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Dylan Cleghorn :”We’ve labeled ourselves as TEXAS CELTIC ROCK”(Interview)

Working with my dad is a great experience. I learn something from him every day. He is an amazing songwriter and an incredible guitar player. And we really have an uncanny ability to sit down together and make music! -Dylan Cleghorn

CLEGHORN are a Texas-based Celtic Rock duo. They combine stadium rock with blues and folk influences laced with a strong Celtic brew. 23-year-old violinist Dylan Cleghorn explains the music, life on the road with dad and the state of Celtic music in the United States.

Listening to CLEGHORN is like experiencing the power of  storm dust rising with hundreds of horses racing above it. It’s an immense sonic invasion-the pulsing sound of rock driven Celtic music. The robust and pristine sound of Dylan Cleghorn’s violin is wrapped up by pop rock’s heavy sound that approaches anthemic intensity. John Cleghorn on the other hand adds his own guitar rifts, and golden melodies- a man who knows what Texas rock is.

It should be noted that both of them have come  long way since the days they spent being part of the band Needfire. It was those days when they stirred up festivals with their own brand of Celtic rock. Dylan has been noted as a Charismatic performer who even went as far as going down the stage to play with the crowd during concerts. He is a natural crowd pleaser.

Now they are back with CLEGHORN sounding better and know what they want and how they want the musical direction to be. This is a new frontier and Dylan gets to talk to us to tell us more of what’s in store .

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We have a sneak preview that is available for download .These songs are part of your upcoming CD. Tell us about the changes that happened musically for both you after Needfire.

The Needfire project was a great experiment that helped us grow in many ways – Both as songwriters and performers. And we haven’t abandoned those songs – we still include them in our current shows. But with this growth, CLEGHORN has a more refined sound. We are able to work harder and faster as a result of all we learned and we are having even more fun in the process. And personally, I think we are having more creativity now than we’ve ever had!

You and your dad are good in creating catchy Celtic influenced rock songs. How is the song writing process?

What a difficult question! We each write songs on our own, however the majority of the songs we are including with CLEGHORN have parts written from both of us. The songwriting process generally starts with my dad bringing words and a melody to me and asking me, “What kind of fiddle part would you play with this?” However, many times I also bring a fiddle riff or a song to him and say, “Dad, listen to this! What can you add to this?” There is no single process, but we certainly work as a team!

9 minutes of Woo, the first track is actually 9 minutes of bliss! What made you decide to creat this 9-minute symphonic instrumental?

Almost immediately after my dad and I arranged this piece we knew it was special. 9 Minutes of Woo had its origins in late 2005 and 2006. It’s a great story. The two of us were sitting on the couch watching Monday Night Football. My dad picked up a guitar and was fooling around with a few chords when he asked me to grab my fiddle. We soon muted the TV as magic was in the room. All of the ideas we had been working suddenly seemed to flow together perfectly! The CLEGHORN recording is the same arrangement and music/chord structure from that night. 9 Minutes of Woo is about 50/50 traditional Celtic melodies and original melodies written by myself. The guitar music and chord structure is 100% original by my dad.

Tell me about your instrumental influences. Your playing is like no other. It is rich, pristine and soaring. Tell us about the secret of your style..

I can credit my violin influences to two people.

The first is Joshua Bell. He is a modern classical violinist. Before I played violin, I played viola in the High School Orchestra. Around this time I stumbled upon Joshua Bell’s PBS special “Live from Lincoln Center..” This was my first vision of how the violin (or perhaps, the violinist) can demand attention though his performance.

In the first few months that I started playing fiddle and Celtic music, I was given Ashley MacIsaac’s CD “Hi How are You Today?” This CD changed me completely. It opened my eyes as to how the fiddle (or perhaps, the fiddler) can rock while still maintaining it’s great tone and orchestral qualities. My fiddle style and recording process is greatly influenced by Ashley. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting him since, and we exchanged emails from time to time – which is a great honor for me!

I wouldn’t know how to describe it, but I feel that I’ve been able to mold my own distinct style and sound. And my original tunes seem to naturally create a unique sound by themselves. But I would not be where I am today without these two influences.

How is it like working with your father who is also your band mate?

Working with my dad is a great experience. I learn something from him every day. He is an amazing songwriter and an incredible guitar player. And we really have an uncanny ability to sit down together and make music! We played a show today and I thought to myself, “What a great blessing it is to share the stage with my dad.” When we’re on stage together everything ‘clicks’ and we both are able to let loose and have fun. Our fans respond to that and let loose with us! It’s a blast, and I think this is one of the hallmarks of CLEGHORN.

Tell us what to expect on the new CD you are both working on

We’ve labeled ourselves as TEXAS CELTIC ROCK. We have an undeniable Celtic influence. But we are also a Texas band, and with that comes an unavoidable blues and Texas country rock feel. From traditional to original, acoustic to rock, we do it all. The new CLEGHORN CD will highlight all of these influences.

What is the state of Celtic music in the United States?

The Celtic music scene is still somewhat ‘underground’ in the United States. But its presence is growing! Hopefully CLEGHORN will be a catalyst in its growth and success.

What’s the best thing about performing live/recording an album.

The two are very different. Performing live is all about having fun. We are fortunate to have a great band that supports our live shows. We rehearse to be prepared for each show. Music is our passion and when we are on stage, performing our arrangements and original songs, there is perhaps no greater feeling. Of course, without an audience there is little purpose to play live. We seek to create an intimate feel with the audience regardless of the venue. This creates an emotion that is enjoyed by all.

The studio is where we really open ourselves to creativity. Many times we will have a song all worked up before going into the studio. But sometimes we walk into the studio and let inspiration lead us. We have our instruments in our hands and we never know what product we will have at the end of the day. We’ve surprised ourselves many times with the results of our studio sessions! Recording the new CLEGHORN CD has been especially rewarding because my dad and I are the only two musicians on the recordings (the two of us performed every instrument). It has been a great opportunity to grow as multi-instrumentalists.

A friend who lives in Lyon France introduced me to your band’s link! Your fan base is growing really fast. Do you plan touring outside the United States?

CLEGHORN is a new project. We have been amazed at the quick success that we are having. We are hopeful to have many U.S. tour dates on the calendar soon. We are certainly open to perform international tours as we establish ourselves and continue to grow. We urge everyone who is a CLEGHORN fan to spread the word to friends and family. If you would like CLEGHORN to perform at a festival or event near where you live, please be vocal and contact that event’s staff! You may also send the event website and details to our booking team (booking@cleghornmusic.com) and they will look into negotiating the event!

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4 thoughts on “Dylan Cleghorn :”We’ve labeled ourselves as TEXAS CELTIC ROCK”(Interview)

  1. Dylan is the most awesome performer I have ever come across! His energy, talent and passion is a driving force that pierces deep into your soul when you hear him play and watch him perform. Dylan Cleghorn is today’s morning star and tomorrow’s super nova. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so enthusiastic over any one performer as I do about Dylan and his father. Cleghorn is really the band to listen to this year! (I guess it shows how big a fan I am :P) I look forward to see how they progress!
    This is a fabulous article Jose, I enjoyed reading all the insights behind their song writing process. There really is something very special about families performing together and their father and son bond creates a special fusion of devotion that permeates their music. Thankyou for this great article! It was really a pleasure reading it while listening to their music :)

  2. Thanks Marjory. Like you I have a big smile. I am honored that Dylan gave me an opportunity to interview him though he and his dad have been very busy. It is nice to get insights from someone who is not only a musician, but also playing a kind of music that is close to one’s heart :)

  3. Love your new look here, Bax! You gave me a listen on FB with these two and I really love them! I especially their description. Texas Celtic Rock shows how much the music has grown and diversified.

    Interesting that Joshua Bell is one of his influences. You can really hear it in the intense way both play a given song, or piece of music. But the other being Ashley MacIsaac is really something! (Gee…they are two of my favs on the violin/fiddle but together they would be really something to hear!!)

  4. Thanks Christi. I am trying to go with the minimalist look this time. You are right , the music has grown and diversified. I am also a fan of Joshua Bell and yes! Ashley. I think that Dylan is able to take those influences and made his own unique type of playing through them. They really live up to the the fact that Celtic music is a family affair :)

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