Search This Blog

Friday, December 30, 2005

Spreading Rumours

Dec 30th, a good time to pick up a bargain in the January sales I suppose.
Well, stuffed into my Christmas stocking was a HMV gift voucher/card. So I ambled down to my local music emporium to put it to use.
One of the first things that caught my eye was Fleetwood Mac's Rumours 2 for £5-99. The Fleetwood Mac name alone is worth more than that. Blimey. they're throwing these albums away.
We're all familiar with the original , but if you've got a couple of quid spare in your back pocket then grab a copy of this album now.
I'd pay twice as much for the Roughs and Out-takes , they're better than the originals believe me !

Friday, December 16, 2005

Celine is now available on Radio Carrolline

Just when you thought that things had gone quiet on the Celine Carroll front, she pops up in the unlikeliest of places.
I was listening to Rob Leighton's Imagination show on the legendary Radio Caroline.
and at around 9:30pm on Thursday 15th December my ears recognised the opening bars of Home from her album, Itch.
Radio Caroline has dedicated listeners worldwide and Celine Carroll's Itch album is in the 'library'.
So email and ask any of the obliging presenters to play her songs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You won't get Wind with Earth and Fire...

...but they will start repeating on you!
When I was over in the Netherlands recently I popped into a music store for a couple of souvenirs. I have got a few gaps in my music collection to fill in !
Back in the early 70s there was a Dutch pirate radio station which many of you may recall that went by the name of Radio Noordzee International. There was one particular group that they played a lot of at that time who were called Earth and Fire - no, not the other lot with the Wind ! And there was one song of theirs that I've been dying to get hold of ever since - and it still sounds brilliant, it is entitled MEMORIES.....and in 1972 it reached No.1 in the Radio Noordzee Top 50.

As for the album that I picked up - well, it was one of those 'Ultimate Collections'. First thoughts on playing it were , apart from Memories and Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight, yuk !, My musical tastes had certainly changed a bit since the early-mid 70s. Then I played it again, all the way through from start to finish. All of a sudden I was 18 again ! Their music is pirate ship through and through. I just cannot let this album go. Jerney Kaagman, the lucious lead singer, has got this wonderful voice and the backing band are brilliant.
Earth & Fire - I love 'em ! They don't need wind to blow you away. They are mooi (pronounced: 'mo ya' , meaning: beautiful). Dank u wel.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No good beating about the Bush - buy your own!

Just realised ! Kate Bush's new album was released earlier this week. As it has just turned 8:35PM and Sainsbury's are still open, I think I'll just nip out and get a copy..........
Apart from the opening track, King of the Mountain, an Elvis tribute, I'd not heard anything at all from this double album, Aerial.
I didn't particularly warm to this album at first. But not to worry, because the same can be said for all the other Kate albums (apart from the Whole Story). First thoughts were what the hell is this all about - songs about washing machines and singing along with blackbirds & wood pigeons !
Maybe it's because Kate is so intellectual that you have to think your way into her albums. After a couple of hearings this album starts eating into you and when the songs start to stick you suddenly realise that you've got another classic on your hands.
I'll say no more except....go and get your own !

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lured from Liverpool by 3 Ladies in Leiden

18th October 2005

I'd been looking forward to this show for ages but a dampener was put on it a couple of days beforehand, thanks to a lost passport. One final attempt to get hold of a replacement failed thanks to rules and regs at the UK Passport Office in Liverpool. Sadly, my wife, Jennifer had to stay at home and our son, Paul, came along instead.

It was one of those nights when I couldn't jot down a setlist because of the darkened auditorium and the threats from Paul, who said he'd disown me if he caught me scribbling.
I wish I had because I didn't want such an evening escape from my noticably failing memory.
So here follows one or two highlights of my recollections:-

The show was the last in a series of the Woman's Heart tour of The Netherlands and Belgium. It featured Mary Coughlan, Frances Black and Sharon Shannon.

The first voice I heard over the PA was Eleanor McEvoy, singing Only A Woman's Heart. Sadly, her voice was soon to be drowned out by the sound of a husky Hollander giving us a potted history of the phenomenal Album - A Woman's Heart.

First singer to appear was Mary Coughlan. To her left was grand piano and on her right were a couple of microphone stands.
It was the first time I have seen her perform live and prior to this show the only album I could get hold of was 'Love Me or Leave Me' which I'd only recently acquired. So apart from the AWH albums I knew little about her. I forgot the title of the opening song .....but I WAS interested.
Accompanied by James Delaney, a pure class piano player, Mary sang in a bluesy/jazzy style. Smooth & sophisticated. The duo were joined after the first song by Erik Visser on acoustic guitar. One song which particularly stood out was Magdelene Laundry. I've now heard three songs sharing this title. One of the others was by Frances and the other from Joni Mitchell on The Chieftains Tears of Stone Album. 'Seduced' was another song title that managed to remember and Mary had the audience singing along with the chorus to 'Blues Got The World'.

Frances and her band (Jimmy Smyth, Eoghan Scott & Pat Fitzpatrick) quickly took the stage. She opened with 'Wall of Tears'. As I said before, I don't remember the full setlist but the audience particpated with 'This Love Will Carry Me' and I glanced over at our Paul to see his eyes well up when 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' was delivered. Graham and Jennifer got a mention prior to one of the new songs 'A Foggy Dew' which is due to appear on her forthcoming album and is expected to be released in February. If this song is a foretaste of what is to come, then start queueing outside your music store now.

During the interval we popped in to the bar to say hello and I doubled my Mary Coughlan album collection when I bought 'Long Honeymoon'. We said hello to Frances and she knew Paul's name before I managed to introduce him.

Frances' intro to Sharon Shannon at the start of part 2 mentioned that Sharon's latest album had just reached No.2 in the Irish Album Charts. Congratulations!

Sharon and the spoken word are not the best of mates when she's on stage. Not that we're worried because her music does the talking. She was accompanied by Jim Murray on guitar. To watch him play you'd be convinced that he's got four hands!

After a couple of numbers Eoghan Scott joined her and Jimmy Smyth tagged along a little later. At around midway through her set she announced that Frances & Mary would be joining her for the next tune, The Penguin. They joined her alright! They to-ed and fro-ed penguin style the across the back of the stage. They were joined by the rest of the band members one by one as the tune progressed.

Mary re-appeared to perform a couple of songs and Sharon became one of the backing band. Mary gave a terrific cover of "I'd rather go blind". I wonder what the legendary Stan Webb would thought of the legendary Mary Coughlan's rendition of this classic.

Frances then returned to perform a couple of her own songs, one of which was 'Talk To Me'.

The big finale came when Frances and Mary duetted for Only A Woman's Heart. To think that I've heard this song delivered live 3 times in the space of 3 days in two different countries in two different languages by three different people - the result was the same - total quality.

The 500 strong audience bayed for more and they got it when everyone, including 2 piano players, gave us the extended remix of Bungee Jumpers.

This show was well worth the trip, thanks for the autographs by the way and we'll make sure that all passports are present and correct ASAP.

....and if you're still awake after this - Mark van Setten - it was great to meet you !

Monday, October 17, 2005

Evocative Eleanor Ensures Everyone's Ensuing Ease

Marr's Bar
16th October 2005

It's a mid-October Sunday evening. Time to sit back in a comfy armchair and toast your feet by the fire. Stare into the flames and dream of those heady days of summer and Christmas around the corner.
If you can capture that feeling , then you're not far away from the ambience in the Marr's Bar.
With memories of my last Eleanor experience with the splendid 50 piece RTE Concert Orchestra still fresh in my mind, I was wondering how a conventional Eleanor solo performance would greet me.
No problem at all !
This show had all the warmth of that autumn fire and that little glow from the accompanying glass of brandy.

A quick "Howya doin' ?" , on with the acoustic and Fire Overhead is almost whispered.
"If you're outta luck" is sang unaccompained along with the next line and the song, I'll Be Willing which then floats along a little slower on a soft acoustic backing.
The relaxed style of these openers set the tone for both Eleanor and audience. The Marr's Bar is attended by a music loving clientelle. Appreciation was given and received from both sides of the mike stand.
After You'll Hear Better Songs (Than This)- I do miss that Dublin clarinet! We were treated to a new song, Lovers Chapel, which was co-written by Dave Rotheray and will appear on her next album (exclusive , you heard it here first).
I've never seen Eleanor so laid back and relaxed, nor have I been or the rest of the audience either. All in all it was a pleasant evening. And apart from a little mix up over the name of the sound technician (Sean/Pete - the other guy made her a sound cup of tea !), everything else passed off without a hitch.

A couple more from the set list worth noting. Memphis Tennessee and The Rain Falls on their own are worth the effort of getting out of the house to witness.

Driving Home From Butlers would have sounded even more perfect had they switched the ACU off and Paddy McCarthy's reel used a very "un-trad-arr" wah-wah pedal.

Next stop for Eleanor on the tour - Buxton, my place of birth which is only a couple of miles from where one of her Yola co-writers, Lloyd Cole, used to live - Chapel-en-le-Frith.


Acoustic guitar
1. Fire Overhead
2. I'll be willing
3. You'll hear better songs (than this)
4. Lovers Chapel ( new one)
5. The Rain Falls
6. I got you to see me through

Electric guitar
7. The Way You wear Your Troubles
8. Territory of Poets
9. Ave Maria

Acoustic guitar
10. Days Roll By
11. Memphis Tenessee
12. Only a Woaman's Heart

13. Driving Home From Butlers
14 A "Trad Arr" tune ( new to me)
15. Paddy McCarthy's reel (with the 'fuzz' pedal - Celt-a-dellic)
16. Wrong So Wrong

17.Did you Tell Him
18. Isn't it a Little Late

Encore (Acoustic)
as requested by the audience
19. Whisper A Prayer To The Moon
20. Only A Woman's Heart (Spanish Version)
21. Easy In Love

It would be remiss of me not to mention the support act. A Shropshire Lad called Sam Newth
Step aside please David Gray

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Binding Qualities Of Porridge Ties Up The Rs

From hereon, October 4th should be remembered as National Porridge Day. The Rs refer of course to Ronnie Remembered and the Rebel Reverend Ridley.
Ronnie 'Fletch' Barker, former inmate of Slade prison joins the ranks of the dearly departed today. I won't attempt to water down the list of tributes by adding my personal thoughts. Instead, I'll just echo them all and say that his memory will live on in the laughter that he gave to millions.
As for the Rebel Reverend, he is a hero. He was released from prison today after doing porridge for not paying the increase in Council Tax. Politicians of whatever party you represent should hang their heads in shame over this travesty of justice. Reverend Ridley was stitched up by the state from all angles. It cost the taxpayer a damn site more money than what he owed to try him and put him in prison. You give him and the rest of the pensioners a pittance in one hand and rip their arms off by hiking up the Council Tax.
Ronnie Barker wrote some brilliant comedy scripts in his lifetime, but I doubt that he could have ever dreamt up an episode like Reverend Ridley's case.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Talking my way out of Corrners

There will be reviews a plenty in the coming weeks about The Corrs' new album, so I'll leave the track by track analysis aspect to the experts. I will single out just one track a bit later on just because I've simply fallen in love with it.

One thing I want to point out is the album's potential effect that it just might have on the powers that be at these UKTop40FM radio stations.

The Corrs, love them or loathe them, are one of the superpowers of the music world. It's their name that can sell their music nowadays.

For me, there has been 3 recent album releases which have had me waiting outside the shop on the day of release, namely U2, Coldplay and The Corrs. I knew well beforehand roughly what to expect from U2 & Coldplay. But all I knew about The Corrs album that it was going to be a bit "trad arr". I loaded the CD into the player as I got into the car and I was almost in tears after Heart Like A Wheel, the next track was one of two Gaelic songs. At this point I was thinking - go on, let's see half a dozen singles come off this album.

And what's more, let's see it open the floodgates for the release of some really brilliant music which is coming out of (or should I say being kept in) Ireland at the moment.

I've only scratched the surface in my Shed - and my message to the Top40FM stations, the distributors, music stores, agents etc is - just go out an have a look that little bit further than Robbie, Britney, Eminem and the Sugababes.

Now for the song that I just fell in love with :- It's track 11, Brid Og Ni Mhaille. I can count on one hand the Gaelic words that I know other than Caed Mille Failte (bet I spelt that one wrong) And I really want to know a few more, just so that I can sing along to this one in the confines of my car.
The vocals are beautiful and the BBC Concert Orchestra melts into the song and gives it warmth and depth. But the real tingler is when Sharon plays the violin, the instrument of the heart. It only lasts for a couple of bars but it's enough to take me from pure enjoyment to that state which dictionaries can't find words for.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

There's A Chicken Shack In My Shed

The Studio
Southport Arts Centre
24th Sep 2005

I picked up a copy of the Autumn Brochure off the ticket counter and therein I found a little black & white photo of Stan with these few words alongside - "Stan Webb's 40 years in the business are testament to a great talent and an unrivalled commitment to his dedicated fans." with the words "Classic British Blues-Rock at it's very best" written beneath.

If the first quote needed backing up, there weren't any empty seats and a quick check on the audience revealed a considerable amount of wrinkles, silver and baldness where long hair and acne would have been 40 years ago. The intent of that statement was meant to say that Stan's commitment is reciprocated by his followers.

The 2nd programme quote can be simply backed up with the band's line-up.
There's a genius on the Drums - all the way from Shropshire International Airport - Mick Jones. On 5(five!)-string Bass, Jim Rudge. On Fender Strat, Gary Davies and on vocals and playing Gibson Les Paul, Stan. The instrument line up is one thing , add experience, quality and time spent together then you've got the best.

The show opened with Mick, Jim and Gary playing a very extended rolling intro to 'So Tell Me'. Eventually, Stan arrived, guitar over the shoulder and he took up position behind his mike stand. He then stooped to pick up the power lead, threading it through a couple of belt loops on his jeans before plugging it in his guitar. "Tell Me",he wails and then strikes guitar, "What in the world have I done ?" .
The needles on the volume dials passed through that arc from "10 through to 2 o'clock" and must have carried on full circle a couple of times before coming to rest at about 5-ish. The speaker diaphragms were in shreds, and our rib cages were rattling, but we didn't care !

Stan's guitar playing alone deserves to be mentioned alongside the Claptons, Knopflers and Hendrixs of this world. He also has a dry sense of humour and his voice is tremendous. Loud singing and the occasional ciggy should have wrecked his vocal chords years ago. But he can hold a note longer than most people half his age can hold their breath.

We didn't wait long to sample his wit. Stan was about to introduce the next song we suddenly became aware how close we were to the roof of this building as the wooshes and bangs from the Southport Fireworks Festival could be clearly heard above. In a perfect Tony Hancock voice Stan muttered, "Stone me, what a life !" Another bang was heard. "Oh, it's only a pigeon" exclaimed a member of the audience.

Time for some more music. "This song is especially for my 4's called The Thrill Has Gone". A little banter ensued before Stan's guitar cried it's way through a wonderful melancholy laden intro. Mick Jones feathering the cymbals in accompaniment for a couple of minutes until the "1.....2" , the crash of drums and Stan's opening vocals.

I could laud the instrument work and vocal exploits ad inifinitum for each song on the setlist and fall well short of bringing you the full flavour. So before I give you the list I shall pick out a couple of highlights.

My favourite Chicken Shack track, CS Opera, lasted for around 20 minutes. And whilst remaining in my state of rapture over Stan and Gary's guitar repertoire, (They were so amped up that the plucked strings sounded like they were made from girders.), my attention was drawn to Mick Jones on drums. His stamina was amazing. I was worn out just watching him belt out such an intense rhythmn for so long.
Almost forgot - half-way through this melody Stan unplugged his guitar and cleared off for a couple minutes. He returned with a pint (didn't get me one) and then casually plugged himself back in and carried on from where he left off.

Textually, the setlist looks small. But from an 8:30 start, it was around 10:00 when we heard the intro to I'd Rather Go Blind. On this particular occasion Stan decided to have a little meander through the collection of cabaret tables which were placed in 4 rows between us and the stage.
So after the first verse, off came the guitar, and Stan was on the move. He unravelled the mike lead and off he went. He shook the hands of the boys and ran his fingers through the hair of the girls until, suddenly he had come to the end of his mike lead.

He put the mike down and he homed in, unexpectedly, on the oldest couple in the house. Two strides later he was right next to the poor chap's dear lady and put his arm around her chair....only to find that she had nodded off.

Upon return to the stage Stan was so taken aback that he had to take a quick breather before continuing. Surely no-one could have slept through this.

Needless to say the encore, Daughter of the Hillside, was played so loud that it could have awoken the dead.

For more news, views and reviews, go to Stan's Webbsite

Stan's Setlist

1)So Tell Me
2)The Thrill Has Gone
3)Reconsider Baby
4)(You are) The Sweetest Little Thing (featuring a tribute to Johnny Cash)
5)I Know, You Know
6) CS Opera ..... (guess what CS stands for)
7) (Oh Please) Doctor Brown
8) I'd Rather Go Blind

Encore (first time I've witnessed hem do one of these)
9) Daughter of the Hillside

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Two Cs and a Dee - That's a first !

Go to Chester's Dee106.3 homepage Celine Carroll (Two Cs) got played for the first time on UK radio on Sunday 18th September, just after 8:30pm, on Chester's Dee 106.3
The song was 'Apologise', which was written ,sung and produced by Celine. She also played piano. This song also features the excellent Maire Breatnach (Moya Brannock) on violin - and to use a quote by the guy who played it (Gavin Matthews) - It is "Complete and utter quality".
There are a couple of ways to get 'Apologise' heard again. 1) Buy the album from whence it came - 'Itch' , or 2) Ask Gavin to play it again.
Both methods require emails
1) Email and ask about buying 'Itch'
2) Email and Listen Live on Dee106.3 , Sunday Evenings from 7pm

Monday, September 12, 2005

Accompanied by the sound of cork upon willow

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear!
O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
September 12th 2005.
England regain The Ashes

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Chester's Request Fest ?......Impressed !

Listen Live With effect from 11th September at 7pm Sunday Night Sanity returned to the airwaves of North West England & North East Wales. Not only was a Request show returned but also the presenter who made such a show an institution in these parts, namely, Gavin Matthews. But thanks to Dee106.3's Listen Live facility you don't need to be local to take part. So if you're fed up to the back teeth with Top40FM or LimitedChoiceGoldAM, then put the world to rights on this show. Unlike some request shows, musical output is totally controlled by listener. The opening week's show featured Manfred Mann, Limahl & Daniel Powter,so that blows "80s, 90s & Now" out of the water. And when Gavin has mastered how to activate the CD player, then be prepared for an even greater choice of brilliant music.

Tune in to Dee 106.3 for radio as it should be !

Email :

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Eleanor's Musical Feast Had Famine On The Menu

Eleanor McEvoy
and the RTE Concert Orchestra
The National Concert Hall
Friday 19th August 2005

If this concert doesn't find it's way to a CD album then a severe oversight has taken place.

Many months of painstaking preparation of the musical arrangemets, by Eleanor and friends, for the 50 piece RTE Concert Orchestra all fell so perfectly into place on this, Eleanor McEvoy's big night out.

I feel humbled at having the opportunity of trying to put this into words. However, the best that I can do is to highlight one or two key moments and then leave you to envisage the rest because quite frankly there was just so much to take in. I just hope that there is a CD to back up what I'll try to say.

I suppose the stage layout for the RTE Concert Orchestra is taken from the standards manual, namely, strings section on the audience's left, circling through the reed instruments to the brass section on the right. Percussion at the back and conductor centre front. Just at the right of the conductor was Eleanor's spot. There were electric lead and bass guitarists just behind Eleanor and 'Animal' was on the drumkit behind them. Far right at the front was a well-loved backing singer called Liam Bradley. Strangely enough, the two guitarists were listed in the programme as Des Moore and Paul Moore - wonder if they're related.
(Note: Soon after submitting this review I received an email from Michael Londra who said that Des is Paul's father. He also said that they both worked with him in Riverdance and that Des was the best guitarist he had worked with.)

Just before the start of the show, a guy came on to the stage, and did a line check of Eleanor's guitar and walked off with it. Then, from the right of the stage came a young lady who, in both Gaelic, then English, welcomed us to the evening's performance at the NCH.

As the orchestra got themselves tuned up, conductor David Brophy made his stage entrance to generous applause. We then had poached 'Heart' for starters. Yes, Only A Woman's Heart, in the form of an overture, tastefully arranged by Brian Byrne. It was cinemascope, widescreen, technicolour big show stuff and I along with Eleanor's regulars were just blown away. Wherever we were blown to, we were there to stay for the evening.

As this opener was nearing it's close I just happened to glance down at my programme, expecting a little break for audience applause when I heard Eleanor's voice sing the second line of You'll Hear Better Songs (Than This) (arr. Eleanor McEvoy) but as I glanced up, there was no Eleanor. She then entered the stage (audience's right), donning her guitar and radio mike. The first couple of lines were unaccompanied, then one of the reed instuments (clarinet I think) and Eleanor's accoustic guitar were used throughout.

This seemingly continuous link from one song to the next appeared to be the theme for the evening. The audience did occasionly get the chance to warmly applaud, although you could tell that they were loving it by the obedient and attentive silence that was kept as each song was delivered.

There seemed to be no time to applaud when in crashed I'll Be Willing (arr. Fergus O' Carroll) which made it's entrance with the full brass section and hefty drumkit taking over from the solo trumpet on the album version. This song just rocked !

I was really impressed with the string section on Not Quite Love (arr. David Brophy) but I felt that Eleanor was singing against rather than with the brass section towards the end of this one.

Whisper A Prayer To The Moon (arr. Eleanor McEvoy) maintained it's dreamy feel with the assistance of a flute and harp along with some lovely crisp electric guitar punctuations. This was enhanced further by the starry night light effect around the back of the stage.

Eleanor's solo live gig rhythmic guitar was retained for the intro for Did You Tell Him (arr. Eleanor McEvoy) and really loved the string section joining in with the punctuations in the middle of the song and the way that brilliant screaming violin went off on one at the end.

The audience were introduced to Liam Bradley who shared the vocals on Something So Wonderful (arr Brian Byrne). The delivery was so soulful, the hairs on my arms were standing up ! I presume that Liam was enjoying the show, but I'd have loved him to have had a go on at least one song on the drumkit.

Memphis Tennessee (arr. Johnny Tate) retained it's recently acquired slowed down tempo, and I'll leave it to your imagination as to how it sounded with the orchestral arrangement. I'm sure that Chuck Berry would have been truly overwhelmed if he'd been present.

Territory Of Poets (arr. Brian Byrne) sounded fantastic - the intro came straight off a spaghetti western ! As the song drew to a close, the musicians made their exit one by one, leaving the remainder to continue. I saw The Corrs and the backing band pull the same stunt recently - quite amusing.

If you would like to turn to page 6 of your programme, your attention will be drawn to a 15 minute interval which will now be observed.

First song of part 2 was a first for me too. My version of What's Following Me is void of Famine (arr. Eleanor McEvoy). And is this one helluva a song to have missing from a collection. The string section added the perfect emotive feel to the tragedy of the Irish famine of 1848. This was further enhanced by Eleanor's singing.

Seemlessly we were into the opening notes of one of my faves from Yola, The Rain Falls (arr. David Brophy) one of the percussion guys, back right seemed to be playing a different 'toy' every time I glanced that way. For this song it appeared that he was playing what looked like an oversized smarties tube. With all the orchestral diversions I still managed to follow Eleanor's acoustic guitarwork on this one - still love it to bits !

The Tubular Bells marked the closure of this song and the opener of Anach Cuin (arr David Brophy). I've mentioned in previous reviews that all good shows should put aside a moment for reflection - and this was the time. The bells tolled in memory of the victims of an Irish fishing boat tragedy. The brilliant clarinet focussed the mind. Although Eleanor sang in Gaelic it didn't matter if it wasn't understood lyrically.

We were brought back to life with Please Heart You're Killing Me (arr. Fergus O'Carroll) with a good rocking full orchestral backing.

This was followed by Eleanor's violin solo, Driving Home From Butler's (arr. Eleanor McEvoy)- She's so thrilled about this title. It's common knowledge that Eleanor used to play in an orchestra and the violin players' union applauded as one upon completion of this melody.

Two more songs from Yola : - Easy In Love (arr. Johnny Tate) followed up by the percussion only backed Isn't It A Little Late (arr. Noel Eccles). The latter used the full array of percussion instruments.

The end came far too quickly, yet amazingly we'd witnessed 17 songs, the final one being the tribute to the assassinated journalist, Veronica Guerin, Easy To Lose Hope (arr. Fergus O'Carroll).

There were two encores, the first one brought us Only A Woman's Heart - this time Eleanor sang and I think there might have been another song for the 2nd encore, but we got a team bow instead.

My previous Eleanor concert in Chester was noted down as the best one ever - well, as for this one, I died and went to Heaven !

One small matter to bear in mind is that this performance with RTE Concert Orchestra is a one-off and that Eleanor's next tour will more than likely be with acoustic guitar & violin. You'll probably be forgiven for thinking that re-visiting these songs might be a comedown after a night like this.
Far from it ! Because (a) Happy memories of this night will be evoked and ( b) it will add further weight to my belief that Eleanor's songs can sit on a variety of backing styles and still sound great.

A couple of addtional extras :-
1) It was great to meet a couple of Followers, Anna, Inga & Don from Boston USA, Tim from Taunton and Brian & Pauline on their home patch.
Got to say 'Hello' to Eleanor & Mick after the show - (They know me too now) and also Brian Connor.

2) Eleanor McEvoy once sang on a special edition version of Phil Lynnott's The Boys Are Back In Town. What a strange coincidence that a bronze statue of Phil was unveiled just off Grafton Street on the same day as this concert.

3) The following day, I read a little article in the Irish Independent on the plane. Page16 caught my eye. Patrick Holland, aged 66, has called upon Irish President McAleese to cancel the last eight months of his prison sentence. Who is he ? ..... A suspect in the murder of Veronica Guerin.

4) I bought our tickets online and Brian & Pauline bought theirs from the box office. We found our seats and had a quick look round to check where the rest of our new friends were sat, who should sit down right next to us but Brian & Pauline.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Be Warned : Innocence is a Crime in Bulgaria

Who in their right mind could ever trust a country who sees fit to punish a law abiding innocent young lad in order to conclude a court case ?
Which citizen of such a country would be in his/her right mind to call themself a professional in the justice system?
Shame on you all for inflicting so much pain on a well loved family.

I drive past their house every day on the way to work. The support in the neighbourhood is tremendous. If banners, posters and yellow ribbons could bring Michael Sheilds back home it would have happened weeks ago. But the news of his wrongful conviction was greeted with utter shock and disbelief.

My family and I along with the rest of the civilised world would like to pass on our sympathies to Michael Shields and his family. We hope and pray for his safe and rapid return home.

We have a son who is not much older than Michael and we would be devastated if anything like this happened to him.

Anyone who is planning on visiting Bulgaria - think long and hard before you decide to go. I don't think the long arm of the law will afford you too much protection.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Carroll's Singing Leaves Me Dancing on the Celine

Go to Celine's Website Celine Carroll's latest album, Itch, is a must for any discerning music lover's collection. It contains 10 songs all witten by this very creative Dublin songstress.
A song entitled 'Home' easily welcomes you in to this album. Pleasant vocals and acoustic guitar to start with and then almost un-noticed the electric guitar starts punctuating the lines which then gives the cue to the rest of the backing musicians to make themselve heard.
The title track follows with the opening line "You're doing my head in" - so you can guess who is causing the itch and also the relief that it would bring to get rid of it. However, this album is not an itch to get rid of, but (for want of a better catchphrase) it doesn't take long to get under the skin.
Celine is an accomplished songwriter. She has witten the title track of a recent Frances Black Album - 'Don't Get Me Wrong'
As well as writing, producing and singing on this album, Celine contributes with piano and acoustic guitar. Numbered amongst the backing musicians, the name of Maire Breatnach (pronounced Moya Brannock) appears as the violinist. To the unfamiliar, any Irish album who features Maire Breatnach is guaranteed to be worth listening to.
'Itch' is indeed an excellent album which contains a healthy mix of styles & tempos, so you should have no trouble getting from start to finish without feeling the urge to jump to the next track The final song, "Bird in a Cage" lyrically describes the state of being trapped but it is delivered as though she is content with the situation.

'Apologise' (track 5) was the song which drew me to this album and it would be remiss of me not to mention Mike Moloney for playing this on Ocean FM . He has pointed me in the direction of Eleanor McEvoy, Frances Black and Juliet Turner in the past. Once again I can't thank this fella enough for having the foresight to play a song from this (soon to be released) album.

It's wrong to draw comparisons with other artistes but if you cross Maria Muldaur with K.T. Tunstall and add the style of Paul Simon and the influence of Paul McCartney then you'd have a rough idea.
But that's just my opinion, all I can recommend is that you buy a copy an enjoy what you hear instead.

Click here to join CelineCarroll
Click to join CelineCarroll


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Caroline has a vivid Imagination

I mentioned in the preceding post that I couldn’t find anything to match the quality of the Moloney after Midnight show on RTE 2FM. Well I have encountered the odd one or two since it's sad departure from the airwaves.

It would be wrong not to mention my rediscovery of Radio Caroline and Rob Leighton’s Imagination Show on Thursday evenings 9pm-midnight, where he plays “Music To Nourish Your Soul”

He's introduced me to some excellent bands on this show - Fula, Final Conflict and Karnataka to name but a few. But as well as quality, underplayed bands he’ll play Eleanor McEvoy, Juliet Turner and Melanie Safka. So it would be wrong to say that it’s all prog rock.
Essentially he simply plays inspirational music, the other week he played a track form the Genesis album, Selling England By The Pound.

So if you hunger for musical inspiration then, drop in on Rob Leighton, Thursday Nights at 9pm on Radio Caroline. There you can also find out how to get hold of Caroline on Sky Digital and on Worldspace radio as well as the internet.

And don't just stop there. Radio Caroline has been with us now for over 40 years.......the legend lives on.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Whilst Trawling The Net I Caught The Ocean

A few years ago I took a couple of days off work to do a spot of decorating. Before I started slapping on the undercoat I turned on the radio for a bit of company. And while I was looking for Virgin 1215AM I found a music station playing The Corrs - What Can I Do ?.
The Corrs were relatively unknown in the UK at the time, but it was that "doo-doo-doo-doo" intro which got me right between the ears.
The radio station was RTE 2FM - from that day to this I stayed with it.
Night-time listening on AM is pure magic. All those crackles and fades coupled with foreign interference take me back to the days when I used to listen to Radio Caroline & Luxemburg on the tranny under the pillow as a kid.
My return to night-time AM radio not only restored that enjoyment but it marked my "discovery" of the likes of Eleanor McEvoy, Frances Black, Leslie Dowdall and many more. Every discovery resulted in links to other artistes and the hunger for further exploration increased.
The presenter who introduced me to this new world of music was Mike Moloney. His show(Moloney after Midnight) was legendary. He also had this wierd character who enhanced the aura, her name was Amelia Golightly - she might have been posessed but she was simply adorable !
Sadly it was all too soon when the "powers that be" decided that program changes were necessary.(some call it progress)
After many years of searching for a radio show that came anywhere near to coming close to the class of Moloney after Midnight, I finally rediscovered Mike on Ocean FM.
So if you can spare an hour on Sunday Evenings from 9-10PM, then click the headline above and listen to Ocean FM and I'll guarantee that your ears will be well and truly educated.
There's only one downer though, I'm still missing Amelia Golightly, bless her.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Nederland voor de beste artiesten in Irish Folk

This is the Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden in The Netherlands (just north of Den Haag)
It is the venue for last date of the 'Woman's Heart Tour' in October. Frances Black, Sharon Shannon and Mary Coughlan make up the touring party.
My regular readers know that I've been lucky enough to see Frances Black on more than one occasion. I've seen Sharon Shannon once before in Manchester, but as for Mary Coughlan it's my first time. Eleanor McEvoy has mentioned Mary during the talkie bits at a couple of her gigs and she give the impression that Mary is an interesting character. Compiling a gig review will give me something to do on the flight back home.
(PS: Many thanks to Mark van Setten - Frances Black's Website creator - who helped me out with the title. Roughly translated it means "The Netherlands for the best in Irish Folk music")

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Eleanor brings you Only A Woman's HeaRTE

This August my gig reports will take on an international flavour after I have witnessed Eleanor McEvoy delivering her songs with the assistance of the RTE Concert Orchestra at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. (Friday 19th August, 8:00PM)
If you study her biography on her website you will find that Eleanor is no stranger to the orchestra. After seeing her live on more than a couple of occasions this particular show is one that I am really looking forward to.
It will take her all night to say thanks to her backing band.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Good Hart These Days Is Hard To Find

I've just discovered a fantastic singer, believe me. And as is usually the case, it was while I was looking elsewhere for another.
I was on Anouk's site and one or two of her followers were going a bundle on this particular young lady.
Her name is Beth Hart - there is a weblink on the right of the screen.
Apparently she has a DVD (European version) on release as from Friday 13th May 2005, but I've just done a quick Google and there is no sign of it on HMV or MVC's websites.
So while I'm waiting for this DVD to appear I shall have to content myself with what Yahoo music have left us for our perusal.
I've absolutely hammered 'World Without You' and 'L.A. Song' over these past few days - go and check her out, she's tremendous.
Trust me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Eleanor McEvoy - Diva of the Deva

Alexanders Jazz Club
Monday 25th April 2005

In the hours of darkness, under the shadow of the tower of Chester Cathedral, we were cast under the spell of someone wearing an outfit which was predominantly black with a flash of red. That person comes from Clontarf, North Dublin, the same district as Bram Stoker....¦Dracula's Creator.

Entranced, we certainly were. But the sinister stuff stops there because the person dressed in black and red was Eleanor McEvoy.

My personal 'count' of Eleanor concerts now numbers eight. Having got my teeth into that many,you would be forgiven for thinking that familiarity breeds contempt, far from it. In fact, this just had to be the best Eleanor concert that I've witnessed.

On entering Alexanders the first thing that we noticed was the electric guitar to accompany the two instruments which she brought with her on the last tour. It's mere presence had an immediate effect. Without playing a note it was helping us pass waiting time by trying to guess which of her songs would see her playing it.
In the lead up time, the gathering steadily grew in number as was the volume of their talking. Fears of a repeat of the Liverpool gig were immediately allayed when Eleanor arrived on stage at around 9:30.

From the moment she asked "Howya doin?" the crowd of around 80 people were paying their fullest attention to the opening song, Leaves Me Wondering from Yola.

Mention Eleanor McEvoy to those who know her and get them explain what she does then the immediate reply would be a top class folk singer and songwriter who plays acoustic guitar and plays violin. What they might forget to mention is that her guitar playing is just so bloody good.

With the usual top class guitarist there sometimes comes the snarling face which is given to enhance the effect. However, in Eleanor's case, she makes guitar playing look effortless.

Of her opening three songs there were 3 succinct styles of acoustic backing. Rhythmic and pronounced on Leaves Me Wondering, melodic on Whisper a Prayer and dreamy with You'll Hear Better Songs.

I had just got myself enveloped in this fascination with her acoustic guitar playing. I was thinking that an Eleanor acoustic-only album would be a good idea (please release the acoustic only version of The Rain Falls by the way ) when out came the electric guitar for Territory Of Poets. The electrics stayed with us until the interval. The bluesy song, The Way You Wear Your Troubles leaves me high on praise and short of original descriptives.

At the top of part 2 attention was drawn to the Fathers 4 Justice protestor in Chester with Memphis Tenessee.

The violin made it's appearance for Driving Home from Butlers and just when we were expecting things to drift into the footstomping jig, a new song crept in. But it wasn't just the song that raised the eyebrows. The way in which the violin was played, tapping the bow on to the strings, really effective.

The end came all too quickly and for all her exceptional instrument work she closed with a superb voice only rendition of Stray Thoughts.

To add to the enjoyment the audience were so appreciative and attentive, this didn't escape Eleanor's notice when she gave heartfelt thanks in return. I'e never felt so high after an Eleanor live performance...and I've never felt so hungry for the next one either.

Chester Setlist
1.Leaves Me Wondering
2.Whisper A Prayer To The Moon
3. You'll Hear Better Songs (Than This)
Superb acoustic guitar backing to this one
4.I'll be willing
5. The Rain Falls
6. I Hear You Breathing In
7. Territory of Poets
8. Love Be Cool
9. The Way You Wear Your Troubles


10. Days Roll By (keep emailing
11. Memphis Tennessee
12. Easy In Love
13. I got you to see me through
14. Driving Home From Butlers
15. Wrong Wrong So Wrong
(....just to show that there is more than one way to play a violin)
16. the footstomping violin tune which might be called Paddy Carthy's Reel
17. Did You Tell Him
(just fascinating watching her play guitar on this one using the third finger left hand to combine a melody with the infectious rhythm)
18. Isn't it a liitle late
19. Only A Woman's Heart (especially for Dave)

20, Stray Thoughts (Voice only)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Frances Black Live ? - I can Handel it.

The Boathouse Inn, Parkgate, South Wirral
February 2004


Not long after I joined Frances' website's mailing list I received a newsletter notifying me of some forthcoming Frances Black concerts. Much to my surprise there was one for The Boathouse Inn, Parkgate, South Wirral. It needed a double take on my part because the venue was just a couple of miles from our house. In fact we had lunch at the very same place on the previous Saturday. Oddly enough, I picked up a Folk Club pamphlet from one the wall racks while I was waiting for my wife to return from the rest room.

Even while I was thumbing through it, speed reading as you do when you’re more focussed on other matters, there was nothing in the pamphlet which leapt out at me. At the same time I thought that it might make a nice change on a Thursday night if we paid the place a visit. It was just one of those thoughts which evaporated the instant I left the pub.

At this moment in my life, the only prior knowledge that I had of Frances were the tracks on the AWH trilogy, the fading memories of an interview that she had with Mike Moloney on RTE 2FM about 4 years previously, and the information that is available on this website.

About 10 months prior to receiving this e-mailed concert list I bought a copy of A Woman’s Heart - a decade on from an Eleanor McEvoy concert. Eleanor autographed it for me. And after I’d added Juliet Turner’s and Cara Dillon’s at more recent concerts I just thought it might be a novel idea to add Frances Black’s to this already impressive album sleeve. So I dialled the number advertised.

They guy who answered the phone sounded surprised because I was the first person to ask for the tickets. Furthermore, I wasn’t a member of his Folk Club and he was curious as to how I got to know. When I found out where to pick the tickets up from I discovered that he only lived on the neighbouring estate. I drive past it on my way to work.

With blissful ignorance, I managed not to suffer from my usual pre-gig butterflies on the lead up to this concert. I couldn’t (and I still can’t) fathom how someone as ‘world-famous’ as Frances could be appearing at a cosy pub venue which was right under our nose.

So at the start of all this, it was curiosity , rather than Frances, that led me to that venue.

The function room was located upstairs in the Boathouse Inn. It took up the space of what originally could have been 4 double bedrooms. The stage was little more than a raised plinth, about 15 feet from side to side and about 3 feet from front to back. A good step back from the mike and you could sit on a windowsill. The seating was about 6 rows deep (approx capacity 100). There was a small bar to far right of the room.

The resident band, Brass Tacks, provided the early entertainment and then it was time for Frances. She was accompanied by Eoghan (bass) and another guy (I’ll find out later) on lead acoustic. If I’m not mistaken, it was Stranger On The Shore for openers.

The list of songs were irrelevant on this particular occasion. What was important was simply that statement, “you can’t beat live music” . Frances sounds great on CD, but when you see someone singing and hearing, nay feeling, the way those songs are delivered - straight from the heart - then that’s when it really gets you.

Add the fascinating stories, both the heartbreakers and the funny ones and the glancing across to the missus and seeing her nodding and grinning, then you just know that it’s been a great night.

The Boathouse Inn is situated in a very ‘well-to-do’ area, overlooking the Welsh hills from across the other side of the River Dee. There must have been a few residents at this venue as well as the members of the folk club. And when Frances duly agreed to return to the stage with the usual encore, you could hear those that knew draw a sharp intake of breath because they feared that Legal/Illegal may cause a little upset. Needless to say their fears were unfounded. Everybody absolutely loved it.

I bought my first Frances Black album that night, How High The Moon. And I also got Frances’ autographs for both that album and my AWH-a decade on album. You know, it took nearly a week to get down off that cloud.

And here’s a little item of trivia to close with. Did you know that Handel set sail from Parkgate to give the first public performance of The Messiah at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. It looks like it took little while to return the complement.

Just think, Mr. Handel could well have stayed in the Boathouse Inn prior to setting sail. And if he did, he might just have looked out of a bedroom window and possibly have stood on the exact spot where Frances’ mike stand was.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Saint Frances !

The Citadel,
St. Helens
Saturday 13th November 2004

Frances is one of the six founders of the legendary album series, A Woman’s Heart. Ever since Eleanor McEvoy sold me an autographed copy of one of these albums, I have pledged myself to support those who call in at a town nearby.
The Citadel is a quaint little theatre. The auditorium is about the same depth as the stage. It also has an upper circle. It was about two thirds full, so I would estimate that there were about 150 people present. It would probably have been a full house had the nearby Maghull Folk Club not decided to book a festival on the same night. Still, it was their loss.
At just after 8pm a young man stepped up to mike. He was dressed in jeans, trainers and an 80s style Sweden football shirt – and in a healthy local accent he confidently and competently invited us to welcome Frances Black.
With Jimmy Smith from Navan as sole accompaniment on acoustic guitar for the opening song, she lulled the attentive and appreciative audience into a state of submission with ‘Stranger on the Shore’. And as she explained the format for the evening’s show and described the next song, Eoghan Scott (bass guitar) and Pat Fitzpatrick (keyboards) entered the stage.
Our seats were on the front row and I thought it would look discourteous if I scribbled the setlist. I wish I had compiled one now, because I can’t for the life of me remember the next song. So I’ll pick out a couple of highlights from what was a brilliant show.

Frances likes to talk. She has a nice broad Dublin accent to go with it and as far as I’m concerned she can describe paint drying and it would be riveting. Suffice it to say paint drying never cropped up – although her description of the title song of her current album, ‘How High The Moon ‘ is worth the entrance fee alone.
We were also encouraged to sing the odd chorus and warned us that ‘volunteers’ would be sought after to join her on stage in the second half. It proved to be no idle threat when three willing guinea pigs joined her for ‘When You Say Nothing At All’. A song made famous by Ronan Keating, whom she admires greatly, but she didn’t hold back when we were reminded that Frances was the first to take the song into the Irish charts.

All good shows contain a moment for reflection, this was no exception. Last year, her mother, Patty, passed away. I won’t dwell on the understandable state of sensitivity, but as her way of coming to terms with her loss she dedicates a little part of the show to her memory. If you thought Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ was emotionally charged then try and witness Frances sing this live.
Since having the priviledge of seeing Brian Connor accompany Eleanor McEvoy I've developed a fascination with the style of keyboard players. Brian is classy to say the least, but after this gig I think I've spotted his match. Pat Fitzpatrick (who, like Brian, also comes from Belfast) was really laid back and witty. An example of this wit was shown when Frances introduced a Doris Day song (can't remember title). There was a short piano intro, within which Pat sneeked in a bar or two of 'Deadwood Stage' along with a quick smile to the audience.To the best of my knowledge, Frances has about seven albums on release and each one was represented. Also included was a version of Rathlin Island which features on The Black Family Album – Our Time Together.
She closed proceedings with a 2-song encore. One of which was an unaccompanied number call Legal/Illegal, the other was James Taylor's 'You've got a friend'.

For more on Frances, check out the website

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Juliet Turner meets Eleanor McEvoy at The Arches, Glasgow

Saturday 29th January 2005

So there I was minding my own business, carrying a couple of drinks up the steps from the basement bar in The Arches, Glasgow. I’d almost completed my ascent, when who should dash past me in the opposite direction with guitar case in hand, but Juliet Turner. She seemed a bit pre-occupied, so I didn’t interrupt. Juliet was due on stage about 50 minutes later. She was the first on in a double bill which also featured my other icon, Eleanor McEvoy.

A tight schedule had to be adhered to at this venue and all had to be finished and cleared away by 9:30, so there was no time to lose. Before we knew it, just a matter of seconds after Brian Grace had sound-checked the guitars under cover of darkness, there was Juliet. All but a couple were taken by surprise. Her response to the unexplained lack of enthusiasm went something like, “Well, judging by all that I suppose you’re all here for Eleanor McEvoy !” Laughter ensued.

She introduced us to the band which comprised a threesome like last year, but gone was Scouser Sean – the ace bass player. His place was taken by Kieran Boylan (excuse spelling). He would have toured with her earlier, but JT claimed he wasn’t good enough. After a brief audio interruption, our ears were in action. A bit of a “trad arr” for starters – couldn’t put a title to it. I couldn’t put a title to the second song either because it was one of her new ones. She did mention snakes scaring the sh** out of her in Canada as part of her story.

Dr. Fell then bought the audience to familiar ground, but by this time there was little reassurance required. This particular attendee was already looking forward to at least one future gig on her forthcoming UK tour.

Juliet's setlist (apologies for the unknowns) :

1. A “trad arr” – type song
2. A new one
3. Dr. Fell
4. Season Of The Hurricane
5. Vampire (Many Thanks Terry Wogan)
6. Burn The Black Suit
7. Another New One
8. Yet another new one – entitled Louisa, co-written by Kieran
9. 1987
10. A fantastic Pizza & Wine with a late nite bar piano style accompaniment
11. Everything Beautiful Is Burning

Apart from the odd interruption of a departing train from Glasgow Central above – was that a contrived cue for a song I heard ? – This was a delightful aperitif for Eleanor McEvoy who came on stage after a short break to rapturous applause which continued as she thanked Juliet.

After a brief technical hitch, we were straight into Fire Overhead and The Way You Wear Your Troubles (don’t clap too early) before the story about the LA fires.
One thing I particularly noticed about Eleanor's performance was her guitarwork. If you get to see he live yourself, just checkout Memphis Tenessee for a prime example - and follow her through the song.

This was a slightly abbreviated Eleanor performance, for reasons already stated. A notable omission was the piano-free version of The Rain Falls - another 'must' to witness at future gigs.

I was having the time of my life at this gig because not only was I being treated to top class entertainment from two of my favourite singer-songwriters, I’d spent an afternoon with the co-founder of Juliet Turners’ discussion group and during this gig I was stood with the author of Eleanor’s website.

If there was anything to marr my evening in dreamsville , it was just the pressing emergencies of time.

Eleanor's Setlist:

1. Fire Overhead
2. The Way You Wear Your Troubles
3. Easy In Love
4. You’ll Hear Better Songs Than This
5. I Got You To See Me Through
6. Memphis Tennessee
7. Days Roll By (Many Thanks Terry Wogan)
8. Driving Home From Butlers (plus the jig)
9. Leaves Me Wondering
10. Did You Tell Him
11. Isn’t It A Little Late
12. Apologise
13. (Encore) Joni Mitchell’s Carey