Stephen Joseph McArdle is an Irish songwriter and musician, Artist in Association at Droichead Arts Centre and the singer and guitarist in contemporary Irish folk band KERN with Brendan McCreanor (uilleann pipes) and Barry Kieran (fiddle). The band has released two ciritically-accalimed albums, both produced by Trevor Hutchinson (Lúnasa, The Waterboys). Kern’s music is a mix of songs and tunes from the band’s home County of Louth along with SJ’s songs and the band has already garnered plenty of national airplay in Ireland (including RTE Lyric FM and Radio 1), including live appearances on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show and Raidio na Gaeltachta. The albums have also received some impressive reviews.

More information on Kern is available here.

SJ (314)

As a singer-songwriter, SJ has released three albums, most recently Blood and Bones in  2011. The songs feature contributions from some of SJ’s heroes like Rodney Crowell, guitarist Richard Bennett (Steve Earle’s Guitar Town) and the Love Sponge Strings (Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising).

Irish Times (photo by Frank Miller)
Irish Times (photo by Frank Miller)

The album’s lead-off song, “Two Steps From Heaven” was the main song in the Cecelia Ahern-written movieBetween Heaven and Here. Accompanying the album release was some significant media attention and reviews and very successful German and Irish tours.

Another of SJ’s songs, “Till The Docklands Drown”, is performed during Element Pictures’ A Date For Mad Mary (2016).

He performed songs from Blood and Bones live on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM and on Ireland AM on TV3.


In 2009 he completed a European arena tour as special guest to Reamonn, playing to 70,000 people over three weeks.

SJ has also been in occasional demand as a session musician, playing mandolin for Ricky Warwick as they opened shows for Bob Dylan (Odyssey, Belfast) and Sheryl Crow (Point, Dublin). He has also shared a stage or studio with Neil Hannon, Stewart Agnew, Joe Elliott and Miss Paula Flynn.

Praise for False Deceiver:

“Quite lovely … an intriguing release. Those interested in trad music that crosses over into singer/songwriter territory will find this album particularly attractive, but its accessibility will have easy appeal to general audiences. Thumbs up!” – The Irish Echo

Praise for Blood and Bones:

“Bravo for an artist who has taken contemporary Irish music to parts it far too seldom reaches” – Hot Press

“SJ’s deep, sonorous voice brings authority to the songs. If Whipping Boy were raised in Nashville they might sound like this” – Mail On Sunday

“Spare couplets conjuring entire vistas with the focus of David Lynch” – The Irish Times