Live Review - We Banjo 3, Mill Theatre Dundrum, 25th February 2013

Having enjoyed the album Roots of The Banjo Tree by We Banjo 3 the opportunity to see them live could not be passed up. It won The Irish Times album of 2012 award and set them on course for a tour of live shows.  Could their stage shows live up to their studio album and be as entertaining?  Their makeup consists of brothers Martin and David Howley on, well, banjo and brothers Enda and Fergal Scahill on banjo and fiddle.  In truth they mix it up quite a bit with at times two banjo's supplemented with David on guitar and Fergal on fiddle/guitar and bodhrán.  This needs to be stated because the numerically challenged We Banjo 3 are in fact 4. Another fact that needs to be dispelled to anyone unaware of their music, and who may be potentially put off by the sheer thought of 3 banjos on one stage is that what these boys have concocted with their mixture of Irish traditional, Old-Time and Bluegrass is nothing short of exceptional.  Whether by fault or design they have stumbled into a mix that is the basis for a fabulously entertaining show as they mix these styles into a seamless tapestry of sound. The challenge of mixing other genres into our tradition is significant.  Many acts do it with maybe a couple of sets dedicated to European music to satisfy their creative desires.  Too much and the audience may lose focus and the natural flow of the show can dip. This is not the case here.

The way that We Banjo 3 have integrated this American music into their show has to be admired.  As a listener you start to forget where the Irish traditional ends and the Old-Time or Bluegrass begins such is the dovetailing of the tunes. You also start to forget that this is a banjo show, which may seem like an odd statement. Add in David Howley with some great guitar work and a number of great songs and you have a very appealing mix.  This takes them into other areas that mix folk with Americana or near Pop and it all fits very well indeed.  This makes for a potent show that has the ability to entertain and is the creative hub that makes this group tick.  They cover a lot of material from their debut album with some news songs and tunes added.  Fergal Scahill gives a tremendous bodhrán solo in a fun and entertaining way and their general onstage chemistry and interaction perfectly reflects the ebb and flow of the music. We Banjo 3 are one of the best new acts to emerge in the last decade or so. They have merged and moulded their music into a show that has infinite room for development and a second album must surely follow.  Can they build on this and reach new creative peaks? We would hope so.  There would seem to be a lot more creative juice left in the tank. They are a breath of fresh musical air on our traditional landscape and will remain so for some time to come. Their music and stage performance is simply outstanding. Their tour continues and if you get a chance to see them, take it.


Tour Dates

Tuesday February 26th                   Garter Lane Theatre, Waterford City

Wednesday February 27th               The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. {Double Bill with I Draw Slow}

Thursday February 28th                  An Taibhdhearc Theatre, Galway. {Double Bill with I Draw Slow}

Friday March 1st                            Mullingar Arts Centre, Co. Westmeath

Sunday March 3rd                          Whelan's Live, Dublin

Sunday March 10th                        Killorglin Arts Festival, Co. Kerry Booking 066 9761246

Sunday May 5th                            Strokestown International Poetry Festival, Roscommon

May 7th-12th                               La Grande Recontre Festival, Montreal, Canada

July 26th-28th                              Cambridge Folk Festival, UK

August 1st to Sept 19th                 US Tour  ( Dates to be confirmed )


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