Archives for May 2011

Playlist 30.05.11

Stuart Bailie | 17:08 UK time, Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Cara Robinson caught our attention as the funk-soul sister from County Down who was working with Rhianna, Corrinne Bailey Rae and David Holmes. She recorded an album called 'Keep'er Lit' and on her return from Leeds, she played some remarkable shows around these parts.

Then she fell for a hairy-faced blues wailer from Australia called Hat Fitz. Legend had it that he was born of pure convict stock and that he had waltzed a few Matildas in his time. They got married and made an agreeably messy record called 'Beauty 'N The Beast'. They were evidently fans of the rattlesnake boogie from Clarksdale, Mississippi. Like Jack White and Seasick Steve, they could pass on the thrill of hearing the blues in its most primal form. Now this rumbustious duo are touring Ireland and then Europe, traveling light and putting the deal down.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Aretha Franklin - People Get Ready (WSM)
Martha Reeves - I'm Ready For love (Motown)
James Vincent McMorrow - Sparrow And the Wolf ( Believe Digital)
Christopher Rees - Sing With A Smile (Red Eye)
The Lost Brothers - Goodbye Kid (white)
The Funboy Three - We're Having All The Fun (EMI)
Paul Shevlin - Backfire (Di Di Mau)
North Mississippi Allstars - Ol' Cannonball (Songs Of The South)
Hat Fitz, Cara Robinson - Black Cat Bone (white)
Kate Bush - Rubberband Girl (Fish People)
James Walbourne - Northern Heights (Heavenly)
Anthony Toner - Still Unsigned (Dozens Of Cousins)
Melba Moore - Love's Coming At Ya (EMI)

REM - Don't Go Back To Rockville (IRS)
Eddie Giles - Losing Boy (Kent)
Duke Special - You Can't Catch Me (Duke Special)
Christopher Rees - Raise The Battlecry (Red Eye)
Lonnie Irving - An Old Fashioned Love (Righteous)
Southern Tenant Folk Union - If you've got The Heart (JRR)
John Hartford - Gentle On My Mind (Rounder)
Ben Howard - Old Pine (Communion)
Hazmat Modine - Child Of A Blind Man (Jaro)
Emmylou Harris - Six White Cadillacs (Nonesuch)
Peter Bruntnell - Penelope Keith Blue (Manhaton)
Anthony Toner - Grateful (Dozens Of Cousins)
Bill Medley - If This Were The Last Song (Polygram)
John Martyn - Willing to Work (Hole In The Rain)

Kimmie, Terri, Tux and The Fury

Stuart Bailie | 09:38 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

Blimey, what a week. Tuesday was a chance to hear Mojo Fury playing tracks from the new album, acoustic style. Cello and everything. With bonus conversations about how the songs took shape and where the Mojo ship is steering to. Tremendous.

Wednesday was the launch for the Vital Festival, back in August with Eminem the first confirmed name for Wednesday 24th. A busy old day for Ward Park, I would imagine. In the middle of the party, a bunch of us took off around the corner to the Black Box, where Kimmie Rhodes was warning us off Lubbock, Texas, thinking about the influence of DDT sprays on young metabolisms and singing with distinction. The bug powder can't have harmed her too much.

Friday was a one-off event at the Botanic Inn, Belfast, featuring live music from Cashier No 9, increasingly stellar. We were anxious in case the local clients didn't dig it, but they were leaping around and bawling out the chorus lines. The bash was complemented by many DJ pals, notably Terri Hooley, who inflamed a crowd of people who were generally 40 years his junior. It was a masterclass in how to reach out to every punter, to rouse them and roll them and prepare the house for the only closing anthem that counts, 'Teenage Kicks'.

My favourite night though was Thursday, when I found myself in a tuxedo, onstage at the Ramada Hotel. I was with special company, part of a team that was being rewarded for our work on the Belfast Music project - the exhibition, the iphone app, the bus tour, the website and last year's inaugural Belfast Music Week. The drivers of this particular idea were some visionary folk at Belfast City Council, but a bunch of us had determined to amp up the endeavour. And while the work isn't all done, there was enough evidence out there to rock the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

By Saturday afternoon, I was fit to retire for an intense nap. But before I checked out, my eldest daughter was heading off with a heap of camping kit, ready for the Pigstock Festival in Killinchy. It was an amusing, tag team moment, and expressly her turn. But hey, I had put in a few decent rounds.

Establishing The Tone

Stuart Bailie | 19:58 UK time, Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Anthony Toner is giving great value for his new album campaign. As we've noticed before, the CD is handsomely packaged and the songs are delivered with soul and sass. And while some acts might consider this a deal well done, the guy has set himself up with a busy touring schedule, playing the bijou arts centres and local halls, putting unique content into festivals and steadily making new pals.

This week, he has unwrapped a fresh scheme. On his ever-alert blog, he is putting out notes to all of his album tracks, day by day. Some writers are rather coy about the creative process, feeling that the mystique may be lost by sharing too much, but Toner is clearly relishing the notion. And thus far, he is complementing the music, sending you back to the record to witness the nuances.

Some of the names have been withheld to protect the innocent, but now we know which part of Bedford Street prompted 'All Of The Above'. The song has the vivacity and colour of 'In France They Kiss On Main Street' but there is also essence of heartbreak on the dark side of the road.

Onwards to 'Grateful', an emotion that is apparently the author's default condition. We learn that it was written in a Nashville hotel room, where the light under the door was real and then metaphorical. A handy title for the album also. And that 'Finally' was a gift to the playwright friend Stephanie Young, who must be chuffing pleased.

I'd say all this is a textbook enterprise for any songwriter with a bit of verve. He is building intrigue and involvement. He's pulling you back for the next installment. Hurrah for the Tone.

Playlist 23.05.11

Stuart Bailie | 16:24 UK time, Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I don't know that I've been to Belle Isle, near Lisnaskea in Fermanagh. And I doubt that Bob Dylan has been there either. But on the 'Self Portrait' album, he sings beautifully about a humble maiden from those parts and how she's taken his heart.

I'm aware of this song because my friend Terri Hooley hipped me to it. While I'm familiar with many Dylan records, I'd always kept clear from 'Self Portrait' because all the critics had dismissed it as his first terrible album. Check out the reactions from Greil Marcus if you want a good laugh.

But the album has its moments, particularly 'Copper Kettle', 'All The Tired Horses' and 'Belle Isle'. According to my sleevenotes, the latter is a Dylan song, but elsewhere it is reported as a traditional work. Maybe he got it from Tommy Makem or the Liam Clancy. Can anyone illuminate?

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM

Mondays, ten - midnight

The Thrills - Big Sur (Virgin)
The Lil' Band O' Gold - Ain't No Child No More (Room 609)
The Sabrejets - Blitzkreig Bop (Raucous)
The Leisure Society - You Could Keep Me Talking (Full Time Hobby)
Booker T - Down In Memphis (Anti)
Jason Isbell - Heart On A String (Lightning)
Bon Iver - Calgary (4ad)
The Triffids - Fairytale Love (Island)
Booker T - The Bronx (Anti)
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Too Tough (PIAS)
Jono McCleery - It's A Wonderful Life (Counter)

Second Hour - Bob Dylan Special

Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues (Columbia)
Flatt And Scruggs - Like a Rolling Stone (Columbia)
Brian Ferry - A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall (Virgin)
Cat Power - Paths Of Victory (Matador)
The Byrds - My Back Pages (Columbia)
Loudon Wainwright III - Talking Bob Dylan Blues (Virgin)
Bob Dylan - Just Like A Woman (Columbia)
Johnny Cash - It Ain't Me Babe (Columbia)
John Martyn - Don't Think Twice It's Alright (Island)
Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples - Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking (Sony)
Waterboys - Girl From The North Country (Ensign)
Bob Dylan - Belle Isle (Columbia)
Them - It's All Over Now Baby Blue (Decca)
Bob Dylan - Not Dark Yet (Columbia)

Bin There, Done That

Stuart Bailie | 09:56 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

AJ Weberman is a bin-hoker, although he would prefer his own job title, garbologist. The guy became famous for rooting though Bob Dylan's rubbish in New York, aiming to find some revelatory scraps about his art. What he found was a discarded postcard to Johnny Cash, a few utility bills and diapers from the little Dylans.

Back in the Seventies, this was enough to get you noticed, and for a time Weberman was a minor celebrity, leading a gaggle of Bob fanatics around town in search of the truth. The singer was ambivalent about all this. Sometimes he was infuriated, other times he would engage in wibbling phone conversations with AJ, threatening to write a song about this grand-standing buffoon.

On Friday night I got my chance to see Tangled Up With Dylan, a sharp little documentary about Weberman. He has not aged particularly gracefully, with a prison sentence behind him, a messy family life and a social circle that looks like it was on loan from a David Lynch film. They have peculiar eyebrows, hoarding issues and startling dress codes. To them, Weberman is a proper talisman, a reminder of a time when the chimes of freedom were pealing with abandon.

AJ can't resist a quick foray over to Woody Allen's place, but the pickings from his garbage are slight, and shredder culture is not great for the old activity. Not that we feel terribly sympathetic.

Bob fans however, have a wealth of pickings from the BBC output. For a resume, have a look here.

My Monday radio show will carry a few extra thoughts and musical steers on the subject of Dylan's towering art. The least we can do, really.

From Heavenly, With Hate

Stuart Bailie | 17:39 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Heavenly Records have probably delivered more personal favourites than any other label. In the early days it was St Etienne and Flowered Up, later they gave us Fabulous, the Rockingbirds, Doves, Ed Harcourt, Beth Orton, the Magic Numbers and Fionn Regan. Their old Soho office was an inspiring joint while their club, The Heavenly Social was a launchpad for the Chemical Brothers and a spiritual home for Paul Weller, Tricky, Noel Gallagher, Bobby Gillespie and a generation of errant ravers.

More than anything, I'm fond of their 1990 single release 'Motown Junk' by the Manic Street Preachers. You are probably familiar with this belter composition. Everything surging at once, with James Dean Bradfield singing with the spasmodic alarm of a guy being injured with a cattle prod. I was reviewing the singles for the NME that week and I put this righteous mess at the top of the pile.

You didn't need to be a scholar of Guy Debord and situationist texts to know that this was a shout for individuality and human dignity. It sounded a bit like The Clash and 'Complete Control', which I also appreciated. And after hearing lines like "communal tyranny a jail that bleeds our wrists" you weren't surprised to learn that Richey and Nicky wanted to combine the savagery of Sun headlines with the acute value of a William Burroughs cut-up.

My NME colleagues were mostly appalled at the choice for Single Of The Week. They thought the band was retro and perhaps not even for real. Then Richey produced a razor blade, carved up his forearm, and the debate changed immediately.

Oddly, 'Motown Junk' was only ever available on 12 inch vinyl and CD. Now you can purchase the legendary stuff on 7 inch vinyl. My collection needs it. Yours too, I'd say.

Playlist 16.05.11

Stuart Bailie | 10:29 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Even when John Martyn was in failing health, the voice endured. Now there's a posthumous record that proves it. 'Heaven And Earth' was mostly recorded around his house in Ireland and the domestic havoc reveals itself in improvised lyrics about his dog, who randomly joins in the session. You will find more concise songs on other albums, and the guitar playing is also more impressionistic than anything, but still there's a freedom in the art - the instinct to soar through gaps in the music, to rail and murmur and extemporise when the moment requires. Phil Collins put some backing vocals on the tracks later and he rightfully keeps himself in the background. It's John's final gig, the leave-giving of a voice supreme.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Althea And Donna - Uptown Top Ranking (Virgin)
Brett Dennen - Sydney (Dualtone)
Anna Calvi - Desire (XL)
John Martyn - Heel Of The Hunt (Hole In The Rain)
Austra - The Future (Domino)
Mundy, Gemma Hayes - Reconsider Me (Camcor)
Warren Zevon - The French Inhaler (Rhino)
Ane Brun - Do You Remember (Baloon Ranger)
Kate Bush - Flower Of The Mountain (Noble & Brite)
Voodoun Moi - Monthly Lulabye (Palawan)
Duke Special - Themes From Sesame Tree (Duke Special)

Graham Parker - Sweet On You (Mercury)
Villagers - The Pact (Domino)
Brett Dennen -I Think I'm Losing My Mind (Dualtone)
Kate Bush - Rubberband Girl (Noble & Brite)
Mama's Gun - On a String (Candelion)
Colenso Parade - Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright (white)
The Innocence Mission - Gentle The Rain At Home (Badman)
Rory Gallagher - Wheels Within Wheels (Strange Music)
Warpaint - Undertow (Rough Trade)
John Martyn - Stand Amazed (Hole In The Rain)
Duke Special - Hard Times Come Again No More (Duke Special)
Kate Bush - Moments Of Pleasure (Noble & Brite)
Thurston Moore - Benediction (Matador)

Come Writers And Critics...

Stuart Bailie | 22:03 UK time, Sunday, 15 May 2011

Most local TV critics are awful. They either rewrite the press release or they oafishly try to say contentious stuff with neither wit or illumination. But in 1978, I was a fan of the Belfast Telegraph's columnist, Keith Baker. He wrote funny reviews and when he did get snippy with his comments, there was a point to it all. I guess he was the first journalist that I read with intent. My dad wasn't impressed. He didn't dig the sardonic stuff or the irony. Which made me enjoy the Baker dispatches all the more.

I was reminded of this when I watched Eurovision on Saturday night. Like many parents, I amused myself by sneering at the haircuts, the lumpen melodies and the tiresome hackery of the work. The children ignored all this, as is their prerogative. They were gunning for Jedward and loving the Moldavian hats.

But I remembered a Keith Baker column from Eurovision in Paris, 1978. There had been controversy that year when Israel pulled ahead with the infantile 'A-Ba-Ni-Bi'. Yet the copy that Baker filed from April 22 was mostly concerned with a Norwegian singer called Jahn Tiegen. He was a trooper in his own land, and his Eurovision entry 'Mil Etter Mil' would spend four months in the national chart. However, the Eurovision judges declared it was a stinker and didn't give Jahn a single vote.

So that was Keith Baker's riff. He described the bearing of a man who had just been grossly humiliated in front of his peers and a massive television audience. The column also revealed how the aftershow party people had put a contagion zone around the nul points Norwegian.

In the quality press, writers such as Clive James may also have been mining the tragic potential of this event. But we only got the Belfast Telegraph in our house and so this is where I got my cultural insights. And thus I owe a debt to Baker and his words.

Playlist 09.05.11

Stuart Bailie | 21:24 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

Iain Archer released 'Holywood Seapark' as the extra track on his 'Boy Boy Boy' single in 2004. He was patently mad to keep it hidden as it's a supreme song about a piece of shoreline in County Down frequented by dog walkers, paddling kids and wind-blasted veterans. Iain used this setting to amplify some of his most intense family feelings. It's about the death of his grandfather, who used to work in the shipyard. It's about the ebb of history and the nature of personal pain in a more universal space. And ultimately, it's about trying to get over that feeling. It breaks my heart.

A few months after its release, I gave a copy of the track to the film-maker John T Davis, resident at Holywood Seapark. John has made his own testament to the locality with his film, The Uncle Jack, and of course John came to love Iain's creation also. The two parties came together at a special event at the Waterfront Studio, when the song and the film were united, and the venue was full of soul.

But the story isn't resting there. John's son, Caolaidhe now lives in Washington DC and plays quality roots music with a stand-up bass and fiddle. The act is called the 19th Street Band. And of course they've recorded a version of 'Holywood Seapark' that's profound and affecting in its own way. It rises and it meditates and it hits you on so many significant levels.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Isley Brothers - What It Comes Down To (Epic)
The Lil' Band O' Gold - Hold On Tight (609 Records)
The Bees - Go Where You Wanna Go (Fiction)
Southern - People Said (white)
Southern - Beach (white)
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Bella Union)
Zombies - She's Not There (Decca)
Zombies - Time of the Season (Repetoire)
Argent - God Gave Rock'n'Roll to You (Koch International)
Colin Blunstone & Dave Stewart - What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted (Stiff)
The Zombies - Show Me The Way (Red House Records)
Jim White - Rambler (Loose)
Ciaran Lavery - Oh Martha (white)
REM - It Happened Today (Warner)
Alela Diane - Elijah (Rough Trade)

Willie Dixon - I Love The Life I Live (Silvertone)
Frank Turner - Peggy Sang The Blues (Xtra Mile)
The Lil' Band O' Gold - Spoonbread (609 Records)
19th Street Band - Holywood Seapark (white)
Felice Brothers - Oliver Stone (Loose)
Tom Rush - Something In The Way (Elektra)
Urban Voodoo Machine - Alone In The City (Gypsy Hotel)
Bootsy Collins - Stars Have No Names (Mascot)
Jim White - Keep It Meaningful You All (Loose)
Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Box Of Stones (Dirty Hit)
Richmond Fontaine - Winner's Casino (El Cortez)
Genticorum - Canot d'Ecorce (Roues et Achats)
The Smiths - The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (Rough Trade)

Jack Pakenham, Spin Doctor

Stuart Bailie | 18:25 UK time, Sunday, 8 May 2011

It's the season for turning cartwheels. Marc Tierney was in a spin for Norwich City, celebrating their return to the Premier League. And famously, there was a verger at Westminster Abbey gleefully throwing himself onto his hands after the royal wedding.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with Eric Bell, who was remembering the early days on Thin Lizzy and their entrée into the posh scene and the big country estates. Eric was from the Woodstock Road in Belfast and he was merely letting off steam when he started spinning across a stately ballroom. After all, a recent hit by Procul Harum had reckoned that once you had skipped a light fandango, then the only option was to turn cartwheels across the floor. But apparently it wasn't the done thing in Wicklow, and so Eric was asked to leave.

The Belfast arts scene will also be reminded of the painter Jack Pakenham. His proper legacy is a series of paintings that depict the macabre work of terrorism in these parts. But his other gig is to dance with intent at local music events. It's a supreme act of approval, what the French might call jouissance. Given that the guy is in his early seventies, that's even more special to witness.

And so he now features in 'Goldstar', the new video for Cashier No 9. The band are on stage at the Ulster Hall, and in the foreground you see Jack, whirling and cartwheeling for the absolute love of it. It's a uniquely Belfast moment and I believe that film-makers Glen Leyburn and Lisa Barros D'Sa authored this.

This was revived during the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival last Thursday, when Cashier No 9 headlined the marquee and Pakenham was in attendance. As hoped, he started dancing and soon after, he had achieved lift-off, a blur of white hair, flying limbs and undaunted pleasure. Result.

Just Joshin'

Stuart Bailie | 15:42 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

He stumbles onto the marquee stage, all pipe-cleaner limbs and hair and fierce eyes. He's like some manic survivalist, holed up in a Texan bunker, waiting for the end of days. Somebody in the audience shouts out in praise of the beard. He nods.

"Thanks. It grows on you."

And then something hilarious takes place. Josh T Pearson starts to do stand-up. He deadpans that his beard is almost ten years old and they're going out together for a drink, to celebrate. He tells jokes about bartenders and toilet seats. He's looking out to the audience, primarily here to see headliners the Drive By Truckers, and all he sees is many men, of a certain age. But a few ladies start to wave and Josh is glad.

He's got a 30 minute set, his songs can last over 10 minutes each and here he is, blethering. He tries to intro 'Sweetheart I Ain't your Christ', but the mood is too silly, so he tunes up the atmosphere with 'Woman When I've Raised Hell'. Some light relief, then.

Let me reiterate. His album, 'The Last Of The Country Gentlemen' is probably my record of the year. It is a searing confession from a deceitful and damaged soul, falling out of grace at record speed. On 'Country Dumb' he reckons that he's surely the last of the line, his DNA corrupted, the Southern notion of honour a mocking refrain. It's like the sweltering gothic of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner, weirdly crooned.

And so he signs off with 'Sweetheart I Ain't your Christ'. The voice is tender, but also repellent.

"It ain't Christmas time," he declaims, "it's Easter, Honey Bunny, and I ain't the Saviour you so desperately need."

The hands are playing these intricate guitar lines. The eyes look pitiless. There's not been a more brutal song since Nick Cave sparked up 'The Mercy Seat'. Behold, the artist.

Playlist 02.05.11

Stuart Bailie | 16:23 UK time, Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I was listening to a Noah And The Whale tune, 'Give It All Back' recently and I realized that it fitted into a great tradition of songs about being in a rock and roll band. I was going to play a smart medley of such tunes until I realized that it would make a full hour of listening joy.

Of course, there was going to be some Mott The Hoople music in there - but would it be 'The Ballad Of Mott', 'All the Way From Memphis' or 'Saturday Gigs'? And of course The Clash, who essentially took on the Mott mantle. Yes, and Kevin Johnson with 'Rock And Roll (I Gave You All The Best Years Of My Life)' for a morose lesson in what it's like to be a bandwagon-chaser and never the originator.

I would have liked some space for Willie Nelson and 'On The Road Again'. And possibly 'Shooting Star' by Bad Company, and really, there should have been a bit of AC/DC in the running. But the omission of 'Champagne Supernova' was entirely deliberate.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Dr Feelgood - Going Back Home (UA)
Fleet Foxes - Battery Kinzie (Bella Union)
Laura Marling - Blues Run the Game (Third Man)
Emmylou Harris - The Road (Nonesuch)
Dinah Washington - Evil Gal Blues (Signature)
The Salt Flats - Sweet Minerva (white)
Sean Rowe - Surprise (Anti)
Fleet Foxes - Lorelai (Bella Union)
The Triffids - Save What You Can (Domino)
Anna Calvi - First We Kiss (XL)
Steve Earle - Lonely Are The Free (New West)
Fleet Foxes - Montezuma (Bella Union)
Cats Eyes - Face In The Crowd (Polydor)
Elan Tamara - Don't Know Why (Big Dada)

Part 2: Songs about being in a band

The Byrds - So You Want To Be a Rock And Roll Star (Columbia)
Manics - You Love Us (Epic)
Mott The Hoople - Saturday Gigs (Columbia)
Noah And The Whale - Give It All Back (Mercury)
The Clash - Clash City Rockers (CBS)
Kevin Johnson - Rock And Roll I Gave You All The Best Years Of My Life
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Travelling Band / Lodi (Fantasy)
The Who - Success Story (Polydor)
Simon And Garfunkel - Homeward Bound (CBS)
U2 - Gone (Island)
The Beatles - The Ballad Of John And Yoko (Apple)
Rolling Stones -It's Only Rock And Roll (Rolling Stones)
Belle And Sebastian - This Is Just A Modern Rock Song (Rough Trade)

The Whole Of The Tune

Stuart Bailie | 18:48 UK time, Monday, 2 May 2011

There have been two exciting events for Waterboys fans this season. The first is the release of an album called 'In a Special Place', a series of demo recordings from 1985, when Mike Scott was revving his engines in preparation for the vast reaches of 'This Is The Sea'. He was months away from this startling creation but in those early takes he had already summoned up the rapture in his voice and the insistent piano lines that would propel everything else.

So you can already appreciate that 'The Whole Of The Moon' was making its intentions clear. It needed ambition, space and yes, a saxophone line roaring overhead like a flaming comet's tail. A few lines would need sharpened and the refrain "too high, too far, too soon" had yet to announce itself, but otherwise, a classic already.

Me, I've been digesting this rich document, sharing it with my radio audience and so I was primed for the Belfast appearance of the artist last Saturday. It was part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and the occasion was a chance to hear Mike read from his upcoming memoirs. Sean from the festival asked me to do a short introduction and so I talked a bit about the new release and reasoned that since Mike has been reasonably dignified in his media pursuits, there was a lot to reveal. In fact, he was virtually off record from 1986 until 1990, when the intrigue was probably more exciting than yet another facile magazine profile. As a Prince fan, Mike surely appreciated that the imagination can get feverish when there's nothing to reign it in, and so we could merely speculate about those goings-on around Spiddal House, overlooking Galway Bay.

Mike takes to the stage and mentions that when the memoirs are published next year, I might not be so fulsome in my appreciation. Apparently, I'm in there. Blimey. And then he starts to peel off these sheets of stories, from an early demo session and an encounter with Johnny Thunders, to the Greenpeace adventures in Dublin and the rebirth of his band as these cosmic, country-trad champions. The details are a proper revelation. There is colour and character sketches and a fierce moment during a Patrick Street session when he emphatically 'gets' Irish music.

The guy is a performer and thus he brings extra resonance to the readings. He pictured a rainbow, and then he delivered illumination.

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