Banjo boys to rock the Riverbank

We Banjo 3
A barnstorming band of banjo brothers are preparing to raise the roof at the Riverbank this week.

A barnstorming band of banjo brothers are preparing to raise the roof at the Riverbank this week.

Award-winning quartet We Banjo 3 will take to the stage this Thursday, May 1, with their trademark blend of Irish traditional, bluegrass and Old-Time American music.

The foursome is comprised of two sets of brothers from Galway, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley, who came together for the band’s first gig at the Galway Arts Festival in 2009.

“Fundamentally, we’re all Irish musicians who love American music,” Enda told the Leinster Leader ahead of their visit to Kildare.”We explore folk, Irish and American music and the link between them, keeping a fun edge and it just seems to have captured the imagination.”

The Scahill brothers, who are older than their bandmates, have racked up impressive individual CVs. Enda has recorded and performed with the Chieftains, Frankie Gavin, Stockton’s Wing and Ricky Skaggs, among others, while Fergal has toured the world with Ragus and Celtic Legends.

Martin Howley was the very first Irish banjo player to perform at the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville. David, or ‘baby banjo’ as he’s been nicknamed on the group’s Twitter account, is the youngest member of the group at the tender age of 22 and is quickly developing an impressive reputation as a singer.

The band are bringing banjo to a whole new audience with a combination of their fusion style and energetic live performances.

“We produce a stage show and we try to bring a big level of performance to the whole thing,” said Enda. “We put a lot of thought into how to play and perform to the audience.”

That level of energy on stage made an impression at the Milwaukee Irish festival in Wisconsin in three years ago, where the group got to the chance to play thanks to a FundIt campaign. “People liked what we were doing, combining bluegrass and old time, and the fun sound the banjo had, so we developed a big following over there,” said Martin.

The group were, in fact, one of the hits of the festival, and off the back of their success booked a seven-week tour of Irish festivals in the American MidWest last summer. They also played several dates Stateside in March, even getting the chance to play at the prestigious Chicago House of Blues.

“What we do is inusual, mixing Old Time, Bluegrass and Irish in the one set,” said Enda.

Now that the band has established its own identity and connection with the audience, it is starting to branch out to performing their own work.

We Banjo 3 are currently hard at work on their second album, a follow-up to 2012’s ‘Roots of the Banjo Tree’. It was also backed by a FundIt campaign, whereby band members offered imaginative prizes including a fishing trip with Enda and a surfing session with David and Martin - “no-one took that up,” laughed the latter - in return for donations to fund the recording. The finished album, ‘Gather The Goods’ will be out in June.

The band have several international trips on their itinerary for later in the year, including tips to Colombia, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, France, the United States and Denmark.

We Banjo 3, presented by Music Network, will play the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge this Thursday, May 1. Tickets are €15. To book, visit