Shepherd’s Pie: About the band …

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The Sheps

The Sheps at La Arcada Bistro, St. Patrick’s Day, 2017

Gary Jensen, banjo & octave mandolin Fran Malinoff, fiddle Erin Dougherty, vocals Robert Winokur, whistles Rachael Blake, flute Alan Wood, percussion & pipes

“We attended Neil Diamond’s concert with 16,000-plus others at the MGM Grand Arena. It was truly grand, and electric … but we enjoyed your group just as much tonight. And it was a helluva lot less expensive!” — NC and EC, Santa Barbara

“Shepherd’s Pie made us feel like we were back in a pub in Ireland … the music made us want to sing and dance, smile, laugh, and cry. In fact, there was dancing and singing and smiling and laughing, and hardly a dry eye in the crowd. Shepherd’s Pie is authentic, soulful, energetic, musically superb and a lot of fun to listen to.” — Anna C., Santa Barbara

“Wow! You sounded lovely! Thank you so much for playing at our May Day!” — Andrea M., the Waldorf School, Goleta

“Drawing to a close of this three-hour (Rotary Club of Carpinteria) talent show was the incomparable traditional Irish band, Shepherd’s Pie, performing ‘Queen of Argyll,’ a multi-instrument version including tin whistle and vocals.” — Noozhawk contributing writer Liam Burke

“This is the best Irish band I’ve heard tonight!” — Overheard when Shepherd’s Pie played on St. Patrick’s Day, 2011

“Shepherd’s Pie is a tight traditional Irish music group. Amazingly, they are just normal Santa Barbara residents by day – an architect, medical doctor, retailer … who’d a thunk it? But – begorrah! – by night they come alive ….” — Erin Graffy, Montecito Journal

Where we’ve played: St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at University Club, Island Brewing Co. (Carpinteria), Vista Del Monte, Crown & Anchor Pub (Thousand Oaks), Waldorf School, Santa Barbara & Carpinteria Masonic Lodges, Santa Barbara Women’s Club, Harry’s Plaza Cafe, Cambria Winery, Holy Cross Church, Uptown Lounge, Knights of Columbus, State & A, The Brewhouse, Sunrise Rotary Club La Arcada Bistro ’14 to present Music Academy of the West, May ’14, ’15 & ’16 Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, March & Nov. ’14 Dargan’s Irish Pub ’08–’14 Goleta Valley Art Association, Sept. ’13, ’15 & ’16 Benefits & May Faires at Waldorf School, ’12–’16 Villa Majella Tea by the Sea, May ’13 Contra dances in SB and SLO, May–Sept. ’12 Solstice Festival, June ’11 Benefit for Hospice Partners of the Central Coast, Sept. ’10 St. Baldrick’s benefit, March ’09 & ’10 Orchid show at Cal-Orchid, July ’09 Reception for Brooks Inst. of Photography’s “Ireland” documentary, March ’08 Weddings, wakes and parties!


Erin Dougherty Munsch first fell in love with the rich, melancholy tones of Irish music as a child. Her paternal Irish-American grandfather would sing Danny Boy to her in his beautiful tenor voice as she sat in his lap. Many years later, she moved to Edinburgh, where she enjoyed singing traditional Irish and Scottish songs in pubs around the city. Recently she decided to find a local Irish group to sing with, and joined the other members of Shepherd’s Pie in 2015. Her musical influences include Mary Black, Christie Moore, Stephen Foster, Luke Kelly, Sinead O’Conner and Sarah McLachlan, among others.


Fran Malinoff has been playing violin and fiddle in many different genres since she was 8 years old. In recent years she has been dementedly pursuing the subtleties, tonalities, and unique ornamentation and joy of Irish fiddling. She enjoys the styles of Dale Russ, Kevin Burke, and American fiddler and composer Liz Carroll.


Flutist Rachael Blake began playing at the age of seven, but did not discover Irish traditional music until college. She has studied at The Flowing Tide Music School in Doonbeg, Co. Clare, Ireland, and is a founding member of the traditional Irish bands Handsome Molly (Virginia) and Lucky Penny (Louisiana). Rachael has been an active session player in San Francisco, Boston, Baltimore, Richmond VA, New Orleans, and Santa Barbara. Rachael also performs on baroque and renaissance flutes and recorders, and modern classical flute. In her spare time, she is a marine ecologist at the University of California Santa Barbara.


Alan Wood plays the bodhrán and Scottish bellows pipes with the band. He is drawn to the unique tonal qualities, rhythmic potential, and overall versatility that the bodhrán offers. Alan has a deep appreciation for the raw sound and power of the Scottish pipes. He enjoys connecting with audiences, seeking to involve and transport listeners through the vast range of emotion of this music. Alan also plays the Highland Bagpipes for private events and competes at Scottish Festivals throughout California. He draws inspiration from Allan MacDonald, Fred Morrison, Danú, and Dàimh, to name a few.


Robert Winokur plays tin whistle and the flute-like low whistle in the band. Previously a member of the group O’Ryan’s Belt (early ’90’s) and a long-time regular at Irish music sessions, he’s picked up a wide repertoire of tunes over the years. His musical background includes piano, sax, Appalachian dulcimer, and the wire-strung Gaelic harp, which he plays with his fingernails. Robert was attracted to the tin whistle “because it has such a happy sound!”


Gary Jensen has been part of the local Irish music scene for years. His talents include tenor banjo, 5-string banjo, mandolin, octave mandolin, hurdy gurdy, limberjack and bodhrán. Previous groups include Bolt the Door (’70’s), The Back Roads Band (’80’s) and the Foggy Dew Irish Band. He has entertained for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual award ceremonies, Santa Barbara Irish Festival, Camarillo Celtic Festival, Tall Ship Festival (Dana Point), Old Time Fiddlers’ Festival, Bobby Burns Night, British Isles Family History Society Convention (on the Queen Mary), and for the rich and famous. Gary will gladly tell you about his Viking ancestry. In his other life, Gary is an architect.

Photos: Dina Pielaet (Alan), Brian Burd (others)