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Ireland's ease and contentment with itself is reflected in much of the anodyne and unchallenging music on daytime radio. In an increasingly homogenised society the rough edges are being smoothed away. Praise be, then, for The Rye , whose trad with a twist might just shake us out of our 'semi-d' stupor.

Lead vocalist Kevin Melly formed the band just over two years ago. "I just started looking at every angle, from music shops to putting in ads, anything at all, just looking for musicians," says the affable Donegal man. Alan Walsh, The Rye's guitarist and banjo player, was the first to join the fold. Introduced to Melly as a piano player, Walsh explains how he joined the band: "I called down to Kev's house and I brought the guitar cos it's handier than bringing the keyboard. Then I kinda liked it and forgot about the keyboard- it's too heavy to be lugging aroung anyway!"

Bassist Barry Wallace answered a notice Melly had placed in the paper. "He rang up and took a chance and it just gelled straight away."

Drummer Ciaran Kelly had met Kevin during a Vtos course and The Rye's line-up was completed when violinist Anna Faulkner joined. "I went into Ti Colis' one day and asked Aengus behind the bar 'do you know any fiddle players.?', remembers Melly, "I wanted someone who was open minded, I didn't want to go down a trad rock road. Aengus said 'sure throw up an ad.' It was a month after, the ad was hanging off the wall, and Anna just rang me up when I was out one night. I said ring me in the morning cos I'm not gonna remember this at all!"

From the get go, Kevin had a good feeling about his new band: "There was a mad energy there straight away," he says, "Our first gig was a burst of energy; it just felt kinda special."

The Rye's Thursday night residency in The Cellar has helped the quintet establish themselves as a fearsome live act. "We've been doing that for about a year and half," says Kevin, "It was a pure fluke getting in there, some band couldn't play and I just happened to walk in that night and ask them for a gig."

"It's a residency for playing original music," he adds, "I don't know of many bands getting away with that in Galway."

"We're lucky that we've a lot of friends and people who like what we do," says their drummer Ciaran, "but you do see a lot of surprised faces too." "It's almost a cult following we have," continues Alan, "So many times people have said 'I didn't even know this was down here'. The Cellar's seen more as a cover venue."

The raucous nature of The Rye in full flow has led to some memorable(and half forgotten!) nights. "Every night is just mental, there's always a great buzz" enthuses their front man, "Anything goes. No one takes themselves too seriously, everyone's just diddle-eying like mad!"

"Two weeks ago I fell off the drum stool backwards and pulled down the backdrop on top of me" says Ciaran.

"I turned around and it was like the negative of a Halloween ghost," Kevin recalls, "You could just see a black drape with two arms coming out the side trying to hit anything at all. Professional to the end!"

Blasting out what they describe as 'savage-driven ceol', the twist and turns a Rye gig can take is the result of relentess rehearsing. "We do practise a lot and work hard to get tight," says Ciaran, "We could be playing 12 bar blues, then go into a ska break down, then in to a dance beat. We rehearse so much that in live shows you kind of have the freedom to play around. It's like the old blues saying : 'never play the same thing the same way, twice.'"

"Feel free to do whatever you want when you want to do it" is Kevin's ethos in The Rye, "When you have that idea behind you things take a different kind of route."

Rehearsals take place in Kevin's attic in Renmore. "We play full on, in my bedroom. The neighbours' are absolutely sound," says the Donegal man" The people next door are retired � they've come in to the Cellar to see us play!"

"The boys in another house near me were having a party and 'said any chance ye could turn it up a wee bit, we're on a session. Leave the windows open and bang it out!'"

The Rye were recently invited to play at the Life Festival in Lough Cutra, Gort. "It was the third day and everyone was dying" recalls Kevin, "We went on about 4.30 or 5. It was chilled out music til we came on and went ' ein, do, troi, ceathar! . Everyone got into, got back into form."

"We were playing at the bottom of a hill," says Declan, "There was people a foot away from the stage going mad and then you could see two people way up the back, jigging away."

Playing at festival is a much different experience to a regular pub gig, as The Rye's drummer explains. "Sometimes people can be little apprehensive letting go but at a festival there's music going all day, on a drop of a penny they're ready to go mad!"

Kevin enjoyed reaping the VIP benefits: "The highlight for me was the hammocks backstage, we'd four of them in an army tent!"

Having regular gigs but limited resources has led The Rye to come with a novel way of plugging their shows. Upon getting their food, customers of a local pizzeria will see a flyer for Thursday in the Cellar. "Alan had this great idea of making one with some of our lyrics on it, explains Ciaran, "We had this idea to think outside the box, literally!"

"The song we picked for the flyer is called 'The Big Dip'" says Kevin, "I'm thinking people are gonna be sitting there thinking that The Rye have written a song about dip. I'd just like to clear that up! People are gonna be singing this song, dipping pizza into barbecue sauce!"

"The 'big dip' is the comedown after the session or whatever you're at," Kevin says about the song, "You get up in the morning and you're surprised how you're not dying; around 11 or 12 the big dip hits you , depression kicks in. You look at it with regret but further down the line you realise if I didn't make that mistake that door wouldn't have been open for me. Sometimes these mistakes are the things that put you on the right path."

"It's not a depressing thing though, it's a buzzy tune from start to finish. Don't think about it, beat it out and it'll be all right in the morning!"

The Rye's fusion of trad, blues, ska and whatever else makes them one of the most vital bands on the Galway scene.

The Rye play every Thursday in The Cellar Bar, Eglington St from 10.30 pm. Admission is free



Galway Music Scene Review

This local five piece are a force to be reckoned with! With one foul swoop they are changing the face of trad/rock and making it more accessible and enjoyable to all.

The band is a staple on the Galway music scene having gained popularity during their weekly spot in the Cellar bar on Eglinton Street. Although that residency has now ended, I can fortunately say that I was one of the lucky many who saw them play there.

Not only does the band have that really fantastic ability to make even a stone statue tap its feet, they also have this amazing stage energy and presence that makes it difficult to turn away once they start performing. From the vocalists painfully soulful and tortured voice to the masterful stylings of their bass player, this band has talent dripping from their ears, normally you would see an up-and-coming band and perhaps wonder how a little change in the line-up would make all the difference, but not with these guys. They are each fantastic at what they do, and most importantly, they seem to enjoy that fact!

Having been asked to review an online demo recently, I took my thoughts to their MySpace ( Although it is difficult to beat their live show (no amount of production could recreate that buzz) the ranges that the band reach can really be fully appreciated on their recordings.

'Square Peig' is The Ryes take on the famous Seven Nation Army song by The White Stripes, a great riff in itself takes on a whole new depth when tackled by the introduction of banjos and violins. The cover is inspired, except its not just a cover, its more like a nod to a great tune by some great musicians.

'The Big Dip' is an original track and another great, the regretful tone of the song is projected beautifully in the simplistic harmonies and clear sounds from a very talented banjo player. However the song that stood out to me was their demo of 'Dance With you'. The vocals cut through the intro of the song, reminisent of a Tom Waits classic. The vocalist manages to trap so much soul and blues into the song, I felt like I was un-earthing a classic from the 70's. The tune is quite simplistic and mellow but it really is stunningly arranged. I first heard this song that night a year ago in the Cellar, and when the song started up I could not believe the rapt attention it recieved, the whole room enchanted by the melocholy projected from the stage. Least I remind people that the Cellar is frequented by students on their way to the GPO!! If you can get that kind of crowd to pay attention, you're definitely on to something!!

The band gigs very regularly around Galway so you shouldnt find it too hard to catch them live. and a bottle of whiskey beforehand wouldnt go astray because wether you like it or not, you will end up dancing! They have a very strong following in Galway but this is one band that deserves it!

John O' Hara

- John O'Hara


The Rye is a raw and energetic 5 piece, hailing all the way to the U.S. from Ireland. Their sound is no doubt Irish, full of danceable percussion, Celtic ferocity, and enough auxiliary instrumentation to put a smile on anyone's face.

Their self-titled 6 track e.p. is raw enough and "live" enough, that you'll feel like you're sitting in the same room with these guys. Its a true delight.

The strongest track is Fishin', a funky, bluesy, Irish song working from a simple riff that spouts stellar musicianship. The band clearly works together to create this song.

So if you're into Irish music or just want something a little different, check out The Rye (

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ross Christopher/Awaken Music Review Feb 09
- Awaken Music Review

"Review: The Rye (CD)"

Galway, Ireland is home to one of the more impressive and energetic Celtic acts you’re likely to come across. The Rye take the energy (and to a degree, the sound) of The Pogues and combine it with the lyrical acuity of Tom Waits. Add in some of the tightest, most impressive ensemble play on the West Coast of Ireland and you have not just a band but a musical experience. The Rye’s debut EP, The Rye, was released in 2006, but unless you’re a denizen of the pubs of Ireland you’ve likely not heard of The Rye. It’s too bad, but it’s not too late. Trust me; you want to add The Rye to your library.

The Rye opens with Banana Song, with lead vocalist Kevin Melly sounding like Shane McGowan, complete with nearly indecipherable lyrics. It’s a great tune, and lively; I just wish I could make out much of what he’s singing here. Square Peig is a wonderfully complex reel that will have you up and dancing. Lonely Mary is a sad but sweet love song full of loss and the fear of loss. Polcat Blues is a great acoustic Blues/Rock hybrid that will get your toes tapping and that you’ll be humming for days. The Rye closes out with the memorable instrumental Katie Lie Over.

Melly is a memorable and distinctive vocalist, and fans of The Pogues really will do a double take when they hear him. Anna Falkenau plays the meanest Irish fiddle since Ashley Mac Isaac’s quart-a-show days. The rest of the band, Alan Walsh (guitar, banjo, vox); Barry Wallace (bass, banjo) and Dessie Harrington (drums) are top notch. I finished up listening to The Rye wishing for more, and also that they’d be playing a date here in Buffalo very soon. The CD is great listening, but this is a band with the potential to own an audience. They just need the opportunity.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)



The Rye

The Rye are a five piece band from Galway, Ireland. I stumbled upon them while browsing CDBaby after writing the Interference review. The Rye call their music "savage driven ceoil" (Irish for "music"). The band's modern rock approach to traditional Irish instrumentation may seem like a familiar gimmick on paper, but the added elements of jazz and psychedelica make their music sound fresh and unique.

The bouncy opener "Banana Song" hints at the Celtic Punk sound of The Pogues and Flogging Molly, yet there's a quirky jauntiness to The Rye's music that sets them apart. The instrumental "Arkle Mountain" takes a surprising turn into a more traditional Irish sound, without losing the band's merry spirit.

The tinny pluck intro of "Dance With You" melts into a solemn, rough voiced ballad that will surely earn lead singer Kevin Melly comparisons to Tom Waits. Fiddler Anna Falkenau's sweet backing soprano adds balance and harmony to the tune.

"Fishin'" makes yet another sudden style-shift into swaying psychedelic jam band territory, sounding like The Doors covering a Grateful Dead song. By the time "Syko" breaks into a spunky, string splashed jazz groove, you'll no longer be floored by The Rye's capriciousness.

(June 2008, Muruch, Victoria McCabe)


In the spirit of honesty in journalism, let me come clean. The Rye are my peeps! They hail from Athenry, County Galway, birthplace of my father’s tribe. I found them on myspace not long ago, and my life has not been the same ever since.

The Rye play, in their words, “savage driven ceol.” They throw together modern rock melodies into a stew of expert traditional playing, turn-on-a-dime chops rarely seen outside a lower Manhattan jazz club, and an irreverence that ties the whole package together in a rowdy, exuberant bow!

Their music is a lively fusion with Irish roots, including elements of Irish traditional, country, reggae, folk, rock, blues and soul. They add furious fiddling to mimic the crescendo on a killer remake of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” made even more famous by Johnny Cash in his later years. “Square Peig” begins with the devlish bass riff borrowed from the White Stripes before landing into a full frontal assault of fiddling as the bass line shifts from one familiar lick to another. “Arkle Mountain” is a ferocious reel with the firepower of a gas guzzling machine behind the drums. For fans of the jam band players in Kila—and who isn’t?—the Rye is right up your alley.

The members of The Rye are vocalist and acoustic guitarist Kevin, Anna on fiddle and backing vocals, Alan on banjo, electric guitar and backing vocals, Ciaran on drums and harmonica and Barry on the bass. Giving your last name is so 2006! Since their first gig on New Year’s Day 2006 in the Roisín Dubh in Galway The Rye has been playing steadily all across Ireland, in venues as diverse as small country pubs, nightclubs, and on festival stages.

Galway Bay FM has described The Rye as “the liveliest band to come out of the West of Ireland since the Saw Doctors.” I’ll drink to that!

We chatted about the components in the Athenry farming soil that grew such a wildly innovative sound. Here’s how it went:
How would you describe The Rye to someone who has never heard of you?

Our music has been described in many different ways and has been bracketed in all types of genres. It would, however, be true to say that it is founded mainly on the Irish tradition although we do draw from our own background as a musician which is varied. It is a lively type of music and judging from our shows it is sure to make people dance.

I was listening to "Square Peig" with a friend of mine, and we caught some familiar bass lines from White Stripes and MJ's "Billie Jean." There were some others we did not recognize. What are we missing?
Yes, there is one other bass line that we have used, it is from a popular dance group called ‘Daft Punk' and it is taken from their track 'Around the World'. "Square Peig" sounds like a great jam. Do you create your music as a jam or was that well thought out?
Square Peig is exceptionally fun to play, especially live. It came about one day when Anna (fiddle) was playing some traditional tunes and we thought it might be fun to play some popular songs underneath them. These turned out to be the songs mentioned. We would like to think that these popular songs draw in people to the tradition and make Irish music perhaps a bit more accessible for those who may not have a keen interest in it. It's a new slant on old tunes and it has received a lot of positive feedback from both young and old.
I LOVE the cover of NIN's "Hurt." How did you approach that song?
The song had a revived popularity about a year ago when the Johnny Cash movie was released but we were fond of the original nine inch nails version as well. We decided that if we could arrive at a happy medium between the two it might be cool. We jammed the song countless times and ideas were thrown around. We ended up with the version we have now, the last minute or so is all instrumental and evokes for us the feelings portrayed in the song.
Where did the Banana Song come from?
The Banana song has a very interesting story behind it, Kevin wrote it about an incident that happened in Donegal. A man had set out early one day to the local pub in search of a few pints of Guinness and maybe a bit of craic. He had not that much money on arrival to the pub but had arranged to meet friends there at a later time who could give him a hand. So, he had his few pints which quickly emptied and turned into a few more.At this time he realized that he was only left with a small amount of change,not nearly enough for another pint and there was no sign of his friends. He began to think of a plan in which he could get money for more drink, Guinness of course, the good stuff. He eventually decided to buy a banana with his small amount of loose change and rob the local bank. Surprisingly enough, considering his inebriated state, he succeeded to rob the bank by concealing the banana under his jacket and pretending it was a gun. After this, he returned to the pub where he was drinking, ordered another pint, and again waited on his friends. Of course, the man was arrested but the moral of the story is one that may appeal to all people: the Guinness is excellent in Donegal.
How would you describe the music scene that you come from? I know the Saw Doctors come from Galway..what else goes on there?
The music scene is vibrant in Galway, many pubs are host to excellent traditional musicians and one has rarely to travel far in search of a good session. There are many good original bands in Galway at the moment, which is good to see. The standard of musicianship here tends to be high which is also great from a musicians perspective.

The Rye regularly plays on CelticLounge Radio on Their web site is or To get the CD, log onto - MIKE FARRAGHER, IRISH VOICE


"The Rye are a new band from Ireland that are looking to make an impression on the world. The self-titled cut is recorded live, a bit rough and ready around the edges and an absolute joy for anybody that likes their folk music raucous and rocking. It's together they know what they are doing, but you're never quite sure where it's going next and you're not sure they do either, but it's great music!" - NEIL FATEA, CAMBRIDGE AND BEYOND EZINE


One of the most exciting residencies in Galway takes place every Thursday night in The Cellar Bar, where The Rye play savage driven ceol. Their music is a lively fusion of Irish roots, including elements of Irish traditional, country, reggae, folk, rock, blues and soul...A gig by The Rye is a raucous night out, as if the ship manned by The Pogues has been taken over by an equally unhinged crew. - JIMI MCDONNELL, TRIBUNE LIFE


The Rye- The Rye 2007.
Received airplay on 2FM, RnaG, Today FM, Galway Bay FM, Raidio Idirlion, Radio na Liffey, Shannonside Northern Sound and on numerous internet radio stations, including, McSorley's Pub Radio, Paddy Rock Radio. House Band on Iradio.

The Rye's song The Big Dip is featured on Sean agus Nua, a compilation CD celebrating multiculturalism in the West of Ireland, 2007.
Dance with You will be featured on The Fatea Showcase Sessions from November to January 2008/09.



The Rye are an extraordinary four-piece from the West Coast of Ireland. They present one of the freshest and most exciting approaches to Irish Music heard in recent times. Mike Farragher of NYC's Irish Voice puts it thus: "The Rye play, in their words, 'savage driven ceoil.' They throw together modern rock melodies into a stew of expert traditional playing, turn-on-a-dime chops rarely seen outside a lower Manhattan jazz club, and an irreverence that ties the whole package together in a rowdy, exuberant bow!"

A gig with The Rye is high-spirited, full-blown entertainment. "Not only does the band have that really fantastic ability to make even a stone statue tap its feet, they also have this amazing stage energy and presence that makes it difficult to turn away once they start performing: this band has talent dripping from their ears. They are each fantastic at what they do, and most importantly, they seem to enjoy that fact!" writes John O'Hara in The Galway Music Scene Review.

The band's line-up features Kevin Melly (vocals, acoustic guitar), Cian Mulligan (banjo, electric guitar), Barry Wallace (bass, banjo) and Dessie Harrington (drums). Some highlights of The Rye s busy gigging schedule-over one hundred each year-include The Life Festival, support slots to Mary Coughlan, Delorentos, The Pale, two Tours of Germany, including an open air gig for the St. Patrick's Day Celebrations in Munich with an audience of some fifteen thousand, a radio appearance on the Tommy Tiernan & Hector show live from the Kilkenny CatLaughs festival, the Ballyshannon Folk Festival, NCAD's Oxjam and Christmas Ball, and headline act at The Salty Dog stage fri and sun Electric Picnic 09

Galway Bay FM has described The Rye as "the liveliest band to come out of the West of Ireland since the Saw Doctors."

"Come rain, hail or snow The Rye will put on a great performance, and it was obvious to see that they enjoyed playing as much as their audience loved listening and dancing to it" writes Breifne O'Rourke of the Cruinniu na mBad Festival in Kinvara.

Their weekly appearances at The Cellar Bar in Galway were praised as "one of the most exciting residencies in Galway!" (Jimi McDonnell in Tribune Life)

"No one embodies the spirit of Jerry Garcia quite like the Rye, my new favorite band. They are on this disc with 'Big Dip,' a fiery instrumental jam that pits frantic fiddling against a stomping beat and wicked acoustic licks." (Mike Farragher in Celtic Pulse)