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Damien O'Kane

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Steeped in music, Damien grew up in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, with a deep respect and understanding of the folk tradition, which also forged a healthy appetite to explore its broadest borders and test its boundaries.

His career began early when he first went on stage with his parents and siblings at the age of 13 in the O’Kane Family Band (or “the Von Trapps of Coleraine”, as they were known locally). They did pretty well, playing for dances and singing old favourites like ‘The Mountain Dew’. After a gig at a big golfing event in Portrush, they were invited to play in pubs in Tramore and Waterford, leading to invitations to play in Austria and Iceland.

Damien joined the first intake at the newly instituted Traditional Music Degree course in Newcastle.

From there he formed a musical partnership with Shona Kipling, an all-Ireland accordion champion . They 2007 album ‘Box On’ , got them a nomination for the BBC Folk Horizon Award.

Concurrently also working with David Wood in Cross Current, Damien became much in demand for sessions and touring with Flook. He was with them when they won Best Group at the 2006 BBC Folk Awards.

Along with playing with Kate Rusby’s band, he keeps busy with a number of projects, most notably dueting with Ron Block ( of Alison Krauss + Union Station), touring and recording. Their highly acclaimed 2018 album ‘Banjophony’ led to further touring and a second album ‘Banjophonics’ in 2022.

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