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Banthom House bangs the jigs and reels in debut EP with Irish covers and originals

Talented trio plans to release a virtual concert video next month

From left, members of Banthom House, Aaron Vega, David Otto and Allegra Ludwig perform on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder in September 2020. (Marco Robinson Photo/ Courtesy photo)
From left, members of Banthom House, Aaron Vega, David Otto and Allegra Ludwig perform on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder in September 2020. (Marco Robinson Photo/ Courtesy photo)
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Irish music doesn’t have to be enjoyed solely on St. Patrick’s Day, between sips of green beer and slices of corned beef.

From left, Banthom House band members David Otto (mandolin, vocals), Allegra Ludwig (fiddle, vocals) and Aaron Vega (guitar, cajon, vocals) are pictured during a rehearsal at The People’s Building in Aurora.  (Aaron Vega/ Courtesy photo)

Celtic band Banthom House is proving just that.

The Front Range group spent much of the past few years busking in open-air locales — like the Pearl Street Mall — delivering lilt-rich ballads, chilling harmonies and upbeat folk tunes to unexpecting passersby.

The talented trio has taken its jovial ditties and bluegrass bangers off the street and into the studio. The debut self-titled EP hit streaming platforms this week and is slated for an official release in early February.

The five-track album boasts two originals and three covers, each showcasing the group’s palpable chemistry, stellar musicianship and unadulterated passion for a genre that some would consider bygone.

Bringing the reels and jigs into 2022, Banthom House is truly rooted in festive cheer. And if making it through the chaos of the last few years isn’t reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

Folk and bluegrass trio Banthom House perform on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder in September 2020. (Marco Robinson Photo/ Courtesy photo)

As luck would have it, band members met when they were acting in a production of “Once” — John Carney’s modern-day musical about two people brought together by the power of song.

We caught up with fiddler Allegra Ludwig to find out more about the band’s latest project, what fans can expect in terms of an EP release concert and which artists Banthom House members are quick to urge each other to check out.

Kalene McCort: What was the most rewarding aspect of crafting this EP? What are you hoping it adds to the music collections of listeners?

Allegra Ludwig: This was our first time recording in the studio together and also our first time adding originals to our setlist. “Playing in the Alley,” written by our mandolinist, David Otto, was an homage to Miners Alley Playhouse where we met as cast members in the musical “Once” in the fall of 2019. Miners Alley has been so supportive of our group continuing to play music together, so performing this tune in their honor felt very special.

Aaron Vega, who plays guitar and cajon, wrote “Put Down Your Hammer” and orchestrating his song together with three-part harmonies was also a memorable experience. We are all so proud of the original tunes and also feel that the album highlights our band’s particular blend of folk, Irish, bluegrass and old-time music. We hope it adds that same eclectic, yet traditional, feel to listeners’ playlists.

KM: Do you have a favorite track on the album?

AL: We might all disagree about our favorite tracks, but speaking for myself I would have to go with the originals “Playing in the Alley” and “Put Down Your Hammer.” I hope there will be more originals to come in our next album. Some are already in the works.

Album art for Banthom House’s self-titled, 2022 debut EP. (Auberon Design/Courtesy photo)

KM: Are there any albums or songs that came out last year that you can’t get enough of? Curious to hear who has been on your playlist.

AL: As a group, we have been known to send each other tracks from artists including Kate Rusby, Martin Hayes, The Pogues, Punch Brothers, The Good Tune, Hot Rize, Chris Thile, Molly Tuttle, Brittany Haas and Bela Fleck, among others. We were very Irish-leaning with our early arrangements, but are starting to veer more into folk and bluegrass these days.

KM: Can we expect an upcoming concert to celebrate the release soon?

AL: Yes. We recorded a release concert this past Tuesday, that is currently being edited into a livestream show that will be available to the public in early February. Unfortunately, with this latest omicron surge and limited opportunities to play together live, a pre-recorded show was the best avenue we had for our Banthom House EP release concert.

Allegra Ludwig performs with her band Banthom House on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder in September 2020. (Marco Robinson Photo/ Courtesy photo)

KM: Any professional or personal goals you’d like to see come to fruition this year?

AL: We certainly hope that the EP has a successful debut. It is available now on all major streaming platforms. Banthom House envisions more songwriting and more recording projects in our near future, with hopes to continue live performances this spring/summer as the weather and COVID situation improve.

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