Barrule come to this year’s Priddy on a high. After bringing their unique music of the Isle of Man to a wider audience with their self-titled debut album in 2013, the young trio have just released their second album, Manannan’s Cloak to great reviews all round. They are opening plenty of eyes and ears to the rich Celtic traditions of Manx music and are entertaining audiences wherever they play.
Priddyfolk.org’s Ann Mees caught up with Barrule at the recent Orkney Folk Festival and spoke to Jamie, Tom and Adam about their music, their travels and the prospect of coming to Priddy…
Will this be the first time you have played in Somerset as Barrule?
Jamie: “Yes. We played at Priddy [with Mabon], a couple of times and so we wanted to bring Barrule down to Priddy this year.”
Tom: “This is the first time at Priddy for Barrule and me but I have heard lots of good things about the festival”
Do you have any favourite moments or memories of playing at Priddy that you can share with us?
Jamie: “The last time Mabon played at Priddy was a Sunday afternoon concert and although it was a seated concert, everyone was up on their feet and dancing around which was really good fun for the band. That was a very memorable gig! Hopefully we can do the same again with Barrule.
At what age did you first become aware of traditional music and what was the first instrument you learned to play?
Tom: “I have always been around it. My Dad and all my family play so we have all grown up with it and been involved from an early age. I started playing around 5 years old and the fiddle was my first instrument”
Jamie: “That is a similar story for all of us. My parents were involved with traditional Welsh dance bands. I grew up in south Wales and was taken along as a baby to watch the musicians and, as a toddler, was given a toy accordion to play along with the band. I played various instruments growing up but kept going back and eventually stuck with the accordion”
Adam: “The first instrument I can remember playing as a toddler was a toy xylophone then later I had piano lessons. I moved to the Isle of Man when I was young and fiddle became my main instrument at that time I now play bouzouki.”
How would you describe Barrule’s music?
Tom: “Really good (of course)” Barrule’s music is almost all traditional tunes from the Isle of Man, also some recently composed (last 50 years) tunes. We describe ourselves as a ‘trad. power trio’. Even though there are only three instruments there is a lot of ‘oomph’ behind it”
Jamie: “We also sing songs in Manx Gaelic, which is a brand of Gaelic which is similar to Scottish and Irish Gaelic but unlike that from Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. They are two quite distinctive types of language”
You have just returned from Canada – how was the trip?
All: “ Brilliant! We went to Quebec which was great fun – good audiences and lovely gigs. We felt very at home there even though we were only there for 3 days. They are so passionate about their music and are a great example of how to successfully export your traditional music around the world. You can see Quebecois musicians all over the world and they have great profiles and project themselves and their music very well. We went to one festival and saw all the Quebecois bands that we know and it seems to be a very close-knit scene. There is possibly state funding behind the music”
Jamie: “We, ourselves, have been lucky enough to have some funding help from the Isle of Man to get started and produce our first album, in 2012, which was in the first year of the band being together. This was a really good help to get onto the first few rungs of the ladder”
What is the story behind your new album’s title?
Tom: “Manannan’s Cloak is the name for the cloak of mist which the resident Celtic sea-god casts over the Isle of Man so that would-be invaders cannot see the island and invade it”
If you weren’t a musician what would you like to be?
Tom: “I have always wanted to be a musician, but, if that wasn’t possible, may be working on a ship at sea.
Jamie: “I would like to be an author and write books”
Adam: (Jokingly) “I’d like to marry a very rich lady and be a house-husband!”
Now for some quickies… beer, wine, whisky or ?
Jamie: “Beer and whisky
Tom: “Red wine and cider so I can’t wait to try some real Somerset cider
All: “We are all fans of Belgian beers. We have been lucky enough to have played Belgium a few times and we always take a car and load it up”
Chips or rice?
Tom: “My Dad once overcooked rice for us all and since then I haven’t touched it! So chips or baked potatoes for me”
Jamie: “Rice with curry but chips with most other things
Jamie: “Good quality Italian pizza – we all like Italian cuisine”
Tom: “Anything my girlfriend cooks is pretty amazing!”
Adam: “Italian cuisine and curries. Especially living in Glasgow as there are some fantastic curry houses and Italian restaurants”
Favourite holiday destination?
All: “This week it is Orkney”
Tom: “I love going to Ireland – great craic and great music! We went to Sardinia, with Mabon, which was absolutely amazing – lovely people, enjoyable pace of life and incredible food”
What would you like to find in the green room backstage?
All: “Bottle of whisky” (jokingly), cold beers, diet coke and plenty of towels, even if it is cold as you get ‘adrenalin sweat’”
Thank you Barrule! We can’t wait to see you at Priddy!
Go to Barrule’s website and download a free track from the new album Manannan’s Cloak!