The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are an English folk and parody band from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Formed in 2006, they have played over 970 shows throughout the UK and are best known on the UK's festival scene, having been booked to play at the likes of Glastonbury Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Beautiful Days, Bearded Theory, Rebellion Festival, Wychwood Festival, Kate Rusby's Underneath The Stars Festival, Towersey Festival, Wickham Festival and to an audience of 20,000 at Fairport's Cropredy Convention in August 2018, for their 900th show. Playing mainly acoustic instruments, they take popular songs and replace the lyrics with their own comedy reworkings, often on themes completely unrelated to the original song. They have independently released ten studio albums, and a number of live albums. Presenting themselves as the long-lost children of Irish entertainer Val Doonican, and claiming that their "mission is to keep their late, great spiritual father's legacy alive", the various members of the band have adopted the singer's surname for their shows, and wear brightly coloured hand-knitted tank-tops in tribute to Doonican's traditional knitwear.
The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican
Playing live at Beautiful Days, August 2018: l–r: Alan Doonican #2, Scott Doonican, Björn Doonicansson
|Origin||Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England|
|Genres||Folk music, parody music, pastiche|
|Labels||Moon-On-A-Stick Records (their own independent label)|
Alan Doonican #2
|Past members||Danny Doonican|
Alan Doonican #1
The band started out as an acoustic harmony duo consisting of Scott Doonican (vocals, acoustic guitar/banjo/mandolin/kazoo) and Danny Doonican (vocals, acoustic guitar), mainly covering quirky song choices by such disparate acts as Sparks, Queen, Judas Priest and Vera Lynn on folk instruments with Everly Brothers-styled harmonies. The band's name and subsequent image was the idea of Scott's partner and long-standing co-lyricist Amanda White, inspired after they both saw a billboard poster for a gig by the San Diego band Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, whilst on a weekend break to Dublin. They played their first show at Thawleys Pub in Wombwell, Barnsley on Saturday 17 June 2006. The pub is now a local convenience store. After their debut show, which was originally intended to be a one-off appearance, they decided to continue, and soon expanded to a three piece with the addition of Alan Doonican #1 on piano accordion, later releasing two albums of folky cover versions of classic rock songs (For Those About To Rock, Gently) and 1980s Number Ones (Back To The Day Job).
From 2008, the original line-up began to change direction to become a comedy/parody band by replacing the lyrics of popular songs with their own and performing in their native Yorkshire accent and dialect, the first being "Tarnlife", a re-working of Blur's "Parklife" with lyrics about the inhabitants of their home town of Barnsley. The spoken parts of the song, originally performed by Phil Daniels, were performed in 2008 by Scott’s late father-in-law, Michael White, under the moniker of 'Barnsley Mick'. The song was later added to Cpl Kipper’s Barnsley Trades Club Turn, their first full album as a comedy band, released in 2010. Its cover artwork mirrored that of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, with 56 Barnsley celebrities gracing its front cover. The album was also notable for featuring the first of the band's several collaborations with guitarist Graham Oliver, founding member of heavy metal band Saxon.
Shortly after its release, Danny Doonican left the band, leaving Scott to complete the recording of 2011's The Dark Side Of The Tarn largely on his own. Unlike, Cpl. Kipper, which was a collection of songs with links to their hometown of Barnsley, from their second album onwards, the focus of the band's songwriting became more universal. Danny was succeeded by Andy Doonican, and the line-up of Scott, Alan #1 and Andy recorded three further albums of parody songs between 2012 and 2014 ('EY UP! LET'S GO!, Sat'day Neet Fever and Talk Of The Tarn).
Since October 2014 the core line-up has been stable, with Scott (vocals, guitar, synthesiser ukulele, banjulele, omnichord, kazoo) being joined by Björn Doonicansson (violin, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals) and Alan Doonican #2 (piano accordion, keyboards, keytar, ukulele, vocals). Alan Doonican #1 left the band in September 2014, whilst Andy Doonican continued to play sporadic shows with the band until retiring in June 2016, after the band's 10th birthday show. During this period, the band recorded The Tarn Machine (2015) and T'South 0 – Tarn 4 (2016) as a four piece, while 2017's 'Ave It : Bold As Brass was recorded by the current trio of Scott, Björn and Alan #2.
Due to the significant number of line-up changes between 2010 and 2014, Scott Doonican created a family tree for the band’s website, showing the many incarnations of the band, which itself is a parody in the style of Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees. Each band member, past and present also has their own stage persona and their own individual elaborate backstory.
Scott Doonican, in an interview with Farmer Phil's Festival in 2016, named his musical comedy influences as Mike Harding, Jasper Carrott and Richard Digance. On the band’s website, Scott also claims to have formed the band, "to fuse the theatrical stage antics of Freddie Mercury with the comedy of Mike Harding, in order to form the world's greatest folk-band in knitwear".
In 2018, the band re-recorded a collection of 21 of their most-loved songs for their ninth studio album, a ten-year retrospective of their comedy years, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican/2008–2018. The album was independently crowdfunded and released on CD, double disc coloured vinyl and limited edition cassette.
In December 2018, the band released two charity Christmas singles via iTunes. The first single was their final annual collaboration with the late Maartin Allcock, who passed away four months previous, only weeks after performing with the band at Fairport's Cropredy Convention. The track, a prog-rock/tradional folk crossover rendition of Greg Lake's I Believe In Father Christmas, entered the iTunes chart, peaking at Number 33, and gaining a Number 80 position on the UK Official Charts for both downloads and sales on 21st December 2018. The second single, The Gasman Cometh, entered the iTunes chart reaching Number 55, and the iTunes comedy chart at Number 2. In the same week The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican/2008–2018 reached Number 2 in the iTunes comedy chart. On 26th January 2019, spurred on by BBC Radio 6 ignoring an unprecedented barrage of fan requests for the song How Deep Is Your Glove? on social media, during a feature on Stuart Maconie's show called 'Sunday Glove Songs', the band defiantly released the track as a charity single for Prostate Cancer UK, and it entered the UK iTunes Comedy chart at Number 1.
Their crowd-funded tenth studio album, entitled Place Of Spades is expected to be released on 30th June 2019. In February 2019, the band announced the date for their 1000th show, to take place at the Palace Theatre in Redditch, Worcestershire on 25th October 2019.
The band have played over 960 shows to date, and proclaim on their website that they are "The hardest-working comedy band in the UK". The band's present day live shows range from full band shows, to duo shows by Scott & Björn, to solo acoustic shows by Scott. The band are regulars on the UK festival scene, and have also supported a number of diverse acts including Levellers, Chas & Dave, Roy Wood, John Otway, Fairport Convention, Eliza Carthy, Tony Christie and The Darkness.
Shows are often enhanced by audience participation and various set-pieces, such as the addition of occasional guest appearances from 6ft 9in tall Tom Large dressed as the Devil for their version of "The Devil Went Darn To Barnsley" (where the Devil dares Björn to beat his fiddle playing, the forfeit being Björn's soul) and Scott crowd surfing to the bar and back with a pint; at large festival shows Scott has used a rubber dinghy for this part of the show.
The band regularly invite other musicians to play with them. At Cropredy Festival 2018 Fairport Convention's Maartin Allcock, complete with Doonican-style tank-top, joined them for the finale, at Beautiful Days 2017 they were joined by Eliza Carthy, and at Whitwell Festival of Music they were joined by Graham Oliver guitarist and founding member of Yorkshire heavy metal band Saxon.
The band sold out their own music and comedy festival at The Old School House Venue in Barnsley. The aptly titled Doonifest sold out over a year in advance, with a line-up including Oliver/Dawson Saxon, Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs, The Sweetchunks Band and many other comedy and musical acts from the UK's festival circuit. It was the venue's fastest sell-out, with all tickets going within 56 seconds.
Jeff Robson, reviewing their Cropredy show for the Independent, said "... The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican were the highlights of a somewhat plodding (and rainy) Saturday afternoon, swearily lampooning a genre that sometimes takes itself too seriously.", whilst another review of the same show said "... complete with fluorescent tank tops and dodgy wigs (they) were an absolute highlight."
Talking about the same appearance in a Dec 4th interview with Radio Bicester on the Tarka Blowpig Show, Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg, said that the band were "the best... the highlight of the weekend".
Reviewing the band's support act to Levellers at Leamington Assembly in 2015, What's On West Midlands said "the Barnsley Boys left the audience in stitches with their exquisitely crafted parodies ... there was nevertheless some surprisingly excellent musicianship." John Atkin, reviewing 'Ave It: Bold As Brass in R2 magazine, said "Bristles with proper belly-laugh moments... a LOL-a-minute through a variety of perfect pastiches. If there is any justice, the Doonicans deserve to be all over your Saturday night telly."
In a review of Bearded Theory Festival 2016, UK Festival Guides said "I couldn’t fail to mention a gig by The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican that left even them speechless at the sheer size, volume and enthusiasm of the audience, the impact these boys have wherever they go is utterly phenomenal", whilst at the same festival two years later, the reviewer noted "Rapidly becoming the must-have, must-see festival band, the Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican played to an over-capacity Woodland Stage arena as hundreds queued for a chance at catching their much-anticipated antics". A review of a smaller venue show said "They simply take all the songs you cannot get out of your head – everything from The Police to Kings of Leon – and twist the lyrics beyond recognition while wearing gloriously outrageous multi-coloured tank tops."
In July 2017, comedian Jason Manford described their performance at Underneath The Stars Festival as "great fun" on his Twitter account, whilst eFestivals described their performance at Off The Tracks festival the same year with "Like a modern-day version of the Barron Knights, they take popular songs, amend the words and twist them into hilarious folk parodies." In the foreword of Scott Doonican’s book of the band’s lyrics Songs In The Key Of Tarn, folk musician Eliza Carthy describes the band as "a ridiculous family of genius, hilarious, irresistible music makers, currently crowd surfing to the bar all over the great county of Yorkshire and beyond, into the venues and music festivals of the UK". Musician and comedian Mike Harding said on his "Folk Show" podcast in 2016 that "The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican are very, very funny... one of the hardest working bands on the planet". On 12 April 2019, the Staffordshire Sentinel published a headline about the band's appearance at Leek Arts Festival, describing them to be "like The Barron Knights - on speed", going on to say "Their hilarious parodies of popular songs will leave you crying tears of laughter". 
Scott Doonican has been an official endorsee of Tanglewood Guitars since 2018, but has had a preference for them since the band's conception. According to their website his main acoustic guitar, a "battered old 1995 Tanglewood TW55, dubbed 'The Workhorse' (is) believed to have done well over a thousand shows to date". The guitar was bought in 1999 from Scott's uncle, current Showaddywaddy bassist, Billy Norman. Scott also plays a 'chess board synthesiser ukulele', custom-built by North Yorkshire luthier, Robert Hinchcliffe, during She's From Dodworth, and occasionally he plays a 1981 Suzuki Omnichord OM-27 during solo shows.
Since March 2019, Björn Doonicansson has become an official endorsee of Gold Tone Instruments and plays a Gold Tone TS-250A Tenor Archtop Banjo.
This is an abridged list of albums; the band have also released over 20 live shows on CD or in download format. All of the artwork for the front covers of the band’s studio albums are pastiches of classic album covers.
The band's current core trio has been stable since 2014. A number of guests and occasional members have also performed with the band.
Barnsley () is a town in South Yorkshire, England, located halfway between Leeds and Sheffield. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town centre lies on the west bank of the Dearne Valley. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and its administrative centre. At the 2011 Census, Barnsley had a population of 91,297.Barnsley is a former industrial town centred on linen in its former years and coal mining, glassmaking and textiles. The industries declined in the 20th century. Barnsley's culture is rooted in its industrial heritage and it has a tradition of brass bands, originally created as social clubs by its mining communities. It is also home of the Barnsley chop.
The town is accessed from junctions 36, 37 and 38 of the M1 motorway and has a railway station on the Hallam and Penistone Lines. Barnsley F.C. is the local football club, which has competed in the second tier of British football for most of its history. Barnsley F.C. also won the FA Cup in 1912.
The town of Barnsley also has a Women's Football Club which is in the fourth tier of Women's Football. Barnsley Women's Football Club was formed in 1982 and finished 4th in the FA Women's National League Division 1 North in the 2018/19 Season.Bearded Theory
Bearded Theory is an independent music festival which has no sponsorship or branding that takes place every May on the South Derbyshire, West Midland and Staffordshire border in the National Forest in Britain. The festival is organised by Spring Music and was first held in 2008. The festival has nine stages which are the large supernova type Main Stage (similar to the Park or Other Stage at Glastonbury), The Pallet, The Woodland, Magical Sounds, Showcase Stage (introducing stage) The Maui Wai, The Ship, Convoy Cabaret, Something Else Stage, Rogues Hideout and the festival also hosts a Cinema, Craft Village, Healing Area, smaller DJ venues, several public real ale bars, several cocktail or gin bars, Festival School, Children's Village and a Victorian Funfair. The festival has several campsites and campervan fields, multiple arena areas and are all spread over 250 acres at Catton Park.Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy, MBE (born 23 August 1975) is an English folk musician known for both singing and playing fiddle. She is the daughter of English folk musicians singer/guitarist Martin Carthy and singer Norma Waterson.Fairport's Cropredy Convention
Fairport's Cropredy Convention (formerly Cropredy Festival) is an annual festival of folk and rock music held on the edge of the village of Cropredy in Oxfordshire, England. The festival has taken place in August annually since 1976.
Fairport's Cropredy Convention attracts up to 20,000 people each year, making it the largest annual festival of its kind in Britain; and discounting Glastonbury, V Festival, Reading & Leeds Festivals and T in the Park, which all have had greater attendance but have all had non-continuous runs. The festival features a single stage at the lower end of the sloping arena field. There are also ancillary events, such as Morris dancing in the streets and live music at the village's two pubs.Graham Oliver
Graham Oliver (born 6 July 1952) is an English guitarist who was born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. He was a founder member and main songwriter in the heavy metal band Saxon from 1976 to 1995.List of albums with tracks hidden in the pregap
This is a list of Compact Disc albums with tracks hidden in the pregap of the first track.Maartin Allcock
Maartin Allcock (born Martin Allcock; 5 January 1957 – 16 September 2018) was an English multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer.Mike Harding
Mike Harding (born 23 October 1944) is an English singer, songwriter, comedian, author, poet, broadcaster and multi-instrumentalist. Harding has also been a photographer, traveller, filmmaker and playwright.Omnichord
The Omnichord is an electronic musical instrument introduced in 1981 by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation. It typically features a touch plate, and buttons for major, minor, and 7th chords. The most basic method of playing the instrument is to press the chord buttons and swipe the touch plate with a finger or guitar pick in imitation of strumming a stringed instrument. Originally designed as an electronic autoharp substitute, the Omnichord has become popular as an individual instrument in its own right, due to its unique, chiming timbre and its value as a kitsch object.
The Omnichord, the prototype Tronichord and Portachord (the latter two never reached full production) share many technical and functional similarities. Omnichords often feature preset rhythms with a tempo control, which the player may use as accompaniment. Several models of the Omnichord were produced that added MIDI compatibility, a selection of voices for the touch plate, effects such as vibrato and sustain, and chord memory. Some Omnichord musicians will play the instrument as a keytar, by strapping the instrument on both ends and playing it as if it were an electric guitar.The Omnichord is still produced by Suzuki, but rebadged as the Q-chord. It features more modern versions of the original Omnichord's features.Parody in popular music
The original use of the term "parody" in music referred to re-use for wholly serious purposes of existing music. In popular music that sense of "parody" is still applicable to the use of folk music in the serious songs of such writers as Bob Dylan, but in general, "parody" in popular music refers to the humorous distortion of musical ideas or lyrics or general style of music.Parody music
Parody music, or musical parody, involves changing or copying existing (usually well known) musical ideas or lyrics, or copying the particular style of a composer or artist, or even a general style of music. Although the intention of a musical parody may be humour (as in burlesque), it is the re-use of music that is the original defining feature.
In music, parody has been used for many different purposes and in various musical contexts: as a serious compositional technique, as an unsophisticated re-use of well-known melody to present new words, and as an intentionally humorous, even mocking, reworking of existing musical material, sometimes for satirical effect.
Examples of musical parody with wholly serious intent include parody masses in the 16th century, and, in the 20th century, the use of folk tunes in popular song, and neo-classical works written for the concert hall, drawing on earlier styles. "Parody" in this serious sense continues to be a term in musicological use, existing alongside the more common use of the term to refer to parody for humorous effect by composers from Bach to Sondheim and performers from Spike Jones to "Weird Al" Yankovic.The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican discography
This is a list of releases by The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, including studio and live albums, singles and other media.Val Doonican
Michael Valentine Doonican (3 February 1927 – 1 July 2015) was an Irish singer of traditional pop, easy listening, and novelty songs, who was noted for his warm and relaxed style. A crooner, he found popular success, especially in the United Kingdom where he had five successive Top 10 albums in the 1960s as well as several hits on the UK Singles Chart, including "If the Whole World Stopped Lovin'", "Walk Tall" and "Elusive Butterfly". The Val Doonican Show, which featured his singing and a variety of guests, had a long and successful run on BBC Television from 1965 to 1986 and Doonican won the Variety Club of Great Britain's BBC-TV Personality of the Year award three times.Wickham Festival
Wickham Festival is a 4-day music event that takes place in the village of Wickham, Hampshire, England. Wickham hosts live music and comedy across four stages, as well as food stalls, craft stalls, real ale and cider bars and children's entertainers. It has been listed by The Guardian as a top 'Family Friendly Boutique Festival'. The 2015 Wickham Festival was named Best Festival (under 15,000 capacity) at the Live UK Music Business Awards, and the 2018 event won Best Festival at The Guide Awards.Although the history of the festival can be traced to the 2003 Eastleigh Festival, the first Wickham Festival was held from 3–6 August 2006 in and around the village community centre, with a line-up rooted in folk and traditional music. Since then the festival has expanded (moving to its current site in 2013) to become a venue for both well established artists and those just breaking through, across many musical genres, and has previously hosted talks from the likes of Tony Benn and Bill Oddie. Recent years have seen high profile performances from rock and pop artists, including James Blunt, Wilko Johnson and Lightning Seeds. The festival has not lost touch with its roots, continuing to promote folk music, world music and such festival stalwarts as Richard Thompson, Bellowhead and Steve Earle. Wickham Festival has also introduced British audiences to international musicians, including Carlos Núñez Muñoz, The Spooky Men's Chorale and Le Vent du Nord.