Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Vibe for Larry Roddy

The late, great Larry Roddy.
The second annual 'Vibe for Larry Roddy' & BAG Christmas get-together takes place on Friday December 14, in Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, from 8pm-ish.

This is an informal event where we, friends and family of the late, great Larry Roddy, will gather to remember our friend; and by playing music, singing songs, telling stories and drinking a few pints together, we will send good vibes out to Larry and Trish.

So, if you knew Larry and Trish, or you're a BAG regular/occassional, or both, and would like to be a part of this music session, just grab an instrument if you play one, and come and join us; if you don't play, come anyway!

We'll have a grand time!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Declan Sinnott - Monday December 10


Declan Sinnott plays BAG at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, Monday December 10. Doors 8:30pm, Show 9:15pm sharp. Admission: €12 on the door.

I am particularly pleased to welcome Declan Sinnott to BAG; he has played Ballymore before in his role as guitarslinger sideman, but this is different- for us, and for Declan.
After 30+ years in the game, Declan Sinnott has just released his first solo album.

I know: mad, isn't it? Well it's true, and it's called 'I Love The Noise It Makes'.
Given that Declan is such a renowned guitarist and producer, the title suggests his fascination with all things to do with making and recording music and sound; it could equally suggest a man at last comfortable enough with his own sound - guitar and voice - to put it out there in its own right.
Why don't you decide by coming and catching this true living legend of the Irish music scene in an intimate live setting.
This is the last BAG gig of the year; you could say we're saving the best for last!

Album promo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0uvBRfCAwE

Monday, 19 November 2012

Buddy Mondlock (with Mike Lindauer) Monday, Nov. 26


Buddy Mondlock is a Ballymore favourite, returning annually. This time he is once again joined by his great friend, and super Bass player, Mike Lindauer.
Together, they play BAG at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare on Monday, November 26, showtime 9pm.

When Buddy's not on the road you can find him in Nashville but he grew up in Park Forest Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.  He once opened for the amazing Steve Goodman (wrote the great song' Souvenirs' recorded by John Prine) there on New Years Eve. Buddy was 21. Says he could have walked out of there that night and gotten hit by a bus and he wouldn’t have felt like life cheated him at all.

”Discovered” in 1987 when Texan Guy Clark heard him singing one of his songs under a tree at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Buddy has since released several solo albums. Over the years artists such as Nanci Griffith, Joan Baez, Janis Ian and Garth Brooks have all recorded Buddy’s songs.

Writing, recording and touring collaborations with artists such as Art Garfunkel have helped bring Buddy to a wider audience and garnered him international critical acclaim.

Now Buddy’s back with a long-awaited new CD, hitting the road performing and leading songwriting workshops, and of course, writing songs. Cause that’s what he does and that’s who he is. Lean in and listen, you won’t be sorry.

Poetic Justice (with Mike Lindauer on bass): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C83fNmuWxA 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Lost Brothers - Monday December 3, 2012


The Lost Brothers play BAG at Mick Murphy's, Stage Inn Bar, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare on Monday December 3rd, 9pm.

The Lost Brothers first met in an old dusty library in Liverpool, England in 2007. From their first encounter, they noticed they had a lot in common. They’re both Irish (Oisin Leech from Navan, Mark McCausland from Omagh), and having both come from musical families, they had both played in various bands since a young age and had now come to Liverpool to seek a brighter future. The pair shared the same love of music (from the Carter Family to Sam Cooke, Mississippi John Hurt to Dion and the Bellmonts, Phil Spector to the Louvin Brothers, the Impressions to Van Morrison), and before long, were jamming together in the dive bars of Liverpool when not on the road with their bands. The pair were regular faces on the Liverpool music scene and when together, people began to call them, The Lost Brothers…

Feeling the pull from across the sea, however, the twosome decided to leave the bands they were in at the time and de-camp to Portland, Oregon. There they hooked up with producer Mike Coykendall (M Ward, Bright Eyes), and recorded in his attic, what would become their folk tinged debut album, TRAILS OF THE LONELY.

Returning to the UK, the duo headed for London where they started their own label, ‘BIRD DOG RECORDINGS’, and released TRAILS OF THE LONELY in November 2008. The Lost Brothers spent the next two years touring and writing, honing their craft both as a live act and a songwriting partnership, while building a steady fan base along the way. In 2010, they were off to Sheffield, England with a new batch of songs. These recordings turned out to be their second album, SO LONG JOHN FANTE, released in 2011 on Bird Dog/ Ace records.

More recently, the Losties caught the ear of Raconteur, Brendan Benson, who invited them to record their third album in his Nashville studio. The album is their best yet. It is called THE PASSING OF THE NIGHT and will be released on Brendan’s READYMADE RECORDS in the US and on LOJINX RECORDS in the UK and  Ireland,  under a blue moon in September.

Well alright!

The Lost Brothers:
Oisin Leech – vocals, guitar
Mark McCausland – vocals, guitar

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Rod Picott - Monday November 19 2012

Rod Picott plays BAG at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, Monday November 19, 2012, 9pm


Rod Picott
is the songs he sings. Since
before Woody Guthrie songwriters have
soaked their public image in the sepia
tones of the working life but Picott bears
the real life scars of living that life. Rod
Picott's songs are inhabited by sheetrock
hangers, drinkers, circus hands, boxers and working girls and he sings about his characters with intimacy. Listening to a Rod Picott album you can smell the gasoline on a mechanics hands and the perfume of lovers in dark corners.

The son of a welder and former Marine, Picott grew up in the small mill town of South Berwick, Maine. His father's record collection spanned
Ray Charles to John Philip Sousa and James Brown. His older brother introduced him to the punk poetry of Lou Reed and Patti Smith. The tall, wiry framed Picott worked construction jobs from his high school graduation until the release of his first cd, Tiger Tom Dixon's Blues in 2001.

In the Folk and Americana world
Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, Fred Eaglesmith have been declared some the best writers working and they have all recorded songs written or co-written by Rod Picott. Picott's "Broke Down" released on Rounder Records by co-writer and artist Slaid Cleaves became the most played song on Americana radio and was awarded the song of the year award at the Austin Music Awards. In 2010 "Broke Down" found new life in the soundtrack to the Brian Koppelman written and directed film Solitary Man starring Michael Douglas. In that same year Picott's song "Circus Girl" was featured in the PBS documentary Circus.

Rod Picott has released five solo cds and one cd with sometimes duo partner
Amanda Shires-- all to excellent reviews and extensive touring. Picott has been featured in No Depression magazine, on BBC 2 Radio London, Sirius/XM Radio and in Maverick magazine (U.K.) Picott has produced a CD for Rounder Records, toured as opening act for Alison Krauss and Union Station and played the prestigious Shrewsbury Folk and Maverick festivals in England and the Take Root & Blue Highways Festivals in Holland. The very definition of a modern troubadour Picott tours the U.S. in a Jeep Cherokee with a current odometer reading of 276,300 miles. Picott also tours annually in Europe and the U.K. to the tune of 130 plus shows yearly. Picott is lauded for his narrative and melodic songwriting, passionate delivery and darkly humorous onstage storytelling.

Rod Picott's
2011 release Welding Burns spent 10 straight weeks on the AMA chart and reached #1 on The FAR Chart. Picott was voted #1 Songwriter of the year #1 Male artist of the year and Welding Burns was voted the #5 CD release of 2011 by the FAR Chart reporters.

Josh Harty - Monday, November 12 2012

Josh Harty plays BAG at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Monday, November 12, 9pm.

Josh Harty is a messenger, a North Dakota songsmith whose lyrics fill the dark spots between the lines of our lives. ‘Nowhere’ is his latest album and if the disc's reception and his performance of the new material in the Europe are signs, Harty is poised to go a long, long way.

It doesn't get more Americana than Josh Harty. His father, both a preacher and the Police Chief of his boyhood small town, was also Harty's music mentor. "I was either going to jail, or to hell," Harty muses. That kind of humor, that hell-bound hope, is in the center of Harty's music. Music captured on the new disc, polished in performance in America, and now ready for another European tour in support of Nowhere.
Together with his father, Harty says he "sang in just about every church, Lions Club, Elks Club, and senior citizen center within 200 miles of Fargo." When his parents moved out of the area when Harty was a Senior in high school, his devotion to the school's music program and its director led him to relocate to an apartment with his older brother, 5 years his senior. They lived near the Empire Tavern in downtown Fargo, and for the impressionable young musician, watching the cast of characters come and go was like going to songwriting college. The hard life, lies and perseverance in the face of both, surface to the top of Harty's music like a beer mug ring left behind on a wooden bar top.
Those in the upper Midwest who have watched Harty grow since his move to Madison, Wisconsin in 2005 know what he can make happen live. His warm, woeful voice is buoyed by charismatic guitar playing. He can hush a bar room. When he lets his guitar do the talking audiences are carried all the way in.

“...something more like quiet contemplation and a refreshing restraint that lets his voice and lyrics claim the spotlight they deserve.”-Missoula Independent, Missoula Montanta

"An honest voice and fingers that seem to catch fire."-The Atlanta Music Guide, Atlanta GA

"A work of extreme intensity" reports the Lonestar Times of Italy, "with beautiful voice, warm and strong."
“The new songs are brave, and alarming. ‘Whiskey and Morphine’ is both a caution and a taunt of temptations. The album’s title track, “Nowhere,” makes that word a destination to be feared, a place only hope will keep away.”-Fearless Radio

Harty will capture your radio or television audience the same way he commands a bar room. And his live shows prove that good story telling combined with journeyman musicianship is as American as music gets. Meet the heart of Americana. Meet Josh Harty.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Forthcoming BAG Gigs to Mid-December.

I'm continuing to bring the very best in acoustic music of many styles to Mick Murphy's Bar, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare. Here's the list of forthcoming dates for the rest of 2012's programme. Something for everyone, I'm sure you'll agree. Check back regularly for more info nearer each date. Unless otherwise stated all gigs start at 9pm (or very shortly afterwards) and admission is €12 on the door.

(with Kieran Kennedy)

Monday November 5, 2012, 9pm

Leading Lady of Irish singer/songwriters. Touring critically acclaimed new CD - 'Sing'



Monday November 12, 2012, 9pm

Alt. Country/Folk/Roots. Superb young U.S. singer/songwriter.



Monday November 19, 2012, 9pm

Alt. Country/Roots. Renowned multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter.


(with Mike Lindauer, Bass)

Monday November 26, 2012, 9pm

Folk - Superb singer/songwriter touring with long awaited new CD.
Accompanied by excellent fretless bassist, Mike Lindaeur.


Monday December 3, 2012, 9pm
Roots/Acoustic/Vocal harmonies.

"...like Hank Williams whispering a secret to The Everly Brothers"

Just back from successful US Tour supporting Glen Hansard. Touring with new CD - 'The Passing of The Night'. One of the most exciting acts to emerge from the Irish scene in years.


Monday December 10, 2012, 9pm

Legendary Irish guitarist/producer/sideman touring with debut solo CD - 'I Love The Noise It Makes'


That's your lot for this year, folks! Lots more to come from late January 2013.

Maria Doyle Kennedy - Monday, November 5 2012

Maria Doyle Kennedy, accompanied by her husband, Kieran, plays BAG at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare on Monday November 5 at 9pm sharp. There are no advance ticket sales, and space is limited, so come early to avoid dissappointment. Admission: €12 on the door.

See below for video clips.

Maria Doyle Kennedy is an award winning singer, songwriter and actress. Best known by some for her acting role in 'The Tudors', by others for her role in 'The Committments', and by yet more for her early appearances with Hothouse Flowers, and later The Black Velvet Band.
However you know her work, you'll be acutely aware of the immense talent she possesses. Together with her husband, songwriter/guitarist/producer, Kieran Kennedy, Maria has been producing music of the hight calibre since the 80's.
With six solo albums under her belt, she is one of Ireland's most highly regarded female artists.
Maria has recently released her sixth solo album - 'Sing' to critical acclaim.
"Maria Doyle Kennedy - 'Sing'
‘I’ve found my voice.’
As statements of intent go, it’s a bold one. The line can be found in Maria Doyle Kennedy’s ‘The Silence’, from her third album of original songs, written and recorded with long-term partner-incrime Kieran Kennedy.
Entitled 'Sing', it’s a richly imagined record, one that marries folk forms with torch-song melodies and draws on flamenco rhythms, avant-rock, Celtic, Mediterranean and Appalachian airs. There are misty mountain songs like ‘Sing From the Sea’, with its serpentine twelve-string figures and dusky soul vocals. There’s the spellbound ‘Hola Luna’, a Celtic fable in the form of a perfect pop tune. Then the harmony-laden Dusty country-soul of ‘The Most Beautiful People Are Broken’, the woozy, swoony ‘12 White Horses’, the Nilsson-ish cool hand on the brow that is ‘Am I Choosing Right’.
Over the span of ten meticulously crafted songs, Sing casts ethereal spells, oblivious to worldly babble. No matter how distinguished the guests, they all become transformed in some fashion: Damien Rice changes from a dark balladeer to a man transfixed by sirens. Paul Brady is recast as a Strabane-Andalusian banshee, barely recognizable as himself. And the great John Prine duets on the lovely ‘Yes We Will’, assuring the listener that the two people in this song will go on, because they must.
Sing is a subtle but powerful record, one that deals in the currencies of joy and doubt, magic and grief. These are wise, measured and sometimes tender airs, sung by a woman at the peak of her creative powers, arranged, produced and played by a man at the height of his. These songs, we’ll wager, will soundtrack baptisms, revels, weddings and wakes. They might bury us yet."
Peter Murphy.


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Ben Reel - Monday October 22 (+ support) 9pm sharp.


Ben Reel plays BAG at Mick Murphy's Stage Inn, Ballymore Eustace, Monday October 22, 9pm -  with support from Internationally acclaimed and Grammy nominated Flamenco guitarist, Cano (see below)

Ben Reel plays rock with a touch of roots, blues & soul with an occasional injection of reggae. Critically acclaimed all over Europe, his vocals are soulful and his lyrics meaningful. Lately Ben has earned the respect and shared the stage with some Nashville greats like Nancy Griffith, Hal Kethcum, Eric Andersen & David Olney

Since his debut back in 1999, each album has gone from strength to strength, covering different styles of music along the way from rock, soul, and roots to reggae to funk. Ben’s music has evolved into an honest earthy, soulful sound that has matured like a fine wine. This can be heard on this new 18 song collection.

In the last 10 years he has had numerous high profile TV & Radio appearances and airplay under his belt including Bob Harris BBC Radio 2 and has supported celebrated names like Jools Holland, Alabama 3 and The Cranberries. He has performed his radio hit U People with the late great Ian Dury’s legendary Blockheads , and has recorded the song with award winning saxophonist Gilard Atzman. The song U people will feature on the new compilation.

Also over the last 5 years Ben has enjoyed successful tours in Europe, receiving rave reviews and attracting a growing fan base which has lead to being invited to play the prestigious Dutch festival Huntenpop (www.huntenpop.nl) August 2010 . Along the way he has played with some of the finest musicians in Ireland and has built a loyal underground following. Often described as an artist lying beneath the radar for way too long. 2011 was a busy year with showcase gigs in Nashville & Memphis in and tours in Germany ,Holland and Belguim.


Support on the night comes from Internationally acclaimed and Grammy nominated Flamenco guitarist, Cano. Cano (Juan Antonio Suarez) is in Ireland for the second Dublin Flamenco Festival and comes to spread the beauty and passion of Flamenco guitar. Cano will take the stage at 9pm sharp.

Music and videos:

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Forthcoming BAG Gigs

In continuing to bring the very best in Live Music to Ballymore Eustace, here is the line up for the rest of this year. There will be further detailed posts in time, but here's the bare bones.


Monday October 15 2012, 9pm Sharp

One of the best Blues/Roots artistes you'll ever see.


Add caption

Monday October 22 2012, 9pm

Contemporary Folk/Roots


(with Kieran Kennedy)

Monday November 5, 2012, 9pm

Leading Lady of Irish singer/songwriters. Touring critically acclaimed new CD - 'Sing'



Monday November 12, 2012, 9pm

Alt. Country/Folk/Roots



Monday November 19, 2012, 9pm

Alt. Country/Roots


(with Mike Lindauer, Bass)

Monday November 26, 2012, 9pm

Folk - Superb singer/songwriter touring with long awaited new CD.



Monday December 3, 2012, 9pm

"...like Hank Williams whispering a secret to The Everly Brothers"

Just back from successful US Tour supporting Glen Hansard. Touring with new CD - 'The Passing of The Night'


Monday December 10, 2012, 9pm

Legendary Irish guitarist/producer/sideman touring with debut solo CD - 'I Love The Noise It Makes'


That's your lot for this year, folks! Lots more to come from late January 2013.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Brooks Williams - Monday October 15, 2012

Brooks Williams

Brooks Williams plays Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare, Monday October 15, 9pm sharp (No support). Admission: €12 on the door. Doors: 8:30pm.

A musician of staggering depth and breath, with an easy-going vocal delivery, groove-laden songs, and monstrous guitar chops, Blues In The Northwest says: “Definitely one of the best things I have heard this year!” Blues Matters proffers “…classy, tasteful, bright and hugely enjoyable!”

Brooks Williams is one of the premier guitarists, singers and songwriters on the Roots n’ Blues scene. Lauded as one of the Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists of all time, Williams has been wowing audiences worldwide for nearly 24-years with his silky voice, hook-laden songs, and rollicking acoustic and resonator slide guitars, every night delivering the deepest and most intense interpretations of everything from early blues songs to his recent original compositions. The San Antonio Light calls him “a fret monster who has to be seen to be believed!”

Brooks Williams was born in Statesboro, Georgia (USA), the town put on the map by Blind Willie McTell in his song, Statesboro Blues. There’s something in the thick humid air and the deep red clay that informed Williams’ earliest guitar and song explorations. But it wasn’t until he reached the thriving club scene in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) in his late teens, where he played 5-6 nights a week, that Williams’ southern bluesy roots came to the foreground. The mid-week gigs were typically in raucous university clubs or in wild biker bars (and had a distinctively Blues Brothers feel to them!) with Williams playing for four hours without stopping. The weekend gigs were in quiet reverent coffeehouses where audiences hung on every note and lyric. In the land between these two extremes is where Williams developed his voice and learned his trade.
Thousands of miles, 17 CDs, and 24-years later, Brooks Williams, now based in Cambridge (UK), continues to play everywhere from Dallas to London, Istanbul to Boston, Belfast to Toronto, and Detroit to Nairobi. He has gigged with Taj Mahal, John Hammond, Paul Jones, Billy Bragg, Little Feat, Leo Kottke (amongst others), and has performed at the Ards Guitar Festival, Trowbridge Festival, Kerrville Festival, Priddy Festival, Crawley Blues Festival, Guitar Stars Festival, and Marlborough Jazz Festival.
His stunning 2010 recording Baby O!, produced and recorded in the UK by Williams and Andy Bell (Seasick Steve, The Demon Barbers, Kerfuffle), features standard blues alongside original songs. It has been played on BBC Radio Two, CBC (Canada), National Public Radio (US), RTE (IRE), and has been featured in Maverick, Rock N’ Reel, Acoustic, and been lauded by the likes of Scotland On Sunday, The Irish News and Ctrl Alt Country (Belgium), fRoots, and Blues Matters.
Videos: 'Statesboro Blues' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOOjh-ayEHA

Monday, 1 October 2012

Kevin Doherty - Monday October 8 2012

Kevin Doherty

I'm delighted to welcome Kevin Doherty back to Ballymore Eustace where over the years he has appeared many times, though its been a while sine his last appearance. However, on Monday, October 8 we'll put that right! Doors 8:30pm, Showtime 9pm. €12 on the door.
Kevin has recently released his new album ' Seeing Things', a review of which can be found at the link below- suffice to say: it's a cracker. Kevin is a wonderful performer: powerful and charasmatic on stage, his underlying humility and sensitivity shines through as he draws his audience in with charm and sincerity. When we look back at year's end, this one will be a highlight, trust me.

Kevin Doherty was born in Buncrana, Co Donegal. He came to music through records and radio rather than a handed down tradition. He was though, aware of the power of song - the rapt face of the singer gathered up from the here and now and transported to the romantic heart of the night. In his teens he began playing with a number of successful local bands, as they packed out hotels and halls. Bluegrass, country, folk, rock, blues, jazz, swing and trad all combined on the night. It was here that Kevin learnt to love the ritual of the dance.

In 1991 he was asked to join traditional group 'Four Men and a Dog'. The band was at a formative stage and Kevin was delighted to take up the offer. Countless concert tours followed and six albums were recorded. Two of their records 'Dr As' and 'Long Roads' were recorded in Levon Helm's studio in New York after the band (Four Men and a Dog!) accepted an offer from Levon to come to Woodstock. As he put it himself 'hell it never did Muddy Waters any goddamn harm'. The main facilitator was the excellent producer and musician Aaron Hurwitz. Aaron also produced Kevin's first solo record at Levon's place. That album was 'Strange Weather'. Kevin was joined by fellow 'dog' Gerry O'Connor on the record which also had guest appearances by Levon on drums, and Rick Danko on vocals and bass. At that time Kevin accompanied Rick and Aaron on a number of road trips up and down the eastern seaboard playing club shows, as Rick expounded on the importance of vitamin C in a cold climate, dance nights in Ontario and a detailed description of how Charlie Feathers laced cigarette papers through the strings of his guitar to achieve his trademark rythmic clatter...

Returning to Ireland Kevin formed one of his most enduring musical friendships with the great James Delaney. They toured together as a duo and then with an expanding line up that included Henry McCullough. They soon went into the studio to record Kevin's second solo album 'Sweetwater'. Kevin has combined 'solo' and 'Dog' work ever since and along with James, Paul Moore, Conor Brady, Des Lacey and Paul Rodden he formed the group 'Telegraph'. The show was devised by Kevin with Alan Farquharson and Eleanor Methven and featured a contiguous assortment of songs and specially commissioned films by Alan, Kieron Walsh and Enda Mc Callion. The album received a 5 star review in the Irish Times - declaring it 'one of the albums of the year'.

A lifetime of observing and absorbing has led to Kevin's latest album... 'Seeing Things'.
Read a review of 'Seeing Things' here:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Malcolm Holcombe - USA - Monday, October 1


Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8kGjTDgFwo&feature=player_detailpage
Malcolm Holcombe returns to play for BAG in Mick Murphy's Stage Inn, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, Monday, October 1, 9pm. (Doors 8:30pm) Admission is €12 on the door.

Malcolm Holcombe is considered one of the best folk/americana artists around, at home in his native USA, and across Europe. He is touring with his new CD, his ninth, entitled 'Down he River'.
I have to tell you that this will be one of the most honest and intense performers you will see in a long, long time. Malcolm's road has been hard and tough, but he lives to tell the tale with passion and humility. A remarkable performer.

This article details the travels through life that have brought Malcolm to BAG:

"Malcolm Holcombe.
In the end, our lives are simply gatherings of contradictions. We are capable of being cruel, funny, angry and unfathomably kind, sometimes all in the space of a few minutes. The same mouth that launched angry words at a driver who cut us off in traffic will kiss and sing a child to sleep. The wise ones among us know this, and the best artists embrace this paradox and use it to fuel their making.

Malcolm Holcombe’s new album Down the River, his ninth, is born from that bed of contradictions we all lie in. There are songs here such as “Twisted Arms” and “Whitewash Job” that sizzle with anger at a society that seems intent on losing its way and running over its poor and disenfranchised. These are coupled with songs from a softer, more generous perspective such as “The Crossing” and “In Your Mercy,” written in the voice of an old woman who sees “All I worked for/…sold and surely gone,” but who trusts that “many years will tell the truth.” There is truth embedded in these songs the way quartz is embedded in the steep driveways and black dirt of Malcolm Holcombe’s western North Carolina.

The multiple perspectives of these songs speak of the man who wrote them. Malcolm Holcombe takes the stage in the same clothes he wore driving to the gig, and his soft voice, rasped from years of smoking and singing to be heard in honky tonks, rises to a howl as he frails his guitar with furious precision. He stomps, growls, rolls his eyes as he plays, then between songs cuts the tension with a corny joke. A veteran of Nashville who has little good to say about the music industry—“a bunch of people trying to buy their way to fame”—he has won the praise of such artists as Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams as he works and tours from his home in western North Carolina. A once-legendary drinker and hell raiser, Malcolm is now many years sober and embraces a gentle if non-specific spirituality.

Down the River is just the most recent step in a journey that began in western North Carolina in 1955. The youngest of four children, Malcolm was fascinated by the guitar early, an interest he fed watching TV in his parents’ living room. “If it had a guitar in it, I’d watch it,” he has said. After high school and a brief stint in college, Malcolm played for a while with a trio called Redwing, then in a duet with Sam Milner. Eventually he found his way to Nashville where he established a local reputation and signed with Geffen Records.

In 1996, in one of those twists of logic only understood in the music business, Geffen signed Malcolm and paid to record his major label debut A Hundred Lies. The album was pressed, promotional copies were sent, and the album, a stunning, low-key masterpiece, was never released. In the wake of that fiasco, Malcolm made his way back to Asheville, North Carolina. A Hundred Lies was eventually released on a much smaller label and garnered some attention, including a four star review in Rolling Stone, and Malcolm began booking his own shows. There are stories from this time of drinking, drugs and wild behavior, but like most in recovery, Malcolm would rather let the past stay in the past. “It’s miracle to be here every day,” he offers. “I’m just glad to be able to drive on my side of the road.”

Newly married and sober, Malcolm released a series of independent records, then signed with a couple of small labels. Down the River is Malcolm’s first independent release in several years (the album will be distributed by Proper Music) and reunites Malcolm with Ray Kennedy, who produced earlier efforts like Gamblin’ House and For the Mission Baby. This album also boasts more recognizable guests than most of Malcolm’s earlier records. Emmylou Harris lends background vocals to “In Your Mercy,” and Malcolm duets with Steve Earle on “Trail of Money.” Darrell Scott plays dobro, banjo and electric guitar, and former Uncle Tupelo and Wilco member Ken Coomer handles drums. “I wanted to shoot for Mars,” Malcolm says of the high-powered lineup on this record. “Luckily, Ray knew some Martians.”

But the core of each cut is Holcombe’s voice, which can growl like a cement truck in low gear or mellow into a heart-tugging croon, and his guitar playing. Malcolm plays with his bare fingers and his percussive attack makes it easy to overlook the precision with which he plays. “I always forget what a good guitar player he is,” said an audience member after a recent Malcolm Holcombe show. “You think he’s just beating on it, but then you realize he’s fingerpicking really fast and not missing a note.” There is an intensity in Malcolm Holcombe’s performances that can put off those used to a more laid back product, but those who have watched him know that Malcolm Holcombe is not just playing for gas money. This is who he is and what he does.

This circles back to the righteous fury I spoke of in this new batch of songs. “I don’t claim a thing/ Not a two-bit clue/ But I heard somebody whisper/ War kills the truth,” he sings/ hollers on the album’s first cut “Butcher in Town.” Later, on “Twisted Arms,” he spits, “Fair and square/ Looks good on paper.” This arises from Holcombe’s view of present day society. “The subject is unavoidable,” he says about the political content of the songs. “There’s just an appalling amount of injustice and greed everywhere you turn.”

But it is not all storm and fury here. The pace is leavened by gentler songs such as “The Crossing” and “The Door,” a song from Holcombe’s back catalog. One song that will undoubtedly garner a good deal of attention is Malcolm’s duet with Steve Earle on “Trail of Money,” the album’s penultimate cut and one of the album’s highlights. But the album’s real masterpiece is the title cut and the final song on the album. Here the anger of earlier songs gives way to acceptance that understands the world has changed and not necessarily for the better. “They make the laws/ to suit themselves/ the ones that buy and sell the rest/ of us down the river,” Holcombe sings. But down the river is not as bad as it seems: “Down the river/ we pray for one another…we hold on to our dream.”

The acts of writing songs and playing music have always been hopeful ones, however the bleak the subject matter of the songs might be. With Down the River, Malcolm Holcombe has once again given us a handful of songs that are testimony to the human spirit. In these songs, the old truths still hold. Love, the inner life, music, these are eternal verities and will outlast the trickery and chicanery of those who would turn us against each other. In these strange and troubled times, we need Holcombe ’s witness as much as we ever have, and it is our good fortune to receive it."

-Al Maginnes
July, 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Richard Gilewitz (USA) - Monday Sept. 24

Richard Gilewitz
 Richard Gilewitz - Monday Sept. 24


U.S. fingrstyle guitarist, Richard Gilewitz plays Mick Murphy's Bar, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, on Monday Sept. 24. Doors: 8:30pm Gig: 9pm. Adm. €12 on the door.

Richard Gilewitz fascinates crowds with 6 & 12- string finger gymnastics & spins yarns too unbelievable not to be true. His live shows defy specific genres with sounds of BLUES, FOLK, CLASSICAL, AMERICANA & TRADITIONAL as this veteran performer captures a history of fingerstyle guitar with a touch of humor.
"At turns mesmerizing, playful, humorous and wistful, Gilewitz is a master of moods when he speaks to audiences through his guitar. He's always at the service of his inner voice, which has a sneaky way of connecting directly to the listener's heart." 
Creative Loafing Magazine, Tampa Bay FL                 

"I actually wanted to be a drummer. Five minutes after my folks heard that news, they bought me a guitar. I tried flat-picking, but the pick kept falling in the hole. At one point I thought about playing a harmonica, so I blew on that for about a month. Then a real harmonica player saw me in action and said, 'Did you know if you breathe in you get all the other notes? You could ride down the road and hold it out the car window and get what you're doing.' So I recovered and rediscovered fingerstyle guitar." - Richard Gilewitz.


Recognized in the international field as a musician who composes and performs a kaleidoscopic mixture of instrumental selections, Richard forges a unique voice to include the expanse of his influences as his complex and energetic original works become stories from the guitar. His use of banjo style picking patterns, classical arpeggios, tapping and harmonics, as well as a rhythmic and percussive approach, bring a fresh impression to the listener. According to 20th Century Guitar Magazine, "A powerhouse of eclectic guitar styles and genres, Gilewitz wears his influences well."

As a youngster, Richard embraced such diverse artists as The Beatles, Andres Segovia, Kraftwerk, Leo Kottke, J.S. Bach, Arlo Guthrie, John Fahey and Flatt & Scruggs. Soaking up the wealth of inspiration supplied by the assorted acts featured at the Renfro Valley festivals, "The Dr. Demento Radio Show" and "The Midnight Special", Richard welcomed the challenge of mastering and adapting many styles of music for the acoustic guitar -- a trait that continually places him among a multitude of genres.

Richard began honing his skills both as a performer and composer during the late 1970’s at the University of Alabama, playing the local coffeehouse circuit while pursing degrees in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Music. Following graduation, Richard placed his musical calling in the background and joined the world of flight simulation design, telemetry and satellite systems. Soon the pull of his passion for performing and recording was so compelling that Richard left corporate life to teach and perform full time in a career that has propelled him across countless countries worldwide.

Today, acknowledged as one of the most unique and humorous performers on the contemporary acoustic scene, Richard is respected worldwide for his command of the 6 and 12-string guitar. He continues to work on his craft under the direction of classical guitarist David Walbert, who has studied with renowned violinist Frances Magnes, and guitarists Gil de Jesus and Sophocles Papas. Richard is also a contributing writer for Mel Bay Publications on-line magazine, Guitar Sessions®, Singer & Musician, Fingerstyle Guitar, and for a number of trade magazines and industry blogs. International Public Radio fans often sample Richard’s wit and zany outlook on life on syndicated shows such as RTE Lyric Radio of Ireland, BBC radio of Northern Ireland, BBC Orkney, National Radio New Zealand, as well as numerous local radio shows in America.

But it is his live shows that bring out the best in this artist who follows a distinct cadence that creates a glow that continually grows a little brighter with each tune. “Gilewitz fingerpicked with such graceful facility and improvised so intelligently that he is a guitarist to follow here,” observes The Washington Post. Whether playing solo, conducting guitar seminars and school programs, or sharing the stage with fellow performers, Richard Gilewitz always creates a sparkle of mood mastery and wonderment.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

SJ McArdle & Stewart Agnew, Monday Sept 17

SJ MArdle
 SJ McArdle & Stewart Agnew play BAG on Monday Sept 17. Doors 8:30pm

SJ McArdle released his new album Blood and Bones in  2011.
Accompanying the album release was some significant media attention and reviews and a very successful Irish tour, culminating in an appearance at Electric Picnic. So far in 2012 he has performed live on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM and played a triumphant set at Vantastival.

Songs from the album had already garnered considerable Irish airplay as well as TV promos for Survivor and Grey’s Anatomy.

The songs were recorded in Nashville and 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).

The result is a stew of roots, pop and rock, with some truly unexpected twists.

Stewart Agnew

Stewart Agnew is one of Ireland’s most refined singer songwriters, Stewart Agnew, is emerging from his self-imposed musical exile clasping a clutch of AOR masterpieces to his chest in the shape of his third album, Hello Bright Spark (Trick Records), which will be released on 30 September, simultaneously with the single, "Look How The Stars Turn On".

With initial writing and pre-production sped along by contributions from Lou Natkin and Paul Wilkinson, Stewart headed into the studio in May 2011. Renowned producer Roger Bechirian (The Undertones, Elvis Costello, Bell X1) took control of the console and in a whirlwind of eighteen studio days in the depths of leafy Westmeath the 10 songs that resulted offer slivers of magic and moments of sublime comfort. All of which makes for an album of light, optimism and progression that can’t fail to appeal, both musically and lyrically, to the broadest possible audience.

Agnew has expanded on the palate suggested by his previous albums (Tailor Made and, more recently, Songs From The Gasstation) displaying a pop-nous and songwriting maturity previously only glimpsed at.

In an era of insanely accelerated pop careers burnouts and X-factor pot-celebrity the Hello Bright Spark harks back to an era when craft, time and emotion meant so much more.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sara Grey & Kieron Means - Monday Sept. 10

UPDATE: Please note that Sara Grey will now perform this show solo as Kieron Means has been unable to travel from the USA. It will still be a great show!!

Sara Grey & Kieron Means - Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Monday, Sept 10, 9pm.

Sara Grey grew up in New Hampshire, USA, but has lived in North Carolina, Ohio, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wales, Scotland and England. As a youngster in North Carolina she first heard a lot of mountain music and her love for the old time banjo music and songs developed from this experience. She has carried this interest into her adult life studying folklore and collecting and performing music from the various areas in which she has lived.

Now, after many years of singing and playing her banjo in public, Sara's repertoire is as fresh and relevant as ever. She has been concentrating for the last several years on tracing the migration for songs from the British Isles to North America. Sara lives for her music and works at her trade with the result that her music is not only technically excellent but also filled with her warmth and spirit.

Once you have heard Sara Grey you will never forget her. She has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. It is a voice well suited to native American ballads and ballads of Ireland and Scotland.
She is a ballad singer of great strength with a fine understanding of the importance of understatement in the art of ballad singing. Her singing is richly emotional and she is equally at home with a gentle lyric or a harsh account of life on the frontier. - www.saragrey.net

Kieron Means is a young American singer with a strikingly individual sound. His voice is high and lonesome, yet rounded, and his skilful guitar accompaniments are sparse and understated, doing just enough to support the song. His material draws from the deepest wellsprings of North American culture, from the old-time music of the Southern mountains to the blues – which he sings with startling conviction – and the work of latter-day songwriters steeped in the old traditions. Where so many young folk musicians of today dazzle us with their instrumental virtuosity or flatter our ears with their vocal purity, Means delivers a much rarer virtue: a true passion for the music he plays. He sings the songs because he loves them and, whilst his stage presence carries undoubted charisma, his work betrays no hint of artifice or pretension. “Kieron Means has soul, and I can think of no greater compliment to pay to a singer of folk songs.” - Brian Peters


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Jeff & Vida (USA) Monday, September 3rd.

Jeff & Vida - (USA) - This original Bluegrass and Rockabilly duo play BAG Monday September 3, 9pm.

Jeff and Vida met in New York City in 1997 but soon left for New Orleans where they began writing and performing on a regular basis.  They quickly became a force on the New Orleans music scene, winning multiple awards and building a solid following among fans and critics alike.  They began touring full time in 2001 and have since played more than 200 dates a year across the United States and Europe. They released four studio recordings, along with a live disc, to wide critical acclaim.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jeff and Vida relocated to Nashville where they became part of the burgeoning alternative music scene. A performance at the Ryman Auditorium and a New York Times article which featured them alongside Nashville neighbors Old Crow Medicine Show, Gillian Welch and Todd Snider, is a sure sign their music is welcome wherever they choose to hang their hats.
Jeff and Vida’s nine years of performing and songwriting, have seen them delve into many different genres of music; country, honky-tonk, rockabilly, even a little rock and roll.  But throughout their career, which has included four critically acclaimed albums, literally thousands of live shows in the U.S. and Europe, and a move from New Orleans to Nashville, bluegrass has remained a key influence in their style and sound.  Nowhere is this more evident than on their new CD, Selma Chalk. 
The new record features thirteen original songs, a stellar band, and an enigmatic name. Inside the CD jacket, selma chalk  is defined as “an impurity in the most fertile soil of the South”.  Intentional or not, the title seems an apt metaphor for the music contained within- an outsiders’ take on fertile traditions of Southern and Appalachian string band music.  Indeed, a number of tracks do fit neatly into what might be called a ‘traditional bluegrass’ sound. More often than not however, the record bends bluegrass instrumentation around material that's a little edgier, a little bluesier and a little rougher than your typical bluegrass album.