Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Eirecana Radio - 11th March 2015

Still getting through the Eirecana radio back catalogue. This show is a special one featuring Stella Mae of The Lost Highway Radio Show. The Lost Highway has finished their run on Flirt FM for what looks like for good so I thought I would invite Stella Mae in to talk about the show. 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.


I need to Tell You I Am
In The Throes
The World Is A Dangerous Place
Talking Tunderbird Blues
Live And Obscure
Far From Any Road
Singing Bones
Yours To Shake
Gerry Greylag Offering
Mississippi Wine

Need All The Help I Can Get
Comfort To My Soul
Train Goes By

Whiskey and Wine
We’re Not Lost
I Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most of it Left
I Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most of it Left
Ramblin’ Man

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!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Live Preview: Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival

Next weekend (Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd August) in Doolin, there will be a special type of festival. Two of my favourite things in the world; beer and excellent music will feature. So of course Im going. If you're thinking of going too, here is what I recommend to see. If you're not thinking of going, you might find some artists that are in the line-up that are worth investigating.

From what I can gather this is the third year of the festival. The festival is based at the Hotel Doolin who also organise the Doolin Folk Festival each year. If you're not aware, Doolin is a lovely little town in Co. Clare on the Irish west coast. The festival has quite a line up this year.

The weekend features some of the best Irish musicians around. On Friday night, the line-up features Hickory Wind (a great traditional band), Old Town Rounders and the headliners The Young Folk. With their beautiful melodic tunes, they are a perfect opener to the weekend.

On Saturday, some of the finest americana is featured on stage. N.C Lawlor specialises in raw blues. He is a man that can often be seen busking with his slide guitar in Dublin. I have been aware of the name for a long time but didn't realise his music was this good.

It is quite the weekend of americana and roots based music. Apart from the Kilkenny roots Festival, it would be hard to find a line-up as good as this in this genre. Tickets for the weekend are on sale for €25 with day tickets €15 which can be purchased on or on the day itself.

Also on Saturday,the man that could be regarded as the godfather of modern Irish Americana;Gavin Glass will perform. Gavin gigs are few and far between especially outside of Dublin so you should take this chance to catch one of the best exponents of the genre, national or international live.

The last band on Saturday night are one that has built up a reputation as one of the best live acts around. Mongrel State play punchy, rocking blues. They are a band that have been under the radar for quite a while but deserve a bigger platform. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Finally on Sunday, the line-up features a more relaxed affair. With John Blek & The Rats headlining, you are guaranteed a beautiful set of soulful americana melodies. Expect to hear a few tunes from the band's upcoming second album. Also featuring is Anna Mitchell who apart from singing with John Blek & The Rats also has a successful solo career of her own. Sandwiched in between those sets are Prairie Dawgs, fine exponents of roots based folk tunes.

Don't forget to look up the line-up of beers too. For more on the festival, check out their Facebook page and the official website.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

NC Lawlor - An enthralling one man blues showcase

As it's a nice relaxing Sunday, I decided to go in search of some nice relaxing music to blog about. Instead I came across the raw blues and lap-steel of NC Lawlor. Honest, humble and stirring, his sound is perfect for Sunday evenings.

Long-time busker NC Lawlor has been prolific on the blues and roots scene in Dublin for a number of years. NC or Niall reminds me of the old school troubadour musicians. Niall is pre the internet age. While he does have a Facebook profile, you get the feeling that if he has some gig to promote, he might let you know but that he doesnt worry about the schedluling social media posts for the following two weeks. I appreciate that about Niall and his music. You either are lucky enough to come across his sound, his gigs via catching him live or word of mouth or not. It's that simple. You're not bombarded with sponsored posts, emails etc. Often talent is not as worried as the rest of the world is about it been found.

Niall has been busking on Grafton street for a number of years where he has built up a reputation with his distinctive style, lap steel prowess and cowboy hat. From that he has progressed to giggingin a number of pubs around Dublin as well as the occosional roots festival. NC's music is scattered all over the internet.You have to go searching for it. One tune that I found on Soundcloud that I am currently wearing out the laptop repeating. Torn is aggressive blues. Building up to a great chorus led by N.C's steel guitar, the melody is a powerful, punchy number that has you foot-tapin' from the off.

For N.C's other songs, you have to look on Youtube. The twelve minute long "Gary" is a beautiful, meandering tune that feels perfect as the soundtrack to a bright sunny morning. I say meandering in a good way. Often musicians cut tacks that they are in a rush to or feel pressure to have in digestible chucks. In other words the feeling of a song might not be given the time to breathe. That happens here.

From browsing the various Youtube of this songs, it feels like NC Lawlor has two contrasting styles. One the straight-up raw blues, another a souful, relaxed, reflective style in which his skill with a gutiar is clearly evident.

One thing I have taken from researching the sound and discography of N.C. Lawlor is that sometimes the wrong musicians gets all the attention and some that deserve it, don't.

You can catch NC live. The most likely place to find out the details of his next gig is though his Facebook profile. He currently plays weekly at the South William Bar on Sundays. As for the discography of N.C. Lawlor, check out this search on Youtube for a good start.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Mariannes ~ A band willing to experiment with limits of the alt-folk genre

This week, I'm writing about a band that I came across browsing the line-up for the Galway Fringe Festival that occurs annually in the last two weeks of July. The Fringe festival always manages to feature under the radar talented artists and bands. They especially have a track record in featuring some great folk, alt-folk and americana artists. This year was no exception with the recently blogged about Man Mountain Band being featured at the festival and today's featured artist The Mariannes appearing as well.

The Mariannes formed about 2012 with each member of this six piece bringing something to the outfit that leads to their current alt-folk sound. With the vocals of Lisa Loughrey (guitar) along with Joe Maher (Lead Guitar), Eamon Cassidy (Bass Guitar), Gearóid Ó Broin (Piano, Guitar, Banjo), Jack Cassidy (Mandolin Glockenspiel) and Nathan Maher (Drums), the band have slowly settled on to a alf-folk sound that includes elements of blues, and some pop. It sounds like a mish-mash but it's more a amalgamation of elements that make the sum of the parts all the worth while. "God Fearing Woman" is the perfect example. With a title that could have come from a Clancy Brothers song, the melody fuses a pop sentimentality built around a core folk structure.

The band's career took off when they won the inaugural Clancy Brother’s song-writing award in 2014. The award from this along with a Fundit campaign helped them to afford recording time to produce their first release; "Lost With All Hands" EP. The award winning title track revolves around that strange phrase "Lost With All Hands". The more you think about it, the more other-worldly those words seem. The band take what seems like a traditional folk tale about a downed ship and turn it into, for me, a mournful lament of a broken down relationship. The guitar and harmonica hover gently over the main melody adding a real melancholy to the song. It really is a beautiful tune.

The band launched the EP in Whelans in Dublin in April this year with gigs all summer in support of the EP. The tracks from the EP display their versatility even within what may seem like a easily defined genre of alt-folk; "Hurt" is probably as traditional as you might get with the Mariannes. Reminiscent of songs of the folk revival of the 1960's, the arrangement of guitar, voice and flute keep you engaged for those brief  but perfect two minutes.

A band with willingness to explore genres and arrangements, the Mariannes have a style that suggests they wont be limited to the borders of folk and have a very bright future in front of them. For more on The Mariannes, seek out their Facebook page. The band have a few songs on Soundcloud from the EP. You can purchase the EP on iTunes and it's well worth checking out.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Mountain Man Band

'Tis the height of summer. I'm writing this blog post here on a veranda not 100 yards from the beach in the sunshine. Sure what else would I be doing but writing about some great Irish music. This week I came across a band playing locally here in Galway, so I thought they deserved a wider audience.

Not to be confused with "Mountain Man" (the American three piece vocal group), the Mountain Man Band is as far as you can get from that as possible. It's funny how the blues seems to be the only genre (well if not the only, the principle one) that specialises in  surrounding the artists origins in mystery. Going back to Robert Johnson, there are always semi-fables that lead you wonder where the truth ends and the legend begins. The Mountain Man Band are no different; this alternate Mountain Man Band are a bluesy rock duo made up of two guys who hail from the Gaeltacht. And that's all I know for sure. They formed last year (2014) and have since racked up a number of recordings. The guys are going strong with only recently celebrating a year recording as a band. They have been taking part in Battle of the Bands in Dublin while gigging about the place.

My favourite of the recordings is "Play That Song". It's your straight-down the middle, no messing blues rock. I am reminded of the Mississippi hill country blues of R.L Burnside listening to it. The repetitive rhythm keeps your attention the whole time, it's foot-stompin' rock that is hard to resist.

 "All I ever Wanted" demonstrates the bands versatility. Taking the cadence down a notch, the song builds itself up to a crashing crescendo of drums and guitars only to return to the moody, longing words of the verses.

Where and how two men from the Gaeltacht got the inspiration and found their influences is something I would love to find out. On first glance it might seem that the West of Ireland is a very different place to Mississippi, the birthplace of the blues, but maybe not, when you start thinking about it both are rural with emigration a major influence on people's lives and both places have a strong music tradition. The music of The Mountain Man Band goes to show that the musical style of one genre can easily still have an impact on two guys a few thousand miles away. That's the power of music.

The Mountain Man Band are probably one of the best exponents of the blues-rock genre this side of the Atlantic. Going by what they have recorded in just a year, I would say that these lads should be destined for great things. The quality of these blues melodies would easily keep you intrigued until a full LP comes around. The Mountain Man Band have their own website where you can find out more about the band. Check out the Mountain Man Band on Facebook too and get a full idea of their sound through the Soundcloud page

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Good Tidings From The West Vol. XI

Haven't done one of these in a while, in fact a very long while (I think it's terms of months). Considering I get a load of emails in from American bands, outside of Ireland, I don't feature them enough on the blog. So keeping up with the general theme of these posts, I'm going to look at three bands that hail from the U.S. that are purveyors of the best americana out there.

Moondog Matinee

Possibly named after one of The Band's albums. Moondog Matinee are a Reno-based soul/blues-infused rock quintet made up of members Pete Barnato (Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar), Steve Widmer (Guitar, Vocals), Drea Ballard (Guitar, Vocals), Adam Carpenter (Bass, Vocals), Ben Ingle (Drums). That description is quite the conflagration of sounds. The group have already released one album and are about to release a second titled "Carry Me, Rosie" which is due out at the end of August. Listening to their current single "Last Night The Devil Learned My Name", their sound is full of energy. It's soulful rock with energy. Check them out on their website.

The Afternoon Edition

If you're looking for something more calm side of americana, you should check out The Afternoon Edition. Reminiscent of Gooldrush era Neil Young, Canyon Lights is a lovely, piece of summery americana. The band also have another single that offers an opportunity to further explore their sound. With a banjo dominating through-out, it's a sweet, warm tune that slowly reels you in. Check out more of The Afternoon Edition on their Facebook page.

The Living Sisters

The Living Sisters are a act that have been around a few years. Made up ladies Eleni Mandell, Becky Stark, Inara George and Alex Lilly they have a new album out now: "Harmony Is Real: Songs for a Happy Holiday". The group were formed in 2005 by Eleni Mandell and Becky Stark because they both have a love of harmonies. After a few years together, the sisters recruited Inara George joined the next year, and Alex Lilly became the fourth "sister” in 2012. Their back catalogue consists of albums Love to Live was followed by an EP, Run for Cover. Each of the members has a solo career and come together to create these beautiful harmonies. It does remind you of the classic vocal groups of the 1950's. Built up around some great melodies, they really are a treat for your ears.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Live Preview: Valentia Isle Festival

After my recent preview of festivals, I thought I would look at a few festivals in detail that deserve or merit a bit of more attention and who is playing at them. This week it is the forthcoming Valentia Isle Festival.

The festival has been going for a number of years though its only crossed my radar this year. That's likely to do with the fact that this is the first summer that the festival has moved from its usual September slot to a new spot in the second weekend of July.

Happening this year from 10th-12th to July, the festival line-up has a very eclectic mix. The headliners include Daddy G (Massive Attack), Norman Jay, Jerry Dammers (The Specials) and Don Letts.

It's as much as about the venue here as the artists that are playing. Valentia Island is a a beautiful spot on the edge of the world. As well as having some beautiful scenery. It's also one of the locations of the Dark Sky International Reserve; a place where you can view the night sky better than most other places in the world.

The festival is complete with three stages: Secret Sounds, Radiomade Stage and the Blind Pig stage. What drew my attention was the amount of artists that have been previously featured on Eirecana. It's quite a list of acts appearing: Corner Boy, Fox Jaw, John Blek & The Rats, The Eskies, The Hot Sprockets, Mongrel State. It's hard to suggest what to go see. One I would recommend is Mongrel State. Formally known as Moo!, they are a band I haven't seen live yet but if the energy of their recorded output is anything to go by, their performance should be a lot of fun.

The Festival Website is where you'll find all the info. Tickets are priced at a reasonable €89 for weekend camping and €50 for day tickets. The festival accommodates Campers too though I don't know how many spaces are left. You can buy tickets through Eventbrite and keep up to date with what's happening through the festival Twitter and Facebook.

As well as local headliners Frank & Walters, another local act is making an appearance at the festival. John Blek & The Rats have been one of my favourite Irish bands for quite a while. Cork based John Blek & The Rats will also be making an appearance. The band have recorded their second album I believe so hopefully they might preview a few tracks from it at Valentia. If the beautiful folk melodies of their first album is anything to go by, it should be worth looking forward to.

As well as the main acts, the festival features two distinguished musical events. Saturday night its swing with lots of brass in action and the opportunity to learn a few proper dance moves. On Sunday then, it's a more relaxing affair with traditional music featuring heavily on the day. Also on the island on the weekend the King Scallop Festival takes place. So you're definitely not short of options.

One band that would usually be outside of what I write about here on Eirecana but I have developed a gra for is The Vincent(s). Their moody rhythmic death pop tones hark back to a mix between late 80'd alternative rock and classic grunge and it's really enjoyable.

So between dark skies, dance lessons, trad music, nice food, stunning location and one impressive line-up of acts Valentia Isle Festival in the height of summer is proving quite the temptation.