By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Guitarist and vocalist, Declan Banko, 27, comes from a strong Irish heritage. His mother was raised in Roscommon County, Ireland, where he grew up immersed in Irish culture. He says he has been told his family has the last blood of the kings and queens in Ireland.
From Nepal and China to Australia and New Zealand, Banko has traveled the world playing music and gathering stories from his experiences and the people he has met along the way. Banko now lives in Big Sky, works for the Yellowstone Club as a valet and draws inspiration for his music from the rugged peaks and the wide-open spaces in Montana.
Banko performed his first gig 12 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day at a pizza parlor in the Finger Lakes—a place he refers to as, “middle of nowhere out there in New York.” Banko has performed every St. Patrick’s Day since.
And he will not let that tradition die.
Deco & The Dusters are excited to bring Banko’s Irish roots to the Tips Up stage for a March 17 St. Patrick’s Day performance featuring primarily Irish folk tunes to celebrate the holiday, accompanied by some outlaw country and blues. The show will start at 9 p.m.
In what Banko describes as a “culturally-thick” performance, Mongolian throat singer Bob Hosoo will take the stage before Deco & The Dusters get the Guiness flowing.
“It’s definitely not gonna be Irish, but it’s something that a lot of people may only get to experience once in their lives,” Banko said of the Mongolian’s performance. “He’s laying it down.”
Banko will be joined by Nick Hendee on the guitar, a musician friend from New York who moved to Missoula in 2019, and talented Austin, Texas studio session musician, Andrew Misco who will play the keyboard, guitar and bass.
Deco & the Dusters formed back in 2014. “Deco,” refers to Banko himself, and “The Dusters” is what the band likes to think of as “dusting off the old style of music,” he said.
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Deco & The Dusters will perform multiple Irish folk songs, some written by Banko’s friends back in Ireland and some Banko has written himself. One such song is called “Riverman’s Blues,” which is inspired by a book he read about Siddhartha Gautama, a Buddha who lived along the riverside in Ireland, Banko said.
“Irish folk is very culturally steeped. It’s something that kind of carved the way for American bluegrass and country music,” Banko said. “It’s a huge influence on the world of music in general and people often don’t realize that.”
When asked what event attendees should expect at Tips Up on Thursday night, Banko responded: “They should expect something that is gonna make you want to take a shot of whiskey, gonna make you want to have a glass of Guinness. Some songs are gonna make you want to dance. Others might make you want to cry. But in the end, you’re gonna walk away happy with the experience. That’s for sure.”
Listen to Deco & The Dusters on Spotify here.