A St. Patrick’s Day miracle
Banshee’s Wail survives boating mishaps, line-up changes and house fires to deliver Celtic rock to Winnipeggers
The conversation with Winnipeg Celtic rock band Banshee’s Wail wandered as far off topic as their band members have traveled over the last few years.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, three of the five members of Banshee’s Wail – Brendan Jowett (who plays guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals), his brother Murray Jowett (on fiddle and gang vocals) and drummer Nick Turnbull – updated me on the band’s latest plans; that is, when we weren’t talking about media blackouts, Folk Fest, getting shanghaied or pirates.
Formed in 2005, Banshee’s Wail has seen some major changes to their lineup and their sound over the past six years.
After a breakup in 2007, followed by a house fire that destroyed all of their instruments and equipment, the band was blessed with what Brendan called “a St. Patrick’s Day miracle.”
“The house burned down in February and St. Patrick’s Day was in March and we managed to replace our gear, train a new drummer and learn a bunch of new tunes in time for the show,” regaled Murray.
The original lineup changed to include Turnbull on drums and Sims on guitar. The band members agreed that these adjustments helped expand and evolve their sound.
“It allowed us to start using different types of instrumentation, like when Adam’s playing guitar, Brendan can switch it up and play mandolin,” said Murray. “We’re really taking the time to consider the subtleties and there’s a little more direction.
“We’re actually listening to each other now, too,” he laughed, alluding to brotherly brawls over the band in the past.
“It’s become a lot more collaborative over the last few years,” agreed Brendan Jowett, who used to write all of the musical parts as well as lyrics for each band member.
Banshee’s Wail uses traditional Irish and Celtic folk song lyrics and puts their own modern spin on them.
Murray said this allows the band to focus on giving each song innovative and creative qualities while remaining true to the classic genre.
Collectively, the band members have covered nearly every continent in their travels over the past few years, bringing home new instruments, new sounds and new influences to incorporate into the band’s music.
Between gigs and planning a summer tour of western Canada, Banshee’s Wail plans to release a new EP around May of this year, tentatively titled Drinking, Fighting, Sailing, Love – topics that tend to be the main themes of their songs.
The drinking, fighting and love sounded feasible, but it turns out Turnbull is the only one in the band who actually has sailing experience – except he doesn’t have such great luck with boats.
On a past canoe trip heading down to New Orleans, Murray and Turnbull ran into some trouble around Idaho.
“Their canoe sank,” quipped Brendan.
“It capsized,” corrected Turnbull, smiling.
-See Banshee’s Wail live Thursday, March 17, at Dylan O’Connor’s Irish Pub, and Friday, March 18, at Shannon’s Irish Pub
-Music starts at 9 p.m. on March 17, and 10 p.m. on March 18
-Admission is $8 at the door
Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)