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Irish folk music band returning for a gig in Welsh town where they formed 30 years ago

21 Mar 2022 4 minute read
Toe-tapping music – the Wee Bag Band, from left, Julian Anderson, Rory McGough, Paul Bassom, Steve Owen and Alan Colinson.

A globetrotting Irish folk music band is returning for a rare gig in its home town in Wales where it was formed almost 30 years ago.

The Wee Bag Band are bringing their brand of foot-stomping feel good Celtic music to Denbigh Town Hall on Saturday, April 2, for the Denbigh Mayor’s Charity event.

Pre-Covid the five musicians would usually have spent the month of March gigging in more far-flung venues from Boston to Georgia to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint’s day.

Denbigh Mayor Rhys Thomas said: “At the end of our mayoral year we wanted to organise a fun and informal fundraiser, looking for a talented local band whose lively music would appeal to everyone and felt the Wee Bag Band would fit the bill.

“The event will raise money for two deserving local charities Denbighshire Young Carers (WCD) and Women’s Aid (DASU) who do excellent work to support children and people locally.”

Mandolin-player Rory McGough, from Denbigh, who founded the band with guitarist Paul Bassom back in 1993, said they had spent their early years playing across the UK and Europe but after playing in the British Folk Festival in Lincolnshire they were asked to play in gigs across North America, Canada and Greenland.

He said: “I had this e-mail from America asking if we could play over there and I thought it was a joke so I didn’t even bother reading it, sent it to spam, but then I dug it out a couple of weeks later and they wanted us to play in places like Miami and Baltimore.

“Turned out it was a genuine request. We’d been playing at the British Folk Festival over in Spalding in Lincolnshire and someone had seen us and wanted to book us.

“This is the first year for over 13 or 14 years we have played St. Pats in the UK. We used to tour all the European ski resorts during March to coincide with March 17 and for the last seven years pre-Covid we would spend most of March playing in places like Baltimore, the Bahamas, Cuba and Curacao.”

‘Lot of fun’

The band even played a venue on Greenland where it was -32C outside before returning home where their next gig might be at the Bluebell in Conwy or the Raven in Llanarmon yn Ial.

All the musicians are based in North Wales after Paul moved to Denbigh from London, with percussionist Alan Colinson, who plays the traditional drum, the bodhran, and fiddler Julian Anderson, both from Colwyn Bay while bassist Steve Owen is from Connah’s Quay.

Rory, from a family of Irish musicians from Dublin and Dundalk, added: “It’s not often that we play locally, only because we’re a five-piece band and we take up a bit of room but we’re really looking forward to playing in Denbigh.

“We play traditional, contemporary and popular Irish music with a bit of something different mixed in there – we even play the theme from Zorba the Greek – and two of the band are dance callers so we should be able to get people up on their feet.”

The event is being sponsored by five local businesses Lock Stock Self Storage, JTL Architectural Hardware, Henllan Bread, Jones Brothers and Pendine Park.

Lisa, of Lock Stock Self Storage, said: “It sounds like a lot of fun and I’m sure there will be a great turnout, especially for such worthy charities.”

Tickets for the event are available from Baroque on Crown Square Denbigh, Siop Clwyd on the High Street in Denbigh, and online from the Denbigh Town Council website here.

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