Sheer cheek. That's what put a tenor banjo in the hands of then-8-year-old Enda Scahill.
Scahill, 34, is now a multiple All-Ireland banjo champion and member of the international touring traditional Irish group The Brock McGuire Band. At the onset of his musical career, though, childish impertinence compelled him to raise his hand when his school music teacher asked who wanted to play the tenor banjo.
IF YOU GO
* What: The Brock McGuire Band.
* When: 8 p.m. Thursday.
* Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
* Admission: $15.
* Phone: 624-5347.
* Venue website: www.barkinglegs.org.
* Related links at fyi.timesfreepress.com.
(Individual discographies of the members of The Brock McGuire Band are numerous, but these are albums they have released together, including as Moving Cloud.)
1995: "Moving Cloud"
2005: "Brock McGuire Band"
Tenor banjo player Enda Scahill said the band is halfway through recording its next album, expected to be released in spring. The group is working with mandolinist Ricky Skaggs and guitarist Bryan Sutton in Nashville on a blend of traditional Irish and American bluegrass music.
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"It's just as well she didn't say, 'Who wants to play the bagpipes?' I would have been in trouble," he said, laughing, during a phone interview from his home in Galway City, Ireland.
Despite his lack of seriousness in taking it up, Scahill said he quickly discovered a deep and abiding love for the instrument's verve.
"There's something in the banjo that I was always drawn to," he said. "There's a rebel energy to the banjo."
Scahill will be performing alongside the rest of The Brock McGuire Band on the stage at Barking Legs Theater on Thursday.
Scahill initially began performing with accordionist Paul Brock and fiddler Manus McGuire in 2001 as members of the band Moving Cloud. Moving Cloud soon disbanded, and Brock and McGuire re-formed under their current name.
After almost a decade, Scahill said he's grown tremendously as a performer thanks to his bandmates' willingness to explore new musical styles. A longtime fan of ragtime, bluegrass and old-time, he said the band has begun, in recent years, to add tunes from those styles to its repertoire, which is also infused with Scottish, Nova Scotian and French-Canadian tunes.
So even though American audiences might not be used to seeing a banjo played with a pick instead of with the finger picks common to bluegrass music, Brock McGuire and the banjo both definitely cross over genre boundaries, Scahill said.
Which makes Scahill something of a cheeky musical ambassador.
"There's a great soul to (the banjo)," he said. "In a lot of ways, I think everybody loves the banjo, even people who have only a passing interest in the music."
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...