Ron Kavana has been on the cutting edge of contemporary Celtic and British pop music for more than two decades. His collaborations have brought him together with such influential musicians as Alexis Korner, Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Jack Bruce, the Pogues, Donovan, the Chieftains, Elvis Costello, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Doug Sahm, Richard Thompson, and the late Sandy Denny. Performing with a lengthy list of bands, Kavana has blended the musical traditions of the British Isles with blues, Tex-Mex, country, Cajun, and rock influences. Called a "hard-hitting, no-nonsense realist" by The Village Voice, Kavana has produced music that has been described, by Music Week, as "charming, disarming with a very dry sardonic wit."
The son of an Irish father and an American mother, Kavana was born in the Country Cork village of Fenmoy. After cutting his early musical teeth in a R&B band, the Wizards, Kavana helped to form a trad rock group, Loudest Whisper. Although together for a very brief period, Loudest Whisper recorded one album, The Children of Lyre, for the Polydor label. The album was re-recorded in 1993 by a group that included Donovan, Liam Og O'Flynn, Philip Donnelly, and the RTE Chamber Orchestra. Leaving Loudest Whisper in 1993, Kavana moved to London and became involved with the city's top folk, country, and R&B musicians. As a member of Panama Red, an all-acoustic, harmony-emphasizing band, Kavana played nightly at the Hope & Anchor in Islington. Replacing Albert Lee in the Thunderbirds, Kavana began a long association with Chris Farlowe. Kavana continued to change bands as fast as a chameleon changes colors. Together with Irish guitarist Ed Deane, he formed a duo, Identity Kit. With the addition of four top British session players, the duo evolved into a band, Juice on the Loose, which supplied musical accompaniment for touring American vocalists. In the late '70s, Kavana veered from the Irish music on which he had built his reputation. Accepting a position as bandleader/producer for Ace Records, he spent seven years recording with many of England's best-known performers. Joining the Alexis Korner Band in the early '80s, Kavana remained with the group through several incarnations, including the Boogie Band, which featured Ian Stewart, Charlie Watts, and Jack Bruce. Kavana left the group to join Bees Make Honey, one of the most influential of London's Irish pub rock bands.
By the mid-'80s, Kavana's reputation was strong enough that he decided to strike out on his own. Together with Miriam Kavana (fiddle), Rod Demick (bass), Andy Martin (accordion), and Les Morgan (drums), he formed the eclectic group Alias Ron Kavana. The group was subsequently named Best Live Act in the World by Folk Roots in 1989, 1990, and 1991. A solo album, Rollin' & Coasting, was followed by the first of three tours as opening act for the Pogues. Although he was invited to join the Pogues, business difficulties prevented him from accepting. Joined by two members of the Pogues -- Ron and Terry Woods -- Kavana formed a 29-piece ensemble and recorded an album, For the Children, to raise funds for LILT (London Irish Live Trust), a charity organization working for peace in Northern Ireland.
Kavana and Terry Woods have continued to work together. They recorded an album, Home Fire, released as Kavana's second solo effort, featuring Irish music performed in an unrehearsed, spontaneous style. Together with Miriam Kavana and Rod Demick, Kavana and Woods formed a band, the Bucks, and recorded an album, Dancing to the Ceili Band, in 1995. Kavana has appeared in and/or composed music for the soundtracks of such films as Sid and Nancy and Ryan's Daughter. ~ Craig Harris