Morgan O'Kane 

Morgan O'Kane plays banjo like no other. Originally hailing from Virginia; O'Kane currently resides in Brooklyn when he is not on tour, where he sometimes plays in the subway and on the street. The music is "to bluegrass and old timey what punk was to rock in the late seventies" (Ian Spafford / Deeply steeped in old traditions, O'Kane treats the banjo differently than you've heard it before and brings a punk sensibility to his music.

Of his new song, “Shroud Of Turin,” virtuoso banjoist/songwriter/activist Morgan O’Kane says, “It’s not an atheist or anti-religion song by any means. It’s actually very spiritual. It’s about how faith has twisted minds.” O’Kane goes on to tell the story of a West Virginia town, not far from where he grew up (Charlottesville, VA- he lives in NYC now), ravaged by an unusual epidemic of cancer, allegedly brought on by the strip mining activities of a handful of local corporations. The townspeople have been hoodwinked, the companies using their faith as a conduit, that their passivity in the matter is virtuous in the Eyes of the Beholder. 
“Shroud Of Turin” is just one of the songs on his latest, and 3rd full-length album, The One They Call The Wind due out on March 25th on Dollartone Records that illuminates O’Kane’s inspiration, and it’s par for the course. He not only talks about what he loves, what he’s passionate about, what he won’t stand for and what he can’t stand, he writes and sings about, as well.
For the past handful of years, O’Kane has been actively involved in the Anti-Mountaintop Removal movement, and has aided the efforts of the Mountain Justice Organization. In fact, Morgan and band-mate, Sufi wizard Ezekiel Healy provided the score for Jordan Freeman’s powerful documentary film, Low Coal, a must-see for anyone interested in issues of inequality and the affects of corporate and political decisions on the working class.
But like historical folk/blues predecessors Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Reverend Gary Davis, Aunt Molly Jackson and the late Pete Seeger, among others, of course, transformative personal events are put to light, first and foremost…
For example, “Fiddler’s Green” is a tune that pays tribute to fiddler/band mate Ferd Moyse IV’s Freeport 36 sailboat, and the transcendent Carribean jaunt that O’Kane and his group of musicians took with the vessel a few years back. O’Kane says, “The song is about that trip—surrounded by the phosphorescence and the call of the sea bird, you remember loved ones in a different light.” It points at how a shift in perspective could inspire a shift in perception.
Speaking of which, the new album features a noteworthy posse of music maker friends- Moyse IV, who also plays with the Hackensaw Boys; Healy on dobro; NYC brass band veteran J.R. Hankins on flugelhorn, and Liam Crill on drums, (Kings of Nuthin). NYC-based chanteuse Domino Kirke also guests on backing vocals for a number of the album’s tunes.

“Monarchs” is a song about direction, as well-- about how we all have a built-in compass that guides us along: Monarchs in the wind/Remember where they've been/Holding on to life/Migration in flight.
“Compass Rose” is a particularly brilliant display of talent, boasting O’Kane’s relentless banjo picking and divine bellow, encircled by Hankins’ flugelhorn, Healy’s dobro work and Kirke’s lovely backing vocal, and the album’s title track is a showcase for Crill’s insistent percussion and Moyse’s fiddle over O’Kane’s refrain, “This old church is going up in flames/Worship the one they call the wind.”
The One They Call The Wind does owe a lot to Morgan’s 2 prior album releases. 2010’s debut LP, Nine Lives which was heralded by, among others, Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour who quipped, “If Uncle Dave Macon married Bruce Springsteen their love child would be Morgan O’Kane” (the album also made MOJO Magazine’s Top Ten playlist). And 2011’s Pendulum prompted Dutch outlet, LUST FOR LIFE to say, "Morgan O’Kane is a phenomenon… raw and intense… he revives old heroes of traditional music while hypnotically channeling the heartbeat of the country. Fiercely, together with Ezekiel Healy, Ferd Moyse, Leyla McCalla as though they come from a deep and dark past of a not yet mapped out American mountain scene.” 
But the new long player takes it from there and steps it up. It is a concise masterpiece of virtuosic musicianship, infinite spirit and unyielding passion, and in this way The One They Call The Wind is, at once, transporting and timeless.