McCULLOUGH, Ph.D. has been performing and teaching traditional Irish music on tinwhistle and flute since 1972, after spending a year at the School of Irish Studies in Dublin, Ireland, where he had the good fortune to receive a solid grounding in Irish music scholarship from renowned folklorists Brendan Breathnach, Tom Munnelly, Hugh Shields, Sean Ó Súilleabháin, Richard O’Beirne and fiddler-seannchai John Kelly.
Once back in America, he learned the fine points of the music from several of the best Irish musicians living in America during the 1970s — Seamus Cooley, John McGreevy, Paddy Cronin, Noel Rice, Joe Shannon, John Vesey, Andy McGann, Jimmy and Eleanor Neary, Terry Teahan, Mike Rafferty and scores of others. In 1978 he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh for what was then the first dissertation on Irish traditional music ever published.
Author of over 100 books and articles on Irish music including the popular instructional volumes Favorite Irish Session Tunes, The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tutor and St. Patrick Was a Cajun, Dr. McCullough has recorded on 52 albums for Angel/EMI, Sony Classical, RCA, Warner Brothers, Log Cabin, Kicking Mule, Rounder, Bluezette and other independent labels.
From 1978-1980 L.E. McCullough performed with the seminal Pittsburgh folk fusion band Devilish Merry and accompanied blues/ragtime guitar virutoso Ernie Hawkins from 1981-83. From 1983-90 he performed in Austin, Texas with the French traditional group Bourrée Texane, Scots balladeer Ed Miller, country songster Jerry Sires and bluegrassers Too Much, in Indianapolis with The Irish Aires (1992-2000) and in New Jersey with the eclectic Celtic World Beat band Hanging Out to Dry (2009-10) and blues rockers Big City Breakout (2012-19).
Dr. McCullough has composed filmscores for three PBS specials produced by WQED-TV (Alone Together, A Place Just Right, John Kane) and three Celtic Ballets co-composed with T.H. Gillespie (Connlaoi’s Tale: The Woman Who Danced On Waves, The Healing Cup: Guinevere Seeks the Grail, Skin Walkers: The Incredible Voyage of Mal the Lotus Eater). He has performed on the music tracks of five Ken Burns PBS television series The West; Lewis and Clark; Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony; The Roosevelts; The Dust Bowl and the Warner Brothers film Michael Collins starring Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson. § § §
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“TO CALL L.E. McCullough a tin whistle player is like saying Shakespeare could scribble a bit.”
— Folk Roots Magazine (England, 1989)