The Joyce Gang are an Anglo/Irish roots band based in England. They have established a fine reputation throughout the British Isles with their stirring live performances, excellent recordings and regular national and local airplay. They have taken audiences by storm at festivals from Sidmouth to Edinburgh and at venues from Derry to Stuttgart.
The songs and tunes in their extensive repertoire are all self-penned and draw on a dizzying variety of styles from traditional irish to modern jazz, covering most musical genres in between, all blended to create the distinctive and uplifting sound that is unique to The Joyce Gang.
John was born in Dublin at St. James's Hospital, right next to the Guinness Brewery. What effect that had on his subsequent life is, at this stage, unclear.
He first played the bodhran at the age of ten and learnt to spell it some six years later. His first bodhran was fashioned by his brother, Pat, from a discarded sand riddle in the garden. After playing it to death, it finally fell apart as did John's young, exciting and cruel world.
He carried on playing, using the Guiness Book of Records instead. Singing and playing came as naturally to John as anyone brought up in Ireland: for instance, Des and Sinead O'Connor, Christy and Demi Moore, Gerard and Frank O'Farrell.
After years of playing sessions from one end of the country to another, he felt it was time to leave and discover the rest of the planet. After a few years of drumming and singing his way around Europe and finding himself again broke, he joined a ship in Rotterdam and finally landed in Devon at Exmouth docks.
Music being his first love, it didn't take long before meeting up with other musicians and forming "Malone's Rangers", an Irish covers band that rocked the Crediton music establishment to the core.
He began writing songs with Melodeon wizard and bonviveur Paul Wilson and, with Malone's coming to its natural conclusion, they formed the Joyce Gang along with artist and musician Russell Frampton.
John is a sensitive person and enjoys building sheds in his spare time, when not getting married and having children.
Paul spent his youth playing Classical guitar, Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, the field and looking at maps. He played a solo recital in Westminster Abbey at the age of sixteen and subsequently took up folk music.
From the age of 12, Paul's best friend was Steve Knightley, then at 16, they met Phil Beer. However, despite these drawbacks, Paul was reasonably well-balanced until, after giving up a promising academic career, he went on the road as a professional muso. "Was it the women or the curry houses?" Paul was once heard to rhetoricise.
A few years touring as Downes and Beer, all around Europe and the UK, playing sessions on hundreds of albums, four records of their own and two solo sets for Paul... and they met Bill Zorn and formed the now legendary Arizona Smoke Revue.
A meteoric rise into TV, radio, major European festivals, world tours and four albums... that was enough! Paul was asked to stand in on a Joyce Gang gig (their first!) and the rest, as they say, is mystery.
Paul Downes now still gigs extensively in the UK and USA as a solo artist, made his third album, enjoys shopping and cooking, supporting Exeter Rugby Club and getting a suntan.
As a child growing up in Belfast Dave learned to play the clarinet and hated it with a passion. His love for music began to grow, however, when, as a broke law student he went busking and discovered he could make money. After learning to play jazz in London and having a ball on his way to a 1st in music at college in Yorkshire, Dave finally ended up in Devon.
Someone told The Joyce Gang that he could play the Uillean pipes, but this turned out to be a libellous slur. He was, however keen to combine his first love, jazz, with the music of his Irish roots and the Joyce Gang offered the perfect opportunity.
Dave now lives by the sea in Exmouth, teaches a bit, plays a lot, and listens to Bach, Mozart, Charlie Parker and Art Pepper. Dave's daughter, Siobhan, a drummer, shares his closeness with puffins, but not Sheffield United FC.
Equally at home playing acoustically or in a rock venue, THE JOYCE GANG are THE act to see, and they are looking forward to meeting you on their travels.
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