‘We’re coming back’ – Derrick leads The Broken Pokers home

‘We’re coming back’ – Derrick leads The Broken Pokers home

Australian band The Broken Pokers enjoyed their tour in Ireland last Christmas, and received such a positive response, that they have put together a 12-date tour and are returning next week.

The tour is part of a three-year plan, Derrick Buckley (“Mullingar born and bred”) told the Westmeath Examiner.

The band leader, Derrick said they came to Ireland for the first time as a group in December and toured all over the country, including a few dates in Mullingar.

“We decided that if we didn’t go back again within the year, all that momentum would be lost, so we started to put together a plan for Ireland and this upcoming tour is the beginning of that.

“Being from Mullingar originally, all my family still work and live in the town, so it’s always nice for me to spend lots of time there whenever I make the long trip back from Oz, where I’ve been living for the best part of 18 years.”

The Buckley family business is QTP (tractor parts suppliers) in the Mullingar Business Park and Derrick’s mother, Marina, father, Matt, sister, Sharon, and brother, Allen, all work in the business.

“I’m the youngest and left Ireland in 2001 for Perth, Western Australia, where I have since made my life,” he said.

Before becoming a professional musician, Derrick spent 12 years in the hospitality sector, always playing music on the side.

“At the age of 30, I decided to take the leap and try to establish myself as a professional solo music act.

“I formed The Broken Pokers shortly after that, and after many different incarnations throughout different continents and band members, we finally settled on the current format, and this has been our format for coming up on the last four years.”

Derrick (vocals, guitar, Irish bouzouki) is joined in The Broken Pokers by Ben Christiansen (vocals, banjo, mandolin, whistles) and Tobias Anning (vocals, bodhrán).

Ben and Toby are Australian and neither had any Irish heritage to speak of or had any connection with Irish culture until they joined The Broken Pokers.

They both studied at WAAPA (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts), Ben specialising in jazz bass and Toby in jazz drums.

Derrick takes up the story: “When Ben and Toby joined, the band was going through a lot of different lineup changes as we tried to chop and change to cater for small venues and large venues alike.

“When we played in large rooms, Toby and Ben would play drum kit and bass guitar respectively, and when I told them that if they learned to play bodhrán and banjo, I could get them a lot more gigs, they jumped at the challenge. After six months, we were up and running.

“The trip to Ireland last Christmas was a chance to test the water for our band in Ireland and a chance for the Aussies to see if they could fool Irish people into thinking they were Irish! And it worked.

“We got a great response everywhere we went and everyone wanted us back. When we heard, in the months after the tour, that Mullingar will be hosting the all-Ireland fleadh in 2020, we knew we had to act.

“So we set out to book a month of gigs, this time focusing on the midlands area, with a view to raising our profile there, build on the work we had done at Christmas and hopefully endear ourselves enough to be able to come back for the fleadh. And so here we are.”

The Broken Pokers have 12 gigs, over three weeks, 10 of which are within half an hour’s drive of Mullingar. The other two were favours to some friends we couldn’t say no to,” said Derrick.

Tour details at brokenpokers.com

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