Lankum are a four-piece traditional folk group from Dublin, Ireland, who combine distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar. Their repertoire spans humorous Dublin music-hall ditties and street-songs, classic ballads from the Traveller tradition, traditional Irish and American dance tunes, and their own original material.
Having spent the last number of years performing as ‘Lynched’, the band decided that they would no longer continue with the name due to the unavoidable implications that it has in regards to acts of racist violence. Their new name comes from the ballad ‘False Lankum’, as sung by the Irish Traveller John Reilly Jr.
The band was originally formed as an experimental-psychedelic-folk-punk-duo by brothers Ian and Daragh Lynchin the early 2,000’s, and has since progressed through a number of incarnations.
As their interest in traditional music and song grew, the brothers began to attend sessions around Dublin, where they formed friendships with Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat, amongst a whole host of impressive young musicians. When Ian began work in the Irish Traditional Music Archive, after completing a folklore masters, he had the rare opportunity to record in the ITMA studio with friend, colleague and in-house technician Danny Diamond, whenever a spare evening presented itself, so he and Daragh asked Cormac and Radie to provide some backing vocals and instrumentation on “one or two songs”.
After some preliminary practice sessions it became obvious to all involved that something much more interesting was happening, and the group quickly became a dedicated four-piece, gaining experience and confidence as they played together at the Grand Folk Club gigs, which they hosted monthly. They also applied around this time for the Arts Council’s 2013 Deis Recording Award, for which they were fortuitously approved.
‘Cold Old Fire’ was recorded by Danny in ITMA in August of 2013, and although fundamentally an album of traditional Irish song, heavily influenced by Irish legends such as Frank Harte, Planxty and The Dubliners, subtle traces of the group’s collective influences can be detected, from American old-timey music, ambient techno and psychedelic folk, to black metal, punk and rock n’ roll.
The album was released in May of 2014 and has since seen them appear on Later with Jools Holland and playing some of the world’s most renowned music festivals, including Cambridge, Sidmouth, Edmonton and Electric Picnic as well as being nominated for three awards at the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and featured on covers of notable music magazines such as fRoots and The Thin Air.