Belfast-born uilleann piper John McSherry and Detroit natives Tyler Duncan and Michael Shimmin have been dreaming of .the olllam. for the last decade. With a name inspired by the king’s own ollam bards of Irish lore, the trio wanted an ensemble that naturally represented their combined experience in a multiplicity of styles. McSherry, one of the best uilleann pipers in the world and a founding member of legendary Irish group Lúnasa, has been dubbed “a true master” by Irish Music Magazine and is well known for his current work with his group At First Light as well as his '90s stint with Donal Lunny's Coolfin. Duncan and Shimmin have also been busy in the United States performing and recording with their award-winning Irish-jazz crossover group Millish with Duncan doing double-duty in the dance-rock group My Dear Disco/Ella Riot. It seemed that the right moment for collaboration between the three musicians would never present itself.
However, in February 2012 during the calm before the summer festival season, the trio finally wrote and recorded an original album together, overcoming the Atlantic divide by means of the internet — they rehearsed and composed live on Skype and built the tracks back and forth one part at a time between emails. The result, their eponymous debut .the olllam., available Sept. 25 on Compass Records, is lush with trance-like melodies, stunning instrumental virtuosity and a magical marriage of tradition and technology, finding the listener somewhere between Radiohead and Planxty with the ambient emotionalism of Nick Drake or Explosions in the Sky.