Bands and Performers



Pay the Devil

Pay the Devil got  together in the winter of 2011 and has been playing around the  Milwaukee area ever since. They play mostly original tunes in a variety  of styles alongside an assortment of bluegrass and old-time standards,  sea shanties, folk, Irish, and country music. This five-piece, made up  of guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, and washboard (spoons and  assorted other hillbilly percussive instruments) puts on a fun live show  filled with foot-stomping, thigh-slapping music, and enough hollering  to go around. Pay The Devil’s genre has been described as “Shantygrass”, “Riotgrass”, and “Horse [Manure] and Gun Music”.

Banjo Ivan moved to Milwaukee in 2010 and met Guitar Ivan playing  in the Milwaukee Hurling Club. They began racing together on a sailboat  and talking about music. So it began that a few times a month they  would get together and play some music. One day Guitar Ivan brought his  cousin Mandolin Matt along. He has been part of the group ever since.

All the while Washboard Jeremy was working in Banjo Ivan’s home town of Erie, PA, where he met Banjo  Ivan’s father. When washboard Jeremy got accepted to a fellowship  program at Marquette University he was told to look up Banjo Ivan when  he got there, and he did. Washboard Jeremey introduced the band to Bass Jackie, and the band was complete.

Pay The Devil played  for the first time just before Thanksgiving in 2011, and has been  playing together ever since. With a love for playing unamplified music  outdoors they have played Brady Street, Reservoir Park, The Summerfest  Grounds, and on lots of back porches. Sometime between then and now Pay  The Devil started playing what most would consider to be “real”  shows also. They have delighted crowds large and small on notable area  stages including Chill on the Hill, Milwaukee Irish Fest, Linneman’s  Riverwest Inn, The Up and Under, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., Frank’s  Power Plant, The Jazz Estate, Yield Bar, and many others. Keep checking  back for schedule updates, or become a fan on facebook to get notices of  impromptu shows and sessions.

Jeff Ward


Jeff's  interest in music began at a very early age, as part of a very musical  family. After cutting his musical teeth on classical violin, He changed  direction and in his early teens he took up the guitar and learned to  play and sing traditional songs of Ireland and Scotland.

He  later founded and operated the Carlisle Folk Club on the Northern  fringe of the English Lake District and many of the top touring Celtic  performers from Ireland and Scotland sang and played there. Jeff pitched  in as a support artist to these great talents, and soon built a  repertoire and a reputation as fine Celtic performer in his own right.  He was soon on the road singing in folk clubs and concerts all over  England & Scotland.

After  Jeff and his family relocated to the Milwaukee area, he scratched the  music itch again and was soon singing and playing all over the Midwest  in pubs, clubs, concerts, festivals, including TV and radio. He has  performed at some of the most prestigious Irish festivals throughout the  Midwest, e.g. Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Peoria, and Minneapolis.  This year (2019) was his twenty first consecutive appearance at the  Milwaukee Irish Festival, the last six years on the main Miller Lite and  Aer Lingus stages.

Now  as a seasoned performer, Jeff's music includes a nice mix of Irish  & Scottish ballads and drinking songs and acoustic American folk  songs that suit a broad palette of people's musical tastes.

Ian Gould


 Ian Gould Returns to the PPP!

  Ian,  an immigrant from Belfast, Northern Ireland, began his musical career  as a kid playing in bands throughout Ireland, the UK & Europe. Ian  is now a solo artist and a singer/songwriter. He has been performing  internationally for more than 20 years. Through his music and travels  Ian has had the privilege of living and studying in Perth, Scotland and  living in some other fine European cities such as London, Brussels, and  Amsterdam.       


  Although  he is still a continuous traveler, Ian now resides in the United  States.  He received his U.S. citizenship in November 2015! A veteran  bassist who has toured with bands throughout Europe and the U.S.A, Ian  currently lives with his wife and two children near Milwaukee,  Wisconsin. He is a solo artist popular throughout the Midwest, from  Minnesota to Illinois, to Michigan. “I’m fortunate to live where I live,  because the Irish scene is vibrant. I meet so many wonderful people as I  travel around.”

         Ian  Gould was recently nominated for the “Top Solo Performer in a Pub Venue  throughout the USA, Ireland, European Union, and the  United Kingdom.  In 2012, Ian was invited by the President of Ireland, Michael D.  Higgins, to perform for him and for Irish and British diplomats on the  12th of July, at the President's official residence, Áras an Uachtaráin,  in Dublin.  It was a great experience for all! In 2016, Ian was  nominated for "Best Acoustic Musician" for Best of Milwaukee.

Ceol Cairde


This  group of Milwaukee area musicians has been performing traditional Irish  music since the spring of 1989. Ceol Cairde has its roots in the 1988  Irish Fest Summer School, a week of classes held the week before Irish  Fest. Classes are taught in Irish music, dance, language, and theater,  as well as other Irish cultural activities for all ages.

 Deciding  one week a year of Irish music was not enough, they began playing in  each other’s living rooms, learning more and more tunes. With the  windows open during one summer day, a passer-by heard the delightful  sounds of jigs and reels and asked the group to perform at their  wedding. 

Milwaukee  Irish Fest, Holiday Folk Fair, the Canadian Carrousel of Nations, and  many other special events followed that special wedding performance.  Ceol Cairde members share the energy and spirit of the traditional Irish  music they enjoy so much. The irresistible blending of their  instruments provides the unique sound that is the “Music of Friends.”

Blackthorn Folly


Blackthorn  Folly is a five piece traditionally inspired band from the Milwaukee  area. We play traditional Celtic tunes, pub songs, American standards,  and even some pop music with high energy and a ground stomping tempo.  Our highest priority is entertaining crowds through great music and  audience participation.

  • Christopher Chan – Vocals / Bouzouk
  • Josh Gratz – Tenor Banjo / Mandolin / Vocals
  •  Heather Lewin – Fiddle / Vocals
  • Molly Noyes – Flute / Whistle / Pipes
  • David Wojnowski – Bodhran / Vocals

Blackthorn  Folly was formed in 2012 to perform on St. Patrick’s Day at a couple of  the local pubs in Milwaukee. After the overwhelmingly positive response  from the audience, they decided to continue to perform and create a  serious band. Since they started, Blackthorn folly has continued to  perform regularly in pubs around the Milwaukee area. Additionally, they  have performed at Irish cultural festivals including the Milwaukee, New  Dublin, and Oshkosh Irish fests.

The  band was originally founded by Christopher Chan (bouzouki/banjo/vocals)  after getting a chance offer to perform at a local pub. He was  immediately joined by Christian Tomsey (vocals/fiddle), Joe McElroy (flute), Jacob Davida (fiddle/vocals), and  David Wojnowski (bodhrán).  In late 2014, the band was joined by Josh Gratz (tenor  banjo/mandolin).

In  December of 2017, Joe McElroy received an opportunity too good to pass  up. This required him to leave the state, so he was unable to continue  his role in the band. After much searching, the band hired Chris Wieber  to fill the job of flute in February of 2018.

Towards  the end of 2018, Chris Wieber had some incredible opportunities to  further his life and career, but like Joe, it required him to move out  of state. After much searching, Molly Noyes (Flute/Whistle/Pipes) and  Heather Lewin (Fiddle) joined the group to fill the missing parts and  elevated the music to new levels.

The band continues to perform and plans to always keep going

Derek Byrne


Paddygrass plays  kickass Celtic Bluegrass and Gospel. Over the last 10 years we have  assembled a collective of Wisconsin's best Irish Musicians. We love to  get together in various combinations of trios or quartets. Some shows  feature dancers from Milwaukee Irish Dance Company   Paddygrass shows are spontaneous, special guests arrive and become part  of the magic. No matter how many times you see us there is always  something new to discover! Whatever happens, our music will move you to  sing, dance, drink and forget all else.

Current Roster
Derek Byrne - Lead Vocals, Banjo, Hand Percussion, Harmonica
Randy Foat - Drums
Randy Gosa - Guitar, Mandola
Rory Modlinski - Banjo, Guitar, Bass and Mandolin
Peter Carlson - Guitar and Vocals
Dan Johnston - Guitar
Molly Noyes - Flute and Pipes
Sara Fritchen - Flute and Saxophone
Leah Redding - Fiddle
Olivia Langby - Fiddle
Steve Kendziora - Bass
Jon Baade - Bass, Ukulele
Members at large:
James Reilly - Flute
Karen Reilly - Fiddle, Vocals
Ethan King - Accordion and Bass
TJ Hull - Fiddle, Viola, Cello, Tin Whistle, Vocals 
Amanda Carretta Hull - Bodhran, Tin Whistle, Vocals
Heather Lewin - Fiddle and Vocals
Chris Chan - Bouzouki
Chara Fedke - Cajon, Djembe

Elyse Transon
Tanya Tachon
James Reese
Marina Ari Matson

Derek's Story

 I  left Ireland at the age of 21 and toured the world with Riverdance as a  singer and musician for 6 years. I met my wife Carrie backstage in  Milwaukee. After a 3 year  long distance love, we settled here and I've  been a feature of the Irish Scene since 2001. I write songs inspired by  the love of my wife and children and my love for Ireland.