Spirit Family Reunion is a tough band to pin down. You’re going to get country, bluegrass, rock and roll and a smattering of gospel in the mix. Undoubtedly you’ll witness one hell of a live show with high energy performances, good old fashioned story telling and straight-up honest tunes.

They’re just about to start their European tour and will kick things off this weekend in Bangor, Co. Down with a show in The Goat’s Toe as part of Open House Festival before trekking around Ireland, the UK and a whole bunch of venues across the continent.

We caught up with washboard wielding vocalist Stephen Weinheimer for a quick chat before the tour begins.

This is your second time visiting Ireland. How do the Irish bluegrass fans differ to those around the world?
We’re very excited to get back to Ireland because we have so many fond memories of our tour over there a few years ago. Ireland is the furthest away from home we’ve played so far. It seems fitting to begin our tour there now to send us off to many more countries that we’ve never played in before. Last time around the Irish we encountered were a generous and sincere bunch determined to share a deep hearty laugh and a good story or three. We fell right in love.

NYC probably isn’t best known for country, folk or bluegrass music so how do a bunch of friends from Brooklyn end up in a band like Spirit Family Reunion?
Well there’s a lot going on in New York that might not make the international headlines. If you had a phone book from the right year you could find the addresses of Leadbelly Woody Guthrie, and Bob Dylan just to name a few. ‘The Basement Tapes’ and ‘Music From Big Pink’ were recorded in New York. The Carter Family recorded next door in New Jersey. Pete Seeger built a boat that still sails up and down our Hudson River. We’ve got our fair share of local influences here.

What can the people of Bangor (and the rest of Ireland) expect from a Spirit Family Reunion live show?
Some new tunes, maybe an old traditional or two, probably a few broken strings. We promise to give everything we got and leave it all on stage. We want you to sing along with us, dance, and feel something for god sakes!

A lot of old traditional tunes in the Americana world were originally brought over by Irish settlers. Do you feel any kind of spiritual connection to Ireland or the music here?
One hundred percent. That was very striking the first time we were over there and heard people playing. We can’t wait for round two!

As you go round the island from Bangor to Kilkenny, Clonmel and beyond, who is going to be playing on the tour van stereo?
A lot of Big Kitty.

Spirit Family Reunion play as part of Open House Festival in Bangor this weekend. Mark Saturday 13th August in your diary and head on over to the Open House website and grab a ticket before they’re all snapped up!