Subscribe to Forte Magazine


If you’re headed to the National Celtic Festival at Portarlington over the Queen’s birthday weekend, you will be able to experience the most famous band to ever come out of the Isle of Man. Situated between Ireland and Scotland, the Isle of Man has played a large inspirational part on the development of the Barrule trio. Made up of Adam on bouzouki, Jamie on accordion and Tom on violin, Barrule has in the two years they have been together become one of the most acclaimed Celtic bands in the world. Their debut album won a Spiral award, which is quite a big deal. Ahead of their performance in a couple of weeks, I caught up with Adam to discuss their journey to international stardom.
“This is my first time coming to Australia and only Jamie has been to Oz before, for the Rugby World Cup in Sydney six or seven years ago. It’s a very quick trip as we have a gig in Liverpool two days after the Celtic festival, but we are all very much looking forward to coming Down Under,” Adam said.
With a family history of playing music, it was inevitable that Adam Rhodes would eventually pick up the bouzouki. “My dad is a fiddle player and my mum played guitar and I was always intrigued by the bouzouki. It has eight strings in pairs of two and so in that way it is similar to a mandolin. The majority of my playing is rhythmical, yet there are occasions in some songs where I play melody.”
Moving to the Isle of Man at the tender age of eight, it wasn’t long before Adam found his feet playing in local band King Chiaullee. The opportunity to play in this group allowed for Adam to gain valuable experience through his high school years in playing overseas, and thus far he has recorded three studio albums with the group. That project is currently on hiatus whilst the members are involved in other pursuits and Barrule are off playing shows all around the world.
The process behind putting together a Spiral award-winning debut album was quite ‘chilled out’, which in turn allowed for the songs and compositions to sound the best they could. “We set down two or three weeks to write the tunes and then headed into the studio in Wales where Jamie was living at the time. A selection of tunes were written and fine-tuned in that time, which was quite nice. Usually when you go into the studio, you are pushed through and have a timeframe to record to. I think getting some funding from the Isle of Man government to put together the album definitely helped out in a few aspects.
“The response from audiences in the months after the release has been great, and we have been playing a lot in Belgium at the moment.”
If you still haven’t heard Barrule, their sound can in some modern aspects be likened to Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers in terms of instrumentation. Playing more traditional tunes, Barrule are definitely an act to watch into the future as they release future albums. They are sure to be back in Australia for a more extensive run of shows but if you’re headed along to the Celtic festival, make sure you take the time to see them.
When&Where: National Celtic Festival, Portarlington – June 6 through 9
Written by Tex Miller