The High Kings
Family Fun Series
The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. isn’t your usual concert venue, but then the High Kings are not your ordinary band. The Irish folk group, whose debut album reached No. 2 on the world Billboard Music Chart, was invited to the Pentagon in 2015 by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey. They performed alongside the Marine Corps Band. This was not the King’s first trip to Washington. In 2012, they were invited by President Barack Obama to perform at the White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They flew in directly from London, where they had headlined the Lord Mayor of London’s St. Patrick’s Day events.
This was heady stuff for a band that didn’t come together until 2007, when Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Paul O’Brien and former member Martin Furey were asked to join a new Irish ballad group. During their first studio rehearsal, it was clear that the way their voices blended together was special. The High Kings play 13 instruments among them and that creates the unique sound and atmosphere for which they are known. Their first three studio albums appeared at Number Three or higher on the Billboard World Music Chart and the first two went platinum in Ireland. As of 2020, they had released five studio albums, two live albums, two live DVDs and one greatest hit album. In 2021, they released Home from Home, recorded live in Dublin. The latest work is a journey through classic folk songs, old and new. In a statement, they explained what they hoped to accomplish. “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 along the way.”
Finbarr Clancy has musical roots that go deep. In the 1990s, he toured with the Clancy Brothers, playing five- string banjo, electric bass and flute, which at that time consisted of his father, Bobby, his uncles Paddy and Liam and his cousin, Robbie O’Connell. He also appeared on three albums with his father.
Brian Dunphy performed in Riverdance: The Show for several years and then became a member of The Three Irish Tenors. He is the son of Sean Dunphy, who represented Ireland in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest. Brian Dunphy plays the bodhrán and guitar with the High Kings.
Darren Holden starred in Riverdance: The Show on Broadway for 18 months, and then appeared on Broadway and a national tour in Movin’ Out, playing Billy Joel. He has released several solo albums and has a solo show when he is not performing with the High Kings, where he plays the accordion, mandolin, guitar and keyboard.
Paul O’Brien joined the group in 2019. He plays the tin whistle, among other instruments. The whistle is a key element of the Kings’ sound.
The High Kings take their name from a group of legendary and historical figures going back as far as 1500 who claimed lordship over Ireland. With their lilting ballads and unique harmony, they will claim lordship over your heart.