THE BARLEYSHAKES – A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY 2010
Brewed in Ireland and distilled in Australia the Barleyshakes are a Celtic band with worldly influences who combine intense energy, beautiful harmony and driving dance rhythms in their live performances. They are loved for their blend of traditional and original material, and their uplifting and joyous approach to live performance. The Shakes skillfully blend their “bent” Irish sound with country rock and many other styles in their fast paced songs and instrumentals.
Using fiddles, banjo, flutes, bass, drums, guitar, mandolin, and vocals, the Shakes are a collaboration of Irish and Australian performers.
Vocalist and guitarist Alan Kelly is from Dublin and sings traditional and original songs in the Irish language aswell as English and French. Alan has recorded as a bodhran soloist for the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Fiddler Kristin Kelly was the long time strings teacher for the Tablelands and a member of Patterson’s Curse Bush band before teaming up with members of the Czech Velvet Revolution to form Prague based band “Puca Rua”. Flautist Belinda Ford won the Declan Affey award for best young folk musician of the year at the National folk fest in Canberra in 2005.
Drummer Erin Sulman is famously in demand throughout Australia having worked with Lothlorien, Greg Arnold, Dave Flower .Veteran Instrumentalist Steve Cook is hugely respected throughout Australia for his work with acoustic Irish all stars Tolca Mor. With the Shakes he plucks a mean dizzy banjo. Filling the line up on bass is Gary Ward, again famous throughout Australia and abroad for his work with many great names including the legendary Mangrove Jack from his time up north.
With 6 independently produced albums to date the Barleyshakes are simply one of Australia’s finest Irish bands full of surprises and a joy to see in concert.
“Any event looking for great musicians with talent, a solid traditional foundation and tasteful experimental leanings should look no further than the Barleyshakes. Combining great musicianship, thoughtful social comment and an impressive stage presence the Barleyshakes are more than capable of raising whatever roof has the good fortune to be sheltering them.” Woodford Folk Festival.
"Grateful" Review by Paul Fogarty.
Irish expat Alan Kelly has spent the best part of twenty years establishing himself on both sides of the globe as a writer of genuinely touching, honest and gritty songs. He’s also got a healthy dose of the kind of irreverence that turns good music into great.
Kelly’s band The Barleyshakes have headlined international festivals and toured many parts of the world in various forms. They’ve been based in Australia since headlining the 2000/2001 edition of the world famous Woodford Folk Festival and contributing the talents of two members to Peter Jackson’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” academy award winning soundtrack.
The tradition of Irish music is long, deep and wide and remarkably brilliant. That the Barleyshakes manage to hold hands with this awesome history while simultaneously infusing it with a fresh and contemporary spirit is remarkable.
They’ve always done it that way but with each new album those bonds are strengthened and illuminated in ways that make you wonder where they will take them next.
On “Grateful” the Barleyshakes present a kind of world tour of traditional and contemporary Irish folk songs, instrumentals and influences embellished by soaring accompaniment and dramatic and inspired arrangements. Kelly himself plays acoustic guitar, always pulsing and shifting, moving the shadows in the background. He also sings lead vocals and he’s no slouch on the Bodhran (Irish hand drum) either - Alan played the Bodhran on the sound track for “The Fellowship of the Rings”.
The Barleyshakes have always been populated by uber-talents and “Grateful” is no different: Steve Cook on bouzouki, banjo, fiddle; Belinda Ford on flutes and low whistle; Alan’s missus Kristin Kelly on fiddle; Erin Sulman (ex Lothlorian) on drums and percussion; and Gary Ward (who hasn’t he played with?) on bass; and Sophie Bahnson and the Kelly’s three young’uns Sofia, Mocara and Rory sharing backing vocals.
It’s the latest in a growing catalogue of pulsing, home-made, authentic folk/acoustic albums put out by the ‘Shakes. “Grateful” is beautifully recorded, spacious and filled with scintillating musical conversations