The Killdares
Gig Seeker Pro

The Killdares

Dallas, Texas, United States | INDIE

Dallas, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Celtic




""Up Against The Lights" is the Real Deal"

The Complete Killdares Experience
By Pete Maher, Midwest Irish Focus
Published: August 1, 2011

When I first met The Killdares – at the 2010 Iowa Irish Fest in Waterloo, Iowa – they had quite literally just finished the initial production of this multimedia package at a show in Dallas and they were understandably excited about it. And here we are, just about a year later, and it is very clear to me now why they were so excited.

That is because “The Killdares – Up Against The Lights” is the real deal. Not only is it a full-length concert video, exceptionally recorded, edited and produced – it is also a double CD of just about every favorite Killdares song or tune with a few previously unreleased stunners tossed in there as well. In both efforts, the talents of all band members are exceptionally well showcased.

From the lead singing and driving drumbeats of band founder Tim Smith and the highland piping of Matt Willis to the lyrical fiddle manipulations of Roberta Rast and the string-bending guitar solos of Brek Lancaster (all backed up on this occasion by some solid bass lines from guest band member Gavin Kelso), the two-disc collection from “Up Against The Lights” could stand out easily in anyone’s collection as a double album worth having all by itself. Including the intro, there are 21 tracks featuring songs written by the band, a cover or two and a number of incredible instrumentals.

The song list begins, naturally enough, with the band’s “Farewell to Decorum” anthem combined with “Spanner in the Works” and takes the listener through a lengthy set list including favorites such as “Everybody Loves a New Beginning,” an original arrangement of the traditional “Cutting Bracken,” a “Secrets of the Day/Gravel Walk” combination, fiddler Roberta Rast’s “Perfect Accident,” and even a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Each track captures perfectly the energy and showmanship The Killdares have honed through their almost 15 years of steadily touring around the country, yet never failing to return to their home base in Dallas, Texas.

But even, as the CD satisfies on such deep aural and emotional levels, the DVD portion of this multimedia extravaganza succeeds in taking that excitement one step further. First off, this is not some one-off performance but a solid two-hour, soup-to-nuts concert experience. With each song meticulously visually choreographed by solid camera placement, non-intrusive camera movement and effective, sometimes exceptional, editing, the production moves swiftly along, always offering the viewer some new visual treat along the way.

The overrall production also showcases each of the main members of the band, allowing each a fair amount of time in the spotlight yet not taking away from the feeling this is a band with no particular superstar aboard – just a fusion of exceptionally talented individuals coming together to entertain with a solid offering of music and enthusiasm.

One thing that did catch my attention on the DVD “extras” however, was a little visual experimentation that tugged at the imagination of an old filmmaker like myself. It was a re-edit of a track from the production – the classic “Whiskey in the Jar” – using footage shot completely by audience members (although I thought I spotted a shot or two from the “professional” footage here and there). Each shot gave credit to the photogrpaher who was taking the footage, whether it was with an iphone, “point and shoot” video camera or a higher-end DSLR. The end result, as much as I would delight to declare a complete cock-up as a former filmmaker, is actually quite a delightful compilation of footage you can only imagine a Killdares fan would replay again and again on their own home computer after having lovingly captured it at a show. In that sense, it is perhaps one of the best ways I have ever seen of truly capturing the “fan” experience on film.

Also included in the “extras” is an wonderful interview with the principal members of the band and not only gives the newcomer an introduction to the band but may offer an insight here and there for even the most well-versed follower of The Killdares as well as giving everyone some insight into the overall chemistry of a successful band.

The Killdares will be returning to the Iowa Irish Fest in Waterloo this year – with copies of “Up Against The Lights” available in their merch tent – and again I expect tp be right up front enjoying the show. But if you can’t get to Iowa in early August, there’s also the Kansas City Irish Fest over Labor Day weekend where The Killdares – one of the first bands to ever play at that particular festival – will be making their triumphant return. Either way, if you leave empty-handed you’ve only yourself to blame. - Midwest Irish Focus

"REVIEW: Up Against The Lights"

By Joseph Dilworth Jr., Pop Culture Zoo
Published July 4, 2011

A couple of years ago I reviewed Secrets of the Day, the latest studio album from the Celtic Rock band The Killdares. My high praise for the band and their music has only increased over time and, with their newest release, they’d earned a place on my bucket list of bands I need to see live. Recorded on July 30, 2010 at the historic Granada Theater in Dallas, TX, Up Against The Lights – Live in Concert packages together a high definition DVD along with two CDs of the entire show in one neat little collection.

If you have a high end home theater system then the DVD will be a very nice treat for you. Dim the lights and crank up the volume. The picture quality is superlative and the sound is crisp and clean. But you will quickly forget the technical aspects as you get drawn into the performance that is The Killdares live. Their studio albums have such a rich, full sound that I thought would be very difficult to achieve live. I was very wrong. If anything, the band sounds even more dynamic and vibrant on the stage. Most remarkable to me is Matt Willis playing the bagpipes not only through a lengthy intro, but effortlessly segueing into the first two songs. And Willis barely takes a break during the entire show, switching comfortably between bagpipes and various flutes. Of course, once Willis is accompanied by Roberta Rast’s electric fiddle, the effect is fairly mesmerizing. I’m still gleefully jubilant at how cool the fiddle and bagpipes sound together, playfully flowing through the songs. Brek Lancaster’s guitar influences, namely Steve Howe and Jimmy Page, become more apparent in a live setting, but he thankfully never gets out of control and keeps his masterful playing within the songs instead of overshadowing them.

The biggest surprise to me is Tim Smith, drummer and lead vocalist. There are a lot of lead singers/drummers who opt for a tour drummer so that they can be right out front singing. Not so Mr. Smith. Astonishingly, Smith wails away on the drums while strongly singing each song and never looses timing either way. I sure an expert musician and Smith himself would point out little errors here and there, but to a music fan like me it simply looks and sounds astonishing. I don’t think anyone would ever think badly on Smith if he had another drummer sit in for him, but he frankly looks right at home behind the drums and I don’t think someone else would have his passion or intensity. Smith shows obvious enthusiasm and love for what he does and that is echoed in the other members of the band. That is also shared by special guest Gavin Kelso on bass guitar and keyboards. Kelso effortlessly fits in with the band and would not be out of place making more music with them.

The show runs right around two hours and features a great collection of songs from their discography including four unreleased tracks. One of those is a brand new song called “The Undertow” and I really hope it is on their next album. The DVD is shot from multiple cameras and edited together very nicely. The DVD also features a lengthy and candid interview with the band that is as insightful as it is sometimes silly. The band members seem much more comfortable playing their music in front of a camera instead of being asked to talk about themselves, but their camaraderie and friendship is evident. The Killdares also show a love for their fans with some great fan footage which reveals a mutual admiration. All in all, this is a very well put together set and I highly recommend you pick it up right away. If you are a fan and can’t make it to Texas to see them live, this is a very acceptable alternative. Even if you’ve seen them many times on stage you’ll want to watch this show over and over in your home. And for those that have never experienced the music and shows of The Killdares, well, you are in for an amazing treat! Pick up this set now by clicking here. - Pop Culture Zoo

"Man these guys have a serious fanbase..."

REVIEW: The Killdares release concert DVD Up Against the Lights
Published: November 5, 2010
By: Jessica Harp, Pegasus News

DALLAS — Thursday night, a band unlike any other in the DFW area hosted a screening to show off their upcoming live-in-concert DVD. The Killdares are a Celtic rock band that blends a power pop sound with a mix of rock ‘n’ roll hooks and a sometimes-traditional Celtic rock flair – thanks to the amazing use of fiddle and bagpipes. The result is an easy-to-listen-to, accessible sound for people of all ages. And perhaps because of that, the band has quite a large and loyal fanbase that filled up nearly every seat for the private screening at the Angelika Theater.

The band features Tim Smith on lead vocals and the drums – think Phil Collins of Genesis and Texas’ own Don Henley of The Eagles. Brek Lancaster plays lead guitar, and guest musician Gavin Kelso is on bass. World Champion fiddler Roberta Rast plays the fiddle faster and more precise than imaginable, while Matt Willis plays the equally-difficult Highland bagpipes, Irish uilleann pipes, and the Scottish small pipes. Both Rast and Willis complement each other musically and help round out the Celtic sound while giving the band a unique musical dimension live.

As members of the band entered the theater just before the screening, fans cheered, clapped, and whistled wildly – some saying The Killdares are not just a favorite local band, but their favorite band of all time.

Throughout the private screening of Up Against the Lights, which featured a July 30 performance from the Granada and nothing else, many fans sang along and stomped their feet. The majority of fans attending the screening were also in attendance at the filming of the live-in-concert DVD. Squeals and proclamations of joy filled the dark theater as members of the ardent fanbase recognized themselves and each other in the audience.

After the screening ended, The Killdares answered questions from fans, including the ever-popular When's the next record coming out? Smith explained that the DVD is the new record since it features previously-unreleased tracks and a two CD set of the entire show. (Bonus materials include four previously-unreleased tracks, fan footage, and an extended interview with the band.) But yes, the band is writing new material.

Up Against The Lights is a classic concert DVD. What makes it special is that it features a Dallas band at a Dallas venue! - Pegasus News

"ALBUM REVIEW: Any Given Element"

The Killdares - Any Given Element
July 2006

DFW ‘s Celtic rock champions The Killdares’ latest release Any Given Element speaks volumes, and it’s easy to tell why they’re highly regarded as one of the nation’s top alternative Celtic rock bands. That’s no surprise when the Killdares have six-time national fiddle champion and 2004 world champion Roberta Rast. Her playing may be the best mix with bagpipes you’ve ever heard.
The band’s latest, Any Given Element, has all the elements with rocking reels “September” and “Wasted” and the mighty rocking “Everybody Loves A New Beginning.” Other cool tunes are radio-friendly “Daylight Come And Go,” ass-kicking instrumental “Farewell To Decorum” and sweet laments, “Fragile” and “Light On Paper.” And if you ever get a chance to see The Killdares live - well that’s another story. Believe me… you won’t be disappointed. ****
(Angus MacMannus)

- Harder Beat Magazine

"ALBUM REVIEW: Any Given Element"

February 2006

Achieving a good balance when trying for solid Celtic rock can be a tough thing to do. Unless you happen to be The Killdares.

Any Given Element, the latest CD effort by this band hits hard with the opening track, September, which was my absolute favorite. The fiddle is ALIVE in this track and it sings to you, crying out loud for attention.

The seemingly tough blend between guitar, and fiddle or bagpipes is effortless for them. It flows. Of course, having a competition piper (Matt Willis) and Grand Master Fiddler Champion (Roberta Rast) certainly doesn't hurt. As a matter-of-fact, all the musicians involved in this effort seem to have their specialty down rather well.

The cherry on top is lead singer Tim Smith's voice, which works well, lending the alternative feel to the songs without being too common. I must admit to preferring the hard-thumping tunes to the slower ones (with the exception of the last track, Light on Paper which was beautiful), but it really is a matter of taste. The fact is, the Celtic and the rock meld, rather than being schizophrenic or sounding confused as some Celtic rock can come off.

Edgy would be a good way to describe their sound. Even the rock portion is not too traditional, which adds interest musically and gives a freshness to their sound. Although they have been described as Celtic-pop, they seem more in the alternative ballpark, as they are not too pat in their style or approach to musical arrangement. (And its always nice to have a surprise or two!) Great Celtic rock.

Catherine L. Tully is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in the arts. She has written for Dance Teacher Magazine, Classical Singer and Dance Spirit among others, and reviews music for Celtic MP3s Music Magazine. You can reach her at

- Music Magazine

"The Killdares at House of Blues: "Secrets of the Day""

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2008

Some folks might know the Killdares only as that rock band with the bagpipe player that's always playing by the lagoon at the State Fair of Texas. For those who've never experienced the Celtic-rock quintet outside of that setting, check out the group's new album, Secrets of the Day.

Produced by Ronan Chris Murphy (known for his work with Robert Fripp and King Crimson), the collection of songs includes some spunky straight- up pop tunes ("Seasons," "Secrets of the Day"), some moody ballads ("Space," "Disappear") and, best of all, three of the group's signature jig-and-reel instrumental jams ("Glasgow Reel," "Long Island High," "Rose de Lay").

Strong musicianship by bagpipe player Matt Willis and fiddle player Roberta Rast is peppered throughout the work. At times, singer-drummer Tim Smith sounds a little like REM's Michael Stipe. Jim Dawson and Brek Lancaster round out the group on bass and guitar, respectively. The Killdares will kick off their tour with an album-release show on Saturday at House of Blues.
– NANCY MOORE / Staff Writer
- Dallas Morning News

"CD REVIEW: "Secrets of the Day", Celtic Rock - Texas Style"

March 4, 2009
- Joseph Dilworth

When I first heard the description of The Killdares as a Celtic rock band from Texas my very first thought was I have to, no I need to hear them! While waiting for the CD to arrive, I started to get a little concerned. Maybe it was too much of a confluence of style or perhaps it just wouldn’t be as cool as it initially sounded. I need not have worried. "Secrets of the Day" is the fifth independent release from the Dallas-based band and it is fantastic. Any band audacious enough to feature electric guitar, fiddle and bagpipes are either heading for unbearable cacophony or one of the most original sounds of the last decade. The Killdares undeniably capture the latter and deftly avoid the former.

This album will get you moving! I was particularly struck by how melodic and infectious the combination of Brek Lancaster’s guitar, Roberta Rast’s fiddle and Matt Willis’ bagpipes are when either played together as an almost single sound (“Long Island High”, which is perhaps the greatest instrumental ever) or in counterpoint to each other (“Along Came You”). And I promise you’ll be humming “Hold My Heart” constantly, especially long after you’ve turned the CD off. Jim Dawson plays a deep, clean bass guitar and singer Tim Smith bangs the drums like nobody’s business while keeping a strong voice that works with all the songs perfectly.

It might just be my imagination or perhaps it could be a little Texas twang creeping through, but Smith almost has a bit of a Scottish flavor in his vocal performance from time to time. Scottish tinge or not, you’re going to love this album, so go ahead and pick it up now from you’re favorite place and do yourself a favor by planning on seeing them live.

- Pop Culture Zoo

"Celtic Fury"

January 9, 2010
S. Anne Durham

The long reign of Riverdance may have scared away many musicians with affinity and talent for Celtic music. But not The Killdares. They’ve reclaimed the genre, regularly convening in Texas for the meeting of some of the best and brightest minds in music.

They pair bagpipes and fiddles with electric guitars, bass and drums to make traditional music that brings down rock venues. Without a tap shoe in sight.

The Killdares play at 9 p.m. Saturday at the House of Blues - Dallas Observer



"Dallasites love this band so much, if there were a category for Best Rock Band in the World, the Killdares would sweep the Metroplex.” – Melanie Haupt, Austin Chronicle

“This is well-executed, hard-driving rock of the sort MTV might broadcast if America’s “music television” still played music. The way those traditional instruments are employed with the electric guitar, bass and drum set is refreshing and exciting.” – Tom Knapp, Rambles Magazine

“Celtic-pop, alternative-rock, killer-keltic, cutting-edge; the labels are endless, and yet the Killdares have managed to be all that and more with what appears to be, at least from the audience viewpoint, cool grace and rock solid performances.” – Sheree Morrow, Rambles Magazine

“The upbeat music is modern, but is also as edgy as the historic Scottish/Irish world it comes from, a world where the line between joy and war is sometimes blurred.” – Tom Geddie, Buddy Magazine

“Celtic music is always evolving… It has spread roots to different nations and branches to new territories. The Killdares, for instance, call Dallas, Texas, home, but their music belongs just as much in the Highlands of Scotland.” – Patrick O’Donnell, Green Man Reviews

“The group rocked through a 40-minute set sounding like a mixture between the 80s Scottish new wave band Big Country and a Celtic version of The Ramones. The musicianship was so good and so intense that a massive crowd formed on the street outside the tavern and blocked pedestrian traffic-amazingly, with absolutely no complaints.” – T.J. Simon, The Music Box c/o SXSW

“You say that you've heard Irish music before? Well, think again! The blend of driving beat, raw vocals, excellent fiddling and unique instruments such as the bagpipes, give The Killdares an unforgetable sound and a sensational live show. By the end of the night you might find yourself dancing a jig and blessing the Emerald Isle.” – Kirk deCordova,

“The Killdares are just one smoking, helluva band, and if you thought their studio releases were good, wait until you hear this LIVE CD! They are an excellent band, my friends, probably the best Celtic rock band going, next to 7Nations, and people everywhere should know about 'em!” – Ray Dorsey, Chaos Realm

“The Killdares play a genre of music that fits few other bands. Their music is lovely, passionate, and best of all, simply not like anything else.” – Teresa Gubbins, Dallas Morning News

“When The Killdares grasp at the roots of their sound, they can nail any mood on the turn of a dime…evoking long nights of drinking in the back of O’Finley’s Bar in Galway, laughing with a mate one minute and crying in your Guinness the next.” – Christina Rees, Dallas Observer

“The Killdares sound like a traditional Irish band having a good time with a bunch of Texas rockers…a pile of original material that lets the band stretch out musically and lyrically. Not every band can fuse tradition and progression. The Killdares can – and do.” – Jim Beal, San Antonio Express News

“The band masterfully blends old-style reeling and hard-line guitar. There is no other way to say it…this is truly a band on the rise…Michael Flatley has nothing on these jams.” – David Gurney, Richland Chronicle


“I truly have not heard a band I enjoyed so much since 15 years ago when U2 hit the states”

“I saw you tonight at the State Fair of Texas and your band is the best Celtic band I’ve ever heard!!”

“When it comes to creating miracles with music Tim and the Kildares may not cause you to grow legs and dance, though I have seen my share of wheelchairs dancing at their live shows, they do keep every foot in/of a venue moving. Having had the pleasure of witnessing their gig's from frozen fairgrounds to 107 degrees at midnight in the woods I can say without a doubt their performance is a miracle to behold !!!”

“When I saw you perform for the first time, I was completely blown away. I was transfixed, transported and transformed.”

“To listen and watch you play was the highlight of our evening. I enjoyed watching the effect your music had on the crowd. It seemed no one could be still. The energy you emit is powerful and your music is simply brilliant. My 14 year old daughter, whose musical preference leans toward Korn, Godsmack, and the like, was even able to appreciate your brilliance.”

“MAGNIFICENT – The band as a whole echoes a true reality that few are prepared to acknowledge while soothing the wounds left behind from one’s day to day battles. It is more than evident the growth and contributions made by each member.”

“I loved your sound. You had such great energy and wowed the crowd. This is my first time seeing you and I hope it won't be the last. Being Irish I really appreciated "your own sound". Keep up the great talent.”

“You guys are BETTER than ever, that piper is great. Never heard the pipes played that way.”

“Great Music…and it is real nice to watch and hear the band having as much fun as the audience!
My 18 yr old daughter and I sat at the concert in awe and amazement! That was the most awesome show I've EVER seen!!!”

“Just a great show, the band definitely rocks with unlimited energy. I was the staff volunteer backstage, and just want to say it was great meeting the band. You were all gracious and truly professional. Hope to see you in Albany again real soon!”

“They @#%$! kicked ass! That bagpipe cover of Blitzkrieg Bop was bad-ass. I screamed ‘Hey Ho Lets Go’ so loud I sounded like Courtney Love on heroin (LoL).”

“You all are absolutely fantastic! It was simply in passing on my way to the Dixie Chicks concert that I discovered the greatness of the Killdares! I saw all 5 shows and had tickets to go inside and see the main concert, but chose not to till the last of your shows were over.I came VERY close to passing up the [Dixie Chicks]concert. I opted instead to catch one of your live shows. Keep it up!”

“Hey all! I just saw you guys for the 2nd time Saturday at the State Fair and you were INCREDIBLE!
Tim--your voice is to die for. Roberta--you GO girl! You are the best fiddler I’ve ever seen!”

- Various


March 11, 2006

The Killdares played for enthusiastic Corsicana fans

By Bob Belcher

It wasn’t a full house, but it was an enthusiastic one at the Palace Theater Friday night for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

The Killdares, a self-billed ‘Celtic-rock’ group, entertained more than 200 Palace Theater supporters during the concert, and the street party that preceded their performance.

The evening was a fund-raiser for the Palace Theater, and according to Leah Dill Blackard, Palace Theater director, a successful event.

Sausages and beverages began the evening; 6th Avenue was blocked off, and party-goers kicked off the St. Patrick’s Day holiday a week early, some donning the traditional green, others holding on to their green beverage cups and celebrating just the same.

The kilt-clad group lived up to their advertised performance, “Celtic, period. Rock, period.” They blended the two successfully, and the crowd shared their excitement for the music and light show that brought them to their feet several times during the evening.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” Corsicana mayor Buster Brown commented. “It’s unique music that I’ve never heard before ... I am certainly impressed, and I was very impressed with the fiddle player.”

Mayor Brown has been a proponent of revitalizing Corsicana’s downtown area, and said that events like the one at the Palace Friday night go a long way to help in that effort.

“Anything that brings people downtown helps revitalize downtown,” Brown said. “I told somebody the other day that I thought (they) had lost their mind 15 years ago when they wanted to buy this building, but it’s been a wonderful thing for downtown and will continue to be.”

Many of the group’s performances were original compositions, but they also performed several ‘covers’ of rock hits going back as far as the 60’s, with the added touch of a fiddle and bagpipes. At times, it sounded like ‘Riverdance meets Stevie Ray’, and the crowd loved it.

It was definitely not a ‘one-man band’, as group leader and drummer Tim Smith made sure each performer got to share the spotlight on nearly every number. Fiddle player Roberta Rast was a crowd favorite, as was Matt Willis on the bagpipes. Brek Lancaster on guitar, and Jim Dawson on bass helped add the to the beat, and color, of the band’s performance.

The concert and street party was the first fundraiser of three planned for this year at the Palace. Big name acts the last few years have packed the Palace and brought a new awareness to the Theater and to downtown Corsicana.

“I think the great thing about an event like this is that it brings in some new people,” observed Joe Brooks, Palace Theater board member and long-time arts supporter in Corsicana. “They’re interested in the Celtic music, but they also enjoy the fanfare on the street. It’s an outreach to a different market. We’re seeing a lot of the regulars, but we’re also getting some new business. They’ll get involved with us here, and they’ll come to other events.”

“We are continuing to try and bring variety to the Palace Theater,” said board member Liz Kingman. “We’re constantly trying to do different things, and looking for different ways to entertain the community.”

More big name acts booked at the Palace Theater this year include the Bellamy Brothers on Apr. 29 during this year’s Derrick Days Celebration, and The Oak Ridge Boys on Oct. 21.


Bob Belcher may be contacted via e-mail at

- Corsicana Daily Sun

"ALBUM REVIEW: Any Given Element"

April 2006
The Killdares
"Any Given Element"
Mothership Productions

The Killdares have released one hell of a disc here with their fourth full-length release "Any Given Element". The whole LP has that explosive energy of Alt-Celt Rock with excellent musicianship with the added mix of fiddle/bagpipe throughout.
Imagine an Alt-Rock band with great original song writing and arranging... that decided to have a jam session with some local Celtic musicians that worked to perfection and caught it all on tape.... you would have "Any Given Element".

If you are interested in the sounds of The Glengarry Bhoys, The Young Dubliners, or even U2 you will love this disc.

Tracks of interest: "September", "Calendar", "Fragile", and "Daylight (Come and Go)".
- Paddy Rock Radio -

"The Killdares Revel in Unique Sound"

March 17, 2007

Local Celtic rock band the Killdares poses for pictures behind the Belmont Hotel while perched atop a hill that overlooks downtown Dallas' signature skyline.

The sight of the group's five members (drummer and founder Tim Smith, bassist Jim Dawson, fiddle virtuoso Roberta Rast, bagpipes specialist Matt Willis, and electric guitarist Brek Lancaster) towering over the bustle of the Big D makes them seem larger than life. They resemble royalty guarding their kingdom below.

Since its inception a decade ago, the Killdares has staked its territory as the only Celtic rockers in the local scene, perhaps even all of Texas. The quintet plays an energized fusion of driving rock 'n' roll and traditional Celtic textures, namely Mr. Willis' regal bagpipes and Ms. Rast's versatile fiddle. Think the Alarm and Big Country filtered through Black 47 and Ireland's majestic traditionalism.

After the photos, the band sits by the pool and bungalow area to perform an acoustic version of "Daylight (Come and Go)," which was originally heard on its latest studio CD, 2005's Any Given Element. Even though this rendition of the song lacks the muscle of Mr. Smith's drums or the beat of Mr. Dawson's bass, seeing Mr. Willis working the bagpipes while Ms. Rast gently strums the fiddle immediately tells you this is a band like no other around here.

"For the most part that's a positive thing for us," Mr. Smith says about the Killdares' unique place in the regional music scene. "That puts us out for more criticism and more focused critiques, but it's also a blessing, 'cause when it comes to that style of music in the Southwest region, we are pretty much it. In today's industry you gotta be good and different. We're different and good."

And if the Killdares are the sole Celtic rock unit on an island, surrounded by an ocean of Texas country, modern rock, hip-hop and neo-soul R&B, so be it. They aren't about to change.

"The five of us shoot for the same goal, but we come from such diverse backgrounds, hard rock and folk, straight-up traditional music," says Mr. Smith.

"My idea of creating a Celtic rock band was a rock band with Celtic influences in mind. The way it comes out is the way it comes out. There is no stressing for a certain sound. It is all written in a diverse fashion, and the main thing is that rock delivery that pushes us into a different realm. There is no conscious decision to be a rock band or a Celtic band. The music speaks for itself, and we have so far been successful for 10 years."

Back in March 1996, Mr. Smith, a native Texan who calls Irving his hometown, had an idea to take his love of rock music – inspired by Kiss, the Alarm, the Waterboys and the Clash, to name a few – and fuse it with Celtic instruments. At first the Killdares sound emerged more like traditional folk, he admits. But through 10 years of personnel changes it has morphed into exactly what he envisioned.

"The nature of the music industry can be a strange beast," he says. "Players come and go as they may, and that essentially happened with us. My intention was always to welcome all that wanted to go through this journey with me. Every album has improved, the personnel have improved, the bagpiping has improved, the fiddling has improved, the songwriting has improved. And it's all because of the players that are in this band. We are tighter, more professional and just better."

Still, the clincher for this group lies in the hands of Mr. Willis and Ms. Rast. Mr. Willis, a native of California who moved to Austin when he was 14, plays the Highland bagpipes as well as the Scottish small pipes and the Uilleann pipes (pronounced "illen"). He's an award-winning bagpipe instructor in his spare time and has competed internationally at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Joining the Killdares more than two years ago, Mr. Willis found his vehicle for casting the pipes in a different light.

"Playing bagpipes in a rock band is a way of challenging myself to adapting a folk instrument that was never intended to be played with other instruments, to take that challenge head on and broaden the use of the bagpipes," says Mr. Willis. "So I have this opportunity with this rock band to have people thinking about the bagpipes that would never think of the bagpipes. I hear all the time 'I really don't like the bagpipes, but I like what you do.' I take this rather obscure instrument and open people's eyes about how it is used and how it's incorporated."

As for Ms. Rast, a fiddle champion from Boise, Idaho, who now lives in North Texas, the Killdares was her outlet for escaping the rigidity of growing up classically trained on the instrument.

"I am very open-minded with music," says Ms. Rast, who joined the Killdares five years ago. "I was raised with traditional fiddle music, and I was taught that there were rules and it was all black and white. I had to break away from that. I needed to figure out what else I could do with this instrument. It was either country music or the classical route. This is perfect for me. I love rock music, and I didn't want to be in a country band. I want to make people aware of fiddle music and the different styles. It's not all about Celtic music and the competitions. This instrument has so many things it could do, so many styles it can accomplish."

That could be a mantra for the Killdares. As the band continues to work the festival circuit – bashes from Kansas City and Bethlehem, Pa., to Tulsa and Dallas – and as it further cements its reputation as a primo club act at local venues such as Poor David's Pub, Emerald Mist Irish Pub, Gypsy Tea Room and Tipperary Inn, it won't alter a note of its music or a thread of its kilts.

"We never have changed our music or our show to cater to anybody, any venue or any event," says Mr. Smith. "Our music is so universal that it speaks for itself. It has allowed us to remain who we are."
- Dallas Morning News - Guide Live Front Page

"Killdares' Bagpipe-guitar blend a Hit"

Wichita Falls, TX
March 16, 2007
By Lana Sweeten-Shults

Take one part electric guitar. One part bagpipe.


That's pretty much the modus operandi for the Killdares, the Dallas-based alternative Celtic rock group that does Texas music Celtic style, or Celtic music Texas style, whichever you choose.

The band will be bringing that unique sound to the Iron Horse Pub on March 23 - a St. Patrick's Day epilogue, if you will, to follow up this weekend's downtown St. Patrick's Day festivities.

The mishmash of cultural reckoning called the Killdares came about thanks to founding member and Killdares drummer/vocalist Tim Smith, an admitted child of '80s rock whose rich musical diet was rounded off by his father's eclectic collection of records.

"I played in a lot of bands in the South ... I guess I wanted to do something really different," said Smith, who along with the rest of the band is just trying to stay afloat during St. Patrick's Day season - a season for the Killdares, at any rate. From around February to mid-April, the band is in high demand, playing Irish-themed festivals and St. Patrick's Day celebrations all across the country.

"All my life, Celtic and Irish music was very big in our household ... It was really big through my parents. But I did listen to progressive stuff, too," Smith said.

The introduction to that roots sound mainly came by way of his father and his diverse collection of music, and Smith was also drawn in that direction because of his Scotch-Irish heritage.

Smith said, like any cool teen in the '80s, he was into cutting-edge bands of the time like the Smiths, the Alarm, the Replacements, Soul Asylum and the Kinks. That guitar-driven alt sound from mainly U.K. bands warmed his heart.

"Many of them, I still have on vinyl," Smith said with a laugh.

"I wanted to combine the two styles," he said of his love of British alt bands and Celtic music and somehow fit it into the Texas dynamic.

"A lot of the Texas music and old-time fiddling and bluegrass ... that obviously is a derivative of Irish immigration that occurred," Smith said.

And the Killdares have succeeded in creating a musical recipe that's all their own - edgy, guitar-driven rock always served with a slick underpinning of Celtic sensibilities. The Killdares' formula is like a hearty Irish stew: an amalgam of different ingredients thrown into a pot, but somehow the flavors just meld in the end.

The band combines fiddles and bagpipes with the electric guitar, bass and drums - a sound he hopes one day to bring to Ireland and Scotland. The group has yet to travel internationally.

Smith has said in previous interviews that he loves the idea of combining something as beautiful and melodic as a traditional fiddle or bagpipe with "crunchy" American rock 'n' roll guitar.

But the Killdares might not have achieved the success it has in the 11 years since it first formed if not for the musicianship of the band.

"We have been blessed with a pretty darn good lineup," he said.

In addition to Smith, the band includes bassist Jim Dawson, guitarist Brek Lancaster, Matt Willis on the Great Highland bagpipes, and Roberta Rast, who is the 2005 Grand Master Fiddler Champion and a six-time National Fiddle Champion.

"Roberta, she joined us five years ago, and she's definitely a pillar of the band, has an infectious smile, and the 2005 World Fiddle accolade."

The Killdares is touring in support of its latest CD, "Any Given Element," and is in the pre-production phase of the group's next album.

The band, too, has been filming concert footage for a promotional video and, of course, churning out that fine rock-Celtic stew for their fans in grassroots fashion. "We're building our fan base one fan at a time," he said, and all with that same magical recipe: Electric guitar. Bagpipe. Blend.
- Times Record News


UP AGAINST THE LIGHTS: Live In Concert - DVD/CD (Nov. 2010)
Any Given Element - CD (October 2005)
Live - CD (2002)
A Place To Stand - CD (2000)
Broken With A Word - CD (1998)



*See Career Highlights Below


Originally formed in 1996, The Killdares have come to be known as one of the hottest, cutting edge bands in music today - Celtic or otherwise. World-class musicians from all over the U.S., they have come together in Texas to create and perform a brand new version of hard-driving, alternative Celtic rock music.

Blending traditional Celtic playing skills, power-pop accessibility, and straight up rock n' roll hooks, The Killdares have created a fresh new sound that's blended with enough commercial edge to be instantly recognizable, always engaging, and appealing to fans of all ages. Their live shows are filled with an infectious energy so powerful that it has been known to move people to tears. Even die-hard fans of purely traditional Celtic music have embraced the band's powerful genre-bending sound.

Expanding the definition of "Celtic", the band uses the unconventional pairing of screaming, fire-driven fiddle and bagpipes with the wail of electric guitar, bass and drums to create brilliant arrangements of traditional tunes and original compositions. This distinctive sound combined with the band's incredible stage presence is nothing short of awesome.

"I love the idea of combining something as beautiful and melodic as a traditional fiddle or bagpipe with crunchy American rock n' roll guitar, and having it work," says founding member Tim Smith.

Joining the likes of Don Henley (The Eagles), Phil Collins (Genesis) and Fred LeBlanc (Cowboy Mouth), Dallas native Tim Smith handles lead vocals and drums with amazing nonchalance, while the beautifully expressive electric and acoustic guitar playing is aptly handled by Brek Lancaster. Add to this the 6-time National Fiddle Champion, Roberta Rast, and competition piper Matt Willis on the haunting Great Highland bagpipes, and you have all the right ingredients for a truly amazing
Celtic Rock / World music / AAA / Rock-and-Roll extravaganza!

Since first appearing on the music scene over 10 years ago, The Killdares have gone from local pub performers to national touring headliners, sharing stages with an incredibly diverse range of national and international artists.

In 1998, the band released their self-produced debut CD, "Broken With A Word". Their 2001 follow-up, "A Place To Stand", contained a higher energy that caught the attention of producer Chris Bell, who has worked with Erykah Badu, and also with other prominent acts such as U2, Kirk Franklin, Polyphonic Spree, and most recently The Eagles. "A Place To Stand" would be submitted in 2001 for Grammy ® nominations in 5 categories.

The Killdares released their third CD in the middle of the following year. Simply entitled "LIVE," this album is a snapshot of their broad live set list, and in 2002 was also submitted for Grammy ® nominations. Over the course of six albums to date, the band has delivered top-notch original numbers, and introduced fans to a wide roster of influences. From their signature instrumental jams, to their radio-friendly pop-rock songs, The Killdares continue to solidify their reputation as a great live band.

In 2005, the band teamed up with producer Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin) to create the
full-length recording, "Any Given Element." The partnership was so successful, that in 2008 they enlisted Murphy again to produce their 5th album “Secrets of the Day.” More experimental than previous ones, this release showed exceptional growth and maturity in their song writing, and combined electronic, acoustic and other unique instrumentation to create an exciting new sound for the band. The Killdares continued to expand their tour schedule all over the U.S. playing hundreds of shows a year, and building thousands of new fans throughout the nation.

Finally, in 2010 The Killdares reached new heights by recording and filming their always energetic and entertaining live show at the historic Granada Theater in Dallas, TX. The result is the band’s 6th album to date, “Up Against The Lights”, and was released in November 2010 as a three-disc package (2-Audio CD’s/1 DVD) concert collection. In one night only, the band captured 21 of their original and cover fan-favorites, including the brand new single “The Undertow”, the traditional Celtic showstopper “Whiskey In The Jar”, and an enthusiastic version of The Ramones’ classic anthem “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

Presenting a perfect blend of rock, pop, and Celtic, The Killdares have established themselves as a unique team of musicians - stretching the boundaries of independent rock n' roll, while bridging the gap between the traditional and the cutting edge.

Experience The Killdares - the best alternative Celtic Rock band in the world - just ask their fans!


• Live show recorded at The Granada Theater - Dallas, TX. Three disc DVD and CD “Up Against The Lights” released (2010)

• Chosen as Arti