Comprised of Ian Barker, Lucas Critchley, Brett Guyer and Michael Spencer – The Mutual Acquaintances is a four-piece ensemble performing new and traditional Anglo-Irish music with vocals, uilleann pipes, guitars, cittern, accordion, whistles, bodhran, cajon, and bass.
Ian Barker and Michael Spencer have been performing together for more than 20 years, since their studies at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. They were founder members of that group called Taliesin, whose demise was much lamented by the Sydney folk scene. They were both drawn to the Anglo-Irish singing tradition and they continue to find inspiration in the music, and their harmony singing. They have a special feeling for the music of emigration songs, after the potato famine of Ireland in 1845, and the clearances of Scotland. It is the way the turbulent Celtic past relates to the Australian experience that especially informs their music.
When Michael moved to the Southern Highlands, he was delighted to find professional musicians who were just as passionate about Irish music. Brett Guyer is a highly respected piper who has mastered both the Scottish bagpipes as well as the Irish uilleann pipes. This is the instrument that is inflated by bellows strapped to the piper’s elbow. While Brett played for many years in the strict traditions of competitive pipe bands, he found himself drawn to the more relaxed culture of the Irish music session. To round out the sound with funky percussive grooves and extra string magic, in 2017 Ian invited his old student, Lucas Critchley, to join the ensemble on cajon, guitar and bass.
Together, they present a rich program of traditional and contemporary folk music ranging from a cappella songs to atmospheric guitar solos and lively sets of jigs and reels.
Ian Barker – voice, guitar
Lucas Critchley – percussion, guitar, bass
Brett Guyer – uilleann pipes and whistles
Michael Spencer – accordion, whistles, voice