Vocals - Guitar - Tenor Banjo
Whistle - Harp - Vocals
5-string banjo - guitar
The Hounds of Cuchulain are a four to six piece folk band from Victoria BC who perform a wide selection of Irish, Scottish, English, and original songs in the Celtic tradition dating from the 1600’s all the way up to the 1980’s. Stylistically inspired by such folk giants as the Dubliners, Pogues, and the Corries, the group’s performances feature rowdy pub songs, historical ballads, energetic dance tunes, engaging storytelling, and haunting airs on the Irish harp.
The group is led by seasoned performer and composer Wolf Edwards on lead vocal and guitar; and joined by the multi-talented Madeleine Townley on vocals, Irish harp, and tin whistle; the dextrous Dexter Simpson on the Irish tenor banjo; and by the virtuoso fiddler and master of harmony Briana Kennedy - and occasionally joined by Ben Garrison on mandolin. Past members include: Devin Bernard on the five-string banjo, and John Kelly on octave mandolin, tenor banjo, and manolin.
Traditional music enthusiasts will appreciate the song-tales of lost love and betrayal, the misdeeds of ramblers and rakes, emigration, hard drinking and hard living, sea shanties and worker’s songs. In addition to these ballads and chorus songs, the Hounds of Cuchulain also add the explosive musical energy of traditional instrumental jigs and reels, and original compositions in the celtic style by lead singer Wolf Edwards - focusing on local history, such as the tragic death of labour activist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin.
The Hounds have been performing together since September 2021, and have already gained a dedicated following in Victoria, as well as touring all over Vancouver Island - all the way to the Gate Theatre in Port McNeill and everywhere in between! In their first year, they have also performed for the Irish Consulate, recorded a video with the Irish Rovers, and released an album (Rebels, Rogues, and Roustabouts) - with another in the works! The band has played over 100 shows since its inception: from pubs to private parties, on boats and at benefits, folk clubs to a St Patrick’s concert at the Mary Winspear - complete with pipers and dancers! This spring and summer, the band will be continuing their mission of bringing music to all corners of the island, and sharing the history, culture, and joy that are the heart of traditional folk music.
UPDATES AND LINEUP CHANGES
The past year has been an exciting one - with more shows every month, festivals and tours all summer, and a growing and changing roster of Hounds in the pack.
- 2022 -
In June of 2022, John Kelly joined came all the way down from his homestead in the Cowichan Valley to join us part time on octave mandolin, mandolin and tenor banjo. Phew! Whatever he played, were always glad to have another instrument in the mix at our bigger shows! Then in December 2022, the delightful Ben Garrison joined us on mandolin, and has been adding lovely riffs and swelling tremolos to our textures ever since!
- 2023 -
In March 2023 we said farewell to Devo Bernard, as wrist troubles and responsibilities called him away. He didn't leave us in the lurch however - right away stepping in to fill the gap was Dexter Simpson, longtime friend and past bandmate of Wolf's, and a virtuoso on the tank of an instrument known as the Irish tenor banjo! His precise and percussive playing added an edge we had been searching for - as well as bringing our redhead count up to three! In April we recorded our second album, with our largest band yet - six people! By June John Kelly was finally cowed by the commute, and decided he couldn't continue playing with us, especially as summer tour season approached.
And a wild summer it was! Festivals, weddings, pubs and parties, starry nights and stunning sights all up and down the island, and many hours in our trusty band bus snowflake! Then, as summer came to a close, Devo rejoined us, this time on his native instrument, the electric bass. We have been loving the grounding energy of his tasty bass lines! Come December however, Dexter decided he needed to take a step back - wrist and responsibilities! - but he will be with us when he can. In the meantime, we connected with Jeff Feltmate, a fantastic Cape Breton fiddler and bodhran player, who brings a true trad sound! Jeff is "onboarding" - we have a lot of repertoire to learn! Sadly, as of January 2024, Devo once again has to leave us. But don't fret - we have another bassist training up to join us soon!
Wolf Edwards - guitar and lead vocals [2021-present]
Briana Kennedy - fiddle [2021-present]
Madeleine Townley - tin whistle, Irish harp, vocals [2021-present]
Ben Garrison - mandolin [December 2022 - present]
Dexter Simpson - tenor banjo [March 2023 - present, part time as of December 2023]
Jeffery Feltmate - fiddle, bohdran [December 2023 - present]
Devin Bernard - 5 string banjo [2021 - March 2023], electric bass [September 2023 - January 2024]
John Kelly - octave mandolin, mandolin, tenor banjo [June 2022 - July 2023, part time]
The band takes their name from the Celtic myth of Setanta who, after slaying the guard hound of the blacksmith Culann in self defense, offered to take the fierce dog's place until he could raise another. Thereafter Setanta became known as Cuchulain or “the hound of Culann” - and the dog that he raised was the “Hound of Cuchulain”! Having Irish, Scottish, English, and Welsh heritage, the band felt it an appropriate name as it connects us with our music of the past.
Irish Wolfhounds, which Culann’s hound most likely was, were bred for war as fast and fierce hunters - but in the home they are loyal and gentle, enjoying lounging by the hearth. To us, the image of the Wolfhound is emblematic of the history and variety of folk music: as a call to action, a racing reel, or music to bring to mind home, hearth, and good company!