The Wolfetone Trio first came into being during the summer of 1963. Three Dublin lads — Derek and Brian Warfield, and Noel Nagle, who grew up together — decided that they had more than just a passing interest in the revival of traditional Folk Music and Song. They used to travel all over Ireland at week-ends collecting new material, and they sang in pubs and Fleadh Cheoils. A lot of the credit for their intense interest in this field is due to Derek's and Brian's grandfather, Paddy Cunningham, who was well known in Dublin as an Irish Ballad singer, and to Noel's father, who had his own pipe band.
Recently a TV writer commented that "all the Wolfetones are under 21, but in the short time they have been together they have added a number of beautiful ballads to their repertoire that would put any old-timer to shame." Each individual item performed by the boys is their own arrangement, which they may spend as long as a fortnight in perfecting. When they first started out they were only ballad singers with little experience of musical accompaniment — today, they can each play at least three instruments, and can give pleasant backings to traditional ballads, and unusual and imaginative ones to their own special compositions.
In November 1964 they signed on their fourth member, Tommy Byrne, who was an individual artist in his own right. The fact that he has similar interests as well as great ability, has added a great deal to the musical quality of the group.
Leader of the Wolfetones is Derek Warfield, who plays banjo, mandolin and guitar, as well as being the lead singer. His younger brother Brian is the lead guitarist, but also plays banjo-mandolin, 5-string banjo, mandoline, tin whistle, and spoons. Brian does most of the musical arrangements for the group, and specialises in singing ballads about Dublin.
Noel Nagle is the "Chief Tin Whistler", and arranges all the whistle variations for the numbers himself. He also plays guitar and 5-string banjo, but prefers to sing solo only in amusing ballads like The Limerick Rake.
Tommy Byrne (who was also born in Dublin) is the second lead singer, specialising in American ballads. He plays the guitar and mouth-organ, as well as the bodhron, an Irish instrument made from goatskin and played with a stick — like a tambourine.