Mike Rafferty was born in 1926. He grew up in Ballinakill, East Galway in the heart of a locality steeped in the very best of old-style traditional music. Mike is an outstanding exponent of the East Galway style of flute playing. He learned his music from his father, Tom “Barrel” who played flute and uilleann pipes. Mike emigrated to the United States in 1949 and has appeared at an extensive array of concerts and festivals all over America including the Smithsonian Institution’s Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in 1976 and toured with the Green Fields of America. Mike has appeared on many recordings and has recorded three albums with his daughter Mary; "The Dangerous Reel", "The Old Fireside Music", "The Road from Ballinakill" and he released his solo CD "Speed 78" in 2004 . Mike has devoted a lifetime to exploring, performing and teaching traditional Irish music on both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, he was named Irish Echo's Traditional Musician of the Year.
Willie Kelly was surrounded by Irish music from an early age. His Roscommon-born father, Joe Kelly, played fiddle and tin whistle in the evenings after work for Willie and his siblings. Willie and his 4 siblings all began music lessons at the local school at the age of 8. In 1982, Willie and his brother Joe began taking lessons from County Limerick fiddler, Martin Mulvihill, who taught in a neighboring town. Mulvihill had a tremendous impact on them and introduced them to other players and musicians in New York. Through Mulvihill they met Galway flute-player Mike Rafferty, who greatly influenced them toward the music of Galway. Rafferty also reinforced the elements of Clare music they had adapted from listening to the Tulla Band and the landmark Clare fiddle duet recording by Paddy Canny and P.J. Hayes. In the late 1980’s, Willie met two other important flute-players: National Heritage Award-winning Galway flutist Jack Coen and Siobhan Moloney, a flute player visiting New York from County Clare, whom Willie married in 1992! Willie learned from playing with all these great musicians and considers it a great privilege to have played with them and known them.