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

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Highway For Hanway & Harper

A dual banjo outfit of might not seem to promise  the most varied palette of timbres for a musical evening.  In fact banjo playing  duo, Tom Hanway and Dave Harper's  musical offering at The Highway, Crusheen had  a surprising variety both in metre and instruments. Both swapped between guitar and banjo and Harper introduced a lively dance element with tunes on wooden flute and occasionally added a bodhran to the blend. Best of all were the songs in a bluegrass/country vein . All for a modest gig charge of €12 . More on the forthcoming  gigs from Island Music Club here. Clare Gigs Website

Sunday, November 25, 2012


By John Hartery

Amateur drama is getting a great boost at the moment with Sky Arts running a fine reality tv series covering the world of part time thespians. In Ennis the excellent local group  is  fresh from hosting the All Ireland amateur drama competition.

 The Ennis Players held their 27th Annual Supper Theatre this week in the Old Ground in Ennis, Co Clare. It was noted here last year that the supper theatre concept was a good one. This year’s offering didn’t buck the trend and was a delightful evening of fine local acting and good food.

The playbill this year was a couple of comedies. The introduction pointed out that the plays were directed by two first time directors to the group.

The first play was Mirror Mirror by Bruce Kane. This was a funny twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale directed by Eric Healy.  In this version the stepmother played by Colette McLoughlin engages with her mirror, played by an hilarious Tony Coffey, querying her beauty. A succession of princes appear to try and revive her stepdaughter the Charming Daughter. The role of the narrator was excellently and laconically played by veteran of the Ennis  Players , Arthur Forde. I felt the played lacked something in the sound stakes and probably could have benefited from placing the narrator closer to the action.

The second play, ‘ A little history on Elvis’ written by Jason Milligan and directed by Paul Carey was the stronger of the two with a more cohesive ensemble. The plot concerned Elvis hiding out in the home of an average couple somewhere in America. Mick Loughnane was very funny as an over the top Presley and another familiar face Hugh Gallagher played a fine part as the dad.

The Old Ground was right on cue when the drama concluded with a fine supper.

We wish Ennis Players well with their endeavors on the amateur circuit and await their next production.. Their website is here

Review Ennis Players Supper Theatre 2011

Wolfe at L'Atitude 51

 L'ATITUDE Wine Bar on Union Quay has  one of Cork's best small music spaces. The  venue, formerly known as The Lobby is imortalised by John Spillane in his song 'Magic Nights in the Lobby Bar' . One of the musicians name checked in that song, Cork singer songwriter Ger Wolfe,  has  built up a discerning following for his  poetic reflective lyrics  set in beguiling folk infused melodies.  His midweek set at the upstairs venue opened with the title track of the forthcoming album New October Daughter and included numbers from his back catalogue of half a dozen albums.

These are not foot stompin' , hard hitting  ballads  and Wolfe's vocal style is pure and unadorned,   best suited  to the thoughtful  lyrics on themes of ordinary everyday life in songs like, The Lark of Mayfield , Fallen Branches  She Scattered Crumbs  and Washing the Yard ( not to be confused with the Brenadan Shine number even in this venue !). The elements  are  often  lively dance rhythms-a  jig, a bit of reggae and calypso creep in here and there, driven by the other strong musicians in the line up. Shane Scanlon's lead guitar and Martin Leahy on drums ( and bass guitar and  yes- occasionally both at the same time !) added to the palette of words and music. Both will feature on the new album.

The  trio of large  period windows overlooking the Lee and City Hall  combined with  subdued lighting made this a very attractive evening venue. The house menu and extensive wine list was available. There  are not to many gigs where you can be served a nice glass of Shiraz and a cheese plate to add to your enjoyment of the musical fare. A most satisfying evening with food for body and soul!

Related Articles  Ger Wolfe at The Market Tavern  -
GerWolfe at the Market Tavern Miltown Malbay

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Family Affairs at Ennis Trad Festival 2012

 The annual temporary migration of visitors from all over the world bearing  musical instruments took place last weekend to Clare  for the annual Ennis Trad Festival.    The middle room of The Rowantree Cafe was packed for the launch of two CDs by master traditional musicians. Pat Costelloe introduced Eamonn Cotter who was launching his second CD , The Knotted Chord.  Renowned not only for his prowess as a player but also as a fine crafter  of wooden flutes, Eamonn was accompanied by his sister Geraldine . His rendition of the air Aisling Geal was a highlight. Daughters Sadhbh and Grainne joined their dad for a number before the party made way for fiddle player Eileen O Brien . Andrew McNamara introduced the Tipperary fiddler who has published a volume of her father, Paddy O'Brien's  tunes in tandem with a solo fiddle recording Aon le hAon . She was also beautifully accompanied by a family member, her daughter Jennifer Minogue on piano .  There was a feeling of a house party in the elegant period drawing room as extended family and local musicians gathered to support the musicians. Again it was the airs that I enjoyed most, particularly Easter Snow. 

Musicians formed a huge circle in Glor foyer on Monday at lunchtime for one of the final day events and many made their way upstairs to view the late Jean Regan's exhibition of paintings. Later in the evening, a disgruntled punter looked balefully on another large gathering in The Poet's Corner pub in The Old Ground Hotel .  'The trouble is' he said ruefully,  'that everyone with a few tunes thinks they can be a participant'. There were some frayed tempers elsewhere he reported  as named   session musicians couldn't get seats in their designated venues.  Nebulous as it may be, there would seem to be a session etiquette. Perhaps the organisers should issue some guidelines.

Circular Session 

Related articles from The Journal of Music

An Evening of Cello and Song: Music Theatre West in Ennis

Full Basket 
It was a most  unusual night at Glór  last night. Every seat in the  cafe had been pressed into service  and the audience of 120 or so extended the entire  length of the long lobby space. Regular patrons  will be aware that this was a very good house indeed  particularly for an evening of classical music where the ambiance tends to be more intimate at this venue. As retailers know packed  spaces  are more appealing than half full ones. Personally I would prefer to sit at the back of a packed foyer space than in a half empty large auditorium

 I arrived just in time for the second half.  Numbers included  well known cello favourites, The Swan, Mendelssohn's Song Without Words , Brahms Hungarian Dance  no 5 and part of Elgar's Cello Concerto. Lyric tenor, Peter O Donohue  mixed Neopolitan favourites, Funniculi, and Irish favourites , Macushla, Danny Boy, My Lagan Love ( acapella) with elegant arrangements by MD Noel Lennon featuring Peter Sébestyén's cantabile  cello lines.  Composer Adam Scheck  was in the audience to hear his Elegy for cello and piano  Aficionados in the audience  reported that the highlight of the first half was an arrangement of The Sally Gardens.  The young Clare tenor paused in the  encore Nessun Dorma to draw in his former teacher Archie Simpson in the chanting of the refrain. Both Peters are teaching in the locality and it was good to see a mix of generations with a contingent of their young students in the audience.

All on board the night train !
Those ceiling  lamps look like stalacmites

Peter and Adam greeting fans

I enjoyed this evening  both for the high quality musicianship and the opportunity  to catch up with friends and former students.  While there was less of a soirée ambiance at the back of the gathering, there was  quite a buzz and the audience lingered  for a while to meet  the performers. I loved the subdued lighting which added much to the atmosphere.  The acoustics, while not perfect, were good enough to hear all the lines clearly. What could not be heard at all clearly were the vocal introductions. I suggest that two items would have improved this performance; a  riser for the cellist so he could be seen by all  and a  simple portable amp and microphone just for the spoken bits.
Bravo Music Theatre West!  More of the same soon please!

Peter and Ennis Musical Society ladies Mary, Maret and Kay

Related posts Hungarian Rhapsodies in Gort

Friday, November 16, 2012

Le Beaujolais est arrivée en Ennis

Connoisseurs of the grape gathered with Anne and David  in The Gourmet Store, Ennis last night for a soirée to welcome the arrival of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau .  Our host,  David Lasbleye spoke to the blog's roving reporter about this important event in the oenophiles' calendar.  (See the link at the end ) I can vouch that this year's Beaujolais is very quaffable. Chanteur and pianist, Jerry McLauglin serenaded the gathering wonderfully well with a mellow mix of  chansons and some Percy French of course.  Gráine Cotter,  well known in trad circles performed an impressive set of jazz standards showing what versatile musician she is .  I was persuaded to play a few tunes on my fiddle  beginning with what else, La Vie en Rosé.   Wine and song and convivial company -what better way to spend and evening .

2012 version

listen to ‘David from the Gourmet Store talks about the Beaujolais Nouveau 2012’ on

Sunday, November 11, 2012

O Emperor Upstairs at Dolans'

Deise Boys O Emperor

In an era when rock bands seem to go on never ending tours and it is no novelty to see 'forever young'  pensioners strumming their stuff at a venue near you, it was a treat to see a truly young band.   I had heard many good things about  O Emperor, a young rock group from Waterford and I was not disappointed when I heard them upstairs at Dolan's on  Friday night. There was standing room only from an appreciative student audience .  I suspect that Beatles records feature prominently in their parents' record collections.  Terrific !

Tour dates here

Oct 27th - Theatre Royal, Waterford. (With Katie Kim). 

Nov 9th - Dolans, Limerick. 

Nov 10th - McGarrigles, Sligo.

Nov 15th - Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford Town.

Nov 17th - Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny.

Nov 22nd - Roisin Dubh, Galway.

Nov 23rd - Whelans, Dublin.

Nov 24th- Cyprus Avenue, Cork

Beatles resonances  . Watch out for them . I think they could go far 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Seti The First at the Triskel .

I enjoyed the experimental string band  at the Triskel last night. The venue, a neo Classical Georgian chrurch  is  visualy stunning and the lighting is used to good effect to create a theatrical ambiance .  The six piece band  fronted by Kevin Murphy boasted not just one but two cellos.   I did yearn at times for a visual element  as the music is quite repetitive based on minimalist riffs.  An homage to Simon Jeffes of Penguin Café  Orchestra is included in the play list.  There was a respectable house who responded enthusiastically  and there was a lively buzz in the venue bar,  Gulpd following the gig. We met Ger Wolfe who was there to support fellow band member Kevin Murphy.   His new album I notice is album of the month in Opus 11 Music Shop and he will performing at L'Attitude  Cafe Bar formerly known as The Lobby Bar on Union Quay  later this month . I include a link to Gary Meyler's blog post of the evening

The G-Man: Review: Seti The First, Triskel Christchurch, Cork...: "Hello audience, we're the band." Kevin Murphy (Seti The First) Understandably, instrumental bands tend to be labelled as soundtrack...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembrance Service Ennis Cathedral 2012

Remembering Clares' War Victims

I reported on this event last year on this blog (link here)  .  The main elements were repeated this year.  An  article, Lessons in Sacrifice appeared in this week's Clare Champion and  gives a full description of the event with many photos by John Kelly

Lessons in Sacrifice The Clare Champion

Photos of the event can also be found on

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hearing Van - The Listening Sessions in Belfast

For the second time  I stumbled on an interesting musical  experience in Belfast. There I was looking for a spot for a quick lunchtime coffee and sandwich and a sign outside the Black Box music venue caught my attention. The Green Room within  had organised a daily lunchtime 'listening session' where an album is played uninterrupted   as you dine.It was part of Belfast Music Week

My luck was in as the album du jour  for my visit was Astral Weeks by the local lad Van Morrison. The work was released in 1968 when Van was just 22. It  and has big connections with the city and  includes songs such as Cypress Avenue and Madame George. It was reputedly recorded in a few takes.

The classic album  was played on the traditional  turntable and the original artwork was passed around for the perusal of the audience.

 The attendance consisted of some s obvious  aficionados of the great man and others, content to listen and chat. And the coffee and snack were good too,

What a genius  idea and one that should  be replicated elsewhere.

John Hartery 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Economists, Comedians & de Bank Guarantees in Kilkenny

By Guest Blogger - John Hartery

This was my third visit to what is described Europe’s first economic festival. Kilkenomics stretches over 4 days in early November in Kilkenny the 2nd city in the South East of Ireland.

The format is a good one. It involves a series of economic debates in a variety of venues ranging from 250 person rooms to the back of a small pub that holds 25 or so. The unique feature of the event is that the debates are chaired by comedians. Yes comedians. 

The set piece event of the Saturday night was  the Raymond Crotty Lecture delivered by Paul McCulley. McCulley has had a successful career on Wall Street from which he has now retired. He disputed his retirement status in a fascinating talk. He was a commanding presence as he developed his talk from assessing Democracy and Capitalism. In a very stylised talk delivered in a U.S. Baptist  preacher mode he developed his thesis to identify the dilemma Ireland faces within Europe. He argued that Ireland now  face a Democratic – Capitalism – Sovereignty axis and we need to decide where we wish to position ourselves.  An interesting thesis from the floor posed the proposition  that the bank guarantee decision proved that capitalism had failed as the banks were not allowed to go bust and the decision lacked a democratic mandate. 

I enjoyed the debate  on  ‘paying our way’ where the Government’s strategy of honouring the bank guarantee was assessed with an interesting panel of Conor Lucey, Karl Whelan, Stephen Kinsella and Fintan O’Toole all of whom came across as people keen to solve the crisis but frustrated at the poorly informed mindset of the political establishment. There appeared to be a consensus that the ‘best boy in the class’ negotiation tack was doomed. This debate was chaired by a drole Colm O’Regan who was sure-footed , added a few good quips and knew his stuff.

Another  debate with O’Toole, Damien Kiebard, Max Kaiser, David McWilliams partly due to the poor and flippant involvement from some of the panellists and the chairman Neil Delamere was flat.  I squirm when there are significant guests from overseas who are forced to endure the Irish obsession with viewing economic events through the prism of  our property prices. 

Economics of the Wire
Veteran of the event Bill Black was another popular panelist with his ability to distill the  horrors  of the banking crisis into simple language and point out that it was easy to foretell. I was disappointed to miss the sold out event that looked at the 'Economics of the Wire'. The host of this site reports that Colm O'Regan's Mammynomics was a hoot. 

Kilkenomics and its promoters  are to be commended on a fine job and attracting an eclectic mix of contributors. The increasing crowds for the festival is further evidence that there is an audience for intelligent debate.

Venue Note:
There was an excellent central booking office with up to date ticket availability. Wexford Opera Festival / Wexford Fringe please take note!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Trimmings: Wexford Festival Opera 2012

William Vincent Wallace  bicentenary recital

La Pluie d’Or
Sweet Spirit Hear My Prayer Lurline
Fantasia on Moores Melodies The Harp That Once Through Tara’a Halls
The Seasons 4 Canzonettas
Souvenir from Maritana
Invitation Polka
Say My Heart Can This Be Love 
Scenes that are Brightest
Encore I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls Balfe 

Una Hunt piano
Rachel Kelly mezzo soprano

Una Hunt 
The South East  was bathed in sunshine as I travelled to Wexford  to sample some of the fringe events at the annual international Wexford Opera Festival.  At the Jerome Hynes Theatre at Wexford Opera House there was a full house for  a  sparkling morning recital celebrating the bicentennial of  the Waterford born, William Vincent Wallace.   Pianist and broadcaster Una Hunt is well known for her championship  of  less well known 19th century  Irish piano composers and her extensive Moore recital series  .  Wallace has a particular resonance with my youthful musical memories and no variety show in Waterford was complete without a rendition of Scenes that are Brightest or In  Happy Moments. The  piano pieces may be salon trifles but are very  virtuoso in character and present considerable technical challenges which Ms Hunt tossed off seemingly effortlessly following interesting informative introductions. The real surprise of the morning was mezzo soprano ,  Rachel Kelly’s impressive performance of the Wallace songs . Announced as a  stand in for Marie Flavin,  a sylph like Ms Kelly appeared on stage dressed  in long red dress and costume jewellery .  From her
Rachel Kelly mezzo soprano 
opening phrase she had the audience enthralled as she stepped into the character of a demure 19th century salon debutante,  whether singing wistfully of secret unrequited passion or animatedly about the joy of Spring. One to watch out for and  I look forward to hearing her again. Looking at the festival programme, it is remarkable that Irish singers are thin on the ground in the cast listings.  The lunchtime recital being  full,  I went  instead to the Spiegel Tent and there was an echo of the morning  when Declan Gorman reprised Rachel Kelly’s encore of Balfes’s, I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls  in a scene from his  one man Joyce show Dubliner’s Dilemma  

Link to RTE Lyric feature archive of The Road to Maritana here

Leaving behind the delights of Blaas and Banter of Waterford Quayside,  the lobby in White’s Hotel didn’t have quite the buzz  I expected for a Saturday of a bank holiday weekend.  Perhaps the  lower footfall was due to  the relocation of the afternoon short works series to a school hall about ten minute walk away.  While  the singing was  fine and aspects of the production were very funny and clever, I failed to be transported to the realm of the Queen of the Night  by Roberto Recchia’s  Festival production of Mozart’s  Magic Flute. It was difficult to conjure up the illusion that you were in an anteroom to Sarastro's Temple sitting on school chairs at the back of the long rectangular  space Neither was the show 'short’  by the usual festival standards running at over 1hour 45 minutes and there was a steady drift of patrons from the ‘auditorium’ during the second hour.  To quote Emporer Franz Joseph there were  just ‘too many notes on a sunny afternoon by the coast.

 Notes    I stumbled on the Spiegel Tent on my second trip and thought it was a great addition to the Wexford fringe experience. I was surprised not to see the Spiegel Tent events listed in the Fringe Festival publicity material or  on the Wexford Fringe Festival website and was sorry to miss an event  that I would have enjoyed.  Surprising too that there is no link on the the main festival site to the fringe and vice versa.  The information on lunchtime recitals was sketchy.  Why not have a  big daily notice board in prominent location with all the days events listed and ticket availability  as in the Kilkenomics Festival  .  

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Patrick Hyland
Anna Jeruc-Kopec
Jamie Rock
Thomas Faulkner
Queen of the Night
Nazan Fikret
First Lady
Maria Miro
Second Lady
Eleanor Lyons
Third Lady
Catia Moreso
Chloe Morgan
Carlos Noguiera
First Armoured Man
David Sanchez Serra
Second Armoured Man
Cozmin Sime
First Spirit
Elenor Bowers-Jolley
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