Introducing The Roots Revival from Ireland

Here’s yet another new group of acoustic string musicians that has popped up in Ireland, working bluegrass into their traditional sound.

The Roots Revival contains some familiar faces, as it’s essentially the Agnew family from Cup O’Joe, along with fiddler Niall Murphy who performed with them in the States in September and October, along with percussionist Eamon Rooney. At a quick glance they don’t look much different from many other Celtic groups, other than the fact that Tabitha Agnew is playing a five string rather than a tenor banjo, and they use an upright bass. Their style draws heavily on their native folk traditions, informed by a bluegrass sensibility seen most prominently in Tabitha’s three finger banjo approach.

This bunch has only been together for a few months, but have won raves for appearances at a number of clubs and festivals this year. A couple of live videos have been posted previously, and the band got together recently at the Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, Northern Ireland to shoot a pair of them. Here’s the first, a set of tunes that combines an original of theirs called Imagination with a jigged-up version of Temperance Reel, that then breaks into a full-on reel treatment. Reuben Agnew is on guitar with brother Benjamin on bass.

And here’s another video, from a BBC appearance last month, a set featuring The Silver Spire and Hollis Browns Reel.

Great music! Let’s hope for a chance to see The Roots Revival in the US sometime soon.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.