Drogheda, County Louth
Stephen Joseph McArdle is currently the singer and guitarist in contemporary Irish folk band KERN with Brendan McCreanor (uilleann pipes) and Barry Kieran (fiddle). The band have just finished work on their debut album with Trevor Hutchinson (Lunasa, The Waterboys). It is a mix of songs and tunes from the band’s home County of Louth as well as some of SJ’s songs. It is due for release in early 2016.
As a singer-songwriter, SJ has released three albums, most recently Blood and Bones in 2014. The songs were mostly recorded in Nashville and feature contributions from some of SJ’s heroes like Rodney Crowell, guitarist Richard Bennett (Steve Earle’s Guitar Town) and the Love Sponge Strings (Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising).
The album’s lead-off song, “Two Steps From Heaven” was the main song in the Cecelia Ahern-written movie Between Heaven and Here. Accompanying the album release was some significant media attention and reviews and very successful German and Irish tours.
He performed songs from the album live on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM and on Ireland AM on TV3.
In 2009 he completed a European arena tour as special guest to Reamonn, playing to 70,000 people over three weeks.
SJ has also been in occasional demand as a session musician, playing mandolin for Ricky Warwick as they opened shows for Bob Dylan (Odyssey, Belfast) and Sheryl Crow (Point, Dublin). He has also shared a stage or studio with Neil Hannon, Stewart Agnew, Joe Elliott and Miss Paula Flynn.
Praise for Blood and Bones:
“Bravo for an artist who has taken contemporary Irish music to parts it far too seldom reaches” – Hot Press
“SJ’s deep, sonorous voice brings authority to the songs. If Whipping Boy were raised in Nashville they might sound like this” – Mail On Sunday
“Spare couplets conjuring entire vistas with the focus of David Lynch” – The Irish Times
“Hugely enjoyable … full of charming qualities which make it a great listen” – 2UI Bestow