Album Review - We Banjo 3 / Roots of the Banjo Tree

Considering the place that the banjo holds in old time and bluegrass music it would seem the most natural thing for someone to mix it in with traditional Irish.  We Banjo 3 have done just that.  The result is an invigorating and magical exploration.  It mixes North Carolina with North Sligo and southwards to the home of the Flanagan brothers and their seminal 1920's recording Tunes We Like To Play on Paddy's Day. Inspired by this and the songs of Ole Bella Reed, Virginia fiddler Ed Haley, Uncle Bunt Stevens and a whole range of other characters we take a journey with We Banjo 3 and their fellow musicians for what is an original themed album that works on many levels.

It works because the musicianship and production is of the highest order. The songs and tunes, be they American or Irish, dove tale well together to present a very coherent album. There is a strong unifying theme that runs through the music and songs of both nations with the songs in particular holding a strong resonance for Irish ears. We Banjo 3 also excel in the way they marry together the tunes with sophisticated rhythm changes and shifts in phrasing.  Bill Cheatum/Kitchen Girl/The Donegal Lass is a perfect example of this with Tennessee fiddle tunes from 1899 flowing into a 1966 Virginia tune and on into a jig composed by Armagh whistle player Brian Finnegan.

The music being produced in this country has come of age and We Banjo 3 which consists of Enda Scahill, Martin Howley and David Howley exemplify this.  Together with special guests Fergal Scahill, Lousie Holden, Gerry O'Connor, Leon Hunt and James Blennerhassett they have created something special. A banjo inspired album has never sounded so good, so pleasing to the ear or so inventive in its approach.  It's a thoroughly enjoyable affair, and the mix of styles work.  Irish musicians are taking big strides of late and are getting bolder in what they are willing to take on.  A new creative swagger seems to have washed over them and whether its recording straight traditional or mixing it with other styles or genres they are newly inspired.  For creative spirit you will not be left wanting and Roots of  The Banjo Tree has this in abundance.  Get it, and then get a banjo, cause "we need more banjos in this world".


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