Gig Seeker Pro


Douglas, Isle of Man, Isle of Man | Established. Jan 01, 2012

Douglas, Isle of Man, Isle of Man
Established on Jan, 2012
Band World Celtic




"Barrule Album Review"

“The unique sound of traditional Manx music is the Celtic world’s best-kept secret,” boasts the flyer for the debut album by this gifted and versatile new trio, who are named after the Isle’s famous summit. And not without justification, for the distinctive and powerful sound the three young musicians make is most persuasive. Two of its three members – dynamic accordion wizard Jamie Smith and bouzoukist Adam Rhodes – are of course already famed for their roles in the award-winning band Mabon, and their teaming with charismatic 20-year- old fiddle player Tomás Callister is nothing short of inspired. Together their penchant for bold and sensitive arrangements enables them to present, alongside a number of self-penned items including some tunes by Tomás and Adam themselves, some fresh takes on indigenous Manx music that must surely now signal the arrival of that repertoire onto the world stage.

I don’t wish to get drawn into the “evoking the natural beauty of the island and the lives of its inhabitants” cliché response, but at the same time there’s a very special quality to the music- making here that must surely embody something of the genius loci, and there can be no denying that the diversity of the material chosen for this collection is done due justice in Barrule’s exciting performances. The sheer richness of their trio sound enables them to present the best possible case for the music, which takes in rousing marches like the stirring disc opener, a driving set of Manx jigs (Engage!), a gleeful Manx variant on the common tune Mona’s Delight (Europop Vona) and the bleak and hypnotic drone-based O My Graih which segues into the slowburning, widescreen disc finale Irree Ny Greiney, which is based on a song by Bob Carswell about the rising of the sun.

The album was recorded by Dylan Fowler at his Abergavenny studios, and Dylan also contributes guitar, lap steel and tabwrdd to the mix, other guests being Malcolm Stitt, David Kilgallon, Clare Salaman and Will Long – and vocalist Gregory Joughin, who sings on one of his own compositions (In Search Of Manannan) as well as on the disc’s standout track She Lhong Honnick Mee (I Saw A Ship Sailing), one of a pair of arrangements of traditional Manx songs. On Greg’s other original song here, Langness, it’s Jamie who takes the vocal lead.

The whole package is appealing too, for enterprisingly, the accompanying booklet is divided into English and Manx halves, and no salient information appears to be lacking. A very fine release which should let the hitherto unfairly-neglected Manx cat well and truly out of the bag – and not before time.

David Kidman
The Living Tradition - The Living Tradition

"Barrule Album Review"

Barrule is the debut album from a trio called Barrule, three young men, all already at the top of their game. Jamie Smith (Mabon) on accordion, Tomas Callister on fiddle, and Adam Rhodes playing bouzouki. They are joined on this recording by other musicians from Marish, adding all kinds of colour to the process. The album is all about the Isle of Man, about which I am no expert, apart from knowing about TT races and cats without tails, and includes sleeve notes in both English and Manx Gaelic.

The music throws up some interesting challenges about the place of the island in the Gaelic music idiom; I heard some references to Irish, Scottish and Breton styles throughout. There is a rendition of ‘Mylecharaine’s March’, apparently the inspiration for the Manx national anthem, and the equally anthemic ‘I Saw a Ship Sailing’ (‘She Lhong Honnick Mee’) which I can nearly sing in Manx now! Then the hurdy gurdy kicks in on ‘In Search Of Manannan’, and you’re taken to France.

The instrumental tracks stand out for me, well recorded and beautifully played. I don’t know if it’s a style thing, but many of them start with ambient noodling before hitting the tunes, which after a few listens left me wanting the tune to begin. The ‘Allen Barbara’ set is a great example of tunes well played with creative, interesting chord structures underneath. Some of the tracks, such as ‘Five Hours Behind’, especially when the piano comes in, have a La Bottine feel about them; very clever.

A marvellous piece of cheesy daftness is a track called ‘Europop Vona’ which has a beginning and end worthy of a Eurovision entry, with a version of ‘Mona’s Delight’ tucked inside it. I also need to record the unusual use of the words ‘Eighteen Monuments to Genocide’ in a song called ‘Langness’ about a failed attempt to build a golf course on the island.

So, is this representative of the music of the Isle of Man? I don’t know, but it’s a great listen.

Gareth Kiddier - EFDSS Magazine

"Barrule Album Review"


From October last year, I’ve been bursting to tell you about a simply wonderful, fabulous album, simply overflowing with Manx music and hidden, rich culture, laden with shimmering fiddle, banjo, piano accordion, bouzouki and soaring, gritty vocals... the trouble is, Jamie Smith, the South Wales accordion wizard and prolific composer, had at least three new CDs to juggle with at the end of last year, and he asked everybody concerned to delay Barrule’s debut album for review. It’s been really worth the wait.

Barrule takes its name from the famous Manx summit where the celtic god Manannan MacLir built his fortress. All the members of Barrule are members of Jamie Smith’s Mabon family as well; bouzouki player Adam Rhodes, born in England, moved to Mann at the age of eight, got involved in Manx music, a member of innovative celtic five-piece King Chiaullee; and stunning 19-year- old fiddler Tomás Callister, depping for Oli Wilson Dixon and a member of local Manx group The Reeling Stones.

Barrule recorded the whole album at respected jazz guitarist Dylan Fowler’s Abergavenny studio (who’s Oli’s step-dad, playing for Oli and Jamie in the trio Alaw.) The CD features the harsh and beautiful voice of Greg Goughin, Jamie’s father-in-law, which is simply searing on 'In Search Of Manannan' - and he and the band deserve a mighty hit in the Manx-language 'She Lhong Honnick Mee' (which is released as a single.) 'Arrane Y Chlean' is starkly beautiful and 'The Girls Of Ballydoole' set fires on all cylinders. From 'Mylecharaine’s March' all the way to 'Irree Ny Greiney', Tom’s fiddle is mesmerising, Adam’s bouzouki joyfully sings and Jamie’s accordion is off on orbit - that’s how bloody good the band is.

Mick Tems - Folk Wales Magazine

"Barrule Album Review"

It’s not often that I get to review an album whose declared intention is to bring an entire, previously neglected, sub-genre of music to its audience. But that is what Barrule and their self-titled album are about and the sub-genre in question is traditional music from the Isle of Man.

Barrule are Jamie Smith, Adam Rhodes and Tomas Callister, each of them with strong links to the island. Tom is a native, Adam, although born in England, was brought up on the island and Jamie has married into a family of Manx musicians and dancers. Jamie will be familiar to many as the front man of Welsh band Jamie Smith’s Mabon and Adam is also part of that line up. Tom has so far made his musical mark mainly on the island where, although still only 19, he has for several years been a major figure on the traditional music scene.

In one sense, the Manx language, Gaelg, the island’s strand of Gaelic, died on 27 December 1974 with the death of the Ned Maddrell, the last native speaker. But, for several years before, there had been strenuous efforts to revive the language and, with it, preserve the folk lore and traditional culture of the island. The Manx Heritage Foundation was set up in 1982, to provide a focus and stimulus for these activities and in furthering this aim, the Foundation has funded the production of the Barrule album.

The thirteen tracks on the album include 4 songs, 2 traditional and 2 penned by Greg Joughin. Greg is a fine singer of Manx Gaelic song and also happens to be Jamie’s father-in-law. He’s one of several guest musicians on the album, taking lead vocal on the 2 Gaelic songs and also on first vocal track, In Search of Mannanan. Greg’s lyrics for this song are inspired by the legend of the ancient Manx God, Manannan Mac Lir. Like many other powerful figures of legend, the Manx people can turn to Mannanan for help in times of threat to the island. But, there’s a twist, in that Manannan isn’t at all easy to find though rumours persist that he lurks around the summit of a mountain in the south of the island. The name of that mountain? Barrule.

The title of a popular 18th Century ballad, Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey, translates as The Sheep Under the Snow and its inclusion on the album was uncannily prescient as vicious snowfall towards the end of March triggered just such a crisis for many Manx farmers. Barrule responded by offering the track for download in exchange for donations to the Isle of Man Agricultural Benevolent Trust. Over £6000 has been raised so far.

Barrule describe themselves as a Manx Trad Power Trio and Folk Radio UK had firsthand experience of this, listening to their storming set at the Halsway Manor Hothouse Festival (more on this soon). Their instrumental line up is built around melody from either Jamie’s accordion or Tom’s fiddle whilst much of the power drive comes from Adam’s bouzouki and zouk bass. This core sound was more than sufficient to get the audience moving at Halsway but on the album it is made even richer by several guest appearances. These range from ones you might expect, such as acoustic guitar from Dylan Fowler and Malcolm Stitt and bodhran from Will Lang, to more exotic additions such as lap steel guitar from Dylan Fowler, hurdy gurdy from Clare Salaman and Dylan Fowler (again) with tabrwdd, a distant welsh relative of the bodhran.

The album kicks off with the stirring Mylecharaine’s March, a traditional tune that inspired the Manx national anthem. The album is filled to overflowing with other traditional Manx tunes, most guaranteed to get the feet tapping and, on a good day, dancing round the kitchen. In contrast, O My Graih is a mournful slow air exquisitely rendered on Tom’s fiddle and the closing track. Irree Ny Greiney is a slow-building atmospheric piece based on a song celebrating the rising of the sun originally written by Bob Carswell.

All members of the band, along with several other Manx musicians, have written tunes included on the album. It is a measure of the health of traditionally based music on the island that such a variety of material could be included. On the strength of this debut, Barrule should have no difficulty convincing the world that the music of the Isle of Man is to be celebrated, treasured and above all enjoyed.

Review by: Johnny Whalley - Folk Radio UK

"Barrule Album Review"

Douglas the last frontier... well maybe not but there it sits in the middle of the Irish Sea and we haven’t been paying it enough attention. Apart from motor bikes, Christine Collister and an incoming radio bloke named Kershaw, the Isle of Man hasn’t exactly been on music’s radar. In a tome supposedly devoted to Celtic music, the poor island got but one confused paragraph, lumped in with Cornwall as a tag on to the Welsh chapter. Not exactly up front then.

All of which is unfair. There is a thriving Manx music scene, so no surprise really that it was the Welsh - experts these past few years at promoting self identity - in the shape of a third of Mabon, who threw down the gauntlet when it comes to wider recognition. Barrule, or ‘Baarool’ in Manx, are accordeon master Jamie Smith, bouzouki overlord Adam Rhodes and homeboy fiddler Tomás Callister, who describe their debut as “Manx power trad”, and from the drive and verve of the opening track – which incidentally inspired the Manx national anthem – you can see why. We are then swirled around by pleasingly diverse selections of jigs, reels, marches, source songs and sympathetic self-composition.

True to their intention it isn’t just the featured three who have the spotlight, guest like Gregory Joughin are handed lead vocals, or Dylan Fowler, producer and guitarist, adds splendid instrumental support, especially on lap steel. She Lhong Honnick Mee is a wondrous, light hypnotic thing that manages to conjure a tantalising five minutes and you can see why they’ve chosen it as a free download single. There follows a delightful piano lead air dedicated to jet lag! Jamie Smith gets to front Langness, the only track in English, a tale of rare grasshopper versus a golf course developer, with the grasshopper winning. Hurrah!

Driving a mean melody or two, you’re pointed in the direction of Engage or Europop Vona (which tongue-in-cheek should be entered for that woefully begotten Eurovision thing, it’d win hands down). All this plus Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey (The Sheep Under The Snow) which Horslips did on a long ago Christmas album. Here it wears different clothing but is dedicated to struggling Manx shepherds after the harsh winter.

Success in all intentions, despite the unexpected fact it was recorded in Abergavenny. You’ll be needing this sharpish and the Isle of Man shows it can hold its own among more obvious cousins.

Simon Jones - fRoots Magazine

"Barrule Album Review"

An acoustic trio who are set to place that small island in the Irish Sea securely on the folk map, Barrule (or Baarool in the Manx Gaelic tongue which features in several of the songs on the album) give their name to their self titled debut album. Taking their name from the famous Isle Of Man summit which even adorns the album cover, the band are made up of Mabon frontman and accordionist Jamie Smith, Smith’s Mabon colleague, bouzouki playing Adam Rhodes and 20 year old Tomas Callister who contributes both fiddle and tenor banjo..

The Manx theme is a strong and all encompassing influence and one which runs throughout the whole project – not only with the title and moody cover art but also in the fact that the recording was funded by the Manx Heritage Foundation and also features Manx Gaelic singer Greg Joughlin on the majority of lead vocals, backed by additional guest musicians trading under the name ‘Marish’. As the rear cover proudly states – ‘Music from the Isle Of Man’ – the only thing which isn’t Manx about the project is that the recording took place in Wales – although just a short hop across the water!

Lyrical themes and inspiration from the island infuse the songs and the tunes – the gentle Langness, for example tells of the plight of a rare species of grasshopper under threat when proposals for a new golf course threatened its environment. With the song written at the time to raise awareness, Mother Nature held firm as the application was dropped. While rare insects may be an unusual theme for a song, much more in keeping with the mystical nature of the Barrule peak is In Search Of Manannan, a rousing call to arms to seek the ancient God of Mann who is believed to live in a castle at the top of Barrule.

The sets of tunes which are dotted into the album sequencing are nothing less than a delight. It’s easy to see the links between the traditional Irish and Scots Celtic sounds and that of the Manx music and again, many of the tunes and jigs and reels are connected back to the traditions and culture of the island. The opening Mylecharaine’s March is exactly that – an uplifting march based on the tune that inspired that island’s National Anthem, while The Girls Of Balladoole and Allen Barbara all combine lively tunes with a local flavour either in their origins or their variations on Manx themes.

Five Hours Behind – written by Adam Rhodes, finds the mood much more peaceful and calming and really goes some way to evoke the contrasting moods of not only the album but the landscapes and environment which they portray. None more so than the extended closing piece Irree Ny Greiney; an instrumental based on a song about the rising of the sun. The brooding and slowly building atmosphere it creates being a perfect way to close the album.

It’s the combination of digging into the rich heritage of the island and its partnership with the musical soundscape which matches the physical landscape which makes this quite an impressive debut. As a preview, a free download of She Long Honnick Me (‘I Saw A Ship Sailing’) is available on the band’s website. It’s a perfect taster for the album, sung in Manx Gaelic and with a lilting melody, rhythmic fiddle and bouzouki and an ideal bait for tempting in an inquisitive folk community.

The album is released on May 20th with album launch gigs in Newcastle on May 30th and a Welsh launch at the Gower Folk Festival on June 16th. Other live dates are dotted around England, Scotland, Wales and ………….Belgium, and certainly promise to be a live extravaganza if the album is anything to go by. - Louder Than War

"Barrule Album Review"

The Isle of Man may be the last untapped treasure-house of traditional music in the British Isles. Untapped until now, that is, for here are Barrule to change all that. Not that there aren’t other Manx bands but they’ve kept themselves a secret.

Barrule are Jamie Smith and Adam Rhodes of Mabon together with Mabon associate and native Manxman, Tomás Callister, and the bulk of the music on their debut album is traditional Manx. What does it sound like? Well, imagine that the Scots and English hadn’t spent centuries beating the crap out of each other and instead had sat down for a few sessions. It sounds like that. The language, to judge from the vocals, is like Scots Gaelic with bits of Welsh and there are elements of Irish in both words and music to spice up the mix.

Two of the songs are by Manx nationalist Gregory Joughin; ‘Langness’ suggest that there are Donald Trumps everywhere and that he doesn’t like them. There are some might tunes and a standout traditional song, ‘She Lhong Honnick Mee’, while the chaps allow themselves to have some fun with ‘Europop Vona’ and indulge in a big finish with ‘Irree Ny Greiney’.

Dai Jeffries - R2 Magazine

"Barrule Album Review"


Tomas Callister, Jamie Smith and Adam Rhodes (plus half a dozen guest musos) lead this innovative charge into the music of the Isle of Man, and can all play very, very well on fiddle, piano box and bouzouki. The album vocals are split between accordionist Jamie and guest singer Greg Loughin, whose traditional She Lhong Honnick Mee is also offered as a free download on the Barrule website. The 13 tracks are a contemporary expression of the character of the separately evolving Manx musical identity, and are heavily laden with atmosphere and vitality – yet do not sound either Irish, Scots nor English. So, full marks to the funding by the Manx Heritage Foundation.

Norman Chalmers - Scotland on Sunday

"Barrule Album Review"

* * * *

This eponymously titled debut album from the young Manx trio of fiddler Tomás Callister, accordionist Jamie Smith and Adam Rhodes on bouzouki, plus guests, aims to elevate the profile of their island’s music. Players of conviction and passion, they make a fine job of it.

Taking their name from the Manx peak which was, according to legend, the stronghold of the island god Manannan, they deliver She Lhong Honnick Mee – “I Saw a Ship Sailing” – in stirring anthemic form while another traditional song in Manx Gaelic laments snowbound flocks, with Callister’s fiddle nicely following Greg Joughlin’s vocal line, and resonating all too clearly with this freezing spring’s grim impact on hill sheep farms.

Instrumentally, up-tempo material such as the The Girls of Balladoole or theEngage! set are played with terrific zest. In contrast, the fiddle sounds stark and spare over organ-like accordion in the air O My Graih, its origins lost in the mists of time.

JIM GILCHRIST - The Scotsman

"Barrule Album Review"


Barrule take their name from the second highest peak in the Isle of Man - home to the Celtic god Manannan Mac Lir, who is summoned in the second track of Tomás Callister, Adam Rhodes and Jamie Smith's debut album. This follows 'Mylecharaine's March’, the tune that became the Manx national anthem. Barrule is more than a group; it's an assertion of cultural identity, an insistence that attention be paid to the music of that most neglected of Celtic nations.

The Isle of Man's music deserves this: there are fine tunes, such as Arrane y Chlean, a lovely cradle song; the stonking 'Nelson's Tonic' by flute master Peddyr Cubberley, and the melancholic 'O My Graih’. All are delivered with precision on fiddle, accordion and bouzouki.

The singing, sadly, isn’t so strong, but 'Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey' (The Sheep Under the Snow) is an 18th century ballad that exemplifies the relevance of traditional song. In March this year the hill farmers of Man endured the predicament the song describes and Barrule raised £6,000 through track downloads for the island's Agricultural Benevolent Trust. Barrule are engaging culturally and linguistically; Barrule is engaging musically.

Julian May - Songlines Magazine

"Barrule Album Review"

ANOTHER young band with an exciting sound is the trio from the Isle of Man called Barrule. Named after a legendary Manx mountain, the band comprises 19-year-old fiddle-player Tomas Callister, accordion player Jamie Smith (of Mabon) and Adam Rhodes on bouzouki. It's an interesting acoustic blend and songs such as The Girls of Balladoole and Allen Barbara have a real zest and quality. - The Telegraph

"Barrule Album Review"

It is not often that you see music from Isle of Man storming its way so forcefully though the Celtic folk world but it’s mostly certainly good to see. The band Barrule consists of three young men playing a variety of accordion and stringed instruments to present good old fashion Celtic tunes.

Their self-titled album kick starts us with a wonderful bouncy set called Mylecharaine’s March which is an instrumental set of clear Celtic tradition and presents us with an early view of the playing ability of the band. It is a set which is full of energy and foot tapping to ready you for what is to follow.

Big surprises come in In Search of Manannan. The first of which being the homage it pays to the band’s Manx roots as Manannan is the Celtic God who set up his fortress on the Manx summit of Barrule. Here is a great reference to the band’s name, their homeland and of course that big connection to the Celtic Folk world.

This track provides us with other lovely surprises too as we get our first taste of vocals, which are raspy and rugged but perfectly fitting with this style of music! This track is not the only tribute to the Isle of Man either as Langness also provides a tale set there.

The album does not over play vocals, it relies on the power of the instruments and adds vocals in where they are appropriate, such as with She Lhong Honnick Mee, where the Celtic lyrics softly swim along with the music without in any way overbearing it.

Not all tunes are bouncy sets either. Five Hours Behind gives us a much slower track which acts as a soothing mid-album break before merging into another faster track called Allen Barbara.

The liveliest tracks on the album are The Girls of Balladoole, ”Engage!” and Europop Vona, all three of these tracks use the instruments to their full potential to give bouncy and all round enjoyable sets to listen to.

Paul Rawcliffe - Bright Young Folk



(self titled)

Released in the UK through Proper Music on 20th May 2013, Barrule's eponymous debut album showcases a rich collection of material from the Isle of Man. From rousing marches, jigs and reels to sorrowful slow airs and beautiful songs sung in both English and the Manx Gaelic language.

Funded by the Manx Heritage Foundation, the 13-track album features lead vocals from Manx Gaelic singer Greg Joughin as well as guest musicians Malcolm Stitt (Boys of the Lough, Deaf Shepherd) on acoustic guitar, Dylan Fowler (acoustic guitar, lap steel), David Kilgallon on piano, Clare Salaman on hurdy gurdy and Will Lang on bodhran. Produced by Jamie Smith the album was recorded at Welsh virtuoso guitarist Fowlers Stiwdio Felin Fach in Abergavenny.



Steeped in the history and mythology of its Celtic and Viking ancestry, the Isle of Man sits quietly in the Irish Sea. Continuously self-governed since its parliament was created by Viking invaders over a thousand years ago, few people outside the Isle of Man know of this singular culture: a language and music so nearly lost, born through recent generations on the tongues of a mere handful of families, it now grows strong again.

On the South of the island lies a summit scarred by the ruins of a once imposing iron-age hill fort. The old stories claim that atop this peak, named 'South Barrule', the Celtic God Manannan Mac Lir once dwelt, casting out his cloak of mist to shelter the island and its people from invasion. This inspirational landscape embodies the powerful and striking experience of Barrule in concert.

A fusion of three distinct musical forces – Mabon front-man and accordion wizard Jamie Smith, gifted 21 year-old fiddle-player Tomas Callister and versatile accompanist Adam Rhodes (Mabon) on bouzouki – Barrule's fresh approach to traditional Manx music evokes an atmosphere that reflects the diverse natural beauty of the island: from rousing marches, jigs and reels to sorrowful slow airs and beautiful songs sung in both English and the Manx Gaelic language. Stories are told of ancient Celtic Gods, of unrequited love, of the toils of island life. And always the sea is close by.

Formed in 2012, Barrule’s three legs have hit the ground running with major festival appearances including Celtic Connections, WOMAD Charlton Park, Sidmouth, Festival Interceltique de Lorient and the National Celtic Festival in Melbourne. Their debut self-titled album won many plaudits and has been awarded ‘Best Debut’ in the Spiral Earth awards 2014. Download a free single from the album at

Band Members