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Along the enchanted way

Dominic Cromie of rising Celtic Rock band, Raglan Road, discusses the origins of the band that might have been called Balloons.

For somebody who once played on Live at 3, Dominic Cromie has come a long way. His band, Raglan Road, might not be the most famous band on the planet at the moment, but with their debut CD, "Live", if they don't set the world alight they are at least going to start some fairly large fires.

After playing electric guitar and singing back up vocals to his sister Aine, with whom he toured all over Ireland, Dominic eventually found himself in America with a sound in his head that he wanted to get out to the public. This sound would later come to be known as Celtic Rock. A term that is pretty much self explanatory it is, according to Dominic, used to describe "bands that are caught between the Irish scene and the rock scene.

"Bands that perform with traditional instruments and a rock beat seem to be pushed into the Celtic Rock genre". It wasn't until he met up with Noel MacAtasney and Matt Mancuso, who were both regular players in the New York Irish Trad scene at the time, that Raglan Road was born.

The band was not yet complete in Dominic's mind and on the advice of a friend asked Dave Barckow, then playing with White Trash, to sit in on drums for one of their gigs. "There was something about his playing that was just magic. I asked him to join the band a few days later and he agreed." At this stage, he was now getting the sound he wanted and had built up a group of talented musicians around him. He says he "found out later that Matt (Mancuso, fiddle and trumpet) had placed second in the All-Ireland Fleadh in 1994."

"The word started to spread about our new band, Raglan Road, and bookings were coming in at a fast pace. We were now playing five nights a week." After six months of this, Noel announced he was leaving the band. He was a schoolteacher at the time and found it increasingly difficult to juggle both the band and his career. As unlikely as this may have seemed at the time, it could have been a blessing in disguise.

"Noel told me that I should front the band myself and keep it going. We were playing in two days and I was very short on material. I told Matt and Dave that I was going to try my own songs on the gig." It turns out that Dominic had been writing songs since he was ten, but felt the time was right to play them in public. It was clearly a success, because the formula that works now for Raglan Road was completed - playing traditional tunes but mixing them with original material. With the addition of Ed Kollar, a friend of Dave's from White Trash, on upright bass, the line-up was complete.

I just had one question left and when asked about the origin of the name Dominic replied simply, "Noel came up with the name Raglan Road, don't ask me why [too late, Dom, I already have]. It could have been after the street or the song. We could have been called the 'Balloons' for all I cared".

Raglan Road - Live

by Ken McGrath.

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