Celtic group comes out of pandemic with new focus

After being idle for 15 months, local Celtic group Dulahan, (left to right) Leo Butler, Kyle Aughe, Mark Sandlin, Kevin Palm and Dylan Aughe, ushered in a new season of live performance with appearances at the Riverfront Irish Festival in Cuyahoga Falls and Celtic Fest Ohio in Waynesville.
Caption
After being idle for 15 months, local Celtic group Dulahan, (left to right) Leo Butler, Kyle Aughe, Mark Sandlin, Kevin Palm and Dylan Aughe, ushered in a new season of live performance with appearances at the Riverfront Irish Festival in Cuyahoga Falls and Celtic Fest Ohio in Waynesville.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Kyle Aughe’s life changed considerably during the pandemic. In addition to retiring from his day job in early 2021, his long-running Celtic group, Dulahan, faced some personnel changes and also made the tough decision to scrap a half-completed album.

Aughe, who is doing a rare solo appearance during the Songwriter Showcase at Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton on Thursday, July 15, sat down recently for a lunch interview at Dublin Pub.

Dulahan normally performs quite frequently. What was it like being forced to take a break during the coronavirus shutdowns?

“As a musician, it’s been a challenge. I haven’t gone 15 months without playing live since I first started performing when I was in college. I couldn’t imagine going that long without playing but here we are. I know a lot of musicians that made different life changes during this thing. Some people decided to leave the traveling scene. It has certainly been disastrous for the whole entertainment industry, but I don’t want to complain about it because there has been so much real human suffering over the last year.”

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How was your creativity over the past year?

“I was writing like a madman during the pandemic because I didn’t have any shows or live things to compete with my time. I felt engaged musically. I was doing a bunch of Facebook videos on our band website and I started digging back into old songs of mine and songs and artists that influenced me. I did like 120 of them. A couple of my overzealous friends dropped them down to disc. That’s a bit obsessive but, for me, it was nice to go back and revisit songs and artists that influenced me over the years.”

What’s the status of the next Dulahan album?

“We had an album halfway done when the pandemic hit. It was going to be kind of a departure for us. We were going to call it ‘American Roots’ because it was really more Americana than Celtic. I had been writing in that vein in 2018 and 2019. Then, when the pandemic hit, I was writing both Celtic and Americana stuff. Once I had another eight or nine songs, it changed so I decided to stick that other stuff in the can. We’ve kept our sound and we still have our vocal harmonies but we’ve made some changes. We’re going to record a whole new batch of songs this winter. It will still have a little bit of an Americana flavor, kind of that crossover appeal.”

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Didn’t Dulahan have some personnel changes? “Yeah, our fiddle player moved to Wisconsin at the end of the pandemic. We’ve had different people come in and out of the fold but we’re lucky we’ve had the same core guys the last 16 years. My son, Dylan, has played hand drums with us off and on since he was 13 or 14. In the middle of the pandemic, he started playing lead guitar with us. He’s playing hand drums on about half the songs and he’s playing electric guitar on some of the bigger tunes. Our friend Kevin Palm from Cleveland has been sitting in for a few of the shows so we have the pipe harmonies. It’s really cool. There’s a little bit of a different feel but it’s still us.”

Dulahan returned to live performance with appearances at the Riverfront Irish Festival in Cuyahoga Falls on June 11, followed by Celtic Fest Ohio in Waynesville on June 19. Upcoming shows include the Dayton Celtic Knot Fest Show at Flanagan’s Pub in Dayton on July 30, the Dublin Irish Fest in Dublin, Ohio on Aug. 7 and the Star City Summer Concert Series in Miamisburg on Aug. 15.

Artist info: dulahan.com.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.