As most of you know, I have a soft spot for all things Celtic in nature, especially music, so when I discovered a new band that covers traditional Irish was coming to Maine, I had to check them out. They are called Dallahan and they call Edinburgh, Scotland, home, having traveled there back 25 years ago for a week was another reason I wanted to talk with a member of the group. Jack Badcock (guitar and vocals) called me from his Edinburgh home to chat about his band (that features Jani Lang on fiddle, Ciaran Ryan on banjo, mandolin and fiddle, Paddy Callaghan on button accordion and Balazs Hermann on double-bass) and their impending trip to Maine, which will include five performances: Aug. 1 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Calais; Aug. 2 at the Phillips Area Community Centre in Phillips; Aug. 3 at One Longfellow Square in Portland; Aug. 5 at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison; and Aug. 6 as part of the North Church Concert Series in Farmington.

Q: Will this be your first time playing in Maine?

Badcock: It will, yeah — for any of us in the band, yeah.

Q: And you’ve got quite a string of shows planned.

Badcock: Yeah, that’s right.

Q: Have you done much touring in the United States?

Badcock: No, we were over with the band in Milwaukee for the Irish Fest last year. That was our first time.

Q: How did it go with the audiences over there?

Badcock: It was great. They were really enthusiastic about the band and we got great response. We were very lucky because the featured theme of the festival was a Scottish Band Showcase, The Scotland Showcase, they called it and the Acoustic Roots Stage was dedicated to the bands that were over from Scotland. That gave us the opportunity to be on a bigger stage and get bigger audiences. It was a great opportunity and I think that allowed us to prove ourselves.

Q: I want to thank you for letting me stream your debut album, “When The Day Is On The Turn,” because I hate to do an interview “deaf,” if you know what I mean, and I have to ask — do the rest of your bandmates do backing vocals, because there are some wonderful harmonies on some of those songs?

Badcock: On the album, that’s all me, but live, Jani the fiddle player does a little bit of backing vocals. And, actually our newest member, Jenny Hill on bass, who won’t be with us on this tour in the U.S., but for future tours she’s likely to be, she’s going to be providing backing vocals. But as far as this CD goes, it’s more than enough Jack Badcock.

Q: When you come over, Dallahan will be a quartet?

Badcock: No, we’ll be a five-piece, but the bass player isn’t going to be with the band from later in the year.

Q: Oh, he’s the one playing ‘air bass’ in the photo?

Badcock: That’s right. We couldn’t get his bass up the hill for that shot.

Q: I’ve interviewed quite a few bands from the U.K. over the years and they’ve all proclaimed that Maine really reminds them of home.

Badcock: Certainly the Northeast anyway, isn’t it?

Q: And then again, this is where a lot of our English ancestry settled … probably why it’s called ‘New England.’

Badcock: Yeah, and Nova Scotia, too, you know.

Q: Exactly… ‘New Scotland!’ So, it’ll be interesting to see what you think of Maine.

Badcock: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I have high hopes. I’m expecting fir trees, yeah?

Q: Oh, for sure, especially at the Deertrees gig, that venue is nestled in a pine grove, I believe. Just out of curiosity, what can folks expect from your shows up here?

Badcock: Well, it’s largely Irish music we play, or at least a contemporary strain of it. We allow a little bit of Eastern European music to creep in there, as Jani is Hungarian, so some of the music we bring in from him is from Balkan/Romany traditions. You know, the word “fusion” might spring to mind there, but we don’t really like the term.

Q: Why?

Badcock: There’s something to us that seems quite crude about the idea of ‘fusing’ as quite often that’s done by maybe bands who are rooted in one of the traditions that they fused while having a superficial understanding of the others. Where most of us in the band are not rooted in Eastern European music, Jani very much is, so we don’t really like the idea of “fusing” the music so much as just kind of seamlessly integrating them together because they work together. They’re using the same rhythms, so there’s no reason why they can’t just coexist, you know? So, there’s some different music in there — in the mix — that the audiences won’t be used to hearing, there’ll be new sounds for them.

Q: And you do original material, too, correct?

Badcock: Yeah, and the two prominent tune players, Jani and Ciaran, write quite a few of the tunes. And, we’re all big fans of the 90s golden era of Irish music, so the tunes the lads write are very much in that kind of 90s Irish music vibe: kind of funky.

Q: Neat. Well, my last question is a tradition of mine: Is there anything, Jack, that you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this “What’s Happening” article, especially seeing this is your first time in Maine?

Badcock: Well, tell them that we like a noisy audience. We’d love people to turn up and make noise, really enjoy themselves and let themselves go, and have a dance. (www.dallahanmusic.com)

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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