Grey Larsen, a musician of wide-ranging experience, is one of the foremost performers and teachers of Irish flute and tin whistle in the US. He is the author of the most comprehensive book on Irish flute and whistle playing, the 480-page “The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle” (Mel Bay Publications, 2004), known especially for its method of notating and better understanding Irish ornamentation techniques. Grey will publish a new whistle book in July with Mel Bay. His other books include “The Essential Tin Whistle Toolbox,” three tune collections, and “Down the Back Lane,” an exploration of variation in Irish music. For more than 30 years he has taught many workshops and master classes in Irish flute and tin whistle in the US, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and Australia.
As a youth in the 1970s and 80s he spent a great deal of time learning traditional Irish music in Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, from more than a dozen elder Irish immigrants, notably melodeon player Michael J. Kennedy (1900–1978, Co. Galway/Roscommon), flute player Tom Byrne (1920–2001, Co. Sligo), and fiddler Tom McCaffrey (1916-2006, Co. Leitrim).
Grey leads a varied and rich musical life as a performer, teacher, author, recording artist, record producer, recording engineer, and mastering engineer. He was the music editor of Sing Out! magazine for its last 25 years. He also plays Irish music on anglo concertina and piano. He has led a weekly session in Bloomington, Indiana, since 1996. His jig “Thunderhead” has entered the standard repertoire in Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany and has been recorded by many musicians and bands.
He has released 13 CDs as a solo artist and with Malcolm Dalglish, Metamora, Paddy League, André Marchand, and Cindy Kallet, and has performed extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.
In Canberra, Australia, in 2003 Grey collaborated, under a government grant, with Irish-born flute maker Terry McGee to better understand American-made flutes of the 19th century. Out of this came McGee’s “Grey Larsen Preferred” (GLP) flute model, based closely upon Grey’s Firth, Pond & Co. 6-key flute, made c. 1848-1863 in New York City. The GLP has become McGee’s best-selling flute.
Fiddler Seamus Connolly has said that Grey is one of the few Americans to have mastered the East Galway style of flute playing. Grey also plays old-time fiddle, specializing in the traditional music of his home in southern Indiana.