Damien O’Kane with family & friends
Underneath The Stars Festival audiences are no stranger to Irish musician and singer Damien O’Kane. He has donned its stages with wife and festival patron Kate Rusby since Year 1! But he’s also done the same with his own bands and guises from the beginning, most recently with Ron Block in 2018 to launch and indeed celebrate their debut, duo banjo record Banjophony, an album full of excitement and banjo’s.
Steeped in traditional Irish music, Damien grew up in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Touring the world with his very own family band, he developed a deep respect and understanding of the folk tradition but also forged a healthy appetite to explore its broadest borders and test its boundaries. Damien will be joined by his entire immediate family members (as well as other guests) for a special one-off show, right here at UTS 2019! Mum and dad Colette and Joe, both sisters Briege and Sorcha and his three brothers Aidan, Peter and Feargal will join him on stage for the first time since they shared one in 2000. In his own words, O’Kane said “This is where I came from and I owe everything to my family. They are always rooted in my music and they have planted the seeds for my career.”
Described by Jo Whiley of BBC Radio 2 as a ‘sonic architect,’ Damien has twice been nominated at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. His radical and revelatory approach to his music have earned him credit as “one of the most vital talents in modern folk music” by fRoots magazine. His 2016 record of mainly traditional Irish songs ‘Areas of High Traffic’ catapulted him into the media with its groundbreaking, contemporary soundscapes and earned him a nomination for the prestigious ‘Best Album’ at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He followed this up in 2017 with another innovative and carefully crafted album ‘Avenging & Bright’ praised as one of the top 10 albums of 2017 by Mike Harding. Renowned for his warm and emotive, Northern Irish brogue and his exhilarating banjo mastery, O’Kane is a highly rated and skilled tunemaker, researcher, bandleader and a musician of rich imagination and fearless vision.