We Banjo 3 is one of the most successful Irish bands in the “folk” world today and moves between Trad, Americana and Bluegrass in a very peculiar and spontaneous way. The band that was born in Galway around ten years ago has just released their latest album 'Open The Road', with 10 tracks that exemplify the above description very well.
There is no doubt that Irish Traditional Music and Bluegrass/Old Time have a lot in common and exchange influences due to immigration and its history. But even so, mixing the two the those genres can be quite tricky and need to be careful not losing the accents and both styles. In 'Open The Road' you can easily see the two paths crossing, as in the track “The First Second Gentleman” that starts with a beautiful version of Mike McGoldrick’s famous slipjig “Farewell to Whalley Range” followed by another very uplifting tune that seems to me to be an original. The track is “Garden Song”, featuring the American banjoist and singer Abigail Washburn, who plays clawhammer style (all explained in this article here!), the fiddle played from another point of view and with banjos that remind me of some tracks by Béla Fleck. The tune that names the album "Open The Road" also proves the versatility and virtuosity of the musicians, as in the example of the live performance below.
The band consists of brothers Enda (tenor banjo and vocals) and Fergal Scahill (fiddle, viola, double, percussion, guitar, mandolin and vocals), as well as brothers David (lead vocals and guitar) and Martin Howley (tenor banjo, mandolin and vocals). It all started with small gigs and sessions around Galway among the members, who shared the same musical interest and curiosity on the American and Irish repertoire. After getting a grant to record their first album and tour the US, the band gained great notoriety and never stopped touring Europe and North America, ranking first on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart for their last two albums.