In the 5th grade, Dan Vaughn got his start in music by picking up the trumpet. Inspired by his dad to play, he joined the school symphonic and pep band.
After a couple of years of band experience, he was brought to an Irish festival in Peoria, Illinois, where he became mesmerized by the tin whistle playing of Brian McCoy of The Kells.
He bought his first whistle at the festival and started practicing endlessly every day. With a couple years of playing under his belt, Dan was able to perform at the Peoria Irish Festival a few times while also giving teaching seminars. Dan performed with the band Gaelic Storm at a concert in Galena, Illinois, at the Irish Cottage. He was able to open for Gaelic Storm and join them on stage for their closing song.
With all of this playing experience under his belt, Dan set out to compete in the regional Fleadh. In 2005, at the St. Louis Fleadh, Dan won 1st place titles in both flute and whistle in his age bracket. Doing this qualified him for the All-Ireland Fleadh that took place in Letterkenny, Ireland. During his trip to Ireland, Dan took part in a week-long school where he was able to partake in many sessions and classes where he got to play with the best of the best. Competing at the Fleadh in Ireland was a very humbling experience and one that shaped Dan for the rest of his musical career.
After playing in the Fleadh, Dan wanted to expand out and explore new musical territory. He purchased a guitar and started collecting recording gear throughout his time in high school and university.
Dan wrote endless songs with his sister/singer Victoria, and they both recorded song after song, falling deeper in love with the craft of writing and recording music. Dan attended St. Ambrose University where he studied music performance and composition. There, he focused not only on writing music for movies and soundtracks, but also solo pieces for Irish flute, guitar, and piano. He performed hundreds of concerts there that included many members from the student body. He created a community of musicians that consistently wanted to find concerts to perform. Doing this allowed Dan to make a name for himself in the area and helped push his performing ability.
Nowadays, Dan is back in full swing with Irish music, consistently writing tune upon tune. He wrote a set called Sunny Sky reels that incorporates many traditional elements of Irish music while infusing a more modern touch with the last tune, bringing in more of a groove element. The Rolling Wave is a standalone reel Dan wrote to really push the boundaries of what an Irish tune could be. There are many jazz elements throughout the tune but also more driving and rhythmic elements infused. Along with originals, Dan has recorded a cover of Flook’s “Road to Errogie” set from their Haven album. Dan is hard at work preparing for future concerts, notably one at The Englert in Iowa City.
At this January 29th concert, Dan will be performing with two different bands and a group of Irish dancers. The concert venue has a capacity of 800 and he is hoping to sell out the show. Dan ultimately wants to continue to push the boundaries of what Irish music can be and inspire people around the world to create music.