Fintan O’Brien may still be considered a teenager, but he’s spent more than half of his life playing music.
The 19-year-old singer/songwriter is a fourth generation musician and one-quarter of the appropriately named O’Brien Family, known for their acoustic tunes drawing on the likes of Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons. With his father Paul, brother Cormac and sister Millie, they regularly perform around the Island, at everything from local markets to community festivals.
“My great grandfather in Ireland had a family band with his own family, just the same as my father with our family,” said O’Brien. “My grandma was playing with her dad in a band the same as I’m playing in a band with my dad.
“When we were growing up, music was all around the house, we were picking up instruments left and right. I was sort of falling in love with it.”
O’Brien recalls renting a guitar when he was eight and writing his first song at nine, crediting that as the pivotal moment in his musical journey.
“As soon as I wrote the first song, it was like, this is what I’m meant to do with my life,” said the Saanich resident. “It just sort of consumed me. Between writing songs and performing and practising with different bands, that was what I loved to do.”
Cleary, music runs in the family, but for the time being, O’Brien is going solo: he’s performing every Monday night until the end of August at The Mint in downtown Victoria.
“The love of music is, for me, rooted in performing live for people,” said O’Brien, “and I really wanted a place to play every week with my songs and my band to a listening audience.”
After searching out venues in Greater Victoria, O’Brien was referred to the eclectic restaurant by a friend and everything fell into place.
“It’s the coolest room,” he said. “They have this downstairs area, and to the left, there’s this side room that has a little stage and these beautiful lights covering the ceiling. You can sort of close the doors to the restaurant and create your own little venue in there.”
But there’s more to O’Brien’s residency at The Mint than just performing once a week. Each show has an opening act and admission is by donation with proceeds going to The Power of Hope, a charitable non-profit organization that promotes arts among teens and young adults.
“They run summer camps for kids and young people to experience music and different arts and be in nature,” said O’Brien. “It’s youth empowerment through the arts. It just seems to work perfectly for what we’re doing.”
O’Brien’s shows run Mondays from 8 to 10:30 p.m. The Mint is located at 1414 Douglas St. For more information or to book seats to one of O’Brien’s performances, visit facebook.com/fintanobrienmusic.