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New album High Kings singer Darren Holden says they took touring 'for granted' before lockdown

Classics such as The Streets of London, Galway Races, City of Chicago and the Wild Colonial Boy feature on the band's new album

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The High Kings: Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey

The High Kings: Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey

The High Kings: Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey

Darren Holden is missing the noise.

Like many artists lockdown silence is getting to him – no whistles, and cheers, the adoring audiences have been deprived of live music.

And that’s bad news for the High Kings one of Ireland’s foremost folk bands, this time of year they would be getting ready for sell out gigs at Derry’s Millennium Forum and the Ulster Hall in Belfast.

But for the second year running, the diary is empty.

“We flew back from the States on March 14 last year, looking forward to playing in the North,” said Darren.

“Our manager said we’d be going nowhere until September, it was heartbreaking, little did we think we’d be in the same boat a year on.”

Regular visitors to the North the High Kings reputation is founded in their live performances.

“Our routine is six weeks in the States and then Europe, including Derry and Belfast which always sell out. We love playing anywhere but there is something about audiences in the North, when I think about playing up there, one word springs to mind – volume.

“We are greeted with an amazing wall of noise when we go on stage at the Millennium Forum or the Ulster Hall, we always sell out, it’s a great feeling to play the North.”

Touring, he said, was something they took for granted.

“It’s all well and good saying we are a touring band, and we have a connection with our fans, but a year out we need to connect.”

The result is Home From Home a journey through classic folk songs, old and new.

“The idea behind this album was to bring our fans on a journey across the world, to some of the places we call home when we tour, via some of the classic folk songs that have inspired us.”

And one of them is the iconic Carrickfergus featuring Belfast’s Brian Kennedy.

“Brian lives close to me so it was a natural thing for us to do and Carrickfergus is such an iconic song, so this album is a gift to our fans and followers.”

Since it’s release it has been a huge success.

“At a time when they can’t physically be with us we wanted to bring them on this adventure. The band have always said that their huge army of loyal fans are like the 5th member of the group.

“And I’m amazed at how well it has bee received, it is right up there with the best selling album we’ve ever done.”

Lockdown has also opened the space and time for him to write.

“Eighty songs! So we are ready to go with our next album.”

“Each city, each tour, seeing familiar faces in the crowd, and the welcoming we get year after year – that is our home from home… and to be separated during this last year has been so hard for us.

“We decided to come together to record and film these songs for release at a time when we should be playing them live to our fans.”

Classics such as The Streets of London, Galway Races, City of Chicago and the Wild Colonial Boy feature on the album.

“I think what we’ve learned through all this is taking things for granted I will never moan about pulling out the suitcase and packing up to go on tour, we take it for granted but it is the very centre of what we do.”

Music, he said, has been a saviour for people locked down in an uncertain world.

“I’ve spoken to people and there’s something about folk music, people have turned to it for comfort, it draws people in and I hope this album does this.

“We can’t tour, but it’s a tribute to our fans that they have embraced this.

“Tell everybody up North, we’re on our way.”

Home from Home is available on the usual digital platforms.

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