ALTHOUGH they have only been together in their current line up since last September, Abbeyfolk are fast making waves in trad music circles. A name familiar with many, Abbeyfolk have been around under different guises since the late 1980s, with musician Jim Ring the only original member.
The lively group play throughout Laois and have been very busy performing throughout the country as well, gaining publicity not only for their energetic performances, but also for their youtube video hits about Abbeyleix Hospital and about George Clooney. The band comprises of Abbeyleix man Jim Ring on tin whistle and harmonica, his son Jimy Ring on lead vocals and lead guitar, Stradbally native Davey Keane on banjo, mandolin and vocals, and Athy man Mick Kerins on bass and vocals.
All members come from musical backgrounds, with Jimy playing alongside his father for many years, and the two have connections to the well known Weldon family. Davey has music on both parents’ sides of the family, and has been involved with trad music his whole life. Mick started playing music as a teenager performing on bass. “I wanted to play an instrument and started on the bass, you have to have a vision of where you want to end up,” he said.
In their short time together as a band, the group have played in Laois, Wexford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Dublin, Galway, Mayo and Kerry, and are also working on an album, due for release later this year. One of their most requested tracks during gigs is ‘Here’s To You George Clooney’, which the band wrote after hearing of George’s family links to Abbeyleix.
As well as attracting thousands of views on youtube, the video has also come to the attention of George’s PA who sent word to the band that he would like to meet them, as well as going to see where the Titanic carpet factory was as his long lost relatives worked there. “George’s PA wrote under our video that he will be over sometime in 2012 and would like to meet us. We haven’t heard anything since but we will be motoring on anyway”, said Jim. “It has been a huge hit on youtube and people are always requesting that we play the song at our gigs”.
As well as singing about George Clooney, Abbeyfolk also wrote a song about saving Abbeyleix Hospital, entitled “Our Hospital Our Home”. As well as receiving lots of internet interest the song was also played on TV3’s morning show recently. The
In their live show the group play a mixture of music and try to incorporate folk, Scottish traditional, ballads and Irish trad, but fans could hear anything from Mumford and Sons to Bob Dylan in their sets. “We have a really broad range of people coming to our gigs, we don’t follow the crowd and we try to go for something different”, said Mick. “We always get a great reception in Kilkenny, we play down there regularly, and we always have a great time”.
The lads have also played support to acts including The Fureys, The Wolfe Tones, Don McLean and The Kilkennys. As well as a very busy summer’s gigging ahead, the band are working on original material for their upcoming album, which they are recording in their own studio. They hope to tour with the album next year. For gig info check out Abbeyfolk’s Facebook page.