Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Monday, December 30, 2013

Katakana Debut: Red Kettle Sessions

Photo: KATAKANA, performing at the Red Kettle sessions, Red Kettle Theatre, 123A Parade Quay, Waterford, on December 29th at 8pm. All info at

In this twilight zone of twixtmass, the Red Kettle Sessions offered two bands to tempt Waterford music lovers away from their couches for an evening of live music, both with rather exotic names veiling their local provenance - Earlier this week, El Hígado No Existe played two nights at the Central Hall.                                     Last night, a capacity house gathered for the debut of a new string band Katakana, featuring the doyen of Waterford songsmiths, Liam Merriman. There was a house party atmosphere at the Red Kettle HQ with an easy rapport between the players and a familiar audience with complimentary dram of local hooch, Muldoons whiskey liquer served on entry.

Liam Merriman avec chapeau
                                                                                                              Merriman was on form mixing self deprecating stage patter with a set list of sweet and gentle yet potent songs. It is more usual to see this troubadour, ploughing a more lonely furrow as a solo artist and Merriman clearly relished the luxury of the support of Nick Bankes on double bass and backing vocals, Dave Prim on Spanish guitar and Eoin Maher on mandolin and whistle. Merriman's voice is soft and mellifluous, never overstated in a set drawn from his collection of four albums, the latest recorded in Nashville.

Clodagh Power
The generous set of sixteen songs opened with a couple of road songs. The lyrics are well crafted with intelligent arrangements skillfully evoking the mood. Eoin Maher's whistle line cut through the string base and together with echo like backing vocals created a spooky mood in Wandering Road and I liked the arpeggiated string effects in the plethora of water related lyrics in songs like Rain Rain and Flow Gentle River. The Boys with the Radio evoked memories of that not often lauded species, the corner boys. The only cover was Mark Knopflers Why Worry The set closed with a gentle beguiling love song, The Love in Your Eyes.

Clodagh Power, home for the holiday from London played a charming short set of songs to her own guitar accompaniment opening with a very effective solo version of Winter Fire and Snow and closing with Stephen Foster's Hard Times. Perhaps most memorable was her acapella version of a Declan O Rourke song, Marrying the Sea

Katakana on stage at Central Hall photo courtesy of

Incidentally we learn that 'Katakana' is some form of Japanese alphabet chosen for it's rarity value as opposed to any reference to local slang ( To say something is 'cat' in Waterford is not a compliment) . We liked the eccentric props of stuffed animals and motor bike helmet perched on top of speakers.  It is great to hear these musicians in a conducive setting, rather than straining to hear them over the noise of pub chatter and premier league commentary The Red Kettle Sessions continue on January 11th with another local treasure released from his usual performing space of next door pub Jordan's, the inimitable Francie White.*

*The singer scheduled for Jan 11th was Francis White Junior and not Francie as stated above . Post amended Jan 11th

Related articles Francie White at Imagine

More high quality  images from this event can be viewed on this photoblog

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