The Sternwheelers grew out of the Irish Music session scene in Nashville, TN. Members developed a friendship in the Music City pubs and soon decided to pool their various experiences to create something truly unique.
Singer/songwriter Patrick Martin spent his early years in rock bands. In 2007 he moved to Nashville and briefly had a stint as a songwriter on Music Row. He then spent several years as a touring side man, playing bass guitar for various Country acts. Always interested in Irish Music he took up the bouzouki, a natural transition from bass.
Sean Cunningham grew up in his father's pub in New York City. He learned to play tin whistle and flute in the basement, picking out old Pogues tunes but quickly discovered the amazing Irish session community and had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the finest Irish traditional musicians in New York. That led to touring the country with several Irish-rock bands before landing in Nashville and helping lead the session scene there.
Josh Jernigan has been a student of drums and percussion since age 9, or unofficially before then under the influence of his father's playing. He spent his life living between Nashville and Annapolis, MD until he eventually settled in Nashville during college and fell in as a drummer in the many genres of Middle Tennessee's music scene. He discovered the Bodhran and began voraciously attending any session he could.
The Sternwheelers are pleased to often be joined by several good friends: Sarah Bystrom came to Nashville from Red Wing, Minnesota, where she studied Irish fiddle under John Reed. Fiachra O'Regan, uilleann piper and tenor banjo player originally from Roundstone, Co Galway who is now living near Montreal which makes gigs tricky but we bring him down south whenever we can. Claire Shirey on fiddle and concertina is a veteran of the feis (Irish stepdancing) circuit and spends her stationary time teaching the next generation of Irish musicians to come out of the area with the Nashville Irish Music School. Pat D'Arcy hails from Dublin, Ireland, and has spent most of his musical life plying his craft in California but now transplanted to the Nashville, Tennessee area. Patrick's piping influences include the old masters such as Seamus Ennis, Willie Clancy and Tommy Reck as well as many contemporary players such as Liam O'Flynn, Mick O'Brien, Jimmy O'Brien-Moran and Ronan Browne.
Together these musicians wanted to blend their various interests and experiences with their one common love, Irish Music. What resulted is an authentic, trans-Atlantic Irish-American music. Country, Americana and Irish Traditional music mingle in songs with themes like unrequited love, immigration and general frivolity. In addition to original songs The Sternwheelers offer up fresh reinterpretations of songs from the canon of Classic Country and Irish Pub songs. And of course, a fair serving of session tunes.