Program: We Banjo 3

May 08, 2022
Somerville Theatre

Debuting in the United States in 2012, We Banjo 3 has emerged as fast-rising touring darlings in the country that two of the group’s members now call home. The quartet, based in Galway, Ireland, and in Nashville––composed of two sets of brothers, Enda & Fergal Scahill and Martin & David Howley––continually pushes musical boundaries while maintaining an unwavering devotion to the essential audience experience. WB3 seamlessly converges the shared and varied traditions of Americana, bluegrass, and Celtic music with pop-sensible songcraft to create a gratifying signature sound. Brilliantly commanded instruments––banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and percussion––effortlessly elevate lead singer David Howley’s propulsive voice. Live on stage, their songs carry the listener along until, at the perfect moment, the group crescendos into catchy choruses with pitch-perfect harmonies. The bandmates deliver their music with palpable rapport, stunning precision, and infectious energy. With recent impressive performances at such broad-ranging festivals as MerleFest, BottleRock, Summer Camp, ROMP, and Wintergrass, WB3 has enthusiasts of almost every genre of music taking notice.

Actor-comedian-musician Steve Martin says of the band, "We Banjo 3 . . . are making waves . . . here in America. They are playing the banjo in a style that I didn’t even know could be played like that.” Northwest Cultural Resources Institute Blog said, "There are few adjectives left to describe the authenticity and the electrifying experience you get when you first see/hear We Banjo 3 live on stage. . . . It’s the incorporation of each and every one of its members, their individual charisma, their energy, their passion, and their very soul, that makes them one of the greatest live musical acts the world has to offer today."

We Banjo 3 released its sixth CD, Roots to Rise Live, in July 2019 in conjunction with the band’s summer and fall 2019 U.S. tours. Recorded at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the CD features a mix of original material, traditional compositions, select cover songs, and two previously unreleased tunes. The CD debuted at the beginning of August at number one on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums Chart, spending four weeks in the peak position. The band’s 2018 studio recording, Haven, spent three weeks at number one on that chart, marking the first time an Irish band held the top position. When Haven re-entered the chart at number five in August 2019, joining number-one-ranked Roots to Rise Live, WB3 made history as the only Irish band to hold two top-five chart positions in this category simultaneously. Of Roots to Rise Live, Songlines said, “this album by Celtgrass pioneers We Banjo 3 scorches its way through a rollercoaster set colliding their native Galway heritage with liberal helpings of blistering bluegrass and a telling nod to pop music.”

This is the tenth year the band has toured the United States. The group has been working hard on a new album, to be released sometime this year.


Enda Scahill (tenor banjo, vocals) 
A four-time national champion on banjo and mandolin, Enda studied classical music on piano, violin, and pipe organ at the prestigious St Finian’s College in Ireland. Enda has recorded with Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs, guested with The Chieftains, and toured with Frankie Gavin, The Brock McGuire Band, and Stockton's Wing. A banjo wizard, Enda is a leading author on Irish banjo techniques, with two titles among the best-selling Irish banjo tutorials available. His illustrious recording career includes his groundbreaking solo album Pick It Up and a guest performance on Humdinger with Paul Brock, and Green Grass Blue Grass with The Brock McGuire Band, recorded in Nashville and named Album of the Year by Irish Times.  

“Enda does things on the banjo which should be impossible.”––Bill Margeson, Irish American News 

Fergal Scahill (viola, dobro, percussion, guitar, mandolin, vocals) 
“Fergal’s music reflects his personality; it’s full of innovation, enthusiasm, and fun. It is intense, fiery, and frenetic and at the same time playful.”––Ita Kelly’s tradfolk  

Fergal began his musical career at the age of five on stage with the Galway Folk Theatre and hasn’t been far from the stage since. An accomplished musician on many instruments, he has won multiple All-Ireland titles on fiddle, bodhran, guitar, and ceili drums, not to mention countless national titles in group competitions. Of late his focus has been on the fiddle, and he has developed a unique style, borrowing from all the folk fiddle traditions. In addition to appearing on the four albums by We Banjo 3, Fergal is in huge demand and has recorded on more than 40 albums to date. He has performed in over 30 countries with numerous bands and in numerous shows. When not playing the fiddle, Fergal likes cooking and making stuff out of timber.  

Martin Howley (tenor banjo, mandolin, vocals) 
Holder of seven All-Ireland titles and distinguished as the first Irish banjo player to perform in the hallowed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Martin grew up on a steady diet of Irish and American folk music passed down by his father, Martin, a great folk singer. He has performed with The Chieftains, Carlos Núñez, Mumford and Sons, Ricky Skaggs, and Steve Earle, among others. He once asked President Obama to hold his banjo; Barack politely declined, perhaps because the banjo is quite heavy. Martin, alongside Enda, has forged a new path in Irish banjo, and together they've pioneered a new arena of technical skills. With We Banjo 3, Martin has been afforded the opportunity to hone his stagecraft and legendary banter---he knows all the sports teams and regularly attempts to adopt local language, often with clumsy but entertaining results. Martin believes that folk music is an antidote to social ills. 

David Howley (lead vocals, guitar) 
With an eclectic musical background, David’s style is a cross-weave of rock, country, bluegrass, and Irish traditional music. David has played double bass, drums, bouzouki, bodhran, mandolin, and banjo, winning national championship titles on both guitar and banjo. However, David found his true spiritual calling on the guitar, creating a style that is unique in roots music because of his uncommon ability to play both rhythm and bass lines congruently. Now with We Banjo 3 David has honed his skills as a world-class performer, singer, and frontman. His charismatic personality has garnered a multitude of zealous social media followers. A burgeoning songwriter, David has penned some of We Banjo 3’s favorite tunes. 

For more information
We Banjo 3's Website
We Banjo 3's Facebook

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