The Ballybeg Band was formed in late May, 2008 from remnants of Póg, by musicians who have shared the stage together in various bands. The Ballybeg Band is becoming well known throughout the Metro Atlanta area, the state of Georgia, and we are expanding our sphere into the Southeast. We also have a core of enthusiastic fans in Boston and Chicago, and wherever Irish music is played. We are also featured in MySpace and Facebook.
We dispatch a periodic EM mailing list to fans and supporters. Want to join? Please apply on the page "Contact Us."
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTISTS
KEN SHEARER - Ken (“The Chordmeister”) originally hails from Niagara Falls. An Ed Sullivan show back in 1957 introduced Ken to a gyrating "Hound Dog" of a singer holding a leather-bound Martin dreadnought.
Ken had the good fortune to study jazz and orchestration under Charlie Chiarenza, who became principal guitarist for Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass . The folk-rock boom of the late '60's brought Ken home to his acoustic roots. When Ken heard Scottish troubadour Dougie MacLean he realized his strong affinity for Celtic music, forming Celtic bands The Moor The Merrier, and Tin Penny Thistle. Ken's current band Caledonia Swing blends Scottish Swing with Euro cafe jazz and Celtic material.
Living in Athens affords a boost of creative musical energy, and there Ken forged links with Banish Misfortune, later to become Magpie Paddy. To the BBB Ken brings invaluable versatility and flexibility, a consistent and driving impetus, and a rich chordal tapestry.
LAUREN McDONOUGH - Being born on St Patrick's Day, it was only fitting that Lauren jump into the Irish music scene with a passion. She started fiddling at age 10, and has taken lessons with various teachers across the US and Ireland, but attributes much of her learning to riding the session and festival circuit for a glorious year abroad on the Emerald Isle. Back in the US, her 20th birthday was spent playing with the University of Notre Dame's Symphony Orchestra and the Chieftains at Carnegie Hall. Though, she is convinced that some of the best playing happens at random times, especially on ferry boats in the wee hours of the morning. Lauren brings to The Ballybeg Band a rich package of Irish experience with sparkling fiddling that sizzles, and a brilliant and soulful improvisational technique. Lauren possesses a melodious voice of crystalline purity and the BBB is encouraging her to develop this musical facet.
SÉAMUS (James) DUNNING - A native of Planet Earth, Séamus (“the Mad Piper”) was raised on brass instruments, but in his twenties, heeded the clarion call of the pipes beckoning towards expression of his atavistic dominant gene. Our man has been known to play the piob mhor warpipes, but specializes in Irish uilleann pipes and whistles, absorbing the craft in Germany and in Éire sitting humbly at the feet of renowned piper Finbar Furey. He has been 4X with The Chieftains on stage. He founded bands Séamus & Dave, Blackwater, Meadowlark and Doctor Paddy for Irish and international music in Athens, GA and The Bog Devils in Buffalo, NY during the 1980’s, and joined Póg in 2006. He was featured in the first North Georgia Folk Festival (Oct 1984); Doctor Paddy was featured in the first ATL Celtic Festival in 1987. SMP performed with Kathleen Donohoe at Ri Ra in ATL during 2009-2010. He was Irish when Irish wasn’t cool.
Instruments: Uilleann pipes, tin whistles, recorders, vocals; arrangements and original ballads in folk tradition.
OWEN DEVINE - Owen started playing the drums at age 11 and hasn’t stopped since. Over the years he performed professionally across a wide range of styles including orchestral, jazz, rock, country, and even spent a year with a polka band. Owen first entered the Athens music scene in the early 1980s when he was drummer for the musician’s favorite jazz/rock fusion band Mélange. Owen got back to his roots and got hooked on Irish music 10 years ago when he started playing bodhrán with the Athens-based ceili band Banish Misfortune, and later with a variety of local Celtic groups including Short Road Home, Caledonia Swing, and Póg. In addition to The Ballybeg Band, Owen also appears with the Athens Celtic/Old Time band Calico Jig. Owen brings to The Ballybeg Band master percussionship: bodhrán, djembe, dumbeg, spoons, rope tension snare, bones, etc., and scintillating vocals that complement the BBB’s fun approach to Irish music.