To the uninitiated a banjo is a banjo. Due to its absence from most contemporary and so called “radio-friendly” music the public at large are not as familiar with it as they would be with it’s six stringed relative. However, if one album was likely to remedy this situation it is Damien O’Kane and Ron Block’s 2018 platter “Banjophony.” 

Messrs O’Kane and Block have quite a pedigree. Coleraine born O’Kane has more than one acclaimed album to his name and is also a regular contributor to his wife, Kate Rusby’s live and studio work. Block is well known to traditional music fans as for his work with Alison Krauss & Union Station. He has also amassed an amazing 14 Grammys and 6 International Bluegrass Awards in addition to nods The Country Music Association.

Banjophony received near unanimous critical praise on it’s release. Louder Than War wrote “if you weren’t up for swinging your pants to a banjo tune or two, you are now” equally impressed was Block’s Union Station bandmate Jerry Douglas who said “it works. Listen to it and see if you agree with me.” The Guardian also made it Album Of The Month.

Like many from the Emerald Isle O’Kane feels he has a connection to our city. “Liverpool has been a part of my life since i started kicking a ball around. I’ve been a huge Kop fan from a very young age and growing up, the thought of ever visiting Liverpool was somewhat magical” he told Liverpool Noise via e-mail.

“You could say I am a fraction Liverpudlian. I’ve had the great pleasure throughout my music career of not just attending matches at Anfield, but playing at one of the country’s leading venues, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall with Kate Rusby Band on many occasions. This time I am returning to Philharmonic, Music Room, in my own right with my musical compadre…It is a city of great history and wonderful people.”

Tickets for the Damien O’Kane and Ron Block show on 24th September are still available from https://www.liverpoolphil.com/whats-on/contemporary-music/damien-okane-and-ron-block/3433

There’ll be plenty of room to swing your pants!

Andy Sunley