The Sands Family
Born, bred and based in County Down, ‘The Sands Family’ has been singing and playing music for as long as they can remember.
They grew up on a small farm in the townland of Ryan near the village of Mayobridge, a few miles from the town of Newry. Their parents, Mick and Bridie, both came from families of singers, musicians and storytellers and encouraged a love of Irish culture and tradition in their seven children.
Their house on the Ryan Road was a "ceili house", a focal point and neighbours from nearby farms as well as musical wanderers from much further afield often gathered around their fireside for long winter evenings of song, music, "craic" and merriment.
From small beginnings in local halls and pubs their musical career took a sudden upturn when they won a folk group contest in Dublin's ‘Old Shieling Hotel’ in Raheny. As a result they were invited to play for three weeks in New York in early 1971. Although further trips to the USA and Canada followed, including a St Patrick's Day concert appearance in Carnegie Hall and regular "solo missions" they have tended to concentrate their musical attentions as a band on this side of the Atlantic - in Europe generally and Germany particularly, as well as Ireland and the UK. However they often talk of crossing the broad Atlantic again.
Their repertoire largely consists of their own compositions together with some of their favourites from the bottomless well of the Irish song and music tradition.
They often perform and record as solo artists but thirty five years on the road have not dulled their appetite for getting together for tours, festivals and occasional trips to the recording studio, in fact, quite the reverse and they have every intention of carrying on!
Their latest album (number 16 if anyone’s counting!), ‘Keep On Singing’ featuring the classic family feel and good humour has ensured ‘The Sands Family’ remain popular all across the globe. The family have also featured on a great TG4 documentary.
What a finale to the 2017 festival !!