Dana Lyn is such a talent. Born in 1974 in Los Angeles to Taiwanese parents, she took up the violin and piano formally at age 7, continued to play both instruments in elementary, junior high, and high
school, and earned a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory in 1996.
While attending Oberlin, Lyn performed in a free-improvisation band called Silkweed, a bluegrass contingent dubbed the Three-Ring Circus, and a 25-piece orchestra named the Royal Farfisa Disco Juggernaut, for which she arranged the music.
Any aspirations for a professional classical-music career were ultimately shoved to the back burner at Oberlin when Lyn joined a Pogues cover band called Gabhar (Irish for “goat”). The name “wasn’t mine,” she reassured me in an e-mail. Nevertheless, this band with the silly moniker sparked a serious, unstinting passion in her for Irish traditional music.
From 1996 to 2000, Lyn immersed herself in the bustling Irish music scene of San Francisco’s Bay Area. There she recorded two albums with guitarist Junji Shirota and another CD with a group called