The Barleyshakes first formed in Dublin. The original members all met at a local Sunday session in the town of Dunlaoghaire in 1992. There was Alan Kelly (still shakin’), David Hingerty (currently working with The Frames who are based in Dublin and New York), Ray McCormac (now a member of the band Sliothar and living in County Clare), Mark Heffernan (now a father of three and a home builder in Sally Noggin in Dublin), and Mr Eric Lang (currently living and working in London.)
The band quickly gained a happy and loyal following in and around the pubs and clubs of Dublin. The first appearance at an international folk festival was at L’Orient Interceltique Festival in 1995. What followed was a hectic pace of live performances.
The band eventually recorded its’ debut album. The first CD, Gach Ean, was recorded by their friend and sound engineer, Sinead Conlan, overlooking the majestic and beautiful Killiney Bay. The album took a bit too long to finish and the launch party went on well after the support tour had finished.
For that support tour, Rene Starhon and Kristin Kelly of the Prague based Puca Rua (Gaelic for Red Devil/ Leprechaun/Banshee) joined The Barleyshakes.
Upon returning to Ireland from Australia and the quite beautiful coral-stained island of Fiji, Alan and Kristin along with Dave and Mark, teamed up with a young gifted musician named Alan Doherty, who could play the whistle and flute like the devil, himself. The quintet experimented with new influences for traditional Irish music and then it was about time to record a new album.
Alan, Kristin, Alan, Dave and Mark, along with harpist Cormac De Barra, piper Tommy Martin, Billy McGlynn on didgeridoo and Larry Shaw (who ripped through Farewell to Eireann on his Japanese fiddle), suprised the folk world with the band’s second innovative release, Jump at the Sun. After recording Jump at the Sun, The Barleyshakes toured the life and death out of the album, becoming eerily famous in County Meath for no understandable or predictable reason. (Hello Old Castle)
There were fans in the thousands turning up to the concerts in Switzerland. Shows were sellingout and the appearances at festivals were electric. (Thanks to each and every one of you.)
In early 2000, Alan and Kristin fled to Australia leaving Mark, Dave and Alan Doherty to pursue other projects. Before long, Alan also ended up in Australia.
The trio then teamed up with Joe Morris. The American-born bass guitarist brought a new feel to the group infusing hints of reggae, rock and jazz.
Next up for the quartet was The Woodford Folk Festival… an absolutely amazing event where the band was one of the international headliners.
In the following months, Alan Doherty and and Alan Kelly travelled to New Zealand to record with film composer Howard Shore and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for “The Lord of the Rings.”
In 2001, Doherty returned to Ireland to continue his studies of Irish Folk music and form Grada, a sensational Dublin based trad group.
In late 2001, Randall Matthews, an accomplished fiddle player and mobile phone text messaging addict joined Alan Kristin and Joe for several gigs including another Woodford Festival and Brisbane’s Australia Day celebration where the band was the headlining act. (I know… an Irish Folk band on a distinctly Aussie day… go figure.)
In 2002, The Barleyshakes experiemented with new forms and innovations in traditional Irish music. It was a year of writing and the result was a backlog of music to be recorded. Some early tracks were laid down with Alan Doherty before his departure to Ireland. But back in Queesland, Australia, Kelly penned several award winning songs. The recording sessions built momentum through late October and November, and shortly before Christmas Vision’s in the Fog was released. The recording was launched to a packed audience at the Folklorica stage at the Woodford Folk Festival. The launch was made even more special by a surprise reunion with the now renown flautist Alan Doherty who was touring Australia, New Zealand and Japan with Grada.
In 2003, the band was reaping the rewards of Visions in the Fog. After playing a variety of Australian gigs, there was a pilgrimage to Ireland to rekindle friendships and perform at some old familiar places. One of the highlights for longtime fans was a reunion concert in Dublin that featured muscians from earlier recordings. Dave Hingerty and Alan Doherty joined Alan and Kristin Kelly for a magical show.
Upon returning to Australia, the band began playing with flute/whistle/fiddle player, Belinda Ford. Ford, a popular Brisbane session player, was the winner of the Declan Affey Memorial prize for the best young promising talent at the 2003 National Folk Festival in Canberra. Her fluid lines on the flute and whistles returned The Barleyshakes sound closer to the musical line up of 2000/2001.
In late 2003, there was another addition to the band, hipster percussionist and 80′s film buff, Eric Sulman. Erin’s musical career spans a gamut of styles including punk, rock, world music, Celtic, folk and Egyptian dance. He is a handy fellow, able build his own bodhr√°n when the drum he was using fell out the back of a car, never to be seen or heard of again. (He is taking orders, if you want him to build one for you… you must provide the goat.)
In the wanning hours of 2003, The Barleyshakes played The Woodford Folk Festival on invitation, and then in early 2004 spent a spectacular long weekend at The Wintermoon Festival in Mackay.
Organisers of Wintermoon wrote, ‚ÄúThe Wintermoon Festival 2004, had the pleasure of playing host this year to The Barleyshakes, a headlining act at the festival outstanding in their ability to instill a sense of fun and mirth in their audience with the contemporary Irish Folk tunes brought together by a lively concoction of very talented performers.‚ÄĚ
Along with a few spectacular hangovers, The Wintermoon Festival also yielded The Barleyshakes a live recording. The tracks include some of the band’s favourite tunes and songs including a crackin’ version of Visions in the Fog.
The cd features some close friends who courageously jumped up to play unrehearsed. Camilla Hodgkins from The Perch Creek Family Band contributed with her lovely harp playing and Sunshine Coast impressario J C Rider aka Jay Bishoff added a mean harmonic solo to one of the band’s favourites, The Queen of Galway Town.
The Barleyshakes launched the live album at the 2004 Woodford Folk Festival and re-launched it to a new,(cashed up, we hope!) audience at the 2005 Port Fairie Folk Festival.
Later in 2005, The Barleyshakes were invited to play The Live En Aout Festival in Noumea, New Calendonia. The band unleashed a new approach to their music, featuring a mix of bodhr√°n and a complete drum kit. The week-long festival proved to be a massive success for the band. (Hello everyone in Noumea.)
Look for The Barleyshakes at the 2005 Woodford Folk Festival, The WinterMoon Festival in early 2006 and another week long tour in Noumea for a St. Paddy’s celebration.
THe Barleyshakes are also in the process of recording their fifth cd, sceduled to be released in early 2006.
By the way you can now buy Barleyshakes cds online at www.tradandnow.com. Check out our CD page for direct links to the sales sites.
So now it’s 2009 and a lot has been happening for our little folk group. We have seen Joe Morris depart the band and after some deliberation ,and a bit of mourning,¬†Gary Ward has replaced Joe as bassist. Also altering the new¬†line up is multi-instrumentalist Steve Cook of Tolca Mor fame on banjo, mandolin and bouzouki.¬†Thi sline up¬†had a particularly memorable concert in the Chai tent on Dec 30th, while all around was being battered and drenched by a huge storm. Thanks to all who contacted us sharing their enthusiasm for what was a very special¬† magical musical hour¬†for us all. So we head to a new festival in Echuca Moama in Victoria and also return to Wintermoon before heading to Ireland an Europe where we hoppe to reunite the Irish¬†lineup of the Barleyshakes for a few select shows.
It recently came to our attention that¬† some of our existing mailing list was deleted. To be included on The Barleyshakes’ mailing list, please contact us at email@example.com