The Short Version...
I was creative as a kid. I was musical, and was singing in choir from elementary school on. I got a guitar and a Mel Bay chord book and taught myself to play. I also liked to draw and made big detailed maps of places I wanted to go, like South America, Middle Earth and Ireland. I wrote little poems and songs.
In college I studied poetry seriously, then took what I’d learned from it to focus on songwriting. I learned to play the mandolin and met a guy who loved music as much as I did, so we formed a band. Of course.
I lived on the road playing music for seven years, then moved to the mountains, got married and raised a family.
A friend offered me a job running a music camp and that’s been my main gig for more than 30 years. Still doin’ it.
This site is a collection of various things I’ve made in my creative life. Some of them might be interesting. Or not.
At any rate, trying to organize all the little bits & pieces from the closets, attics and basements of my cluttered mind has given me an interesting project to work on and kept me out of trouble. So far.
A Slightly Longer Version...
I was an Air Force brat and grew up in five states and three foreign countries. I went to high school in the California desert and went to college at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where I got a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology. I studied writing with Carolyn Kizer, a Pulitzer prize-winning poet. A few of my poems were published in the The Sun.
Two weeks after I defended my thesis, I was in a pickup truck with my buddy Rick Bouley, headed for Key West to begin our musical careers as Hot Shandy. We played a high-energy mix of bluegrass, Irish and novelty songs and instrumentals. I wrote all of our original songs, some of our onstage patter and created all of our promotional materials, including the illustrations and text for our occasional newsletters. After a great seven-year run, Rick and I ceased our full-time touring, and I began raising a family with my wife Beth in the mountains of North Carolina.
I ran a coffeehouse series at the Asheville Unitarian Church, and for twelve years I hosted a weekly three-hour folk show called A Natural Bridge on the local public radio station.
In 1991, I was asked to create and direct a music camp called The Swannanoa Gathering Folk Arts Workshops at Warren Wilson College, just outside of Asheville, and I also began a twenty-year run booking the Celtic Series of Mainstage Concerts at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre.
In 1994, I was awarded the first Fellowship in Songwriting and Composition from the North Carolina Arts Council. I still perform solo on guitar, mandolin and vocals, and with my wife Beth (flute) and my son Andrew Finn (fiddle) as the Celtic trio, The Magills. With numerous album and performance credits, including appearances with Emmy Lou Harris, Janis Ian and Tom Paxton, my original songs have been covered by other artists (Mike Cross, The Smith Sisters, Cucanandy, The Shaw Brothers), and have been featured repeatedly on NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock.
In the world of graphic arts, my covers for the Swannanoa Gathering’s catalogs have won fifteen design awards. I’ve created the cover art for a number of CDs. I’ve twice been a finalist for Photoshop World’s Guru Awards, and I’ve served as a consultant on website design for several of my luthier friends.