A big congratulations to my father Eddie Caffrey on his 40th year of broadcasting his Greenscene radio show on LMFM! He was presented with an award last night at the TLT Theatre in Drogheda by LMFM CEO, Michael Crawley.
My Dad has been involved in local radio his whole adult life, and is still presenting The Drive Monday-Fridays and The Greenscene on Saturday mornings on LMFM. I also remember the days when Dad hosted the popular Breakfast Show.
The Greenscene show started in 1978 on Radio Dundalk when Gavin Duffy (Gavin was breakfast show presenter) wanted to air a program on Saturday mornings dedicated to Irish music for bands of the time such as Thin Lizzy, The Boomtown Rats etc.
Later that year Boyneside Radio opened in Drogheda and Eddie and Gavin joined it at Donaghy’s Mill.
In 1979 Boyneside Radio decided to revive the idea and ‘borrowed’ the name “The Greenscene” from a Manx Radio show in the Isle of Man which played new releases of Irish music every Wednesday afternoon. It was decided to play a mix of ballads such as the Wolftones and the Dubliners with céilí country and old time songs. Ken Murray was the first presenter and Eddie Caffrey produced the show until Ken moved to even ‘greener’ pastures in 1982.
Eddie continues to present it to this very day and it remains ‘The North Easts Favourite Radio Show’!
I couldn’t be prouder of my Dad.
Listen on line lmfm.ie or between 95.5 and 96.5fm.
On Friday night, traditional-folk group Kern launched their second album The Left & The Leaving. Their debut album, False Deceiver was critically acclaimed when released in 2016 (see Tradconnect.com, Irish Music magazine, The Irish Echo, thebestofmusicandfilm.com and others) and Kern spent the better part of the next three years gigging their socks off. They’ve played many stages in Ireland and Europe: the Spirit Store in Dundalk, Temple Bar Tradfest, both recent Fleadh Cheoils in Drogheda, Milwaukee Irish Fest, Whelan’s, The Cobblestone, Vantastival, Culture Connections, Dingle, Germany to name but a few. Not only this but they kept their finger on the recording studio in the interim and released a “winter mix” of the single Short Term Thing and Till The Docklands Drown. I’ve attended a bunch of their Dublin/Louth gigs and have always been impressed by their thrilling live performances. Also, their sound translates excellently from studio to stage and back again. As a music producer, sound engineer and follower, I find both arenas equally enjoyable to listen to Kern in.
The Left & The Leaving was produced by Trevor Hutchinson, the founder member of Lúnasa. Mr Hutchinson also produced False Deceiver and performed double bass on both albums. The album artwork is a beautiful painting by Louth artist and illustrator Caoimhe McCarthy and inside there’s a handsome photograph of the band with their respective instruments, taken by Meath photographer, John Wilde. In keeping with False Deceiver, the comprehensive and interesting inner sleeve-notes are attractively presented.
Young Louth traditional-folk group Alfi opened for Kern in the DC Music Club, Dublin. The trio consists of Fiachra Meek (uilleann pipes/vocal/low whistle), Alannah Thornburgh (harp/vocal) and Ryan McAuley (banjo/vocal). They played a charming set from their debut EP Wolves in the Woods which combines American old-time and traditional Irish music. They displayed fine musicianship with stellar performances on each instrument respectively, a fantastic vocal blend- particularly the male harmony on The Drink Song, well-researched notes on their tune and song sources and engaging banter between tunes. I worked with Fiachra during the final year of my undergraduate degree, pestering him to join me in the studio as I tried out various microphones and combinations on his uilleann pipes, quizzing him on how to the pipes make sound and dropping in on pre-production sessions with his then-band Na Tonnta, for our 3-track studio production. The last time I saw him was at a post-studio session dinner in the student apartment block, where he and a fellow band member tried to open a coconut with the tiniest hammer you ever saw. One hour, a scratched floor and a marvellous vegetarian curry later, the band collapsed in hearty laughs and I actually can’t remember if they did crack that coconut or not. Fiachra carries forward his witty humour into Alfi and I’m very interested to follow this promising young band’s career.
Following Alfi, Kern arrived onstage to a rapturous applause with very special guest- Mr Dónal Lunny. Dónal launched The Left and The Leaving with light-hearted commentary and much praise, citing his favourite as Drowsyman’s Hornpipe/Martin Young’s Polka. SJ McArdle (guitar/vocal), Brendan McCreanor (uilleann pipes/low whistle/vocal) and Barry Kieran (fiddle) along with Mr Lunny (bouzouki) played a joyous set of tunes. Off the bat, the amount of practice and thought that went into the set was obvious- tight performance, intricate and unexpected pauses, superb energy and purest passion and joy. The four beamed at each other constantly throughout.
Kern continued their set after Dónal took a polite bow and settled into the audience for a deserved drink. It was immediately apparent that the fans Kern worked so hard to attract would not be disappointed with their new material. Their new songs clearly excellently crafted, sounded like a perfect continuation from those on FalseDeceiver: Powerful, energetic strumming and expert dexterous fingerpicking from SJ which at times was so gentle, he hardly seemed to be touching his guitar strings at all, yet each note rang through clear as a bell. More husky vocals telling stories of Irish days past, joked by SJ as mostly having maritime themes. Despite the giddy laughter concerning extra-fancy shirts that magically blag you communion faster in Mass, tales of high-speed ship chases and what not, SJ sings beautiful songs of a serious nature- Irish emigration, the Famine, the wars and hard-working class Irish heroes. Kern’s way of combining Irish tunes into their songs is certainly distinctive and works very well. Brendan and Barry each weave gorgeous melodies around SJ’s vocal, adding an extra layer of emotional essence. If you’re too enthralled by the music to listen to the lyrics, you’ll not be in left in the dark of the subject matter. Barry’s light-handed vibrato will tug at your heartstrings while Brendan’s lilting chanter can convey a graceful joy.
Kern’s new tunes are equally impressive. Clearly innovators who have a deep respect for the tradition and players, the lads unleashed new compositions of their own. Barry’s Somers March/Daragh Patrick’s is quite frankly a masterpiece. I was blown away. His march, named after the group’s stay in Germany, is delicate and sweet while the jig, named after his godson, is a bundle of joy. Both tunes, separately or combined could easily feature in a movie soundtrack, they’re that cinematic. Brendan’s Martin Young’s polka, part of the Drowsyman’s Hornpipe/Martin Young’s Polka set is such a cheerful tune and instant toe tapper also. Brendan dedicated the tune to the memory of fellow piper Martin Young. Staying within the locality, Bonny Light Horseman, heralded as “Drogheda’s National Anthem” roused a chorus of voices, filling the venue. And speaking of innovation within the tradition, I couldn’t help but be impressed by Kern’s magnificent stops and starts within Russian Reels and The New Jigs. Tasteful, dramatic and intelligent, the lads kept the audience on their toes.
All in all, the old Louth tunes and songs, and the new regional-inspired material are clearly safe in the hands of Kern. The album launch was a visible and audible success and several early listens of The Left & The Leaving indicate that this album too will be a staple in my playlist of Louth coastal beach walks.
Hup the lads! Well done and many congrats to you! Onwards to this new season in Kern’s career, we can only listen in delight.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Irish Maritime Festival was a huge success last weekend in Drogheda Port. Drogheda town centre was buzzing with the festival atmosphere Saturday and Sunday. What fab weather we got for it!
Here’s some photos we took, mostly of the Augustinian Gospel Choir! You can imagine my fright when I turned around to see a dancing Spongebob Squarepants on stage, right behind me! What fun we had! And of course a dancing Patrick, our newest choir member 😉
Thanks to the Purple Sessions crew for the great sound and thanks to the festival organisers for a wonderful experience!
Join us this Sunday (June 15th) in Drogheda at The Irish Maritime Festival 2014 – Gerry Simpson and the Augustinian Gospel Choir- we will be singing our hearts out and giving it all we’ve got at 1pm at the Ballast Sound Stage!
Come along, clap along, sing along- you will be uplifted and you will be feeling HAPPY! 😀
I enjoyed the concerts and rehearsals so much I couldn’t bear the thought of parting ways with the choir after the shows last weekend. I got such a lovely, friendly, positive energy every time I was around the members of the choir! Chancing my arm, I offered my services of alto vocals and my offer was greatly accepted with open arms! I attended my first rehearsal as an alto last Tuesday and there I received the warmest welcome from everyone.
I have been aching to take part in a music production for a long time, I’m so excited!
Today we performed at the Annual Mass for Road Traffic Accident Victim’s in the Augustinian Church, Drogheda. I was playing bass again alongside Alan Barton on drums, Gerry Simpson on piano, backing up the choir. It was a very beautiful and touching Mass.
I will be announcing further performances in the near future!
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!
A couple of weeks ago I brought my Zoom H4N handy recorder to my favourite secret beach- Dunany Point, Co. Louth.
Dunany Point (Dunany being the anglicisation of Dún Áine -the fort of Áine) is said to be a place of deep sorrow, where the beautiful Áine sat in her chair of stone and looked across the sea towards her love who never returned. It is said that the black rocks at the base of the cliff were Áine’s attempt to build a causeway so she could see her love one day. Alas, Áine never did see her love again and slowly went mad with grief.
This recording might be nice for those who wish to hear a mostly unvisited, unspoiled beach in a quiet corner of Ireland!
Please enjoy this recording and if you wish to use it in your project, don’t hesitate to ask for permission!