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HomeCC More Info Pat Donohue

“He thinks harmonically, improvises beautifully, and writes.  If you are a guitar player, he's going to haunt you...”      Leo Kottke

         “It is clear that Kottke has not overestimated Donohue's ability.”
         —Los Angeles Times




2016 Grammy-winning fingerpicker Pat Donohue’s devotion to acoustic guitar has made him an American standard. Over the years he has captivated audiences with his unique original compositions and dazzling instrumentals. Though he considers himself foremost a folk guitarist, Donohue’s influences are rooted in bluesmen Blind Blake, Robert Johnson, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters and Miles Davis. He manages to blend jazz and blues with folk. The mix is seamless.

“My earliest influences were Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson and Blind Blake. Developing an ear for listening to music is essential. I learned by listening to the tunes I liked and trying to reproduce the music; developing my ear in that way. When I began playing, there was very little in the way of finger picking instruction. I would just listen to the records, try to figure it out and in failing to do so, developed a style.”


In the early nineties, Donohue was asked to join the house band on Garrison Keillor’s radio program A Prairie Home Companion. He played on and wrote music for the show for almost 20 years; affording him the chance to accompany some of the world's premiere folk and roots artists. He and his colleagues in the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band were on-screen throughout much of Robert Altman's final film A Prairie Home Companion based on the radio show. He wrote or co-wrote several of the songs on the soundtrack.


Currently Donohue is touring the US playing a variety of venues including performance halls, coffeehouse series and in blues, folk and eclectic listening rooms. He also conducts guitar workshops and teaches at prestigious guitar camps across the country including the Augusta Heritage Center and Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp.

In 2005, Donohue received a Grammy for his participation on Pink Guitar, a compilation of Henry Mancini tunes on acoustic guitar.  Additionally, he has received several Minnesota Music Awards and in 1983, the title of National Finger Picking Guitar Champion. His original tunes have been recorded by Chet Atkins, Suzy Bogguss and Kenny Rogers. Donohue has also been a featured performer at major music festivals including the Newport, Telluride and Philadelphia Folk Festivals.

He joins a legendary list of notables, as The Martin Guitar Company recently introduced a Custom Signature Edition Series OM-30DB guitar designed to his specifications. “A few years ago I got a call from Dick Boak of Martin Guitars who was interested in having me design a Pat Donohue model. I worked with a local luthier, John Woody Woodland, and we came up with a design that features a wide neck, deep body, and some antique appointments. Each is personally signed by me. I love the feel, balance, tone and it looks pretty too.”


Donohue has been obsessed with the guitar since he first picked one up at age 12 and began learning simple chords and melodies from a Pete Seeger instructional book. The years have not diminished his obsession for the guitar.







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