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Double Bill: Damien O’Kane & Ron Block, and Shirley Grimes

We are delighted to welcome Damien O’Kane back in the company of Alison Krauss & Union Station’s banjo star, Ron Block – a man with 14 Grammy awards to his name. On foot of their spectacular duo album, Banjophony, this union of transatlantic cultures melds two different banjo styles to captivating effect.

Irish born and raised singer songwriter, Shirley Grimes, is a household name in Switzerland where she now lives. She has toured with the likes of Van Morrison and Bonnie Raitt and for good reason as her voice has been described as “the most beautiful voice in Switzerland” by the critics.


Widely regarded as two of the greatest exponents of the instrument they have collaborated to create arguably their own genre, something never heard before! Says Damien: “We coined the phrase ‘Banjophony’ meaning the wondrous sounds of the banjo and decided that described the album well. What that means lies within the virtuosity and beauty of the music”. A union of transatlantic cultures, Banjophony melds two different styles and approaches to the banjo to captivating effect. Every note is precise and in exactly the right place, rising and falling with ‘question and answer’ picking and plucking, the light perfectly balanced by the shade – the musicians demonstrating high level connectivity and empathy. The end result is a sparkling rollercoaster record which showcases an instrument that proves incredibly versatile in the right hands – both showy and subtle.

The banjo brothers-in-arms are joined by a host of top guests including world renowned fiddle player Stuart Duncan who has performed with artists such as Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Robert Plant and Emmy-Lou Harris. Other stellar guests from the U.S. include mandolin stars Sierra Hull and Sam Bush while on double bass are Barry Bales and Ethan Jodziewicz. From this side of the pond, the star-studded list continues with the inestimable Michael McGoldrick on flute and whistles, Steven Byrnes and David Kosky on guitar throughout, Duncan Lyall on double bass and Moog and Anthony Davis on keyboards.


Despite a successful career that has spanned more than 25 years of predominantly sold out concerts, collaborations with the likes of ‘The Nits’ (Holland) and ‘Värtinä’ (Finland), double bills with ‘Luka Bloom’ or support tours in Germany and Austria with ‘Van Morrison’ and ‘Bonnie Riatt’, chances are you have never heard the name Shirley Grimes

No small wonder: The Irish born and raised singer songwriter left Ireland at the age of 18 and has since then, never played a concert on home turf. That will change this coming Autumn when she will embark on her first tour in Ireland to finally fill the gaping hole in a career that can otherwise only be deemed as remarkable.

Shirley settled in Bern, Switzerland in 1991. She quickly progressed to becoming a household name and a favourite of music critics who dubbed her ‘the most beautiful voice in Switzerland’. For good reason: her voice is an instrument of purity and her earthy songs a harmonious marriage between her musical roots and her individuality. 

Over the years, Shirley has released eight albums and played countless concerts. Her newest album ‘Hold on….’ is a work of wisdom and maturity. It collects 11 poignant songs that are both outspoken about world affairs and intimately personal. The songs are beautiful, the arrangements refined, the voice as honest as ever. ‘Hold on….’ is the sound of sincerity.


"TOP OF THE WORLD ALBUMS" **** Songlines Magazine October 2018

"ALBUM OF THE MONTH"The Guardian, July 2018

“I was utterly blown away by these guys. Exquisite musicianship. My gig of the year.”Ralph McTell

“Beautiful and wild, there are no boundaries here. Something I have never heard before”Jerry Douglas

“Both incredibly acclaimed musicians in their own right.”Mark Radcliffe BBC RADIO 2

"An album of incredibly captivating music’"– FOLK RADIO UK

“Banjophony is the sound of summer…two master musicians”Kate Rusby

***** - Spiral Earth

"A proud, stand-tall album of banjo music"Irish Music Magazine