Jonathan Ramsey | Irish Folk Singer

I’m a class clown genetically, and that shows up in my writing and selections, but I have a soft spot for the sublime and the beautiful, so those loss and love songs find their way in.





I met Jonathan Ramsey at Venice Café for an interview and photos. The very energetic Irish folk singer/songwriter mixes traditional Irish music of others with originals of his own. I’ve seen him perform a few times and I’ve never been disappointed.

Please tell me a little about your musical background. Did you have any other musicians in your family when you were growing up?

JR: Oh, definitely! My mother played piano, my father played accordion. Both my granddads played guitar, and my dad’s dad was also a master of piano, fiddle, accordion, mandolin, banjo, and harmonica. My granddad was a huge influence on me. He was also great on stage. My family immigrated to Kansas City, and he was well-known in his time there. In fact, when I lived there, some of the staff at Quigley Music, where I used to get a lot of my gear, remembered my granddad. The “mom” there, would go on a bit about how lovely he was.

What made you focus on playing and writing Irish folk music?

JR: I grew up hearing and singing it as a kid. My granddad sang a lot of Irish songs, and when I started learning guitar—when I was 9—that was my starting point. When I was a teenager, I played in rock bands—jazz, blues. In college, though, I wandered easily back into folk. I love the paradigm greatly—the freedom of phrasing suits me.

Folk music often touches on more classic themes. What are your favorite themes to write about?

JR: Hmmm… Love, loss, mayhem, and shenanigans are common themes for me. I think I get that from my granddad, as well. He sang a lot of songs with people falling off things—losing a lover, a job, or a car. Ha, ha! I’m a class clown genetically, and that shows up in my writing and selections, but I have a soft spot for the sublime and the beautiful so those loss and love songs find their way in.

Have you ever had anything thrown at you while you played live? If sos what is the oddest thing?

JR: You know, I’m amazed that I haven’t. At least, no one has thrown anything grievous or odd enough to make me remember. I’m a little shocked it hasn’t happened. Plenty of other shenanigans happen at my shows.

Have you or anyone you’ve known ever had a spooky experience at the Lemp Mansion? Do you believe in ghosts?

JR: My friend, Lynn, got to spend the night there once. She swears that during the tour she asked about the workers behind the guide, and the guide said there was no one there. I had to change my shorts just from hearing the story, despite my being a non-animist.

Do you have any upcoming shows or projects that you’d like to discuss?

JR: I will be traveling a lot over the next couple months, with shows in and around Kansas City, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. I will also be doing more online shows at Right now, I’m recording and working on some videos. I’m mainly working on traditional and original songs, but I keep sneaking covers on the list. Some folky AC/DC may even make the final cut on a B-Sides release. All my stuff I will be putting up YouTube videos every week, starting in March, and the songs will be available on

If you enjoy Irish folk, both modern and traditional, I suggest going to see Jonathan Ramsey. If you get a chance, he’s worth a listen. | DL Hegel

Photos by DL Hegel. 

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