“one of the most exciting and engaging bands to burst onto the Irish music scene in recent years” BBC’s Lynette Fay
“The Rapparees are a five piece Folk outfit based in Belfast and since meeting at school in 2004, a unique chemistry has formed between the friends. They began playing music around local clubs and it wasn’t long before the distinctive sound of The Rapparees was cemented at university in Belfast. From there, the lads quickly gained a reputation as one of the most hard-working, enthusiastic and versatile bands in Irish music with Irish Music Magazine remarking that they “…straddle the line between the traditional and contemporary with ease”.
The band line-up features Joe McKeague, one of Ireland’s finest ballad singers, perfectly complimented by the rousing voice of his cousin Gerard McNeill. Kevin Mawdsley’s charismatic onstage presence on fiddle is mirrored by energetic bass player Damien McErlean. Talented guitar and banjo player Conor McCaffrey adds to Gerard’s songwriting to give the band a contemporary feel.
Their debut album Clarity, released in 2008 was very well received in Ireland and abroad and The Rapparees have been busy promoting their music ever since. Their exciting mix of contemporary self-penned songs and traditional songs and tunes has led to rave reviews along the way, being described as, “a welcome surprise” by Hot Press Magazine, with top folk music website Folking.com saying “Clarity is possessed of a great deal of spirit, and this spirit is enforced and elevated by some terrific playing”.
Over the last few years the lads have established an international profile with headlining performances in France, Norway and Scotland. In January 2010 The Rapparees were signed by Germany’s premier Celtic music agency, Magnetic Music, joining the ranks of the likes of Solas, Beoga, Carlos Nunez and Dervish. In Ireland, support slots with Shane MacGowan and Cara Dillon as well as performances at Ballyshannon Folk festival, Celtic Fusion and Gig n’ the Bann have ensured The Rapparees a fast blooming following at home.
Having been described by Irish Music Magazine as “one to watch” for the future, Feb 2011 sees the release of the eagerly awaited follow-up to Clarity. “Wrapped up”, produced by renowned multi-instrumentalist Liam Bradley of Beoga, sees The Rapparees bringing their striking new take on a classic genre to audiences on a global scale.”