Ladysmith’s Skellig advances to live battle of bands in Toronto

Skellig made the top nine in online voting in the first phase of the Hard Rock Rising competition, earning a chance to play live in Toronto.



Ladysmith Celtic rock band Skellig will soon be playing a live battle of the bands in Toronto.

Early last week, the members of Skellig found out they made the top nine in online voting in the first phase of the Hard Rock Rising competition, earning a chance to play live at the Hard Rock Café in Toronto.

Electric violin/guitar player Lisa Burness says they are thrilled with the outpouring of support they received during the contest.

“We’re very thankful to everyone who voted for us,” she said. “We’re really encouraged by how people responded.”

Skellig finished about third out of 300 to 400 bands in the first round of competition with about 400 votes.

Skellig will now play a live battle of the bands in Toronto on March 1. Skellig will compete against three other bands, and if they win, they’ll play in the final on March 8.

The winner from across Canada will enter the third round, a global competition, which will include another round of online voting. The winner of the global competition will play Hard Rock Calling in London, explained bassist Mike O’Shaughnessy.

To help the band get to Toronto, Skellig has opened an account at the Ladysmith and District Credit Union for anyone who is willing to support them in their travels. The account is in the name Skellig.

O’Shaughnessy says the online contest was a bit of a roller coaster.

“I think the first thing is we are overwhelmed with the response of friends and fans and strangers,” he said. “It’s amazing how people we don’t necessarily know very well rallied their friends to vote … it’s really cool to see how supportive everyone’s been.”

For much of the competition, Skellig was a solid second place in online voting.

“As I was watching the list, in the last few hours, there was a real surge from a bunch of bands,” said O’Shaughnessy. “It was a roller coaster ride. We were panicking. It was just really exciting; it was a horse race. We’re pretty exhausted and excited.”

For the competition, people could download the band’s song Kingdom Come, and that counted as a vote.

Burness wrote the song, which is the title track of the band’s latest album, with her husband Chris, the band’s lead vocalist.

“It seems to have an energy of its own,” she said. “What I was trying to express in the song is there’s more to life. It seems to be a message that’s kind of just a reminder that the world is not just you. People have really, really liked it. It’s kind of taking despair and making something positive. I think people can relate to that, and everyone’s been in that place.”

Begun by Chris and Lisa Burness, Skellig played extensively in the U.K. A move to Vancouver Island in 2006 meant the creation of a new lineup, including Mike O’Shaughnessy, followed by his son Will. Most recently, Dylan Wickham and Shelley Brown have joined the band.

This lineup recorded Skellig’s latest CD, Kingdom Come. The album is available now, and the band will celebrate the new release at two open mics in March.

Skellig’s first CD release will be during the first acoustic open mic March 3 at the Willow Street Café in Chemainus.

Skellig is also starting an electric open mic at the Crofton Hotel and will celebrate the new CD March 24.

Burness is very happy with the album.

“I would say it’s the best thing musically we’ve done,” she said.

Kingdom Come was recorded by Will O’Shaughnessy in the Burness’ basement, and it was mixed by Zak Cohen in Duncan and mastered by Brad Blackwood in Nashville.

“It’s a really big rock sound on the CD,” said Burness. “It just sounds awesome. When it came back from being mastered and we all listened to it, we all thought it was so good. It’s a good snapshot of where we’re at.”