Members: Aaron Shiflet, percussion; Clint Keener, fiddle; Dan Shiflet, accordion; Barry "Finbar" Jewels, mandolin; Joe Anderson, guitar; Roo Nevin, guitar and vocals
Who we talked to: Dan Shiflet and Nevin
How long have you been performing together?
Shiflet: It was probably about a little over two years ago (when) my brother Aaron and I and Barry, our mandolin player . . . and Joe, our guitar player . . . all got together at Aaron's house in Lancaster. We started to mess around with some traditional Irish songs. It's just a good common ground to be on musically.
What were some of those traditional tunes?
Nevin: "Holy Ground," "Foggy Dew" (and) other old stuff made famous by The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers and stuff like that. It's kind of, you know, the jumping off point. We're still kind of young. We're still trying to really find our sound. Obviously, we have a lot of Celtic influence. We've just been trying to incorporate that into new originals. We have a lot of different kinds of backgrounds coming in to this band.
What were your different backgrounds?
Nevin: Back in the day, I guess, we all kind of started on punk rock. Then, we kind of went our separate ways, went into some rock 'n' roll. I come from doing a lot of bluegrass and folk traditional (music).
Shiflet: Mainly, most of us were all in that fire hall, local, punk-band scene. It was the thing to do back in high school. We've all known each other since we were teenagers, since we were old enough to hold instruments as young adults.
How did you decide to transition to Irish music?
Shiflet: Well, we all have that in our family tree. We're all from Irish descent mostly.
Nevin: I don't know. Barry just found out he's a Viking. (Laughs)
Do you think that there's a big audience for Irish music in York?
Shiflet: It's especially good in pubs and bars around York. Everywhere we've gone, it's gotten a great response. We've even played on street corners. We've gone just about everywhere with this music, and it's just universally appealing. Young and old love it.
Nevin: The best places, I think . . . are the real small (places like) the (First Capital Dispensing Co.) and Granfalloons. (We like) those small, kind of intimate settings where people can just grab the mic.
One of York's Irish bars, The Harp and Fiddle, closed in July. Were you guys bummed about that?
Shiflet: We were looking to play there, actually. We did play one small session with them. (It was) a 40-minute set. We could tell back then that things weren't quite going well for The Harp and Fiddle. We were sad to see them go, especially since they were sponsors for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and . . . they were the only Irish pub in York. I hope something else opens up there or somewhere else.
Are you guys looking to play regionally, or are you focusing on honing your sound now?
Nevin: We've been playing at Garry Owen out in Gettysburg a lot, too. That's kind of been our home away from home.
Shiflet: Actually, as it stands right now with our current members, we're going to probably cut back on shows until after maybe January or February 2010 so we can regroup and write some new songs. We're just inundated with (show offers). We've gotten offers from places in New York, New Jersey and Baltimore. The more media we put on the Web site and just word-of-mouth, the more it seems to keep it building.
Where did the band name come from?
Shiflet: A long time ago in Ireland, my brother and I had a . . . great-great-grandfather named Patrick Francis Garrahan. He was a tinker by trade. He came to the Unites States in the 1880s or something like that. I'm not sure if he played any instruments or sang, but I'm sure he knew all the songs we still play because a lot of them are hundreds of years old. The only downfall with our band name is that not everybody gets the spelling right, so when they Google it . . . they end up getting something else.
What's coming up for you in the future?
Shiflet: The next step in the phase of this band is to put out a full-length album. We still have yet to choose a studio. It's anyone's guess at this point as to where this might be.
Nevin: We've been tossing around the idea of going to Ireland. That's been up in the air for a little while. It's been a dream of all of ours, I think.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
See Garrahan's Ghost perform at 10 p.m. Oct. 10 at The Stage On Herr, Susquehanna and Herr streets in Harrisburg. Cover is $5.