Music Q&A: The Dan Walsh Trio

The BBC Folk Award nominee chats about his new project with award-winning fiddler Ciaran Algar and long-time collaborator Nic Zuppardi on mandolin

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Anything and everything really. My tastes in music have always been pretty broad but I’d say the dominant influences are Scottish/Irish folk and bluegrass. But there’s plenty of other stuff in there. I write different kinds of things solo or for my new trio. When writing for the trio I imagine all the parts as I write, whereas solo I concentrate much more on single melodies. As for songwriting, I think over the years I’ve started writing more about my own life and relationship with my job, with different places and the people I meet. I tend not to write too many songs about political issues – it’s hard to do it well!

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
I think I’ve got better at attention to detail and making my music tighter. My very first album in 2009 had some material I really like and even still play but it was all very long and over the top and a bit slapdash! Being in Urban Folk Quartet has greatly furthered the process of recognising the importance of attention to detail because they are all such perfectionists, which has made me one too! My music has always evolved really, taking on new influences, such as when I started really enjoying the Indian stuff, the funky grooves and multiple riffs rather than just tune and chords. Writing for the new trio has really increased that as well.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
My new trio! We’re doing our first tour in May, which is really exciting. Nic and Ciaran are two of my favourite musicians in the world and it’s been great to write the material with the greater scope for more stuff going on in the music, as I’ve done so much solo stuff over the last few years. I’ve just come back from a two month tour of Australia and New Zealand and it was great to air the new stuff solo but I’m looking forward to playing it in trio format!

What’s on your rider?
Not a great one for fancy riders to be honest. It doesn’t sound very rock’n’roll I know, but I just like doing my job as well as I can rather than demanding silly things I don’t need. I’m not a big hotel room TV smasher!

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Hmm, some stiff competition for this one. Telling Robert Plant impatiently to get out the way whilst not realising it was Robert Plant would perhaps be one of them. But perhaps in terms of surreal, I once played at a re-enactment festival during the day and then in the evening was rather drunkenly enjoying a soul band. They then asked me to play banjo with them. I never perform drunk but I most definitely did that night. Looking out from the stage a bit drunk and seeing everyone in period costumes was a bit surreal for sure.

What song do you wish you’d written?
I always say Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. It has everything I’d want to have in a song of my own – it’s musically very clever yet has that accessible catchy pop thing as well. Love it!

What’s your worst lyric?
Hmm, I probably have plenty. There’s a few of my old songs I’d like to leave in the past. Unfortunately I performed one on New Zealand breakfast TV. It went down well but I hate it!

The Dan Walsh Trio tour takes in Alstonefield Village Hall in the Peak District (12 May), Sheffield’s Greystones (23 May), and Preston’s Willows Foll Club (20 June). For full dates visit

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