Barleyjuice will be rocking the Big Apple next week, a rare opportunity to see one of the most ferocious live acts working today.

The band plays in and around their native Philadelphia and points south and west, yet lead singer Kyf Brewer loves the challenge of playing in the city that never sleeps.

“New York is a beast,” he says with a laugh. “It’s very hard to get people to come out to see us and we are grateful when they do. The heat is on and there’s always extra pressure to deliver the goods  in New York. In that city, you have to compete with everything going on in that island at any given time.”

Barleyjuice’s album Skulduggery Street was named album of the year in these very pages last year, an honor bestowed on the band for crafting a brilliant Irish American rock tour through a fictional town. Brewer has been thrilled with how fans have embraced this concept album, which can sometimes spell the kiss of death for some bands (remember the KISS album The Elder? Didn’t think so…)

“The response has been really good,” Brewer says. “A lot more people got the concept of what this was about. People saw how it tied together and they saw it as a nice package.”

Seeing Barleyjuice live is a thunderous hooley altogether, with the roguish Brewer whipping his band through a mix of originals and fierce trad instrumentals.

“We just worked out the trad melody, which has been a very intense piece,” he says. “We mashed four or five obscure trad tunes together, really complex. We have a new fiddle player, Shelly Weiss, who adds a new level to us. She’s classically trained and makes the rest of us look like mooks. We have to bring our best game on.”

Brewer, an actor and voice-over artist, lends his gravel-coated pipes to the Drunken Ambassador radio program on, which is required listening for fans that like their Celtic music with two shots of rock!

“Drunken Ambassador is still building,” Brewer says. “We need critical mass; we need to build on the good word of mouth that the show is getting. We just got a great push from the Young Dubliners encouraging people to listen to it.

“At first I had trouble playing known songs because I had to pay royalties. The positive in that is that I get turned onto great music no one has ever heard. There’s this band called the Chelsea Kills which is great – young 17-year-old kids who sound like the Faces and the Stones.”

Barleyjuice is not to be missed! Check them out on Thursday, July 28 at Klub 45 in Times Square before they play the Great American Irish Festival in Utica, New York.

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