, Salem, MA


March 14, 2013

Musician ready for St. Patrick's Day

You don’t have to tell John Corcoran to enjoy himself on St. Patrick’s Day.

Corcoran, whose annual performance of Irish music is one of several entertainment options on the North Shore this weekend, was nearly taken off life support two years ago.

After going into a coma following cancer surgery, it wasn’t at all certain that he would walk or talk again, much less sing “Off to Dublin.” But two days later, Corcoran, 65, returned to consciousness with his tenor voice intact, and a new outlook on life.

“It changed my attitude on a lot of things,” he said. “I’m much more easygoing. Before, I was high-strung, but I don’t feel the pressure anymore.”

Corcoran’s new, laid-back performance should please his old fans at Prince Restaurant in Saugus, where he has played every St. Patrick’s Day for more than 25 years and where he will appear again on Saturday night from 7 to 11. His new fans at Rockafellas in Salem, where he played last year for the first time, will also be happy to know that he’s performing there on Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

“My father’s like an Irish jukebox,” said his son Sean, 39, who will perform with his father this weekend, along with bassist John Ledger. “People shout out a song, and we just do it.”

John Corcoran, a Peabody resident, taught himself to play banjo and guitar from an instructional record by Pete Seeger and “fell in love with the 12-string guitar,” which he still plays today.

He performed and recorded with Tommy Makem, a legend in the world of Irish music, and met Bob Dylan in the West Village in the 1960s.

He also played on the North Shore with his brother, Brian, as the Corcoran Brothers throughout the 1970s, when they were regulars at the Harp & Bard in Danvers.

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