Our North American Danny Spooner
Danny arrived on New England’s shores in 2003 and was quickly appreciated. He made friends wherever he went and in a short time had a loyal following looking forward to his next visit. Danny’s compelling singing style, his repertoire, his obvious intelligence, and most of all his ability to connect with an audience, made his concerts truly special.
It was great fun to watch people hear Danny for the first time. They immediately perked up and paid attention. He could command an audience without obvious effort - and they always wanted more. Danny was more than just a great musician. He was also incredibly accessible, warm, inclusive, and generous. He was ever willing to share his music and his amazing store of knowledge. He was patient teacher who always had an encouraging word. He was in demand as a leader of workshops and classes. In addition to the songs, we learned many things from him - from crucial historical details, to tips on how to make a song your own.
He gave much of himself doing what he loved and we all loved him.
He lives on in our hearts.
Joanie Bronfman & Suzanne Mrozak, Boston
Knowledge and generosity. These are the two words always in mind when I think of Danny Spooner. When I first met him, I was intrigued that he was the only performer ever to contact the Mystic Sea Music Festival ‘cold’ and be invited to perform; his array of songs and his warmth endeared him so completely that he was asked to return any time he could get to the US. We were in awe.
Over time, I was privileged to become a friend and see his incredible knowledge of song, of tradition and history directly. When he stayed with me (and I drove him across three states), the variety of conversations was unending: Have you heard this? Who was that artist? Have you been there? What is that bird? He wanted to experience everything and everyone. Once he asked me to drop him off at someone’s house for a couple of hours. It turned out he spent the time giving a private concertina lesson to a young man who had heard him at the festival and wanted to learn. He loved going to our local pub the Gris on music nights and once he discovered them he never missed a Monday. Despite his star status, he was one of the enthusiastic crowd there, eating fish and chips and singing along.
In Washington, I trotted out my (retired) naval rank to crash an embassy function to see him and he was so delighted with the tale he told it for years. Once at a festival he called me early in the morning to say there was a wild animal below the hotel window. What was it? He didn’t know but it was big. I dashed down the hall to view a fat groundhog nibbling the lawn; he was fascinated and loved that it had multiple names. When we drove to Old Songs, he wanted to know what kinds of trees we passed and what had happened in the history of each little village.
Having heard his popular talks on Hamish Henderson, the Copper Family, the Waterstons, I can easily understand why he was in such demand as a speaker; not only were they fascinating, but they were liberally illustrated with traditional songs. Between gigs, he cooked for us, and puttered in my garden, and taught new songs to anyone who wished and watched birds and butterflies. In his own home he offered me every bit of recording ‘for a bit of a listen if you want.’ The world is a poorer place without this man.
Janet Buck-Masarov, Connecticut
Danny was an absolute favorite at Mystic Seaport’s Sea Music Festival where we booked him every time he came to the States, and he was adored for the incredible depth of his repertoire and his mastery in performance. Geoff Kaufman
Danny combined knowledge with the desire and the skill to share it.
He was a force of nature at 2003 Augusta Vocal Week, teaching songs, demonstrating shipboard techniques, chronicling various stories and anecdotes of Australia, and even channeling the voice of Fats Domino at a doowop/old R&B jam at the Ice House! His energy and generosity and grand music were among the highlights of 2015 Vocal Week too.
Danny did John Warner's 'Anderson’s Coast' and we all loved it so much we sang it together - fervently. We sang it frequently until the end of the semester. It was “our” song. He made a deep impression on all of us.
My family, particularly Mom and my brothers Ralph and Lloyd, fell in love with Danny and fought over whose house he would stay in. Every year he came he would spend a few weeks in Newfoundland with us. Sometimes we sang together, sometimes just Danny sang. He really became one of our family. So many of our musicians loved him and learned songs and recitations from him in the various dinners and gatherings he was invited to. In fact, I think it was his recitation that revived a flagging tradition at a crucial time here in Newfoundland. Anita Best
Danny was at our very first Chantey Sing in 2005, and his presence and enthusiasm for the series really gave us a boost. He returned to the chantey sing every time he was in town on tour.