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Irish band The Shams bring their roots and edge to America

Irish band The Shams
Irish band The Shams
The Shams

What do you get when you mix three musical lads from Ireland with a few American players?

Answer: The Shams.

This hard rocking, fiddle playing, punk infused group has built a solid fan-base in the San Francisco Bay-area, headlining at the annual St Patrick’s Day Festival and playing numerous gigs at local hot spots.

Now, taking their rebellious roots on the road, The Shams will play in Los Angeles at Finn McCool’s and Molly Malone’s this week. And, with two CD’s previously under their belt, including “Go On Home Boys” and their self-titled debut "The Shams," the group will unveil two new singles on LA Talk Radio’s Relevant Music & Muse show on April 5th.

We recently caught up with The Shams front man Sean Daly and songwriter/drummer James Scragg to find out about their sound, their inspiration and so much more.

Tell us a little about The Shams sound and how you got started.

SEAN DALY: The Shams are not your stereotypical Irish band singing about the drink. While we do have a song or so about drink (only customary), we really reflect on our lives as Irish men living in America. Our sound combines each of our band member’s musical influences, from traditional ceili music, to punk and blue grass. We are explosive and ever-evolving, as our fiery live performances always showcase.

The Shams first began in 2011 in San Francisco, when Sean Daly (front man from Donegal, Ireland) and fellow Irishmen James Scragg (drums from Cork, Ireland) and Joey Kennedy (guitar from Kilkenny, Ireland) decided to join musical forces. Not long after, the trio added Texan Kevin Tregar Otton (fiddle) and first generation Irish-American Tommy O’Mahony (upright and electric bass) into the mix to round out the group’s soulful sound. Recently, the group brought in a sixth member, Henry Moser (lead guitar and back-up vocals), to kick it up even further.

The Shams provide listeners with a new, hard-hitting perspective on the evolution of Irish music, unlike any you've heard before.

Where do you pull your inspiration from when creating original songs?

JAMES SCRAGG: I draw a lot of inspiration from my experiences as an Irish immigrant living in America and the other Irish band members can relate as we share the same struggles and triumphs. Our working-class upbringing and being tradesmen is challenging so writing music has always been an outlet. I can articulate my thoughts through my lyrics- the way I write is the same as my spoken language. Much of my inspiration also comes from the different characters I've met through this journey called life.

Share with us something you think would surprise your fans.

SEAN: If you go to bed with the question, you'll wake up with the answer.

What's the best part about playing live shows?

SEAN: Watching the crowd respond. When we play our original songs and they're singing along, it's magic.

JAMES: The buzz of the crowd when we give all our energy during a show and to see the fans enjoying themselves, it's electrifying and we all feel it.

Any chance you'll head to Ireland for a gig?

SEAN: Definitely. We have a tour in the works for Ireland next April or May 2015. We are looking forward to playing in our hometowns in Donegal, Kilkenny and Cork.

What's next for The Shams?

SEAN: We're looking forward to our tour Los Angeles this month. We are releasing two new songs, "One and All" and "Sick to Death" on LA Talk Radio on April 5th. You can hear the live stream online at

A highlight for us this year will be playing with Damien Dempsey in San Francisco on July 17, 2014. He is the ultimate Irish working class hero and we admire his work very much.

A special thanks to Sean and James...we'll be listening for even more to come!



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