Although surrounded by flute players, Alan chose to follow in his fathers' footsteps and learn the piano accordion. Very soon, Alan had forged his own inimitable style influenced mainly by his father Frank and local musicians such as Paddy Ryan, John Carlos, Patsy Hanly and Frank Jordan.
In his early music years, Alan went on to win All-Ireland titles on piano accordion and piano, and also with brother John in duets and neighbour and life long friend John Wynne in trio's.Determined to become a full time musician Alan moved to Galway in 1993 where he quickly became part of the thriving traditional music scene, forging an excellent reputation for himself.
In 1994 he landed a part in the Druid Theatre's award winning production of Vincent Woods' 'At the black pigs Dyke' and spent the next 12 months performing in Dublin, Galway, Glasgow, Toronto and Sydney. He also toured with Druid's and Vincent Woods production of 'The Yellow Bittern' in 1995.
Back in Galway, Alan decided to concentrate on his debut solo album and in 1997 he released 'Out of the Blue' (BBM 001) on his own label Blackbox Music. Co-produced by Alan and Steve Cooney and featuring a host of Ireland's top musicians, the album received estatic reviews from the critics, earned him a 'Best Newcomer' award from Irish Music Magazine and launched Alan on his solo career.
Extensive touring ensued, especially in the U.S. and Canada. His live performances have become something of a special event with the Irish Times stating "his was a brilliantly talented, effortless and exuberant performance"
However, it wasn't long before theatre beckoned again and towards the end of 1997, Alan was invited by New York's awarding winning avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines to join their production of Peter and Wendy in Los Angeles and has since performed with them in New Haven ('98) San Francisco ('99) Dublin Theatre Festival in 1999 and New York 2002. Also, in 1997, he was invited to become a member of the house band for Sibin, a weekly music programme for TG4, performing with artists such as Matt Molloy, Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, Kieran Goss, Mick Hanley, Sean Tyrell, Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey. More recently Alan featured in Brian Friel's 'Wonderful Tennessee' at The Lyric Theatre in Belfast.
Following on the success of 'Out of the Blue' Alan released his second solo album "Mosaic" in July 2000. Produced by guitarist Arty McGlynn, "Mosaic" features many new compositions from both Alan and Arty, as well as traditional music from Scotland, Finland and of course Ireland.
Alan has toured the US Canada and Europe extensively. He was voted newcomer of the year with Michael McGoldrick by Irish Music Magazine 1997 and also took part in the 1999 Music Network "Best of Irish" nationwide tour with Michael McGoldrick, Karen Casey and Cathal Hayden. He also featured on Michael McGoldrick's recent album 'Fused' and continues to tour regularly with this band, as well as guesting with Lunasa, one of Ireland's most popular traditional groups, on their most recent Irish tour promoting their album 'Otherworld'.
Alan's live performances have become something of a special
event with the Irish Times stating
"this was a brilliantly talented, effortless and exuberant performance"
A recent review from a concert in France stated that .
"Alan Kelly is regularly feted as 'one of today's finest exponents of the piano accordion' and tonight's accolades of 'magnifique' and 'formidable' is immense praise from a people steeped in the accordion tradition. Alan's rich armoury of tunes, his infectious zeal for the accordion and his on-stage mastery of the crowd "
Alan's other recording credits include appearances on Niamh Parsons's Loosely Connected in 1992, Michael McGoldrick's Morning Rory in 1996 and Fused in 2000, and Seán Keane's Seánsongs in 2002. He guested with Lunasa on their Irish tour promoting their album 'Otherworld' and also collaborated with Alison Brown, the Grammy award winning banjo player on her Irish tour in 2001. During July 2002 Alan toured with Ireland's legendary De Danann in Canada performing at festivals such as the Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg Folk Festivals.