“For they say you are taking the sunshine,
That has brightened our pathway a while.”

On August 27, 2020 Mike Kirkpatrick left us. His music lives on.

Chicago Sun Times – Sep 4, 2020
Mike Kirkpatrick, who transformed popular Chicago band The Drovers, has died at 65

The musician-composer-producer also taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music and was a Joseph Jefferson Awards nominee for Steppenwolf’s ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane.’

When 10-year-old Mike Kirkpatrick heard the growly feedback on the first five seconds of the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine,” it changed his life.

He became a musician who pushed boundaries and experimented with sounds. He loved it all: traditional Irish airs, the jazz of Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington, Snoop Dogg, AC/DC, Bach, music of the African bush.

He synthesized what he heard and created something new.


Irish American News – October 2020
Remembering an Extraordinary Music Man – Mike Kirkpatrick

Contributers: Rachel Kahsen, David Callahan,
Mark Howard, Katherine lannitelli

Pick up this glass, we’ll down a round.
This night won’t always be.
If hard times fall upon us all, I say it will not last.
For we shall see our good friends free.
Their love will tell the tale.
And all vain pride be left aside
when fortune turns her wheel.

These lines, written by Irish music composer and producer Mike Kirkpatrick nearly 30 years ago, read with terrible poignancy this week as the Chicago music community mourns the passing of the man who first came to prominence as leader of The Drovers. After a four-year battle with cancer, Mike finally raised his own parting glass on August 27.


Loyola Phoenix – September 21, 2020
Rogers Park Composer, Producer and Musician Mike Kirkpatrick Leaves Legacy of His Own Musical Evolution and Artistic Impact

By Zack Miller

Mike Kirkpatrick, a Chicago-based composer, producer and musician, died Aug. 27 at 65 of colon cancer at his home in Rogers Park, just over a mile north of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. He was part of a successful Celtic rock band, accompanied dance groups to the international stage (and Johnny Carson’s) and helped to blend the sounds of freeform jazz with traditional Irish folk.


The Drovers

“It was chaos. It was inexplicable. It was in no way controllable, although attempts were made. Was it the music? Was it the personalities? Was it the audience? Was there a difference? The real story of the Drovers should probably never be told.” – Mike


Although it may seem as though The Drovers evaporated, there has been a good bit of activity over the years. In addition to the (very) occasional live performance, the Drovers recording studio – Studio de Luxe – has been busy: songs, tunes, experimental bits, demos, as well as music for dance, theater and film. This has resulted in a backlog of Drover and Drover-esque music. Available now is “More Than Live … and more” which features selections from our 2014 show at the Abbey pub in Chicago and studio productions from various periods of the band’s history.

Also of possible interest is an extension of the Drovers family called “The Drovers Unlimited Orchestra”. This ensemble features some of the greats of traditional music, some of the greats of modern jazz. And some Drovers. The Orchestra has an on-going series of recordings which will be available soon.

Thanks to everyone for all the years of support and enthusiasm.


To order physical CDs:
The Drovers Unlimited Orchestra, Vol 2
The Drovers More than Live
The Drovers Archives
contact Rick Kirkpatrick at rick@thedrovers.com.