Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Alas, Dear friends - The end of the road is just around the bend....

This is a difficult post to write; it was always going to be, no matter when it would come about, and its been coming for a while....

Eight years ago, I started down this road not knowing how far it would take me, or for how long.

For those who don't know, the gig was started almost 30 years ago by the late Larry Roddy.

Lar, who lived locally, was a promoter and agent to many of the finest overseas singer/songwriters ever to have toured this country, as well as a champion of emerging Irish artists, many of whom have gone on to forge successful careers at home, and abroad.

In the noughties, I worked with Lar for about five years as resident sound engineer when the Ballymore gig was hosted by The Ballymore Inn, just up the street from the gig's current home in Mick Murphy's, where its been since 2007. During that time I worked with many wonderful musicians, getting to know some quite well, and developing lifelong friendships with a few.

Lar and I went to other gigs together, spent days out rambling, birdwatching. He was one of my very favourite humans, and a dear, dear friend. I miss him, still. After his untimely death in 2010, I decided his musical legacy must not go down with him, that the gig must be kept going - not as a memorial to Lar, but because there was a demand for it, a need.

And so, in August 2011, I promoted my first gig. It would have pleased Lar no end, that Clive Barnes was the first act, as Lar had given him his first breaks on the scene some years earlier - Clive has often told me that he's certain that if Lar hadn't booked him and got behind him back then, helping to get him higher profile gigs opening for bigger acts, his career may never have got off the ground. Gavin Glass appeared with Clive on that first night, and while it was a quiet night, we were off and running.

Shortly after the first few gigs, I figured I needed to raise the profile of the gig and attempt to bring a wider audience. And so, BAG - Ballymore Acoustic Gigs was born, taking advantage of the rise of social media, and emailing lists - anathema to my predecessor! It was my attempt at branding, and it only went and worked! BAG has become known the world over, which is a testament to the gig itself, and the magic that happens in that little room of a Monday night.

Genuinely, I've never seen the gig as mine; rather, it belongs to the artists and the audience - I just bring the two together, and facilitate the magic happening.

Before a promoter can book a gig, there has to be a venue, a room in which the magic can happen. Mick Murphy's is a special room, in a pub full of character, barely touched, and utterly unspoiled by modernity. Phil and Sean Murphy have opened their doors to the music, week in, week out for thirteen years, and allowed me exclusive use of the room as a paying gig, discommoding their regulars in the process. That commitment to the music, and its tradition, has been hugely significant in the continuation of the gig.

In the past eight years, I've been fortunate to present some of the finest songwriters from home and abroad - some emerging, some household names with high profiles. Almost 150 separate artists have played the gig in my time. All of them, wonderful artists, from who's ranks I have drawn some deep and enduring friendships.

With a place to host the gig, and musicians to play the show "in the bag", as it were, the most important element has to be added - You, the audience. Without an audience, we don't have a gig. And audiences have come - week after week, after week. There are some (and you know who you are) that have scarcely missed a gig since the start. That support - that commitment - is not just impressive, and remarkable, but is deeply appreciated. That commitment has many times made the difference between a very quiet night, and a decent turnout, and payout for musicians.
I've had a couple of very quiet nights - five listeners - but both those shows were up there with the very best nights in Mick's. At the other end I've had nights when the packed house barely had room to applaud! That's what live music is all about: there's no knowing when the real magic is going to happen.That's why we're there, listening, anticipating.

But I've done all that I can do, and its time for me to step back. I am no longer able to dedicate the same level of time and energy required to keep the gig at its current level. And I won't do it by halves. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm all in, or nothing. All the possibilities have been considered - do it once a fortnight, once a month.... It still would require the same amount of effort, and mental energy, that I just don't have to spare anymore. Letting the gig slowly decline is simply not an option; that would disrespect it's history, and tradition. I intended to do this a year ago, but I thought I could keep it going, or maybe I just couldn't let it go. But, when it's time, it's time.

So, at the end of the current season at the end of May, I will bring the curtain down on my tenure at the helm of this great little gig.

There is, of course, a demand for the gig - from musicians and audience alike, and that is part of why I'm announcing this now - I'm receiving a lot of inquiries for bookings for the autumn, and beyond, and I can't keep these good people hanging any longer; they have tours to plan, and dates to fill.

I'll do all I can do to help anyone who'd like to take the gig on. But, its the end of the road for me.

This little gig, and all that has made it what it is, has enriched my life, and my own musical creativity in ways I cannot begin to articulate. So, to all who came and listened to a gig; came and played a gig; booked, or set up a gig; and to the Murphy family for hosting them all, I extend my sincere, deep, and profound gratitude. I am indebted to you all.

Meanwhile, there are two months of gigs to go before the curtain call. Come one, come all; let's go out on a high!



P.s. The Annual "Vibe For Larry" will continue on, as has become traditional.


April Gigs in the BAG

Monday, April 1st - Leslie Dowdall & Mike Hanrahan

Doors 8:30pm. Gig 9pm. Admission: €15

Photo credit: Barry McCall

Leslie Dowdall, (In Tua Nua) and Mike Hanrahan (Stocktons Wing) have been engaged in a writing and performance partnership for the past few years. The live gig features Leslie and Mike performing new songs from this partnership, along with some of their old hits with Stocktons Wing and In Tua Nua.

Monday April 8th - The Southern Fold
Doors 8:30pm - Gig 9pm - Admission: €12

Ballymore Acoustic Gigs (BAG) presents The Southern Fold live at Mick Murphy's Bar, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare on Monday, 8th April 2019. 

The Southern Fold will perform songs from their debut EP 'A True Ascension from the Wayward Path', and their upcoming full length album 'Bible Fear'.

"THEY CITE Hank Williams and Kurt Cobain as their inspirations, and they seek to communicate messages of truth and honesty through harmony singing and the craft of songwriting in its simplest, purist, form."

- Kernan Andrews, Galway Advertiser

Formed by Kilkenny native Emlyn Holden in 2014, and joined by Dubliner Laura Hand as co-vocalist the following year, The Southern Fold began gigging in earnest mainly in the Leinster area performing a number of self penned songs in the alt folk & country/blues vein.

With their debut EP, ‘A True Ascension from the Wayward Path’, released on April 28th, 2016, and Frieda Freytag (Fox Owl Crow, Dave Couse) on cello and piano, Joe Maher (The Mariannes) on guitar, and Rob Campbell (Pine the Pilcrow) on cello and bass brought on board to help broaden their sound and introduce more dynamics to the songs, the band have been busy spreading their sound on the Irish gig circuit.

2018 saw them play a number of dates including a couple of YouBloom gigs (Phoenix Park & the Mercantile), a slot at Vantastival and an upcoming show at the Rollercoaster Stage at BARE Festival. They also made it through to the final of the Nova Discovered competition in June 2018.

A successful Fundit campaign during the Autumn of '18 allowed the band (with new expanded lineup) to get back to the studio and record a full length album, now in the mixing stage and due for release in Summer 2019.

"Sounding a lot like something Australia's roots musician Bill Jackson might have written... This is pretty much as good as anything America can come up with... well worth hearing."
Frank Gutch Jr. - No Depression

“With some deft touches in songwriting and arrangements, the Southern Fold are a new prospect on the alt‐folk scene here. Ones to keep an eye on.”
- Eirecana

Monday April 15th - GrĂ¡inne Hunt & Brendan Walsh
Doors 8:30pm - Gig 9pm - Admission: €12

GrĂ¡inne Hunt is no stranger to BAG, having performed for us several times. 
It's a pleasure to welcome her back, this time with her collaborator, Brandan Walsh, and the fruits of a new project - Songs from Ireland - a collection of traditional Irish ballads and folk songs in both English and Irish, carefully arranged by Brendan to give a modern new feel to beautiful old songs.

Monday April 29th - Ultan Conlon
Doors 8:30pm - Gig 9pm - Admission: €12

Ultan’s ongoing Irish tour includes headline concerts in Dublin at Whelan’s on Saturday March 23rd and in Galway at the Black Gate on March 28th - so I'm delighted to welcome Ultan back to Ballymore Acoustic Gigs, at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co.Kildare. 

This tour comes on the back of a very successful year for Ultan with a series of big shows at the 3Arena as a guest of the legendary John Fogerty, and at the Trinity College Summer Series at the invitation of Bryan Ferry. He also toured Ireland and the UK with Eddi Reader and The Stunning. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Dana Cooper - Live at BAG - Monday, March 25th (Gillian Tuite opens)

Dana Cooper returns to Mick Muphy's, Ballymore Eustace, on Monday, March 25th. Doors open at 8:30pm, Gig starts at 9pm. Admission is €12

Website: https://www.danacoopermusic.com/
Video: "Making A Killing" - https://youtu.be/XtxsxhRwH1A?list=RDXtxsxhRwH1A
Out of the heartland of America, stomping grounds of Truman and Twain, “powerhouse” troubadour Dana Cooper dedicated himself to a life of music over 40 years ago. This song poet engages and inspires audiences around the world with his quick wit, insightful stories and commanding presence. He is the recipient of the 2014 Heritage Musician award from Pilgrim Center for the Arts in Kansas City, MO. He was also named the 2015 Spirit of Folk award winner by Folk Alliance International. He has performed on Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage and the Kerrville Folk Festival where he was nominated for their Hall of Fame. Cooper’s songs have been recorded by top-notch artists such as bluegrass star Claire Lynch; Irish vocalist Maura O’Connell; and luminary songwriters Pierce Pettis and Susan Werner. Cooper’s mixture of flat-picking, finger-picking and percussive strumming style is legend among other guitarists. An expressive singer his voice is ageless evoking a rich lifetime of experience.

At 12 he sang, played drums, guitar and harmonica in local bands. By 13 he began writing his own songs and at 16 he performed regularly at the prestigious Vanguard Coffeehouse in Kansas City. His deep love and commitment to a life of music drew Cooper away from an art scholarship. Cooper took to the road touring midwest college coffeehouses for one year then sold an electric guitar and his entire record collection to buy a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Four months later he was signed to Elektra Records where his eponymous first album was released in 1973. The record features such acclaimed players as Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel and Jim Horn.Years later he returned to San Francisco City College to study another great love, horticulture. Still he played whenever possible in clubs all over the Bay Area. Cooper’s diverse experiences as a taxi driver, warehouseman, nurse’s aid, gardener, waiter and touring musician continued to bring maturity and depth to his songwriting.

Cooper eventually moved to Texas writing, performing and recording with Shake Russell in the late 70s and with his own power trio, DC3 during the early 80s. Returning to his roots as a solo performer Cooper relocated to Nashville in 1988. He has become an integral figure in the Music City songwriting community collaborating with renowned writers such as Tom Kimmel, Sally Barris, Kim Carnes and Don Henry. Cooper has been invited to participate in songwriting workshops from Belfast to Copenhagen to Austin.

 His prolific endeavors have resulted in 28 albums. The critically acclaimed Miracle Mile on Compass Records was nominated for a Nashville Music Award as “Best Pop Album” and was chosen by Performing Songwriter magazine as one of the top DIY recordings for the year. Harry Truman Built a Road was named one of the best records of 2002 by The Tennessean and was also chosen as one of the top twelve DIY recordings for that year. Made of Mud released on King Easy Records in 2005 won Cooper the “Best Male Songwriter Award” by Indie Acoustic Project. Working with co-producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz, Cooper released his 27th album, Building a Human Being, in September, 2015.

Cooper and Jutz also coproduced his 28th recording, Incendiary Kid, which will be released October 20, 2017 on Travianna Records. Americana and Folk radio stations across the country are now playing the new CD in anticipation of its release.

Robert K. Oermann in Music Row Magazine says of Building a Human Being “Nashville veteran Cooper wins the Disc of the Day prize. Highly recommended.”

Fellow singer songwriter Buzz Holland says “Cooper is a person who can sing like an angel and play like the devil.”

Legendary Texas singer songwriter Eric Taylor said of Cooper’s performance at Kerrville Fall Festival 2015 “Dana Cooper gave the best solo performance I’ve seen and heard for many years. Could be the best I’ve ever.”

Opening the show on the night will be young Irish singer/songwriter, Gillian Tuite, who's making a name for herself on the scene. Her new single 'Something We Should Try' Co-written with Fred Koller and produced by Thomm Jutz in Nashville, was just released on Thursday 14th March, and you can watch the accompanying video right here: https://youtu.be/PoCKQBvfDiI

Video:"Ghosts In Lonely Halls" - https://youtu.be/HO00c9Hoxxc