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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment October 16, 2018


2/6/2018 1:57:00 PM
Celtic/bluegrass band to take stage
By Ceili Cornelius


We Banjo 3 is a Celtic/ bluegrass band hailing from Galway on the west coast of Ireland. The band is made up of two sets of siblings: David and Martin Howley and Edna and Fergal Scahill. They will take the stage at the Sisters High School auditorium on Monday, February 12, in the second Sisters Folk Festival winter concert of the season.

David Howley spoke with The Nugget after his return home to Nashville, Tennessee, after touring Europe. Howley now resides in Nashville. The band has been playing together for around seven years.

"It started as a passion project centered around banjo, just three guys playing banjo for fun," Howley told The Nugget.

That is how the name "We Banjo 3" originated: three guys in the band playing banjo. They eventually transitioned to playing other instruments: fiddle, guitar, and mandolin.

David and his brother, Martin, were influenced by the music their father played in their house when they were growing up in Galway.

"Our father was a massive fan of American music, so we had an interesting concoction of music in our youth - a mish-mash of American bluegrass as well as traditional Celtic music," Howley said. "We started to grow an appreciation for all types of music."

The Scahill brothers bring more of the traditional Irish music into the group.

"We love the pyrotechnics of bluegrass and the sound of traditional Irish music, so we started mixing those things together," Howley said.

Their sound grows from the power of meeting musicians in both disciplines, learning how to play their own style better individually, and then bringing those things together to form the unique sound they have today.

"We aren't Irishman trying to be bluegrass musicians, and we aren't bluegrass musicians trying to play traditional Irish music, we are bringing our two worlds together creating a powerful, upbeat sound," Howley told The Nugget.

The band was branded as a "Celt-grass" group when they played their first show in the U.S. in Wisconsin at the Milwaukee Irish Festival in the summer of 2012 with over 50,000 attendees. "We realized how appreciative and excited Americans were of the Irish culture and music. We felt really celebrated for our first time in the U.S.," said Howley.

Music was always what Howley wanted to do - but he took an early detour. He attended college after high school and focused on mechanical engineering because he felt that he had to try something new.

"I then realized that I wasn't happy doing anything else but music," he reflected. "However, we did not expect to make a career out of something we just love to do."

The band loves to travel and see and experience various cultures because they feel as if they are in their own Irish cultural bubble.

"We've played in Japan and Colombia many times and the language barrier (especially with thick Irish accents) makes things tough sometimes, but every time we go, we learn various traditions and things to say and not to say," Howley said.

Last summer, the band did a tour called "Light in the Western Sky," promoting their first few albums which contained a mixture of traditional and self-written music. The tour's main focus was to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

The band saw a big connection to songwriting and mental health.

"We realized that songwriting affects more than just one person, and more than those of us writing it. We wanted to get out there and share our music with those who struggle with mental health and try to bring some happiness into their lives," Howley said.

The newest We Banjo 3 album is set to debut this summer with all self-written music containing elements of traditional Irish and folk, as well as their driving background bluegrass sound.

Their winter concert performance will be their first show in Sisters. They have passed through before and performed in Bend, and they have tried many of the independent food spots in both Sisters and Bend.

"We are foodies, so every time we go somewhere we pick an unknown place and put in on our Google Maps and remember it for next time," Howley said.

The band has toured the West Coast a few times before.

"We feel a strong connection to the West Coast, we feel as if there is a long-lost love story between it and the west coast of Ireland," Howley said.

We Banjo 3 will be performing at Sisters High School on Monday, February 12. Showtime is at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door (advance tickets no longer available).

Preorder the new We Banjo 3 album "Haven" and other package deals set to release in the summer of 2018 here: www.pledgemusic.com/projects/webanjo3.









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