Giving Up the Ghost with OMFG
Submitted by Sandy Graham
East Coast Canadians Great Big Sea paved the way for many bands to take traditional tunes and bring them up to speed to be popular with a younger generation of fans. With this influence, then adding their twist to the tunes, Old Man’s Flanagan’s Ghost (OMFG) brings a refreshing new sound to the public arena.
Launched in Jan 2014, Old Man Flanagan's Ghost have already hit the Celtic Festival circuit and have appeared at The Beach Celtic Festival, 2015 Coburg Highland Games as well as legendary venues in Toronto like The Hard Rock Café, The Sound Academy, and The Horseshoe Tavern.
Speaking with band leader Stephen Lamb we asked him what his inspiration was to have started a Celtic Band.”When I met Brooke we didn’t know we had music in common, we were both working in childhood education. We started playing music together and it was whole awakening for me. I contacted my brother Brian, and the ‘jams’ began.”
When asked how things have changed for him from 2014 until now, “I found it enlightening but I also found a whole new respect for the music industry. It isn’t just about having the talent, you need to go through the trials and tribulations, time and money. I found new respect for the people who make the industry work.”
OMFG combines classic Celtic and East Coast covers with their own unique brand of Celtic music, they are both entertaining and unique in their delivery. Though several generations Canadian, their roots run deep with the band members boasting ancestry from both Scotland and Ireland.
With heritage tracing back to Enneskillen, Ireland, and with a father who created a cassette tape of Irish music and who played with a group called the Molloy Show Band, the Lamb brothers (Stephen and Bryan) definitely had some Celtic influence growing up.
What are the plans for moving forward with OMFG? “We would like to do more corporate gigs, open for big name Celtic acts, maybe do an East Coast Tour this summer. We have spent the last two years concentrating on Ontario, and want to move beyond free beer and playing cover tunes. We would like to mix it up with both; traditional and our own songs. Our current line-up is the biggest challenge. We are a five piece band with a keyboard – in most pubs the space is limited and the budget is limited. We all have careers and families. It would great to break into the corporate circuit now. But the bottom line is our mutual love of music.”
Stephen Lamb (leader) does main vocals and plays guitar in OMFG. With influences from several musical genres and decades, there is no cookie-cutter description that can be given to this songwriter's contributions. With a passion for writing, he creates clear imagery and elicits emotion through vivid storytelling within his songs. He was taught guitar by his father and has been singing in front of crowds for over two decades. His voice has been described as deep, warm and powerful.
Bryan Lamb gets behind the keyboards and adds a uniqueness to the band that breathes new life into classic Celtic folk songs and an element of the theatrical in his original works. The straight man of the group (despite his own belief he's the funny guy), he citesElton John and Tony Banks (Genesis) among his inspirations. Trained through the royal conservatory of music, this pianist tells stories through his fingers rather than his voice.
The beautiful and talented Brooke Richardson also adds vocals and is a highlight to OMFG with her magic fiddle. An accomplished violinist and fiddle player, she began training in the Suzuki method at age 6 and was playing for crowds by the age of 9. Her playing often silences the audience, drawing their attention, and is considered the highlight of many a show. With a soprano voice and step-dancing in her arsenal, she brings the live performance to a whole new level (Yup, a real one-trick pony). Her great grandparents hailed from both Belfast, Ireland and Aberdeen, Scotland.
Scot Allan is the backbeat of OMFG, rounding out percussion on Drums and Bodhran, also adding his strong vocals to the mix. Scot's strong, comical personality is a force to be reckon with - matched only by his talent on percussion and love of Celtic music. According to Scot, "I took a few drum lessons long ago and found my way around a kit". Scot uses an open-armed, contemporary grip. When not telling jokes, Scot adds character to many songs with his vocal contributions. He has ties back to Kirkcaldy, Scotland and is primarily associated with Clan Ranald of the MacDonald Clan (i.e., Clan Donald), but also with Clan MacFarlane, Clan MacKay, and Clan Grant.
Matti Palonen brings the whole package together on Double bass, Tin Whistle, Kantele, as well as vocals. A multi-talented musician, Matti adds a playful tin whistle and a highly energetic performance on double bass. Some truly beautiful harmonies are created when he adds his tenor vocals, and his songs performed on the Kantele are both haunting and reflective. His Finnish heritage introduced him to many reels and jigs, and with his folk background he seamlessly transitioned into the Celtic genre. Utilizing his background in science and lutherie, Matti designs and creates Kanteles as a luthier in Toronto.
The next goal is a second album. “We already have a good lineup of songs for them – we practice opportunity we get. We have learned from our first round to be more prepared going into the studio and the dynamics of working with five different instruments .”
Any advice you can give to new upcoming artists? “Follow your dreams but you gotta have a Plan B. In retrospect when I was 15 or so I wish I had believed in the possibilities that could have happened for me. But the bottom line is follow your passion. Don’t think it is not possible – have faith.”
Their debut album "Sociable!" was released in May 15, 2015, and the CD is available for purchase through CD baby, at live shows, and at select retailers (see Store/Merch).