I was checking my Twitter page the other day and I noticed I had a new follower (quite the rare event), and it was from a band I had never heard of. I have no idea how the band came across my Twitter page, but I decided to check them out and see if I should follow them.
And I am glad I did.
We Banjo 3 is a band from Galway, Ireland that plays a blend of traditional Irish, old-time, and bluegrass music they call Celtgrass. The band is composed of two sets of brothers, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley. Earle Hitchner, music writer for The Wall Street Journal, described their playing as a “freshness and finesse bordering on the magical, and LiveIreland proclaiming them “the hottest group in Irish music…” Their debut album Roots of the Banjo Tree was released in 2012 and was named “Traditional Music Album of the Year” by The Irish Times. This was followed by the release of Gather the Good in 2014. Siobhan Long, music critic for the Irish Times, writes “We Banjo 3 are a musical Betty Ford Clinic, almost singlehandedly rehabilitating the much maligned banjo in 4 short years.” In 2016 the band released their fourth album String Theory which debuted at Number One on the Billboard Charts.
The members of the band have been highly successful in the competitive music field with Martin winning seven All Ireland titles on the banjo and Enda capturing the award four times. Fergal and David have likewise been honored earning All Ireland titles on the banjo, fiddle, bodhrán, and guitar.
In 2016 the band was selected to play for President Barack Obama and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the annual “Friends of Ireland” luncheon held in Washington, DC around Saint Patrick’s Day. President Obama praised the band’s show calling it, “Great music. Incredible performance.”
Not too bad a resume for a band I’ve never heard of. But it’s one thing to read about a band, it’s much more important to give them a listen. So I went to YouTube to check out some of their videos. Listening to them reminds me of a trip to Ireland we took about 15 years ago, and having the opportunity to sit at a pub listening to traditional Irish music session, with the musicians taking an occasional “tea break”.
Here are some of my favorite We Banjo 3 videos I found of on YouTube:
Here’s a great instrumental piece where they just pick and strum with Mumford and Sons. As one commenter put it: “Whiskey Before Breakfast”, as it should be played with friends sharing their talents and enjoying the moment. Music is of the people for the people and should always be that way.
And here’s another great instrumental:
So if you love Irish music, bluegrass, the sound of a fiddle and a banjo, mixed in with a guitar and a mandolin and the Bodhrán, then We Banjo 3 is your type of band.
I’d love to see them in concert, but as of now, their current touring schedule does not show them coming to the Philly area. I might have to make a trip to see them in Ireland, playing in the old country.
Thanks for connecting with me on Twitter, sorry I’m not offering much on my Twitter account in return for your great music.