Damien O’Kane & Guests
It’s luck of the draw what your parents give you: it could be anything from unconditional love and sound morals, to a chip on your shoulder and a life-long complex. For Damien O’Kane, his parents gave their children plenty of the former and, most crucially, musical instruments – in his case, a banjo. That legacy was filled with music that was immersed in its social and sociable traditions. No stranger to the UTS crowd, Damien is a cracking collaborator, a resonant and superb singer, a master of all things with strings, most notably his virtuosic tenor banjo playing he is arguably best known for. The last decade has seen Damien record three solo albums, Summer Hill (2010), Areas of High Traffic (2015) and Avenging and Bright (2017). He’s an ingenious arranger. Not to mention an accomplished tunemaker, researcher, bandleader and accompanist of rich imagination and fearless vision. 2018’s banjo duo record Banjophony, with Ron Block (Alison Krauss’ banjo and guitar picker), is about as much fun as you can have with two banjos. He’s twice nominated at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with his radical and revelatory approach, sending traditional Irish songs reeling into a contemporary soundscape. Damien will be joined on the UTS stage by long time collaborators Anthony Davis and Steven Byrnes along with members of his hugely talented family, Aidan, Sorcha, Peter and Feargal who joined him in 2019. Look out for a few surprises too.