20 September 2014

Enter the King - KingBlue

A big picture to introduce some big news. Two weeks ago the BIB mentioned rumours that 'a new hard-driving bluegrass band of well known pickers in Ireland is soon to be announced'. The wait is now over, and the news is seismic! Earlier today Clem O'Brien announced on Facebook the formation of KingBlue, composed of Sean McKerr, Mel Corry, Caolan 'Chief' Derby, and Clem himself. Clem writes:

I am proud and happy to announce my participation in a brand new bluegrass band, KingBlue. I know Sean and Mel as long as I have been playing this music and have always respected them as musicians. The Chief I only met recently but was knocked out by his ability at Ardara this year.

Recent get-togethers and rehearsals was like putting on an old pair of boots and it feels good to be back playing hard-driving bluegrass after so long. I look forward to seeing old friends, both at home and abroad, in 2015 and beyond.

Thanks to Ray O'Brien for making us aware of the news, which broke on Facebook and is already being well acclaimed there. Without having heard a note from this band yet, the BIB unreservedly recommends them to any festival organiser, venue operator, or music lover who is looking for solid, undiluted bluegrass. We can't do better to underline the significance of this momentous event than quote the 'About' section of the new band's own Facebook page:

KingBlue is a new bluegrass band in the traditional vein, bringing together some stalwarts of the Irish bluegrass scene over the last twenty years.


Clem O’Brien, regarded by many as the country’s premier bluegrass vocalist and guitarist, has played this music at the highest level for over twenty years. He came to prominence as a bluegrass musician with the Kildare-based Flint Hill Boys and has toured as a featured artist with the world-renowned Chieftains. More recently Clem has been part of the Niall Toner Band. Clem also maintains his own band, the Clem O’Brien Band, and will continue to appear with both bands.

Sean McKerr has been playing mandolin for twenty years and is widely regarded as a Bill Monroe stylist. His driving rhythms give a distinctive edge to the band. He has played with such diverse bands as the Dusty Millers, the Mean Eyed Cats, the Freightliners, and has recently completed a British tour with Nashville-based Sharon Cort & New River Ranch featuring banjo legend Butch Robins. Sean recently featured as the bass player in the World International Bluegrass band at the IBMA convention in Nashville.

Mel Corry is also a veteran of the Dusty Millers Bluegrass Band and the Mean Eyed Cats, and earlier this year toured with New York-based Buddy Merriam & Backroads. Mel plays the 5–string banjo in the hard-driving style of Earl Scruggs and J.D. Crowe; he also shares the lead singing duties with Clem. Mel and Sean are both founder members of the popular Tennessee Hennessees and will continue to perform with the Ten Hens as well as KingBlue.

Caolan Derby, known as 'Chief' to those close to him, holds down the bass duties in KingBlue. His expertise as a bass player defies his youth and he plays with a variety of styles from aggressive rockabilly to slow waltzes. Chief brings a youthful dynamism to the band and plays bass in his own rock band.

KingBlue play a style of bluegrass firmly rooted in the classic tradition of Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Jimmy Martin, peppered with original songs and tunes. Their show is fast-paced and professional.

Working close: (l-r) Mel Corry, Caolan Derby, Clem O'Brien, and Sean McKerr



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