Video: We Banjo 3 on All Things Irish Folk

Ever wondered how to play Irish folk–style mandolin, or how to make a banjo resonate like a guitar? What about playing the bass and acoustic guitar at the same time?

Well, We Banjo 3—a "Celtgrass" band of Irish folkies—is here to illuminate all such mysteries.

As you can see in our video above, the quartet is oddly named. While three of its members can be seen playing banjo from time to time (when not switching between guitar, mandolin, tenor guitar, and more), there is a total of four bandmates.

The band's first tip is thanks to guitarist, singer, and sometimes banjo player David Howley. As you'll hear, however, a horizontally mounted Fishman Rare Earth pickup (and a Boss OC-3 Super Octave–equipped pedalboard) makes him, in effect, the group's bass player, though he's simultaneously able to make higher-register chords.

Fergal Scahill then shows a classic Irish fiddle roll (he calls it "quite simple," but your mileage may vary), along with some ornaments you can use to dress up your fiddling. While Martin Howley demonstrates how to play a jig rhythm on the mandolin, he also explains that rhythm's importance to Irish music. And ending the video, banjo player Enda Scahill shows off his custom-designed Nechville banjo that "plays like an Irish tenor banjo but sounds something like if Rhiannon Giddens and Béla Fleck had a baby, or if their banjos had babies."

All of the techniques and instruments demonstrated in the first video allow We Banjo 3 to stay true to their Irish folk foundation while exploring other folk music from around the world, particularly bluegrass and Americana. After gaining some insight into how they do what they do, watch this second video to hear it all in action.

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