Justin received his first violin lesson at age five. At ten he competed in Ireland for the first time, having ranked as the Midwest U.S. Irish fiddle champion (a title he would earn three more times). By thirteen he held a teaching position at the Riley School of Irish Music and was a member of Silver Arm, Cincinnati’s premiere Celtic band. It was at this time that he also began extensive studies under Kevin Crehan, a mighty fiddler steeped in the Irish tradition.
During the aughts he travelled extensively throughout North America and Ireland, learning from many masters of the Irish music tradition. Justin developed as both a player and a teacher, bringing his new knowledge back to the students of the Riley School. His skills were also put to the test – alongside Silver Arm he performed with groups such as the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, and Ballet Tech Ohio.
Having played music around the world, he realized that his passion lay in sharing the joys of music. In 2010 he was invited by Randal Bays to teach classes at the Friday Harbor Irish Music Camp, which solidified his intention of pursuing music as a full-time profession. It was soon afterwards that he expanded his private lesson schedule and also began teaching group courses at the University of Cincinnati’s Communiversity and at the Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati.
In 2014 he released his first solo album of traditional Irish fiddle music, “Truth be Told”, which met with critical success and still receives regular air play around the world. The album was also nominated for the Just Plain Folk Music Awards “Best Celtic Instrumental Album”.
Recently Justin was recognized as a Master Artist in the Kentucky Arts Council’s Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program*. Through this exciting grant he will have the opportunity to bring a wider level of traditional Irish fiddle instruction and appreciation to the state of Kentucky.
When he’s not teaching you can find Justin in the recording studio, playing as half of the dynamic trad duo Set Course, on stage with the Americana rock band the Red Idle Rejects, sitting in with the incomparable traditional Irish band Liam’s Fancy, or providing solo music for public and private events around the Greater Cincinnati area.
* The Kentucky Arts Council’s Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program is funded with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.