Thursday, 28 August 2014

Markas Carcas

Following on from my experience at Jack of Diamonds, as I said in the last post, I have a renewed vigour for the americana and alt-country genre now. Coming across some damn fine musicians helps too. So you have Marcus Carcas to thank for this post.

Markas Carcas is Mark Flynn (not to be confused with Mark Flynn of Blood Red Mountain Band), a Dublin native. Mark began his musical career early, having learnt the piano at a young age (seemingly not willingly). Mark kept at the classical piano for seven years but as many young teenagers do (myself included) stopped playing. Having left the piano behind, he took up the guitar in his late teens, as many late adolescents do (myself included), though Mark’s reasons may hold more virtue than my own! He had friends in bands so ended playing with them it seems including spending some time playing bass when his friend’s band removed their own bass player.

Obviously having a talent for music matched by his passion too, Mark attended the Ballyfermot Rock School and seems to have gone on from strength to strength. His style would suggest that he has not left all of his classical piano training behind him when taking up the guitar. Although his musical style is clearly blues, he plays the guitar like a pianist. It’s not just cords here. Every part of the guitar can be used. What you get is the rawest, hungriest form of delta blues you can imagine this side of the Mississippi.

Mark seems to have spent a few years in Ottawa in Canada. The proof: a great performance he made on a morning TV show over there. He really belts out “Mississippi Wine” in this video and it’s more enjoyable as you get to watch his virtuoso guitar skills in action too. “Mississippi Wine” is one of those angry blues tunes that easily saturates your soul. Full of anger, it’s an affecting piece.

He released an EP in 2012.‘What is to be Expected’ is a four track EP that brings his guitar playing to the fore. It’s not surprising to find out that Mark has supported Preston Reed in concert. There are the obvious parallels in style. I am more reminded of the likes of Otis Taylor though his singing style is something more unique. Both are demonstrated on the EP opener ‘We’ve Been Found’.

Mark has become known for his live performances. Going by the many reviews of his gigging lately, he is one to catch live soon. Check out his latest video “To Be Back Again” recorded in partnership with 2uibestow at a windy Phoenix Park.

Hopefully this is a talent I get to catch up live myself. He seems to be blessed with amazing skills and it’s hard not to see his music start to reach places.

I'm not too sure if he has other releases out but check out the Soundcloud page to check out more tracks. You can check up more on what Marcus Carcas is at through his Facebook page and if you want, purchase the EP on Bandcamp.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Israel Nash Competition

So courtesy of MCD Ireland, I am very pleased to announce the very first competition on Eirecana.
It is very exciting to be offering Two tickets to see Israel Nash upstairs in Whelan's on Saturday September 6th. That is only ten days away.

The reason I am so late announcing. It took me forever to come up with a method of competing for the prize. I was thinking of funding a trip to a random offshore island for 10 finalists, and allow a bloody battle to the death. But then I came up with something much more inventive.

A clever naming competition.

Name Your Own Country & Irish Band

Yep, it’s that simple. Come up with a name for your imaginary Country & Irish band.
How do I do that you ask? Well look at the artists out there and follow their lead.
Think TR Dallas, Texas Tom etc

One suggestion: Pick some random initials/first name then pick a random U.S. city or state and viola:
CT Mississippi or SD Denver.
The more elaborate the name the better.

Don’t forget to include the backing band too:
CT Mississippi and the Bare faced Bears

How to Enter

Competition entry is one of three ways.


The principle method of entries accepted will be by Twitter. Use the hashtag #eirecana so I recognise those entering the competition.


There is a post on the Eirecana Facebook page for the competition. Just comment below it with your entry.


Alternatively email your entries to ron [at]
Use “Israel Nash” as the Subject Line.

Israel Nash

Israel Nash is a americana artist hailing from from Missouri. He has released three albums to date: “New York Town” (2009) , “Barn Doors and Concrete Floors” (2011) and “Israel Nash's Rain Plans” (2013). He has also released one live album: “Barn Doors Spring Tour, Live in Holland” (2011).

I will be featuring his music in a full blog post soon but for now, here’s a sample of what you might could catch live.

Best of luck, now start dreaming up some names.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Magpies

After a very enjoyable weekend at the Jack of Diamonds, I am back home again reinvigorated with a love of americana and alt-country. The festival makes you realise how many bands are actually ploughing the field in this genre. So with my love of americana once again stirred, I am back to the (very enjoyable) bread-and-butter of spreading the word on some music you might not be aware of .

One band that pipped my interest at Jack of Diamonds and that I have come across a few times before is The Magpies. Describing themselves as a Dublin five-piece who make music for the birds, the band is a collective of musicians from across Europe with members hailing from Ireland, England and Italy. Populated by members Pierpaolo Vitale (vocals, rhythm guitar,piano), Christopher Barry (lead guitar), David Blaney (drums,vocals), Steven Brennan (bass,vocals) and Nick Boon (mysteriously involved in "radio waves") the band have been together for a number of years. There isn't too much background on the band itself. Lead singer and songwriter Pierpaolo has appeared seems to do a bit of acting and has appeared on Balcony TV previously.

Made up of mainly guitars and rhythm, the bands sound is jangly guitars. Their first release 'WoodY House' is a mix between rock, tex-mex and a bit of gothic folk thrown in. Indeed when listening to the album, it's hard to know what to expect next. Some of the stuff is great, the opening 'Black Sun' has a Calexico feel to it with the appegigo guitar. The rhythm is addictive which makes this song a very listenable tune.

There is some great gothic folk in the likes of the title track and the almost creepy 'The Ballad of the Crying Clown'. The band remind me of another Irish act, Fox Jaw, in some ways. They change between styles quickly and can move from saloon style piano ballads to tex-mex rock quite fast.

The stand-out on the album is "Burning Rain". It is reminiscent of those marching songs you might hear prisoners singing in a depression era chain gang. Always building in rhythm, the song demonstrates the great vocal harmonies present in the band.

You can download the band's first release 'The WoodY House' on Bandcamp. The band are on Facebook too where you can stay updated with all their gigs and the like. They are due to release a new E.P. soon according to the Facebook so keep your ears tuned for that.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Jack of Diamonds Preview

So the Jack of Diamonds Festival is back around. I have to say the line-up of this festival has got me a little excited. If I was curating a festival of Eirecana’s favourites, it would probably be not too different from what we have below i.e. amazing. If you are not aware what the Jack of Diamonds Rhythm and Roots Festival is. Well basically its the best roots festival around. Its on this weekend (15th-17th August) and feature music across eight stages including Button Factory, the Mercantile,Grand Social Dame Court (Shack of Diamonds outside stage) and The Sweeney Mongrel.

The festival will be happening over the weekend with loads of free gigs to attend. As well as the major events happening in the Button Factory, there will be gigs in each night in the other locations. Also on Dame lane, there is live music and to top it all off the Jack of Diamonds have gone into partnership with the Dublin Zine Festival and the Rock-n-Roll Conference in Dame District. The main event features headline acts Rackhouse Pilfer, The Eskies, Tupelo, Tucan, Gavin Glass and Prison Love. The Dame Lane events are free of charge to attend. Throughout the weekend, there is also Dublin’s first ‘Rock & Roll Conference' featuring a Vintage Car Rally, Citywide Motorbike Ride and a Barbershop convention.

There is also photography in the shape of ‘Backstage Pass' in The Button Factory. An event that will take a look at Irish photography over the last 40 year, with picture of Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, U2, Chet Atkins, The Horslips, The Hot Sprockets, Tom Waits, Barney Mc Kenna, The Eskies, The Strypes and more.

Overall you have to give credit to the guys for organising what looks like a great 48 hours of music and events. If it is as good in reality as it is on paper then you will see the best folk, blues, trad, rockabilly, alt-country, americana and roots artists Ireland has to offer. With that in mind, I am featuring five artists (just five, it was very hard to regulate myself to five) that I am going to try catch at the festival, a mix between the familiar and the new for me. If you are going, do enjoy and try see everything.

Gavin Glass and the Shakers
Playing in the Button Factory on Saturday night, I felt I had to mention Gavin because he hasn't been performing live with a band much in the past year or two. Indeed I think that his recent appearance at the Dublin Goes Country event in Whelans was his first performance with band in a very long while. Thus I am excited then, to see the Godfather of the Eirecana genre live for the first time.

Ones I am looking forward to catching live. I haven’t heard much of Tucan before. From what I can make out though, I am intrigued. A ‘big band’ experience with variations on Irish, rock and other genres. Drawing on their influence which include Kila and the like, I am very curious as to what these guys will be like.

Cold Comfort
Back to the familiar for me. Cold Comfort are a group that I have constantly enjoyed listening to. From their early angry folk to the latest beautiful single “”. I am very excited about the new album and this gig as part of Saucy Sunday in the Grand Social should be very exciting.

Whitetrash And the Spearheaded Sparrowhawks
I have written about Whitetrash before. From the Youtube videos, you get a feeling that his performances seem to be lively affairs to say the least. So catching these high-energy performances feels like it will be a sweaty, raucous event. They seem like the perfect band to kick off the Saturday night events in the Button Factory.

Wyvern Lingo

I wonder are these the Irish answer to First Aid Kit. Well going by this video, it feels like it. They seem like a very exciting talent. They also remind me of the Mountain Man, similar in style and lyrical themes. I am very much looking forward to their melodies.

Also check out The Annulements, Stephen Young and the Union, Homebrew and the Bad Examples, Dylan Walshe, The Magpies.

                                        Just go see EVERYONE ELSE. Enjoy it folks.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Stef Campbell

I have lamented before on the lack of Irish female americana artists around. Considering I'm writing about a niche genre in a place that is not even the natural home of the genre, I suppose I should not be doing too much lamenting. Still when I discover another solo artist like Stef Campbell, it is always an exciting find. Indeed Stef is a strong representation of the genre with no-holes barred songs of pure energy.

Hailing from Saintfield in Co. Down, Stef stated performing in 2012 singing at open mic nights in Belfast. Since then she has not hung around. She soon formed a band to accompany her. Consisting of members John Conway (bass), Conn Smyth (guitar), Matt Hewer (drums), Amy Joyce (vocals) and Jenny Hutchinson (vocals), Stef and the band have been busy. After releasing a demo in 2012, she put out two E.P's last year.
The two E.P's seem to be divided in terms of style and pace. 'Take Me Home' represents her folksy output while the energetic bluesy americana comes across in 'Bad Girl Boots'.

Stef cites some of my favourite americana artists as her influences including Gin Wigmore, First Aid Kit and Gillian Welsch. This wide spectrum of influence is mirrored in the melodies of the two EP's. 'Take Me Home' in particular reminds me, both in melody and lyrical style of Gillian Welsch. That easy, unfussy melody allows the words to shine.

My favourite of her tracks is definitely the upbeat and raucous 'Bad Girl Boots'. Hitting the ground running,the song is a no-nonsense affirmation of independence. Reminiscent for me of Lydia Loveless, the energy just bursts out from the song.

Managing to release two EP's of almost opposing styles is a impressive task. There is not many that achieve an accomplishment like that. To achieve both with great tunes to boot, well that's plainly talent. Stef is taking a break at the moment as she has recently become a mother , which would keep anyone busy but I'm sure we can expect more musical output from Stef in the near future.

You can catch up on all Stef's goings on through her Soundcloud, her official website and of course Facebook.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Blood Red Mountain Band

I thought I wrote about these guys before but when I checked my records, it turned out I hadn't. It is just one of those instances that you come across a band so often, you feel you almost know them.

Blood Red Mountain Band have been around for a number of years. The group formed in 2005 and set about gigging. The band were obviously good at it, such that by 2009 they were winning awards for Best Musical Group from the Association of Irish Festival Events (AOIFE). Led by Mark Flynn (guitar & vocals) with members Joeby Browne (bass, ukelele & vocals), Sarah May Rogers (fiddle & vocals), Dave Keegan (drums), Alison Byrne (vocals) as well as occasional contributors Anthony Gibney (lead guitar), Lindy Sue Devlin (accordion, melodica & Glockenspiel) and Aoife Kelly (fiddle). The band themselves cite their own sound as pop-americana or as they say it best "Think Bob Dylan on holiday in Ireland with Arcade Fire...". And indeed their music is not far off this description, 'Lost My Way' is a great example of a what feels like a big band americana sound. It's energetic in pace yet the xylophone reprieve offers a great angle into the song. The song though shines with the harmonies, firstly between Mark and Alison and then as the rest of the group joins in. It's the impressive vocal stylings that make the arrangement so impressive.

As for releases, it seems the band have just the one self-titled EP released. Though you can listen to plenty of their tunes on Soundcloud and their Breaking Tunes page out. The band are currently working on their d├ębut album. The work in progress 'Lucy Jackson (Don't You Break My Heart)' offers an exciting idea of what we can expect on the upcoming release. Bustling with a vibrant rhythm backing, the song is frantic in its melody and vocal style leaving you unconsciously taping your foot along without even realising it.

And if you are a fan of americana music videos shot on location in a fish tackle shop, well then you are in luck.

With some lovely blend of harmonies, exciting melodies, the Blood Red Mountain band feels like a group that would quickly get you up on your feet and keep your there. You can download the bands EP through iTunes here. Find out more information on the group on Facebook.


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Eirecana Radio - 30th July 2014

I was just about getting back into the habit of radio broadcasting again and now its the summer break. Flirt FM will be taking a break from FM transmission for the month of August. Fingers crossed I will be back on the radio come September. This weeks show, the fifteenth episode of Eirecana radio features a host of music, old and new, domestic and foreign. So enjoy it. And don't forget to listen back to previous shows on Mixcloud over the rest of the summer if you get lonely for some quality americana radio!

Eirecana radio is on every second Wednesday at 4pm.

You can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below. I now have the shows on Soundcloud too and this one should be up this week.

Artist (with Link)
Carnival Station
Golden Margins
Golden Margins
Old Country
Push On
Living in the Light
Living in The Light
When Love Grew Wild
When Love Grew Wild
Damn This Town
Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns
Man of Habit
Tall Tales EP
January in Louisana
Ashes & Angels
Pale Disguise
The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again
Carswell EP
Johnny’s Sorry Tale
A Hunger
Bad Way to Go
Indestructible Machine
Submit Music
If you want to submit music for the show (even your own), you never know I might play it! Please feel free to contact me at the email address: ron [at] So have a listen. If you like the show, check the back catalogue on Mixcloud. If you really like the show, tell someone!