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15th Mar 2016

PICS: Irish banjo band perform for President Obama in The White House

Tony Cuddihy

It’s been an afternoon to remember for WeBanjo3.

The Galway-Mayo folk, trad and roots band have just performed in front of President Barack Obama and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in the White House.

One of the band’s members, Fergal Scahill, told JOE all about it as soon as he came off stage, having played just feet from the most powerful man in the world.

“It was a blast. Adrenaline was up to high octane levels,” he revealed.


“It’s a packed room with the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, An Taoiseach, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, the heads of all the houses, and Richard Gere who just happened to be in the building and came along for the craic.

“He grinned the entire way through the performance. Obviously a banjo fan.

“We played on a small stage literally two feet from the President. President Obama was particularly taken with the bodhran solo which we introduced as our third banjo, with the neck broken off it. We reckon if you hit it with a stick, it sounds better.

“We played Get Onboard and The Donegal Lass. We had a huge reception from everybody there and President Obama was straight up afterwards to congratulate us.

“Unfortunately the Secret Service vetoed any notion of President Obama holding the banjo, though we did try.

“We also often describe the banjo as a ‘Weapon of Mass Seduction’ but it was STRONGLY recommended by The Secret Service that we do not under any circumstances even remotely consider saying that.

“We were told exactly where to stand and sit. As the Secret Service have anticipated every possible movement within the room, we were advised not to make any sudden movements of any kind. Which you would imagine would curtail our usual energetic brand of banjo pyrotechnics.”

Fergal also told us how the Sergeant at Arms organised a special flag to be flown over the Capitol this morning to commemorate We Banjo 3 playing for the President.

They received the flag itself and a certificate.


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