23 November 2012

Hanway & Harper take to The Highway

Tom Hanway and Dave Harper (photo: Maura McCabe)

The Island Music Club presents Hanway & Harper (Tom Hanway & Dave Harper), Saturday 24 November at The Highway, Crusheen, Co. Clare. Doors open at 9:15 p.m. Admission €12; bookings 086-859-9957

The year 2012 sees a new collaboration between Dave Harper and his old friend Tom Hanway (Hanway & Harper) to produce a futuristic blend of traditional 5-string banjo and tenor banjo music. Dave and Tom also take turns backing each other on guitar and love to sing country duets that reach back to old-time, blues, Appalachian, and bluegrass gospel songs.

Tom Hanway is an American 5-string banjoist, guitarist, composer and author. He wears many musical hats and does studio session work in many different genres including bluegrass, rock, country, and folk. He is a musical shape-shifter, a veteran of many styles of music who feels blessed to be working in life with other like-minded artists at something that he loves. Tom tours, teaches and plays constantly. He travels back and forth between Ireland and the United States playing tunes and collecting traditional music from across a wide spectrum.

Since the publication of his seminal work in 1998, Complete book of Irish & Celtic 5-string banjo (Mel Bay), Hanway has pioneered Celtic fingerstyle banjo. Bluegrass Unlimited wrote in January 1999: 'What Earl Scruggs’ book did for bluegrass banjo, Hanway’s book may well do for the 5-string in Irish and Celtic music, and will certainly become regarded as "the bible" for any 5-string player with an interest in this joyous music.' This has become a Mel Bay best-seller and has won Tom converts around the world. In 2012 Tom followed up with Easy Irish & Celtic session tunes for 5-string banjo: best-loved jigs and reels (Mel Bay), which is finding distribution and an audience worldwide.

Tom Hanway ('Badbelly') also sings country blues and gospel songs, picking guitar and 5-string banjo. Tom’s friend Vassar Clements (1928-2005) joins him on his tour de force blues-guitar project, The Badbelly project: Hesitation Blues (Joyous Gard). Vassar plays on all of Hanway’s recordings.

In 1997 Hanway teamed up with 5-string banjo manufacturer Geoff Stelling to co-design the Stelling SwallowTail banjo, a production model instrument. The SwallowTail has become a popular model for Stelling, with actor Steve Martin purchasing one true to Tom's original model.

Dave Harper, who lives in the picturesque and wild Burren national park in Co. Clare, is a much sought-after traditional musician and folk singer with an extensive musical history and background. Known at home as one of the foremost exponents of the Irish tenor banjo, Dave also plays and teaches concert flute, tin whistle, guitar, mandola, and bodhrán. For the last ten years he has been regularly touring Denmark three or four times a year with fiddle player Lars Kristensen.

Dave has taught workshops at home and abroad including the Feakle International Music Festival in 2008 and 2009. He has toured extensively throughout Europe with different ensembles and also in New York with fiddler Tony De Marco.

In 2009 Dave took part in the much publicised 'Pure Irish Drops' European tour in its 21st year with piper Micheal 'Blackie' O'Connell and accordionist Conor Keane of Four Men and a Dog and Gilles Servat fame, to great acclaim. Dave still plays regularly with Conor and recently released an album of Conor’s original music, entitled The trip to Cannes.

Photo of Tom Hanway at mike taken by Vernon Webb

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