Touted by the New York Times as “the best folk band to have come out of Scotland in the past 20 years”, The Paul McKenna Band is set to blow crowds away at this year’s National Celtic Festival.
The June 8-11 festival arrives to Portarlington’s foreshore this weekend and Paul McKenna said after performing as a solo artist last year, was looking forward to returning with his bandmates Ewan Baird, Conor Markey, Robbie Greig and Conal McDonagh.
“It’s a lot different performing in a band compared to as a solo act, when it’s just you you’ve got a little bit more freedom on stage, you can change it up a bit more,” McKenna said.
“With a band, though, you can’t but it’s a bigger sound and more fun, you can play more instrumentals that get people up and dancing a bit more. It’s a completely different kind of show.”
Originally from Glasgow, he said the band had been in Australia for two weeks having returned from performing in Canada, and prior to that had been working on their new album.
“It’s great to be back in Australia, the biggest show we ever played was here was on New Year’s Eve at the Woodford Folk Festival, that was huge. Performing live is great fun, it’s music you love playing and it’s a great feeling to be able to play live, especially at festivals.
“The best thing about a Celtic festival is that everyone knows the type of music you’re going to be playing too and they’re going to find something about your music they’ll really love.
“I’m really looking forward to watching Altan perform, they’re an amazing Irish traditional band and we normally get the chance to take in some performances when we’re not on stage.”
Having started singing as a seven-year-old and learning the guitar and piano music has always been a passion of McKenna’s, and he said that he, alongside his band mates, draws inspiration from all types of music.
“We all listen to and are inspired by all types of genres, especially now with music changing so much, everything around you inspires you in some way.
“Our sound is definitely modern mixed with the past. It’s riddled in Celtic, we write a lot of our songs and people who usually listen to folk music get something from our sound too.”
The festival kicks off this Friday and runs until Sunday with a huge program of national and international acts scheduled to perform.
For more information, head to nationalcelticfestival.com.