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The Drowsy Lads

The Drowsy Lads
  • The Drowsy Lads
  • Website: http://www.thedrowsylads.com/
  • Members: John McKewen - guitar, tenor banjo, bouzouki; Daniel McKewen - Bodhran, Irish guitar, Uilleann Pipes; Phil Franck - fiddle, 5-string Banjo, Bouzouki, Button Accordion; Josh Franck - Serenellini Accordion; and Bryan Brookes - Dave Copley Flute
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T he Drowsy Lads thundered onto the Irish music scene in the US over 15 years ago and have become fan favorites at every turn. Sticking to traditional roots the Lads bring a fire and excitement that is quickly winning over audiences. 2018 brought the release of their 4th album, Everyone In, and the distinction of “Best Irish American Band of 2018”. With an undeniable genuineness that flows from their live performances, the future continues to look bright for these Lads.

The best Irish American band in 2018!
Jack Baker – for Irish American News

Ohio brothers John and Daniel McKewen, father and son Phil and Josh Franck, and lifelong friend Bryan Brookes bring to the stage a concoction of “we dare you to hold still” Irish dance tunes as well as a full emotional gamut of songs and good humor. Their authentic approach and deep enjoyment of people is a refreshing surprise to both casual music-lovers and those steeped in hardcore Trad.

Besides packing out theaters, concert halls, clubs and pubs, the Lads are lighting up Irish festivals including Milwaukee, Dublin, Dayton, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Louisville. They were also featured at Lakeside Ohio’s Chautauqua series for four years, the beautiful Murphy theater for three, and were guest artists with the Otterbein University Orchestra.

Each Lad is a multi-instrumentalist, and the combined lineup includes fiddle, button accordion, tenor banjo, flute, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, Uilleann pipes, 5-string banjo, concertina, and bodhran.

The Lads are fond of creating their own spirited arrangements and offering occasional original compositions, even mixing in some bits of Bluegrass or Classical. But these never get in the way of their obsession with the pure old Irish tunes, songs, wit, and friendship that has defined Irish music for centuries.

john mckewenJohn - Guitar, Tenor Banjo, Bouzouki
John McKewen grew up in Columbus, Ohio with brother and band mate Daniel. In early middle school, John learned to play the flute and the guitar. After over a decade of playing in various bands, John broke from his electric guitar, learned to play mandolin, and formed the band The Drowsy Lads with Daniel and Bryan. He has since preferred the Irish Tenor Banjo and Bouzouki and plays a Clareen Banjo from Co. Galway.

He loves singing tongue twisters and long complicated Irish songs, especially around a campfire, enjoying the company that good music and friendship afford. As a lover of gardening, reading, traveling, playing music, rock climbing, cycling, and brewing beer, he truly loves being busy with hobbies! John also attends the same bible study as his brother Daniel. John has been married to the love of his life, Andrea, for over 5 years. They have a beautiful little girl named Addie and one due in August of 2017!

daniel mckewenDaniel - Bodhran, Irish guitar, Uilleann Pipes
Daniel McKewen, raised in Columbus, Ohio and brother of John, began his music career at the age of 11. His first instrument, the drums, would carry him to many bars and through many bands until his first trip to Ireland in 2000. His roommate Bryan further exposed him to Irish music by playing Matt Molloy albums in their room. Daniel was hooked and learned to play the bodhran when The Drowsy Lads were formed.

He then took over the guitar duties after only 6 months of playing and also learned to play the Uilleann pipes, or Irish bagpipes. Daniel has a deep love for Irish music and a passion for the complex rhythms it carries and its relational aspects. When he is not playing he is designing new products for his business Seagull Bags, leading a Bible study, and rock climbing with his wife Emily.

bryan brooksBryan - Dave Copley Flute
Born and raised in Columbus, and a long time friend of Daniel, Bryan Brookes learned to play the flute and tin whistle at a young age. His father would play the Scottish highland bagpipes in their house, have the Chieftains as a constant on the home stereo, and teach Bryan old songs and tunes on the whistle while driving down the freeway on road trips together. After going to see the Chieftains’ concert in Columbus at age 10, Bryan set out to learn concert flute and remained heavily interested in Irish music.

On a whim, John and Daniel asked him to help them start The Drowsy Lads almost a decade later. Equipped with nothing but an old tin whistle, he carried the melody then, and now still anchors the melody for The Drowsy Lads. Largely self-taught, Bryan has learned the Irish Flute, low whistle, and concertina, and speaks Russian. More recently, he is enjoying being a dad to his daughter Fiona and a husband to Elizabeth. And they have another on the way!

josh franckJosh - Serenellini Accordion (serviced by Dancemaster)
Josh Franck was destined to discover traditional Irish music. Born to a member of Columbus legendary Irish Brigade, the music was in his blood from the start. Of course, Mom and Dad spurred him along in more deliberate ways too. Knowing Josh was afraid of the dark, they hid the TV in the basement and spread instruments around the house, so his childhood brain turned to music, not mush.

Watching his dad on stage from an early age, he developed an affinity for the communion of Irish music, and once Dad had invited teenage Josh and his bodhran on stage, a passion for performance was soon to follow. A year later, he adopted the button-box accordion, and by college he was spinning out reels with skill and flair. (He's available for lessons, folks.) Josh was recently married to his lovely wife Madeline.

phil franckPhil - Fiddle, 5-string Banjo, Bouzouki, and a/d/g Diatonic Button Accordion
Phil Franck is a crusty but energetic local veteran of Irish music, having played many years with ‘The Fish House Band’ (bluegrass), and the legendary ‘Irish Brigade’. He still plays with Yankee Celtic Consort. He grew up in a musical family (parents met playing in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra; mom graduated from Eastman School of Music, and dad Jimmy led the house band at the infamous Valley Dale ballroom when swing was king). Phil passed music along to his own sons Josh (a Drowsy Lad) and Johnny (‘Attack Attack!’), although it was actually Phil’s sweet wife Renee who taught their boys their first chords on the guitar.

Phil majored in music theory and composition at The Ohio State University. His main instruments are fiddle, 5-string banjo, bouzouki, and a/d/g diatonic button accordion. Phil loves soccer and hockey and is a hoarder of Great Lakes Christmas Ale. He enjoys the good times given him in this life but looks forward to the greater joy of going to be with Christ when this life fades away. Gospel of John 6:40 is his absolute favorite.

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