Arthur Marshall

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KISS THE BLARNEY is (or possible are - I can never quite make my mind up about the grammar of bands) a  traditional (ish) Irish band, specialising in, and occasionally veering away from,  traditional and contemporary Irish folk music, everything from the stomping chorus songs to the more gentle and reflective laments for times gone by or the longing of those who have had to leave their homes for places dimly remembered through the mists and mountains of time.

The band is led by the singing of John and myself, driven along  by John's  bass and guitar, Robbie’s storming banjo and guitar (both acoustic and dobro) and my fiddle, melodeon, mandolin, flute, accordion and sax.  Oddly enough, we don't actually play all these instruments at the same time - a certain amount of pic'n'mix goes on which adds a bit of variety (as well as chaos) to the show.  

Belfast-born John was with Murphy's Marbles for 4  years, playing Tramore and Dungarvan Irish music festivals and the  famous Cheltenham Irish Week in the "Guinness Village" at the race  course for 3 years running.  He played in the backing band for Sean Cannon of the  Dubliners when on tour.

Robbie plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and various other instruments with strings. This may lead to the occasional surprise, to the rest of the band as well as to the audience, but we savour creativity in all its forms... He started off playing classic rock in Kent, gradually evolving northwards to study music and  play in  varied bands, from pop to folk  and country to heavy metal.  As a session player he's played and sung at festivals throughout the UK and Europe as well as on TV. He likes real ale, pork scratchings and Airedale terriers.


With the Blarney, I play  fiddle, accordion, sax and flute, with the odd burst of mandolin and guitar for the sake of variety.   There are occasional bursts of harmonica just to prove I can.  We won't talk about the trombone.

The band’s been playing for quite a number of years now, several before I joined them about four years back (replacing Chris Perry on fiddle) and it’s now over a year since Robbie replaced Glynne on mandola, who in his turn had replaced Ralph on the banjo.  We mostly play pubs because they have beer, although we have also played for quite a few birthday parties, the odd wedding, a beer festival or two and probably some other events that have slipped my increasingly doddery memory.

Quite a few of the songs we play now are written by myself, although John always vets them to make sure they sound Irish enough… and makes me rewrite the damn things if they don’t.  That way, my worst excesses get curbed before they upset any of the punters… I tend to specialise in the humorous or chorussy side of the Irish music, while John is a ballad singer par excellence and Robbie adds a much more contemporary sound to the songs that he sings.

The band’s just got a new CD out - a few of the tracks (all written by yours truly) are on the player above and the rest are available from us at gigs or via email - check out the band’s website for further details.  As in the sets we play, there’s some traditional music, both sung and instrumental, on the CD.

Sometimes they regress me into being a Caller again and we transmogrify ourselves into a fully fledged ceilidh band, so that  we can steer the dancers into the properly chaotic patterns that constitute a ceilidh or barn dance.  But not for weddings… I keep telling them I’ve retired from Calling, but they bully me out of it every now and then.  And I must admit I enjoy it when it happens.


Kiss the Blarney