Winner of three consecutive WAMI (Wisconsin area Music Industry) awards. 2004, 2005, 2006.
Wisconsin Conservatory of music faculty 1997-present.
In 1992 O’Brien left his native Michigan for Seattle, Washington where he studied music at Cornish College of the Arts. After just one year of study (intense study!) he was awarded 2nd place in The Seattle Guitar Society competition. To the possible chagrin of the award committee, O’Brien spent his award certificate on a huge pile of American Finger-style Guitar books and recordings. In the Fall of 1993 he enrolled in the Guitar program at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. (He teaches there now). In 1997 O’Brien released his debut recording Pressure in the West co-produced by Willy Porter. It received great reviews from both the local press and international publications such as Billboard Magazine. Right about 1999 O’Brien was bitten by the “Banjo Bug” and proceeded, (with characteristic intensity) to delve into Bluegrass and Celtic styles of Banjo playing. He also used the fresh instrument as a means of studying and exploring music theory and improvisation. This led Colin to form Salt Creek, an extraordinary ensemble featuring some of Wisconsin's’ finest musicians. Salt Creek was honored as “Best Bluegrass Band” in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) in 2004, ’05 and ’06. The past couple of years have found O’Brien pioneering into exciting territory with his “One Man Dancing Band” solo show, which takes multi-tasking to a whole new level! His John Hartford inspired solo act has brought much joy and amazement to audiences at major Folk and Bluegrass Festivals, Workshops, Schools, and theatres. O’Brien also plays for the elderly at Nursing Homes and Retirement Facilities. Colin O’Brien has become one of the most versatile and sought after performers in the Middle West.
Guitar, Banjo, Fiddle, Vocals and Dancing on his Amplified Footboard.
1997 Pressure in the West (Produced by Willy Porter)
2002 Rollin' Forward (produced by Guy Fiorentini)
2005 Salt Creek Live!
Play Banjo Today! Vol .1 Hal Leonard.
Play Banjo Today! Vol. 1 DVD Hal Leonard.
Play Banjo Today! Level Two
Hal Leonard (Book available early 2010)
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Michigan-reared singer/songwriter Colin O'Brien toured the midwest in the early 90s and released an ...Michigan-reared singer/songwriter Colin O'Brien toured the midwest in the early 90s and released an indie LP with the band Jugglers and Thieves, but his masterfull guitar technique diden't jell untill after a stint ata Seattle conservatory studying classical guitar. O'Brien came to Milwaukee to learn the Leo Kottke-inspired "American fingerstyle" that the Wisconsin conservatory specializes in, but he quickly found himself immersed in the city's vibrant coffeehouse acoustic scene. His self released album "Pressure In The West" produced by local hero Willy Porter and performed both solo and with O'Briens band The Headless Chickens melds Americana and classical leanings, spirirted appalachian folk, and melancholy musings in the style of Nick Drake. O'Briens songwriting is strong, his obscure covers well chosen, and his rustic vocals convey more years than he has lived. "Pressure In The West" has been heard on the natioanally syndicated "World Cafe" program, as well as on public and college stations in Milwaukee and Detroit. O'Brien has performed in clubs throughout the mid west, performing as a headliner and opening for such acts as Patti Larkin and Paul Cebar.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
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Milwaukee's Colin O'Brien brought an hours worth of back-country bluegrass flavor to the asphalt fie...Milwaukee's Colin O'Brien brought an hours worth of back-country bluegrass flavor to the asphalt fields of Summerfest Sunday.
O'Brien, a multi instrumentalist managed to hold his own at the Ticket maste/Main St. Cafe Legends Stage with a well paced set of engaging old time guitar tunes.
After courageously playing an original instumental called "Laura" descibed by O'Brien as "Possibly the mellowest single piece of music this festival will hear all week," the crowd warmed to the jaunty tunes "Wayside" and "John Boy."
Deftly picked banjo barnburners like "Tonys Baloney" and "Banjo Boogaloo" inspired foot stoping and delighted hooting. The eclectic mix of gravel-voiced ditties and guitar instrumentals amply showcased his abilities.
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Like Lil' Rev O'Brien is an alumnus of the local acoustic showcases series. O'Briens flying finger p...Like Lil' Rev O'Brien is an alumnus of the local acoustic showcases series. O'Briens flying finger picked folk blues guitar and humorous original songs have since been heard at many local venues. Technical prowess, a collection of funky guitars (A $30 Maybell parlor size chief among them) and soulfull slide work have placed O'Brien near the fore of Milwaukee acoustic guitarists. Pressure In The West, which Willy Porter and O'Brien recently co-produced at Porters Dog Tracks studio, features standards like Blind Blake's "Police Dog Blues" and originals like D For Dick, which rhymes "Stupid lise spinning round in my head" with "I just want to propagate and get you in my bed."
Original, Traditional and contemporary material performed on several instruments with additional support from Colin's two amazing dancing feet.
John Hartford songs
There are no upcoming dates at this time.