10. North Texas Irish Youth Band
The North Texas Irish Youth Band are a rotating ensemble of students from McKinney's North Texas School of Irish Music. The NTSIM is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization aimed at teaching the fine art of Irish music. While the school does offer various private lessons for adults, its main goal is to enrich the lives of young folks by offering classes focused on many traditional instruments like the bagpipes, harp, bodhrán and banjo. They also offer sessions on Gaelic vocals — which is just as cool as it sounds.
As far as the NTIYB itself, the students practice together a couple of times a month and play at least three concerts a year. This year, like many of their list-mates, the NTIYB were featured at the North Texas Irish Festival. Their dedication to Irish music, and at such an early age, certainly merits an appearance on this list.
9. Skeleton McKee
Skeleton McKee's influences range from Irish folk to bluegrass to country to swing. The band boasts two lead vocalists: Marj Troyer on the banjo and Betsy Cumming on the piano accordion. Rounding out the band are North Texas Caledonian Pipes and Drums-inducted drummer Trae Hamilton, blues-infused bassist Rodger Harrison and guitarist Jeff Christian of the Sultans and Kelvin.
Skeleton McKee has an original, smokey, bluesy quality to them that makes their music addictive, but satisfyingly traditional. Like several of their list-mates, Skeleton McKee recently made an appearance at this year's North Texas Irish Festival. But more often than not, you can experience them in all their wonder at The Celt in McKinney.
We'll go ahead and say it: If ever there was an Irish folk band that could knock One Direction off the cover of Tiger Beat, it's Flashpoint. Flashpoint's sound is rich, sophisticated, energetic and full of promise for the next generation of Celtic performers.
According to their Facebook, bandmates David Mehalko, Daniel Mehalko and Joseph Carmichael came together in 2009 after meeting at O’Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp in Richardson, and the rest was history. Since then, the band have been making their rounds on the Irish/Celtic festival circuit and were even featured on a couple of compilation CDs, Jammed and Irish Music in Texas – Continuing the Tradition, both of which were released in 2012. In 2014, the band released their own EP, A Timely Misadventure, and they also appeared at this year's North Texas Irish Festival.
7. 5 Second Rule
Incorporating original material, fiddles, bouzoukis, whistles and drums, 5 Second Rule are the epitome of Celtic folk music. While making their local pub rounds and appearing at many local festivals, according to their website, the Dallas-based quintet have consistently been named Reverb Nation's No. 1 Celtic Band in Dallas. It helps that they have a star-studded cast of local artists.
Two of their members, David Lovrien and Rick Holt, are teachers at O'Flaherty's Irish Music Youth Camp in Richardson. Additionally, both Lovrien and Holt, along with Michelle Feldman and Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) president Paul Dryer, are members of the Trinity Hall Session Players. And that's not even taking into consideration lead vocalist and guitarist, Mike Tidwell, who's been rocking out all over Texas and California for the last 35 years. To be honest, the only thing that could make listening to this band even more fitting for the upcoming holiday would be a tall glass of Smithwick's.
6. Irish Rogues
Dubbed "Dallas' Premier Pub Band," Irish Rogues have been giving DFW a regular dose of authentic Irish folk tunes for the last 30 years. When these guys aren't jamming out at Trinity Hall Irish Pub in Dallas, you can count on finding them at the annual North Texas Irish Festival, which the Irish Rogues have performed at every year, since the festival began in 1982.
The current Rogue lineup includes banjo, violin and mandolin master Earnie Taft, bouzouki wizard David Sparks and Steve Harrison, who plays just about everything else. Together, these three musicians go above and beyond to engage their audiences by passing out sing-along booklets at their gigs and encouraging others, musically inclined or not, to join in on their performances.