We all know how difficult it is for touring artists during the pandemic, with touring and performance venues shut down for an indefinite period of time. Although there is an enormous amount of fantastic content being produced online, much of it is pre-recorded.

John created the Whelan Master Sessions as a series of online opportunities to play, listen or chat LIVE on Zoom with some of the best musicians in the business, bringing joy into your living room while also supporting the artists.

Listeners and players of all levels, from anywhere in the world, are welcome to join in these two-hour sessions and enjoy not just the music and chat but also a vital sense of shared connection.

Who’s Playing?

Previous master sessions have featured such greats as Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely of Lúnasa, Joanie Madden and Mirella Murray of Cherish the Ladies, Liam Kelly and Tom Morrow of Dervish, Haley Richardson and Patrick Mangan of Riverdance, the renowned, New York-born fiddler Brian Conway, and Michael McGoldrick and Angela Usher playing live from Manchester.

We’ve also been blessed by the company of Oisín Mac Diarmada and Samantha Harvey, Catherine and John McEvoy with their respective families, Dermot Byrne and Yvonne Casey, John and James Carty, the mighty box-playing talents of Phil Cunningham, Damien Mullane, David Munnelly and Daithí Gormley, and the one and only Kevin Burke — with many more to come.

How Do I Sign Up?

A donation of $20 is requested to save your seat. Please send your donation to John via PayPal, at www.paypal.me/buttonboxman (please use “friends & family” option). You can click the word Paypal or type the address into your website browser. You can also Venmo the sign-up fee to John-Whelan-37, along with a note about which upcoming master session(s) you would like to join, and the email address you’d like to be contacted at.

Your donation IS your sign-up for the event, so it’s very important that you let John know which master session(s) you’re donating for and which email you want the Zoom link and tune list sent to.

Each session requires a minimum of 30 attendees to ensure that the artists are adequately compensated. If a session is cancelled due to inadequate bookings, your donation will be refunded.

When Do I Get the Zoom Link and Tune List?

For everyone who signs up before Friday afternoon (Pacific time) on the day before a given session, the Zoom link and tune list will be sent out that evening. Depending on your time zone, that might actually mean it arrives overnight or very early Saturday morning! Please check your spam folder in case the email lands there, and keep in mind that the email might come directly from John or from his helper Lisa.

If you miss that Friday afternoon deadline, no problem! You can still sign up until about 12:30pm Pacific time on the day of the session, and you’ll be emailed the Zoom link and tune list about an hour before the session begins.

Please understand that once a given master session has begun, we cannot process additional donations for that session; John will be fully engaged in setting up the session and hosting it.

Upcoming Master Sessions

Here’s who’ll be headlining the upcoming master sessions. Please check back frequently — we’ll keep adding more sessions as the artists confirm!

Whelan Master Session October 16th

The great Brian McGrath will be our guest

Whelan Master Session 25: Laurence Nugent

Saturday, May 8, 2pm Pacific/5pm Eastern/10pm Ireland/England

Bio coming soon!

Whelan Master Session 26: Karen Ryan, founder of London Lasses

Saturday, May 15, 2pm Pacific/5pm Eastern/10pm Ireland/England

Bios coming soon!

Whelan Master Session #TBD: Katie McNally and Neil Pearlman Postponed

Saturday, May 22, 2pm Pacific/5pm Eastern/10pm Ireland/England

Bios coming soon!

No Master Session on Memorial Day (May 29)

Please join us for one of these other upcoming sessions!

Whelan Master Session 27: James Kelly

Saturday, June 5, 2pm Pacific/5pm Eastern/10pm Ireland/England

Bio coming soon!

Whelan Master Session 28: The McCarthy Family

Saturday June 12th 2pm pacific/5pm eastern/10pm Ireland/England

More Sessions Are On the Way!

There are more master sessions in the works, so please check back here for updates on upcoming featured artists, or join John’s email newsletter for the latest news. You can sign up for the newsletter on the right side of this page, but you’ll probably have to scroll back up to see it!

    Newsletter Sign Up

    Wild Atlantic Music Tour

    John will be bringing a group of people to Ireland in 2023 in conjunction with Wild Atlantic Music Tours. John is proud to be part of these exceptional tours with such luminaries as Kevin Crawford, Séan Tyrrell and Blackie O'Connell.

    Click here
    to download the details of the exciting events, sessions and special guests in John's tour itinerary, or visit the Wild Atlantic Music Tours website to book your seat on the tour.