The Narrowbacks
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The Narrowbacks

New York, NY, USA | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

New York, NY, USA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Celtic


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The Narrowbacks @ The Studio at Webster Hall

New York, NY

New York, NY

The Narrowbacks @ House of Blues Restaurant - Boston

Boston, MA

Boston, MA

The Narrowbacks @ Gavin's Irish Country Inn

East Durham, New York, USA

East Durham, New York, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



By Colleen Taylor

Last week, a New York band treated one of Boston’s best Irish music venues to an array of Big Apple songs. The Narrowbacks, a burgeoning Irish-American band with proud New York roots, rocked the Burren in Sommerville, Mass. They were so well liked there that—despite longstanding intercity rivalries—the Burren invited them back. I chatted with the band before the show about how they transformed from two friends joking about playing music into a full-scale band with an original album, an EP, and another record on the way.

The Narrowbacks don’t take themselves very seriously, which is fitting, because their music is meant to inspire mirth. Laughing, bandleaders Seamus Keane and Barry Walsh told me they decided to form the group on a whim after a few too many pints. They never expected it to take off, let alone to extend beyond local venues in New York. After practicing for a couple years, adding a few more instruments to their repertoire, and including other band members, Patrick Keane, Fionn McElligott, Chris Moran and Anthony Chen, the Narrowbacks were suddenly, to use Barry Walsh’s words, “a proper band.” All of a sudden, to their ostensible astonishment, the joke had become reality.

Roots are important for the Narrowbacks. Keane and Walsh’s parents hail from Ireland, and the Irish character of New York neighborhoods like Woodlawn, Rockaway, Pearl River and Bambridge inflects their original songs, such as “Paddy’s Field” (off their album, “Fire It Up”). I see them as the next generation of a group like Black 47: a punk/rock infusion of place and tradition. The lads seemed to be chuffed by the comparison: Black 47, Flogging Molly, the Dropkick Murphys, the Pogues and the Dubliners are their idols and musical inspirations. They also have their own diverse musical interests outside the Irish-American genres. Drummer Chris Moran, for instance, works his blues and Southern rock interests into the band’s sound from time to time as well.

The Narrowbacks aren’t exactly breaking new musical ground, but they know how to fill a venue with energy. Their music is literally and figuratively electric, and it sounds best live. That said, their EP “After Hours” is a noticeable progression from their debut “Fire It Up.” With the help of traditional musicians, the Narrowbacks recorded this short EP as a teaser for their album, which will be out in April: “We wanted a more full, better sounding CD,” Keane said. The title deliberately evokes the cultural feel of the album—those late-night hours at the pub when everyone starts singing their favorite traditional tunes. Across all the albums, the band rocks trad tunes like “Whiskey in the Jar” and “the Fields of Athenry,” making them relevant and youthful again for the next generation of Irish and Irish-Americans. History and tradition seem fun and edgy when the Narrowbacks take the stage.

Things are starting to come full circle for this group of New Yorkers who first gathered under the ruse of a joke. They will soon be opening for a band they used to admire from afar: the one and only Dropkick Murphys. Once again, Keane and the lads seem unaccustomed to their success: “I was shocked when [Ken Casey] asked us to open, but of course I said yes!” The Narrowbacks will open for Dropkick on March 16 at the House of Blues in Boston. The sounds the two Irish-American cities will fuse once again—you might even want to mark your calendars now.

What’s next for the Narrowbacks? My wager is a lot more. Their aspirations know now limits: Keane says the ultimate goal is simply “to get their music heard by as many people out there.” The Narrowbacks want to carry their sounds and beats all over the States, even across the Atlantic. They strike me as a group that has barely begun. I know many fans are still missing Black 47 since their retirement. Well, the Narrowbacks fill the need for an Irish-America that knows how to rock.

Find out more at: the - Irish Echo

New York’s The Narrowbacks have been turning some heads in the Celtic Rock world since the release of their first full length ‘Fire It Up’. Those in the New York area are far too familiar with the fun and exciting shows these boys have been putting together over the years, however most of us here in the rest of the USA and world-wide Paddy Rockin’ community were taken by surprise by how good this pub-rockin’ band is with ‘Fire It Up’. The Narrowbacks are made up of a five-piece of some really killer musicians with Seamus Keane (Vocals/Harmonica), Barry Walsh (Banjo/Mandolin), Patrick Keane (Accordion), Fionn McElligott (Guitar), and Chris Moran (Drums and Percussion). I have been playing the hell out of this release from it’s traditional tunes “Leaving of Liverpool”, “Tell Me Ma”, “Muirsheen Durkin”, and “Whiskey in the Jar”, and let alone their originals like “The Temperance”, “Doubt It” and more which will have you dancing, stomping your foot, swaying with glass in hand, and singing along. This is great music for any pub, festival, and for this being their first full length… one hell of a debut. The Narrowbacks are the real deal and the sky is the limit for this young group of paddy rockers… hope to see them performing in Chicago soon. -

Nar·row·back [nar-oh-bak], noun, slang -- a person of slight build who is unfit for hard labor.

Who among us Irish Americans hasn’t been called that at one time or another? The Narrowbacks, a band lead singer Seamus Keane says was “born in a slummy Iona College dorm after some late night sing songs, a couple whiskeys,” is a boozy, fun soundtrack to the experience of being a narrowback!

Indeed, The Narrowbacks: Fire it Up doesn’t seem born out of hard labor. It is a loose, labor of love that combines tried and true traditional ditties with fun originals.

Keane explains that the New York Irish American music scene is of the highest quality, with the Veseys of Celtic Cross and the McCarthy brothers from Jameson’s Revenge and Shilelagh Law playing their instruments at a level where they win All-Ireland awards everywhere they turn.

It was intimidating at first to a band like the Narrowbacks, who had no such experience with playing. Typical of this music scene, however, the Vesey and McCarthy clans took the lads under their wing, giving them music lessons when needed and inviting them to share the stage at crucial gigs.

“We don’t have that professional background,” Keane says with a laugh. “I mean, Denny McCarthy does Hendrix on fiddle -- that’s the level that you have out there. Meanwhile, we’re in the apartment looking up banjo tags.”

Yet the do-it-yourself ethos (or DIY for short) is the axis that rock and punk spin on, isn’t it? That joy of discovery and unpolished riffing is all part of the Narrowbacks’ charm.

“The original song ‘Doubt It’ was the first song we ever wrote,” Keane says. “I didn’t even know how to play an instrument. So it was fun to experiment.”

A highlight of the disc is “The Confessional,” a sunny, mandolin-driven ditty about tumbling into a confession box to unburden your soul while nursing a wicked hangover.

“I walked in late to Mass, bloodshot eyes and everybody knew/if they didn’t then they found out when I passed out in the pew/I waited till after Mass and screamed, please excuse me father/can you hear confession now?” Keane sings.

The Narrowbacks include lead singer Keane, Barry Walsh on tenor banjo and mandolin, Mike Moran on bass, his brother Patrick Keane on button accordion, Fionn McElligott on guitar and Chris Moran on drums and percussion. They run through “Leaving of Liverpool,” “Tell Me Ma,” and “Whiskey in the Jar” with the frothy fun of a great bar band, which they are. They clearly know every speck of dirt that lines their Irish roots!

“My father is one of 11 from Connemara, from the Irish speaking section,” Keane says. “My mom was born in Queens and moved back to Clare. They met in the Bronx, moved up to Pearl River, and had six kids, including my brother Pat on the button accordion. Chris Moran on drums and Mike Moran on bass are Irish American brothers as well.”

Keane and the band are children of the nineties, cutting their teeth on Nirvana and Soundgarden. The traditional Irish songs of their parents were the furthest thing from their minds but, as is the case for so many, the Pogues changed all that.

“Obviously, we come from the tradition of the Pogues,” he says. “So many of us hated Irish music growing up until you hear Shane, and it creates this gateway to Irish music. Then you reach back into things like The Clancy Brothers and Luke Kelly to see what influenced Shane.”

That musical journey from honoring the traditional influences to finding your own narrowback voice is on full display on Fire it Up.

They are gigging all over the area this summer, including Sunday, July 14 and Sunday, August 11 at Rory Dolan’s in Yonkers, and Saturday, July 20 at Arlene's Grocery in New York before joining Celtic Cross on Friday, July 26 at Mulcahy's in Wantagh, Long Island. To find out more about the Narrowbacks, check them out at or

- Irish Voice


Fire It Up. (2013)

The After Hours EP (2015)





noun, Slang.


a person of slight build who is unfit for hard labor.


Disparaging. a contemptuous term used to refer to an Irish-American.


The brain child of a future banker and a drop out bartender; The Narrowbacks are a fresh voice for songs old and new. The sons of Immigrants these are the stories of first generation Americans in New York City.

If Joe Strummer, Shane MacGowan and Bruce Springsteen survived a drinking session through the 5 boroughs of New York City, the hangover would be called, The Narrowbacks. Sharing the stage with such bands as Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly and Black 47, the band is winning over audiences across the country with their high energy set of tunes and over the top performances. The Narrowbacks are touring in support of their new EP, putting the finishing touches on their full length sophomore album, and getting ready to share the stage this March with the Dropkick Murphys - FIRE IT UP!!!

The Narrowbacks are actively booking national music festivals and music venues.

Our album is available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify

You can also listen to it here on Soundcloud:


Band Members