Sunday, 28 June 2015

Elder Roche

Well this week's find is a bit left-field for Eirecana. What that means I'm not entirely sure. I can tell you it's not americana but it has familiar melodies, it's not alt-country blues but it has plenty of soul. This is the sound of Elder Roche.

There is not much in terms of bio for Elder. He grew up in Dublin, has seen the world and is now based between Dublin and Berlin. Indeed it's hard to establish if Elder is a moniker as I thought or his name. The name though seems to fit perfectly the sound of Elder's music. With a foundation in roots, his style moves and stretches the genre to leave you unprepared for what's coming around the corner next.

Elder got his break though Damien Dempsey. After meeting him in a bar, Damien was the man who got him up on stage at the International in Dublin. Elder ended up sharing the stage with Damien Rice, Paddy Casey and Luka Bloom. Not a bad start. The background of Elder is so mysterious that I'm not sure if his 2009 release "Nobody Knows" was his first album or not. Nevertheless the album is a collection of 12 songs full of atmosphere. One thing that you can say for Elder is that he is a talent at creating a mood. The whole album from start to finish definitely takes you down a creepy dark road and leaves you there. Highlights like "Dark Place" give you a taste of the setting.

The songs veer between dark and bright. Songs like "Shine" and "Diamond" are a lot more poppy than the other tracks on the album and all the better for it. A quote on Elder's website mentions the lazy comparisons to Tom Waits and his ability being a lot more singular than that. Saying that, the comparison should be made. Many of these songs are reminiscent of Tom Waits but I think another milestone is Lou Reed. The versatility of those songs from "Nobody Knows" suggests a man that is comfortable not being tied down to one genre or style.

The new EP "Simple Melody" was launched late last year and it is definitely a step up. If the previous release was atmospheric then this release is drowning in it. The lead single "Kerry Black Mountain" is seething in broodiness. The refrain "Gimme love now" sounds more like a demand than a request. With the big brass presence and that single piano note that always adds a momentum to any song, the melody and words combine to leave you wanting to hear it all over again.

An E.P heavy on a big sound, the addition of brass adds real impetuous to the record, it's a real pleasure to enjoy. If I was to come close to labelling it it's like gothic-blues/americana. Whatever you want to call it, Elder Roche has definitely taken a step forward with "Nobody Knows". It's some gothic soul that you can dance to.

You can find out more about Elder Roche on his website. As per usual, there is the Facebook page and to listen to a full compliment of his songs, try his Soundcloud.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Eirecana Radio - 11th February 2015

Just a few episodes more and the back catalogue is done. Don't forget to listen back to previous shows on Mixcloud if you want some quality americana radio! Eirecana radio is on every second Wednesday at 2pm. Catch up with previous shows on Mixcloud. Any requests, send them my way too. You can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below.

Eirecana Radio - 11th February 2015 by Eirecana on Mixcloud




Baby Brother

Live on A Farm


Fifth on The Floor

January in Loiusana

Ashes & Angels

Kasey Anderson

Some Depression

Let the Bloody Moon Rise

My Morning Jacket

Holding On To Black Metal


Butchers Blind

Dice Were Down

Play For The Films




Joe Pug

Stay and Dance


Matt McGinn

Darkest Before The Day

Latter Day Sinner

The Secret Sisters

My Heart Skips A Beat

My Heart Skips A Beat

The Viking Project

A Year in Disappear

The Viking Project

The Eskies

Jesus Don’t Save Me

After The Sherry Went Round

The Famous

50 Miles to Firebaugh


Homebrew & The Bad Examples

Dead in The Morning


Dax Riggs

Let Me Be Your Cigarette

Say Goodnight To The World



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!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Ireland Summer Festival Preview 2015

The sun is shining out there, the flowers are blooming and men in tractors are cutting silage which means only one thing; it's festival season again. Previously I have run through a load of festivals over the Irish summer but this year I thought I would keep it concise. It's as simple as highlighting the festivals that I think will be enjoyed most by people who enjoy the music on this blog. Some of my picks you might disagree with. Some you might support. If you think I am missing out on any festivals or have any suggestions of your own, feel free to comment below.

Townlands Carnival
When: July 10th-12th
Where: Macroom, Co. Cork
Cost: €85 Camping/ €35 Day Tickets

A brand new festival set in the lvely countryside of Macroom in Co. Cork, the Townlands Carnival is offereing a lot of variety for the admission fee. There will be workshops, multi-media events, entertainment for the children and of course music. Playing at the festival will be artists of all genres but in particular Eirecana's attention is drawn to The Hot Sprockets, Psychdelic Pill (Neil Young Cover Band), Twin Wolf, Hermitage Green and North Strand Kontra Band. It looks like a fine affair and a festival that has really been thought out to enterain everyone no matter what your interest.

Greystones Americana Festival 

When: 3rd-5th July
Where: Greystones, Co. Wicklow
Cost: Unknown

After taking a break last year, the fifth Greystones Americana festival returns on the first weekend of July. Well that's the dates pencilled in but so far there hasn't been any confirmation of the festival and the acts booked for it. Still this family event usually has a great line-up of both international and local acts. Previously the festival has hosted Washboard and Banjo master-classes.The music takes places all over the town of Greystones. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for updates.

Valentia Isle Festival 

When: 10th-12th July
Where: Valentia Island, Kerry
Cost: €89 Weekend/€50 Day

It's not the Valentia Island festival, it's the Valentia Isle festival. The name makes the festival! Still there is a lot to be said for this little boutique festival. With a very beautiful setting, camping and camper-van facilities and a great line-up, all there is to hope for now is sunshine. Again the festival features some eclectic artists playing. Apart from the headliners, there is John Blek & The Rats, The Hot Sprockets, Fox Jaw, Mongrel State, The Eskies and one of my favourite non-Eirecana bands The Vincents. The festival features three stages so there should be something there for everyone. As well as the top class music, there is swing, trad and even a Farmers Market. Not bad going to fit all that on one island.


When: 24th-25th July
Where: Blessington, Co. Wicklow
Cost: €80 Weekend Camping

As sure as our summers on the west coast of Ireland will be have little sunshine, you can be guaranteed that Knockanstockan will return with another great festival with a host of brilliant Irish acts. The festival tends to focus on having mainly Irish artists who have not crossed over the mainstream and as such is all the better for it. It's here where you can wander, enjoy the music for what it is without being too worried that you have to see this band and this band. Still with the likes of Gavin Glass, Mongoose, The Eskies, Tucan and all more there, it promises to be a great weekend. And they always get good weather for that festival.

Jack of Diamonds Festival 

When: August
Where: Dublin City, Various Locations
Cost: Usually Free

No details have emerged of what the line-up is for Jack of Diamonds this year but I'm sure it will be as good as previous years. The festival generally takes place in mid August in various locations around Dublin city. It really is one to catch. As the title suggests, they have one of the best line-ups of americana and alt-country this side of the Kilkenny Roots Festival.

SugarBeat Festival
When: 22nd-23rd August 

Where: Tuam, Co. Galway
Cost: Saturday €35, Sunday €30

A festival that local to Eirecana, the SugarBeat festival is a straight-up no nonsense music festival. With two days of bands there is plenty to choose from including Amazing Apples, Joe Fury & The Hayride, Rackhouse Pilfer and headliners local band The Stunning.

Ballinamore Free Fringe Festival 

When: 21st-23rd August
Where: Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim
Cost: FREE!
One of my favourite little festivals simply because it's a small community event that manages to attract a host of generally un-signed artists. The festival has comedians, artists and a lot more to offer. It really is a lovely, well I was going to say little but considering they had over 200 acts last year, it's definitely not a little event.

Monaghan Rhythm & Blues Harvest Festival 

When: 4th - 6th September
Where: Monaghan
Cost: €50/€20/€15
If you like your blues, then this festival is the one for you. Withinternational acts like Leo "Bud" Welch and the Nikki Hill Band along with homegrown acts like Crow Black Chicken, if you like your blues of any persuasion, then Monaghan town on the 4th, 5th and 6th of September is for you.

Spirit of Folk Festival
When: 18th-20th September
Where: Dunderry Park, Co. Meath
Cost: €65 Weekend /€35 Day Ticket
What a nice way to round off the summer that some soul warming folk. This festival has been running for a number of years and is expanding every year. As well as the music there is story telling, living history, pop up dance essions, yoga and more. It sounds like the perfect way to unwind after a summer of music.

Others Worth Mentioning

There are a few other festivals that might be worth the admission price that are on the Irish festival calendar for this summer: The Bash at The Bridge is a new blues-rock festival in Co. Fermanagh with a wonderful backdrop and a great line-up....Galway Arts Festival (13th-26th July) always turn up a few good gigs. This year I'm looking forward to the Galway debut of Chuck Prophet along with The Young Folk/ The Lost Brothers double gig....Castlepalooza (31st July - 2nd August, Tullamore, Co. Offaly) is another great festival that is off the beaten track and constantly promotes upcoming Irish artists....Folkfest Killarney (24th-26th July) has an amazing line-up of folk artists from home (The Whileaways, The Lost Brothers) to prestigious international acts (Tinariwen)...For those of you who like their straight-up country The Cowboys and Heroes Country and Americana Festival (17th-19th July) returns this year to a lovely location with plenty of country artists playing...the Finally Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival have hit my birds with one stone. Great roots music, lovely food and tempting craft beer.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Album Review: Joe Fury & The Hay Ride - 13 Hours

This is a bit of a belated review of Joe Fury & The Hayride's latest release 13 Hours. The album was released in February this year. I should have listened to it sooner, but there you go. Still I'm glad to be getting to this great rockabilly sound now.

Joe has'nt actually been mentioned previously in these these pages despite my conviction that I have wrote about them before. Still a brief summary of the journey Joe and the Hayride took to this album would be this: The band formed way back in 2003. Made up of members Eddie Walsh (Electric Guitar/Vocals), Brian Marshall (Bass/Vocals), Darren McDonald (Drums), Dave Clancy (Steel Guitar) and the aforementioned Joe Fury (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar), the group are based around the mid-west. Their sound is a mix of western swing, rockabilly, and roots or to paraphrase themselves:‘Roots-a-Billy’. How Joe and fellow original member Eddie Walsh met is quite a story. Joe was moving to Ireland to live and on the look out for a guitarist who could play his style of music. He happened upon Eddie through a nine year old ad. You should read the full story here. Needless to say, it does feel a little bit like destiny in how they came together.

The band released their first albumin 2010. "Hey, Hey, Hey" featured a number of covers and set the tone of what was to come from these fine bunch of lads. Having maintained a strong gigging presence throughout the country, the band decided to record their first album of original material last year. 13 hours (so called because that's how long it took to get the record down) is the result.
Recorded in that hotbed of roots and americana; Thomastown Co. Kilkenny, (there are seriously a lot of americana musicians from down that direction) in Leo Pearsons studio, the band used a FundIt campaign to help complete the process of mastering, distribution and other costs. Released in February this year, 13 hours is quite a collection of roots/country tunes.

The album was recorded very quickly with the band having a preference for the live session. It does seem impressive that the vocals were done in one take and the melody's recorded together. I have to agree with Joe that I'm not a fan of the over-produced songs. And with a genre like this, the live recording and simple production perfectly suits. Opening with the lively "No Way of Knowing", the first thirty seconds set the tone of what to expect from the next eleven tracks. The melody and sharp lead guitar definitely suck you in to the roots-a-billy extravaganza.

My favourite song on the record by far is "Oh Judge". Sounding like one of those traditional parables re-interpreted, I was surprised to find it is a original song. The rise and fall of the melody along with Joe's strong vocals, that carry the words perfectly leave you humming the track long after it has ended.

To contrast, well a little of a contrast, "Alone to Pine" is one of those waltzy, lonely drinking in the bar dirges. It feels like a Hank Williams song; sadness veiled in a beautiful melody. Despite it tempo though, for some reason the song has an air of optimism about it. The words "the choice is mine, to rise and face the dawn" suggest that he is in charge of his own destiny, despite how it might look. It could have come straight out of a recording studio in 1950's Nashville.

The album moves between the lively rockabilly sound and some more sedate numbers. The bluesy "All I can do is cry" and the angry sounding "I'm branded" give some edge to a genre that is often constrained by its own defining sound.

The quite beautiful "Down in the Willow Garden" closes the album. A traditional song, the track just features Joe and the guitar. Despite the spareness of the arrangement, it is quite an affective arrangement and offers a impacting end to the record.

Rockabilly is a genre that you either really have to like or accept the style is never going to change all that much. 13 Hours is a fine contribution to the genre and with the slower songs, I think the band stretch themselves to become  a rootsabilly band. A group to keep your eye on.

You can purchase the album through the official site, iTunes or CDBaby. Also check out the band's Facebook page for a guide to when they might be playing next near you.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Gareth Dunlop

It's the start of the summer here and sunshine is beginning to appear. It's about this time that I start thinking about the tunes to accompany my summer night drives down the country and round the place. Doing a few races and that this summer means more time in the car but at least I will have the time to catch up with some great new music. That's why I am happy to have discovered Gareth Dunlop last week.

A man that hails from Hollywood was always going to have a special career ahead of him ((that's Hollywood Co.Down by the way). Gareth started his career in music at a young age playing his father guitar. Gareth progressed to study at Bangor College and from this he built up experience in sound engineering. His too progressed with gigs in bars around Belfast and beyond. His big break came in the vernarable Belfast Nashville Singer Songwriter's Festival in 2011 when he was awarded Young Songwriter of the Year. That led him to Nashville when he signed a publishing deal.

A talent such as Gareth's was always going to get his deserved break. His first EP was actually released the year previously. "Rooms" features some lovely mixture of acoustic and nice and easy-going americana melody's. My clear favourite is "Dreams". Led by a jaunty piano, the song carries itself along with a foot tapin' melody that easily drags you in and leaves you sauntering along to the tune without even realising it.

After a while Gareth put his musical and college experience to good use by building his own studio in Hollywood. He has been using the studio mainly to record his own music. His follow-up to "Rooms" was the "Devil Mocks Me" EP. He has been mainly working on EP's as releases and has been over and back from Nashville. His musical style is hard to pinpoint. His songs are generously warm, organ and piano feature throughout. The melodies are soft yet not slow enough to let you get distracted. Songs like "Trick of The Moonlight" really showcase his talent. Excellent structure, a beautiful melody and words that add generously to the mood of the song.

Gareth has been busy as a songwriter too. He has contributed songs to TV in the U.S. such as “Cougar Town,” “One Tree Hill,” “Private Practice,” “Army Wives,“Life Unexpected,” and "Nashville". His work with "Nashville" certainly has increase his profile. He teamed up with Kim Richards to write a number of songs for the show (some of which were recorded by the show's performers). This song from the Safe Haven soundtrack makes it obvious why his music has been so heavily featured in TV. The style and lyrics easily accessible and immeasurably listenable.

Definitely an artist that deserves more attention and is criminally under-rated here in Ireland, Gareth is an artist that I will be keeping an eye out for in the future.

Catch up with Gareth's going-on's through his official site and his Facebook page.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Live Preview: Kilkenny Roots Festival 2015

So for those of us of a certain persuasion, the annual pilgrimage begins on Friday to Kilkenny. The Roots festival has been, for a number of years and still remains the most premier festival if you are a lover of americana, alt-country and folk in Ireland. The organisers have a knack of getting artists just as they are about to cross-over to major recognition (c.f. Sturgill Simpson, Alabama Shakes). This year will be no exception and the line-up is just as exciting as previous years. Can you read how excited I am? So let's get down to my recommends for artists for you to catch over the weekend.

As well as the major gigs where there is a charge, there is also the roots trail which covers most of the city and where you will find some great (mainly Irish) artists playing. So for the best experience, I suggest pick one or two gigs you want to go to and after that, just walk the city and see where your ears take you.


The whole event kicks off on Friday night with the only appearance from John Murry (Ryans, Sold Out). John seems to like this country a fair bit and it's hard not to like him back. "The Graceless Age" was a brilliant album and his follow-up EP "Califorlornia" was just as infectious. Elsewhere The Eskies (Left Bank,10pm, Free) make an appearance with their high tempo foot tapin' gyspyesque folk. They are only a few weeks away from their album launch so I'm sure you might get a preview of the new album.There are also a few bands playing Friday that I know nothing about but am very intrigued by including Kingston, Strange Brew and Loudest Whisper.



The festivals really kicks off the next day with the Rockabilly of Dublin City Rounders (Brethnachs, 4pm, free). Then there is Pete Cummins at the same time (Biddy Early's) followed by Joe Fury & The Hayride (Billy Byrnes, 10pm, Free). Joe has just released a new album and it's great so definitely check that one out. The "imports" on Saturday consist of Sons of Bill (Kytelers, 10pm, €15), The Barr Brothers (Cleeres,10pm, Sold Out) and one I am looking forward to: Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires (Set Theatre,€15). This is perfect Saturday night rock n' roll. It's that simple. Lee Bains used to be in one of my favourite bands (The Dexateens) and he has brought the same energy to his new outfit. "Deconstructed" is a mighty collection of songs and worth checking out. This one will be loud, aggressive and sweaty. I'm excited for it.



Sunday at the Roots always feels like the beginning of the comedown for me. There are still great artists but the energy is more on tuneful americana than heavy rock. Still if your after your rock fix, you can do no worse that the Neil Young tribute Psychadelic Pill (5pm, Breathnachs, free). There is also the lovely soulful voices of John Blek & Anna Mitchell to enjoy (Cleeres, 4pm). I Draw Slow (Billy Byrnes, 5pm, €15) are one of the only Iris head-liners at the festival. Their roots fusion is worth catching and would make a great double shot of roots along with I'm With Her (Watergate Theatre,7:30pm, €20), the super-group consisting of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jaeosz and Aoife O'Donovan who's soft voices will surely easy any hangover!

One of the biggest acts to play the festival in a while, Calexico will be making one appearance at Kilkenny (Set Theatre, 10pm, Sold Out) on Sunday night. The band have just released a new album so expect some new songs. Hopefully these juggernauts of the tex-mex genre might play a few classics too.

Monday The final day of the Festival (if you're still standing) sees some fine americana on display. Apart from The Rails (Cleeres, 4pm, €12), I recommend seeing the Midnight Union Band (Rafter Dempseys, 3pm, Free), a local band with lots and losts of talent. A perfect way to end the weekend.

So that's my pick of the bunch. Check out the official website for more information and the full gig schedule. Don't just rely on my thoughts, get out there an explore the city and see what you find. Most importantly enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Record Store Day 2015

Tomorrow is Record Store Day. Apart from the great offers and chances of getting your hands on some fine records, there is also the opportunity to catch a few live gigs around the country.

There are a few recommendations going round as to what to buy on Record Store Day. The Telegraph in the UK have compiled a nice list here. If you are looking for the best releases in americana and alt-country then check out Twang Nation's summary. I might be preaching to the converted here (in facet I'm sure I am) but the value of a record store goes way beyond just the stocking and selling of albums and singles. Record stores were, and still are for me, the heart of expanding musical knowledge. You might come across the odd artist on the internet that I'm sure that you wouldn't find in your local record store but, you cannot beat those recommendations from your local record store staff. So head on in today to your local store, browse the music and catch a few of the great live gigs that are happening. It just might make you want to come back.

This preview is going to have an Eirecana bias to it i.e. I'll be highlighting all the americana, alt-country, and folk musicians but do check out all artists and records on offer today. Everyone deserves a bit of support.

Freebird Records have a number of live bands playing including Tomorrows, Lynched and more. Tower Records have a great line-up including Colm Mac Con Iomaire and The Urges on Saturday and on Sunday Mundy, The Mighty Stef. Spies, Cry Monster Cry, Fox Jaw, This Other Kingdom.

There is also Golden Discs around the city who have a fair few gigs going on in store. I'm leaving out a few record stores here but consult here for the full list.

Cork, Galway and Elsewhere
In MusicZone in Douglas, there are live sets from Live sets from Wasted Spaces (11am), The Shaker Hymn (12pm), John Blek & The Rats (1pm), John Spillane (2pm), and Raising Jupiter (3pm) as well as Fox Jaw. There is also a load of gigs happening in Golden Discs in Cork (though I dont know if that is a independent store). In Galway, there is a BYOB event in the city and Wingnut Records should have some decent record choices available.

So that's the summary. I have left out HMV's own event this weekend. As they are not a independent record store, they don't get to participate in Record Store Day. However the chain has gone ahead and organised "Record Fest". In fairness, they do have some great artists playing including The Mighty Stef, Buffalo Sunn ,Cry Monster Cry, Tucan, The Flaws, Riot Tapes and more on HMV Henry St. So make up your own minds on that one.