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March 26, 2023


Mar 26, 2023 @ 8:00pm


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Sun 26th Mar 2023

Whelan’s Upstairs

Drogheda favourite SJ McArdle returns to Whelan’s on March 26th for a compelling solo evening of songs and stories, including songs from his previous work with award-winning folk band Kern and from his new album, Old Ghosts In The Water, which is produced by Trevor Hutchinson and presents a brand new song cycle, full of timeless, indelible folk songs – work songs, story songs, love songs to the sea. Songs written in anger and written in sorrow. Songs about injustice and change. Songs about people.

The album was born of a year-long research and writing project around the history and stories of Drogheda’s ancient Port, conducted during SJ’s tenure as Artist in Association at Droichead Arts Centre.

RTÉ Radio 1 Album of the Week Old Ghosts In The Water got 4 stars from The Irish Times, who called it “an impressive song cycle … the songs are intriguing and evocative; they are rooted in folk but coloured by expansive and imaginative arrangements.”

Fiachna Ó Braonáin (The Hothouse Flowers, RTÉ) said “What a great, great collection of songs this is from SJ McArdle. I urge you to go out and get it.”

And Lynette Fay (BBC) said it had “all the ingredients of great folk songs”.
Along with critically-acclaimed Dublin vocalist Carol Keogh (Plague Monkeys, Automata, The Wicc) the band on the album includes double-bassist Trevor Hutchinson (Lúnasa, The Waterboys) and keyboard player and arranger Graham Henderson (Moving Hearts, Atlantic Arc Orchestra, Sinéad O’Connor) along with accordion legend Dermot Byrne (Altan, Declan O’Rourke) and Dundalk flute player Nuala Kennedy (The Alt).

Apart from his work with Kern, SJ is known for his career as a singer-songwriter in Nashville and Germany, which produced 2014’s critically-acclaimed Blood and Bones album, which features contributions from Rodney Crowell, Richard Bennett and Mikky Ekko.. SJ is also one third of Long Woman’s Grave, featuring Nuala Kennedy and Trevor Hutchinson. SJ’s songs and performances have been featured in radio, film and television and he has toured and recorded extensively in Ireland, Europe and North America, gathering a loyal following and critical accolades along the way.

“A talented writer of both contemporary and traditional-style songs with immediate earworm qualities.” – Seamas Shiels, Fonn magazine

“SJ McArdle, who has had a successful solo career cultivating a rootsy folk-rock sound, can’t fail to capture your attention, with a sonorous voice – not unlike Garnet Rogers’s – that can be gritty and gruff yet also unexpectedly tender, even vulnerable. His writing exhibits a similar versatility.” – Sean Smith, Boston Irish

“Quite lovely … McArdle’s voice has a breathy gruffness to it that is commanding without being loud, and it sets a strong tone. ‘The Hard Wind’, a McArdle original, is a lively, cutting song about Irish soldiers who returned to Ireland after World War I to acrimony and indifference.” – Daniel Neely, The Irish Echo

“(In ‘The Hard Wind’) SJ McArdle has written a really fine and brave song … interesting, powerful and complex”– Mike Harding

“His smoky voice seems to have the very patina of life itself ingrained within his vocal cords and this gives his recordings real identity.” – TradConnect

“Bravo for an artist who has taken contemporary Irish music to parts it far too seldom reaches” – Hot Press

“SJ’s deep, sonorous voice brings authority to the songs. If Whipping Boy were raised in Nashville they might sound like this” – Mail On Sunday

“Spare couplets conjuring entire vistas with the focus of David Lynch” – The Irish Times


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€15 available online from Whelan’s.

– 50c per ticket service charge applies on all bookings. Final ticket price may be higher from other outlets.

Strictly over 18′s, I.D. may be required.