The line up usually includes a fiddle, whistles, guitars, mandolin, acoustic bass guitar, accordion, keyboard and a bodhran (rarely played!). Two of the band are also singers.
John plays guitar, providing the main rhythm section for the band. He is also one of our singers. Being originally from England he sings lots of Irish songs (well his Dad is Irish and genes will out) but also some rock and roll and some contemporary ballads -overall he has a pretty large repertoire.
Des is our caller, our other lead singer, managing to sing along to lots of the dance numbers and he also holds the mandolin. Sometimes he remembers to play it. As a caller he is unstoppable in getting folk up to dance all sorts of dances they’ve never heard of. He’s quite passable at foreign languages too (we think, but maybe its just his accent). Visitors from Germany and Italy who have had the misfortune to find themselves inadvertently at one of our ceilidhs, have been surprised to be taught in their own language how to do a Gay Gordon’s or Strip the Willow.
Chris plays the whistle, the fiddle, the bass guitar, and once in a while the bodhran which was really meant to be there as an ornament but we didn’t like to tell him. He occasionally gets us to play some Cajun tunes (which we like) but has totally failed to convince any of us of the merits of Hank Williams. He does, however, usefully advise the band on single malts – another shared hobby.
Hugh plays what’s left – usually the accordion, or the bass guitar (if Chris has left it to play fiddle or whistle) and a bit of keyboard (well various bits of it) and occasional guitar. He likes things with lots of lights, switches and buttons so we also let him play with the sound gear.
Bernard We most often play with a fifth member (at no extra charge!) - usually one of our sons, David, Greg, Daniel, James or Bernard. Currently it is Bernard who is with us most, mainly playing the bass guitar.
Getting the Right Sound!
Hugh and Chris do the sound mixing. Its something we actually take quite seriously as we like people to be able to hear words of songs, to get clarity and balance of the different instruments and a big enough sound that you makes you want to dance, but not so loud that conversation is difficult. Over the years we’ve found that balancing these factors is something of a fine art, especially in some of the more challenging venues, but we like to think we’ve got pretty good at it.