With a name aptly deriving from the old Irish for a grand master of a skill, the olllam is a Transatlantic collective of formidable talent, marrying virtuosity, Irish tradition, and Detroit’s post-rock psyche-sensibility. Their compositions are lush cyclical trance-like melodies, co-written by Belfast uilleann piper/whistle player John McSherry and his US protégé Tyler Duncan, set to the intricate, often complex, rhythms of master-drummer Michael Shimmin, underpinned by the phenomenal bass-playing genius of Joe Dart.
Their 2012 eponymous debut album is now considered a cult classic, winning the 2012 Indie Acoustic Music Award for Best Instrumental Album. Over the years the olllam live collective has featured various additional master musicians and collaborators, including Dart’s Vulfpeck bandmates Theo Katzman and Woody Goss. Since the release of 2022’s long-awaited follow-up album elllegy, which saw the olllam named as RTE Radio Best Group at that year’s Folk Awards, the band has featured Sean O’Meara on guitar and Joe Hettinga on keys. Ever experimental, the olllam also regularly collaborates with singer-songwriter Siomha.