Aran : An Irish Band  from Rural Western Pennsylvania

The “Aran Band” is a group of seven good friends who enjoy performing Irish, Scottish and other Celtic music.  The name Aran comes from the Aran Islands, located near Galway Bay off the west coast of Ireland, and the last Irish land seen by most emigrants who sailed to America.  We enjoy playing fast instrumental numbers, slow aires, and singing traditional ballads, drinking songs and shanties.  We have members from a wide area, but are centered around Johnstown, in Western Pennsylvania.   The band’s roots go back more than twenty-five years, when Ron Hamilton (pennywhistles, button boxes, bouzouki, percussion) began performing with Gary Noll (lead singer, guitar, bodhran, pennywhistle).   Next came the two “Seamuses,” Jim Brett (lead singer, guitar, bouzouki), and “Banjo” Jim Kupchella, (lead singer, banjo, guitar).   Joining soon thereafter were Jerry Clark (mandolin, bouzouki, pennywhistles, low pennywhistles), Carl Rahkonen (fiddle, bass, bodhran), Matt Willen (mandolin, bouzouki, guitar, uilleann pipes), and Daniel Murphy (Indiana, PA) on guitar.  We gather for a few public performances every year and many more private get-togethers to enjoy the music we all love.
L to R: Jerry Clark, Carl Rahkonen, Gary Noll, Ron Hamilton, Jim Brett, and Jim Kupchella, at the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, June 21, 2008.

To see our Photo Gallery  click here.

Remembering Ron Hamilton:

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our friend and “brother,” Ron Hamilton, at his home in Alamogordo, New Mexico on October 14, 2015.  More than thirty years ago, Ron was a founding member of the Aran Band and he has served as its heart and soul since then.   He was a highly accomplished multi-instrumentalist, playing penny whistle, button accordion, bouzouki, guitar, harmonica, and Coke bottle with Aran.  He was the driving force behind our professionally recorded CD It’s About Time (2014).

An outstanding writer, he won awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry including The O. Henry Award, the Golden Quill Award and the Westmoreland Award.  He was the author of two books, The Seventy-Seven Year Good Deed (2009), about his father who served as a Merchant Marine in the Pacific before World War Two, and Jeff and Jimmy (2014) about his brother who died in the Vietnam War.  He worked for the IUP libraries for more than thirty years as a staff member and will especially be remembered by many international students for helping them with their theses and dissertations.

Ron received national notoriety for a research paper which solved the mystery of Chris McCandless’s death, the subject of Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book, Into the Wild.

Ron was an inspiration to all of us in the Aran Band and his enormous influence will live on in our music and friendship.   He will be greatly missed.  –Carl Rahkonen

After many years, the Aran Band has made a double CD, called "It's About Time!"  Contact Carl Rahkonen for availabilty.


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