Galway Band of The Year 2016: We Banjo 3
We Banjo 3 - David Howley, Martin Howley, Enda Scahill, Fergal Scahill - became the first independent Irish band to reach No 1 on the US Billboard World Music Charts with their album, String Theory, released in July. It was a year in which they also played for outgoing US president Barack Obama; performed at 2-3,000 seater venues across the States; and headlined MerleFest, one of the most prestigious folk festivals in the world.
"It's a long time since anyone has achieved anything on the level The Saw Doctors, and notwithstanding their comeback, Galway needs a 'Galway Band'," Enda Scahill told me earlier this year. "We've conquered all the Irish-American festivals and become the biggest touring Irish based Irish band. Germany and Japan have been great. We're making headway in Britain. I think we're really close to achieving this."
As 2016 has shown, they certainly are.
Galway Solo Artist of The Year 2016: Daithí
When producer, DJ, trad fiddler, and electronic musician Daithí released his 'Falling For You' single with vocalist Sinead White in November, he called it "so undeniably Irish, but it feels modern at the same time, which is kind of my buzz". It applies even more to his earlier single this year, 'Mary Keane's Introduction'.
It's why Daithí matters. Deeply rooted in traditional Irish culture and a proud exponent of it, he is able to translate that heritage into something very current, very now, very at ease with all aspects of digital media and technology - it is a signpost for a very positive and engaged, very Irish, and defiant identity in a time of globalisation, standardisation, and an era when Ireland is increasingly being referred to as 'The Island', rather than by its actual name.
He also writes music that can beat the hell out of a dancefloor - let's not forget that very important fact. The Tribes EP summed that up, and with the Holiday Home EP due out in March, 2017 has the potential to be another great year for Daithí.