Midlands musician hailed as "one of Ireland's finest banjo players"
A young midlands musician has been commended as being "one of Ireland's finest banjo players" by the traditional Irish band WeBanjo3.
Kilbeggan man Conor Wrafter is already well used to the spotlight as a member of the hugely popular Wrafter Family Band. Conor was one of just three winners chosen to perform with WeBanjo3 on stage during their concert at Leisureland in Galway last weekend.
The competition, organised by the Galway band together with the Galway Advertiser, was open to entries from across the country and saw Conor hand-picked to perform with the band, alongside fellow winners, Melissa Clarke on accordion and Nicole McLaughlin on concertina. In welcoming the trio on stage, the band declared to a full house that while Britain's got talent, and America's got talent, Ireland has the best talent, as they found during their search.
Conor was introduced on stage by WeBanjo3's Enda Scahill, was named "one of Ireland's finest banjo players", with Enda also remarking that the band had searched all over Ireland to find him.
WeBanjo3 is made up of two sets of brothers, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley. They play a blend of traditional Irish, 'old-time', and bluegrass music which they often refer to as Celtgrass. The prestigious Wall Street Journal once described the band's playing as a "freshness and finesse bordering on the magical".
Despite his youth, Conor (17) has many television performances under his belt, including The Late Late Show, and TG4's Realta Agus Gaolta (in which the Wrafter's were finalists in 2019). Conor and company have also opened for Nathan Carter, Finbar Furey, Johnny McEvoy, George Murphy, The Fureys, The Three Tenors (Ireland), and for The High Kings on three occasions.
Conor and his family have also performed in Leinster House twice, for the Ceann Comhairle's annual fundraiser for Trócaire, and even the GPO in Dublin. THe Wrafter family have twice been guests of Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan on his popular Saturday morning radio show, and have taken to the main-stage at national events such as the Ploughing Championships and Tullamore Show.
A moment of personal recognition that stands out for Conor, occurred in the summer of 2018 when the Wrafters were on holiday in Clifden. They found themselves in the company of triple Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis when he and his wife, the playwright Rebecca Miller (daughter of American novelist Arthur Miller, who was once married to Marilyn Monroe) sat in on an impromptu session the Wrafters played in Griffith's Bar. Afterwards, Rebecca told Conor he was the best banjo player she had ever heard. A clip of Conor playing The Mason's Apron that day has since amassed over 375,000 views on the bar's Facebook page.
In 2019, the Wrafters released their debut EP, called The First Verse, with two sold-out shows at Tuar Ard Arts Centre in Moate, and with Conor's banjo playing featured on all four tracks. The family also have new music currently in the works.
Conor joined WeBanjo3 for two songs in Galway, 'Cooley's Reel' and 'The Mason's Apron' but for anyone looking to experience his playing first-hand, Conor and The Wrafter Family Band will perform a fundraising concert in aid of Ballaghmore Parish at the Racket Hall Hotel in Roscrea on Saturday, December 3. Tickets for are now on sale with more details on the The Wrafter Family Band Facebook and Instagram pages.
The Wrafter Family Band will also be joining Kevin Lalor Fitzpatrick on his Saturday Night Show on Midlands 103 for a song and a chat on Saturday, November 12.