Tag Archives: band

Gig Review: Kern at Richmond Fort, Drogheda

Last Friday saw a belter of a night of music in Richmond Fort in Millmount Cultural Quarter, Drogheda.  Louth traditional musicians Kern, with support from Drogheda singer-songwriter Gene Carolan, showcased local, contemporary talent in the new music venue which holds much promise for future, intimate gigs in the town.

Source: https://twitter.com/Hawthorns_Andy/status/989559096469868544

A performance space which was neither too big nor too small for both, Richmond Fort is a delightful room to enjoy music in. The small upstairs room was cosy, bright and comfortable while boasting a high ceiling which carried the sound adequately. A professional sound set up surrounded by thoughtful and considered lighting made for a delightful setting in which to enjoy the music.

Gene Carolan opened the night, delivering a showcase of original songs which reflected his life experiences to date while looking brightly to the future of Drogheda, the town hosting this years Fleadh. Usually flanked by his brothers on stage, Gene carried a big show solo with his intricate fingerpicking guitar skills which seamlessly blended into his songs. His charming personality warmed the audience and his honesty and authenticity leaves no doubt that Gene has a long, sparkling musical career ahead of him.

Source: https://twitter.com/genecarolan?lang=en

Kern, a trio of musicians from south, mid and north Louth respectively, SJ McArdle (lead vocal, guitars, harmonica), Brendan McCreanor (uilleann pipes, whistles and backing vocal) and Barry Kieran (fiddle and floor stomper/fire-out-putter!) are the counties’ gem in contemporary folk and traditional music. Opening with the first two tracks from their debut album False Deceiver produced by Trevor Hutchinson, one can see instantly why their record was so well received. Executed so well on the stage, one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the CD and the live performance! A testament to their first class musical talents and the production of the album which in both settings sound full, warm and beautifully thought-out. Ale saw fiddle player Barry take the solo with the beautifully charming The Ale is Dear Scottish reel later accompanied by Brendan on the low whistle and SJ on acoustic guitar. The nuances of Barry’s fiddle playing so clearly audible in the perfect room, I couldn’t help by gaze in awe at his tasteful dexterity. The sudden break into the faster Teampall An Ghleanntain hits you right in the solar plexus followed by Crooked Road to Dublin, a delight to hear so early in the set as it sets the tone for the entire show.

SJ’s years of being a singer-songwriter in his own right, took him around Europe with multiple recordings under his belt. A natural front-man, his ad-libbed jokes and natural dry wit between songs left the room laughing hysterically.  With the sudden realisation that most of the songs in their current repertoire are marine-themed, SJ made light-hearted banter about the coincidence while pointing out the true issues at hand, such as the sorrows of Irish emigration, love and loss. The town of Drogheda has a rich history of Irish maritime, my own great-grandfather worked on the port so it was a delight to hear a local group pay tribute to such an important part of our hertitage.

Buy the single here: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/till-the-docklands-drown-single/1259502612

The group’s set has expanded since the last time I caught them, in Dublin’s infamous Cobblestone pub and venue. New jig sets, reel sets, new songs and sounds hint at what the band’s sophomore album will sound like. With each musician offering so much variety and creativity to the collective sound, backing vocals, harmonica, various whistles and last but not least, a growing number of guitars (acoustic and electric) and a plethora of pedals to boot/Converse (SJ even worked in live looping with absolute precision and perfection), it’s obvious that the possibilities for the future of Kern are endless! It’s refreshing to catch such an innovative band with traditional values at it’s heart and it’s wonderful that the musical heritage of Louth is being honoured in such a beautiful way.

Hup lads! Can’t wait for the next one! Here’s hoping there’ll be more of the like in Richmond Fort!

Buy False Deceiver on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/false-deceiver/1077962411

 

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For Your Ears, Heart and Soul: Leaca Bán – Na Tonnta

Posting and sharing with you, my most recent music production project, the beautiful Leaca Bán by 5-piece, traditional Irish crossover group, Na Tonnta.

Na Tonnta
Na Tonnta

Introducing Na Tonnta (L-R as above): Daniel ‘Hearthrob’ Whelan, Ellie ‘Ellington’ J McGinley, Sinéad ‘Brings her own teabags’ O’Malley, Ciara ‘I♥ Beoga’ Moley and Fiachra ‘Figgy’ Meek. The group met while studying Music in DkIT together and bonded through their love of traditional Irish music, popular music, tea, biscuits and cakes!

My journey with Na Tonnta began in September 2014. I was searching for a musically-new band to introduce to the recording studio and collaborate with for my final music production project at DkIT, resulting in three songs- one being the core and most-polished production.

Approaching Na Tonnta was an easy task. It was actually perfect timing! I already knew Sinéad, their flute and whistle player from the Norway erasmus trip in 2013 and I worked with Ellie, their vocalist and fiddle player on my previous production project, “Crystal Hearts” feat. Fiona McErlane by Audio_Girl | Free Listening on SoundCloud.

I knew I wanted to carry forward my love for traditional Irish music while bringing it into a contemporary production and I also knew Na Tonnta were a hard-working, creative and driven group from my Facebook stalking since they formed in October 2013!

Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014
Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014

Leaca Bán began in the rehearsal room. Sinéad introduced the idea to the group with the beautiful, haunting traditional tune, 250 To Vigo, accompanied by accordion player, Ciara. I sat, mesmerised by the performance- the beautiful tone of the B flat whistle, the rhythm of the tune, the sombre accordion, gently accompanying the haunting tune. The hairs on my arms stood and I knew instantly that this was a tune I wanted to be a part of. I could already hear our studio recording in my mind’s ear!

What happened next lifted my spirits even further. There was a lyrical idea. In fact, there was more than just an idea- there was a theme, a mood, an atmosphere and a poem! A vintage book was produced- a little blue book with yellow pages, about to be tossed out from a local school library where Sinéad worked. For some reason unknown to me, Sinéad opened the book and there was a beautiful poem at the beginning. The Lights of Leaca Bán by Alice Cashel is an old book intended for secondary school children but the poem simply titled Leaca Bán, found at the begnning of the book, is a literary work of beauty.  It was suggested that Ellie fit the tune to the words- amazingly, it worked like a dream. Ellie suddenly started singing the poem and it was just right.

Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room
Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room

By Christmas a humble demo which consisted of a vocal, fiddle, tin whistle and accordion was recorded and then my audio fun began. What I already had was a beautiful tune which was deeply Irish and could hold up on its own with such a small ensemble- how about adding drums? Synthesisers? Guitars? More vocals? How big could we go?! How big did I dare?!

Well, here’s the final production.  Listen for yourself.

A Tribute to Wayne Static

I’m just after learning of the news of Wayne Static’s passing. I simply cannot believe it and I’m heartbroken.  According to his official Facebook he passed last night.

Wayne Static Facebook post
Wayne Static Facebook post

 

I just want to express my deep sorrow. I fell in love with Static-X when I was 15 after hearing the unbelievable album that is Machine. I remember seeing the video for Black and White on Kerrang! tv and falling hopelessly for the electronic/metal mix and that amazingly catchy chorus. That super heavy industrial sound! I wanted to have his hair and spent many hours in school trying to figure out how he got his hair to stand up so high!!!

Wisconsin Death Trip and Machine were favourites of mine in my school days and it was only last year or so when I actually came back and revisited these albums and caught up on what I missed. Wayne Static was still extremely cool and very much rockin’ it.

I was obsessed with Stem (Wisconsin Death Trip). That drum beat, that groove, those synths- that SICK guitar sound!!!!! Genius.

“I’ll always love you” The synths, the chords, the EPIC sound, the industrial power, the riff, the guitars, the cool circling sounds- this song never lets up the glorious wall of sound of Wayne Static’s creative mind.

Even over the weekend I was excited to read he was going on tour with Drowning Pool and I hoped he would take his show to Ireland.

I’m just heartbroken and I cannot believe it. Wayne was such an inspiration to me. I loved his music, how he blended metal and electronic music, his style of vocal performance and his image.  He was the coolest front-man.

Sending my loving thoughts to his family and friends. I can’t imagine their loss.

Metal music has lost an unbelievable hero. Nu-metal was the metal of my teenage years and is still very much a part of me. I’m sure every metal fan worldwide agrees with me when I say- rest in peace dear Wayne, your memory lives forever in our hearts.

Wayne Static
Wayne Static

😦

1st Annual Final Year Showcase of BA Music and Audio Production

Tomorrow night is a big night for us Third Year Music and Audio Production students at DkIT. We are presenting our major production projects in the Spirit Store and we’re very excited about it!

Image

We were the first ever intake of Music and Audio Production (2011) and our production  projects combine everything we have studied over the last three years.

We have worked with teams of musicians from the BA Music Applied plus other courses in DkIT as well as musicians outside of the college on our individual projects.

There will be something for everyone at this event- our songs range from Folk to Rock, Pop to Dance and Celtic New Age to Metalcore!

We are looking forward to celebrating our hard work and hearing each others final mixes.

Entry is free and doors are at 7.30pm, do come along!

More info: 1st Annual Final Year Showcase of BA Music and Audio Production | Dundalk Institute of Technology.

For course details please visit: BA (Hons) Production of Music and Audio | Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Special Announcement!

I’m delighted to announce I have joined Gerry Simpson and the Augustinian Gospel Choir band for their upcoming concerts in Drogheda, Co. Louth this November!

I will be playing bass guitar alongside Dermot Roche on electric guitar and Alan Barton on drums.

This is the biggest production yet of the Augustinian Gospel Choir with their special two night show in the Barbican Theatre, William St, Drogheda, November 9th and 10th with a full camera crew and special guests Pat Coldrick (amazing classical guitarist) and Gerry Mulroy. They will be launching their new DVD and everyone joining them will receive their latest CD- free!

Tickets are available at the Barbican venue itself and in CD World, Town Centre, Drogheda.

I’m very, very excited and hope to see my friends there!

The Gospel Concert
The Gospel Concert this November in Drogheda

RSVP here! Gerry Simpson & Augustinian Gospel Choir Concerts.

Steffy 🙂

 

 

New Song: “Close Your Eyes” feat. Fiona McErlane and Keith Caffrey

Today I’m sharing my latest music production project “Close Your Eyes” which features my guest vocalists Fiona McErlane and Keith Caffrey.

I talked about the creative and recording process in my previous blog post.

I finished the mix last night and I’m delighted with the response already to the song. This was yet another very personal and emotional project. I hope you enjoy it!

“Close Your Eyes” was composed by Stephanie Caffrey and the lyrics and vocal were written by Keith Caffrey.

Female vocals: Fiona McErlane
Male vocals: Keith Caffrey
Acoustic drums: Craig Sullivan
Traditional harp: Fiona McErlane
Acoustic piano: Stephanie Caffrey
Electric guitars: Stephanie Caffrey
Synths: Stephanie Caffrey.

Recorded, produced and mixed by Stephanie Caffrey.
Special thanks to studio assistant Gavin Clarke.

Recorded in Dundalk Institute of Technology Feb-May 2013.
Copyright Stephanie Caffrey.

Studio Session 2: A Reflection :)

I must be getting old or I must just be a hard worker! After the 3 hour session in the studio this morning, I was left absolutely exhausted for the rest of the day! Teehee! Only now, at 11pm after a long, hot shower and a couple of headache tablets do I feel like my normal self again! 😀

Studio session number 2 for “December” went fantastically well! In short I got everything I hoped to record committed to virtual tape/disk/the digital land that is Pro Tools! 😀

I recorded 3rd Year Applied Music student Ciarán O’Brien first thing this morning. Ciarán is an expert in all things bass! Armed with a double bass and a bow, Ciarán gave me unexpected goosebumps, I couldn’t help but squeal with the sheer audio-pleasure! Hehehe! I literally could have listened to that all day long. But time was precious so we had to get to business straight away and track pizzicato bass for “December”. We had to keep a very strict schedule as I only had 3 hours from the minute I entered the studio to the minute the gear is checked off when I wrap up! So working quickly, I set up a Neumann U87 about 14 inches away from the bridge of the bass. Time was ticking faster than I thought and we got 4 takes (20 minutes-the song is 5 minutes long). I will have to comp a little here and there but I’m absolutely delighted with what Ciarán played. He’s a little star, a pleasure to work with, very professional!

Ciarán O’Brien and the Neumann U87

Next was the recording of my own 12 string acoustic guitar. My assistants Shauna Kearney and Shane Taaffe were absolutely brilliant help here. They set up my microphones as I required; an AKG C414 in a corner, cardioid pattern, 1 overhead, omni-directional for some room ambience and a Shure SM57 at the 12th fret. A sparkly 12 string with some bass presence. The corner idea may seem odd but trust me, the warmth it offered works in the production.

Myself in my multi mono mic set up

In case you were wondering, Shane played the guitar in the style of the song while I monitored the sound in the control room and asked Shauna to move the mic here and there, an inch or two closer etc! Only after I was happy, did I sit down (on my cajon actually, brought it with me just to sit on it-best seat in the house for guitar playing!) while took over the recording process for me.

Ever watchful of the ticking time, I spent exactly 30 minutes tracking my part. The only problem I had was of my own right hand on one part which decided to have a mind of its own, when I got over that, we had a few takes which I will comp together later.

Following that was Keith’s 6 string guitar parts using the same multi mono mic set up. Keith owns a gorgeous Tanglewood jumbo guitar which a lovely bass presence. His parts are complimentary to mine, filling in single strums for the chorus’s (two separate takes, one left and one right for the mix-down), an arpeggiated fill for the final chorus and of course the big solo. Keith was so in the zone he played the main rhythm and solo in the same take, much to my delight and the ticking clocks! The arpeggiated fill took the longest to record like myself, one finger refused to be told where to go! It happens to us all huh? 🙂 But Keith is also a pro and nailed it.

Keith recording in studio

Looking at the watch, 20 minutes left? Let’s record one more thing before we leave! Pop the Shure SM57 in front of the Marshall Valve-State combo (to one side of the cone), whip out that Fender American Stratocaster, plug in the Boss DD6 Digital Delay pedal and pop that bottleneck slide on your finger please Keith! Make me some noise, anything at all! Soulful cries of a Strat, yes, this is an element I wanted indeed for that final chorus.

Keith feels it out on my Strat 🙂
Excuse my mess but with minutes to spare, Keith tracked electric guitar like a pro 🙂

Ten minutes left…. tidy up, fast! All hands on deck as we backed up the project, tidied away the mic stands, leads, guitars etc!  Bang ont he stroke of midday we were ready to hand over the studio to the next session team!

Not a single minute was idle and I have to thank my production team for working so hard, they deserve a well earned drink! Thank you Keith Caffrey and Ciarán O’ Brien for your artistic skills, very creative and especially appreciated before 12 Midday! Morning studio sessions are never easy! 🙂 Thank you Shauna Kearney and Shane Taaffe for the technical side, you were both stars and complete professionals with the equipment!

So next to do on the list is some minor edits and minor comping. Then we get ready for our last session in 2 weeks time where we nail the lead vocal, harmony vocal and creative element track! 😀

And after that? A small mix and Christmas drinks! 😉

International Rock Band INTRO to Take the Stage in McHugh’s, Drogheda 16/11/12

Head’s up rock fans!

International rock covers band INTRO invite you to their exciting concert in McHugh’s, Chord Road, Drogheda, Friday the 16th of November.

Expect to hear old and new rock music performed by fine musicians hailing from Lithuania, Poland, Ireland and England.

Intro rock band

Here’s a taster:

Head over to their Facebook event here: INTRO Rock Cover Band Presents!.

Follow the band on Facebook: Intro.

International Rock Cover Band! Ireland!
Międzynarodowy Zespół Rockowy! Poland!
Tarptautinė Rock’o Cover’iu Grupė! Lithuania!

A Personal View: The Music I Love and the Music I Dislike!

This week’s blog is a discussion of my favourite and least favourite genre of music. Let’s start with my favourite musical genre- rock!

I have been a fan of rock music since I was 15 years old when I became friends with a girl who was already a huge fan. She introduced me to the music of Led Zeppelin and I became completely absorbed in their music very quickly. At the time I was starting to learn electric guitar and this music inspired me greatly to play and progress.

Not long after this, she introduced me to the music of Metallica, the first song I heard was “The Unforgiven” and I fell in love immediately with the gorgeous Spanish guitar introduction and the hard, heavy verses. I had never heard Metallica before this and I remember being so shocked that the band I had always thought of as being the hardest, heaviest, scariest band in the world, could compose something so haunting and deeply beautiful. This was the real turning point in my musical taste and I became completely obsessed with everything Metallica related!

This newly discovered passion for heavy music inspired me to seek out other similar hard rock bands including Rammstein and other forms of rock music. Nu-metal in particular dominated the heavy metal magazines Metal Hammer and Metal Edge and television channels Kerrang! and Scuzz back then. It was mostly through these television channels that I discovered new rock music. The Internet had little or no role in my discovery of music, back then I had only a dial-up connection and wasn’t really allowed to be online anyway!

Metal Edge magazine. Source: Alice Cooper Archive. http://www.alicecooperechive.com/articles/index.php?magazineList=medg&articleList=990100

I still enjoy rock music very much and in particular the music of Metallica and Rammstein. I find their style of music appealing for many reasons, starting with their guitars. I have a deep appreciation for their guitar skills and sounds. I love their style of playing, those chug-chug, heavy, fat riffs, yes they are mechanical and rigid but that appeals greatly to me (see “Devil’s Dance” from Metallica’s 1997 Reload album YouTube link below). I also love their clean, shimmering guitars, always rich in beautiful chords. Rock music in essence is guitar-driven music and that is the number one reason I listen to so much of it.

I usually like the vocal styles of rock singers, I like how grainy and edgey vocalist’s sound and how they combine great, catchy melodies with anthemic phrases. Usually the lyrics stand for something and mean something deep. Take this Fozzy track below for this melodic, rock vocal combined with excellent guitar riffage and those shimmering guitar sounds:

I am a huge fan of hard rock audio production, I love the full wall-of-guitars sound, the huge drum kit with the clear kick drum and cracking snare drum, the raw vocal and warm bass.

Apart from the musical characteristics and audio production of rock music, I’ve always liked the image that came with it. I like the alternative and rebellious fashion combined with moody facial expressions. Full of attitude.

Rammstein promo image. Source: NATAIEjs666 on Flicker. http://www.flickr.com/photos/26701435@N08/3038476733/
All female rock/metal band Kittie. Source: http://hornsuprocks.blogspot.ie/2011/08/kittie-video-premiere-empires.html

Since my awakening to rock music, I have always viewed this genre as an authentic one. Bands that write and play their own music is greatly important to me and this is of course, the fundamental element in rock bands. Bands work as a unit, they eat, sleep, breathe their own music and work extremely hard to finish their albums. Similar to the indie bands as discussed in this week’s tutorial, rock band members are friends and are from the working class, these being more key elements of their authenticity.

Iron Maiden in studio. Source: Blog Flight 666. http://ironmaidenflight666.blogspot.ie/2010_08_01_archive.html

Now on to my least favourite genre of music! This probably comes as a shock considering my favourite genre of music is rock, but I really can’t tolerate death metal! Sorry to all you lovers of death metal! I mean no disrespect in any way! It is simply a genre of music I don’t “get”.

The number one reason I dislike this genre of music is the vocal technique. I can never understand any of the lyrics and I dislike the lack of lead vocal melody, but of course, the music itself doesn’t allow for lead vocal melodies because of the genre defining speedy, frantic guitar riffing and pounding drumming. I don’t like the deep, screaming style. Even when the music itself is down tempo and actually appeals to me, the vocal style just doesn’t work for me. I can’t listen to it. I also don’t like the imagery the bands portray, I find them scary and sometimes grotesque.

Being a rock fan, I can certainly relate to the fans of this style of music though! I appreciate the incredible skill of the musicians who perform these complex riffs and masterclass techniques, I understand the hours upon hours of practise these musicians put into their rehearsals and I marvel at their abilities. I’m sure the fans love death metal for these reasons and probably also for the fact that these bands are real people making their own music, just like my favourite rock musicians. Death metal is every bit as authentic as rock music in my personal opinion.

Respect!

Cannibal Corpse imagery. Source: http://unsurrection.blogspot.ie/2011/07/discografia-cannibal-corpse-cannibal.html