We Banjo 3

We Banjo 3 Brings Celtic Gold to American Shores

Their album String Theory, released in 2016, took the top spot on Billboard’s world music chart. This Celtic band digs up the roots of U.S. folk music.

Without the traditions and influence of folk music from the British Isles, American folk and roots music might never have existed. Going back to the Celtic origins of our own music is enriching, and a whole lot of fun.

We Banjo 3 from Galway in Ireland has conquered its native homeland. Now it’s moving into the American roots music scene. Its album String Theory, released in 2016, took the top spot on Billboard’s world music chart.

We Banjo 3 is yet another successful group led by siblings — in this case, two sets of siblings. Brothers Edna and Fergal Scahill both sing. Edna plays tenor banjo and Fergal plays fiddle, viola, dobro, guitar, mandolin and a host of percussion instruments. These two are joined by brothers Martin and David Howley. David is the group’s lead singer and guitarist, while Martin plays tenor banjo and mandolin. Martin Howley has the distinction of being the first Irish musician to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Edna Scahill has recorded with Ricky Scaggs, performed with the Chieftains, recorded a solo album entitled Pick It Up, and recorded Humdinger with Paul Brock and Green Grass Blue Grass with The Brock McGuire Band. Fergal Scahill has recorded two solo albums, The Dusty Bridge and Wayfaring.

The group has released two previous studio albums: its debut, Roots of the Banjo Tree, in 2012 and Gather the Good in 2014. It put out Live in Galway in 2015.

While the group’s sound is rooted in folk, American country music fans will be delighted by its bluegrass stylings, too.

The group has been touring the states for years and is currently on an extensive tour that ends in mid-September, allowing for the rare chance to hear one of the most important Irish roots music groups on the scene today.

With We Banjo 3’s authentic roots sound and broad appeal, it may soon be joining other U.K. groups in making the leap from local pub darlings to world pop breakouts.

We Banjo 3 performed live for SCENES readers on Facebook last Friday, as part of SCENES Live Sessions. Check out their dynamic set here:

Written By
Steve Matteo is the author of THE BEATLES' LET IT BE and DYLAN, and an expert on the New York music scene.
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