Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Knockanstockan Review

After years of contemplating we finally made it to the beautiful setting of Blessington Lakes for the independent, not for profit music festival Knockanstockan. Here's a few words on the festival and the bands I got to see at Knockanstockan. 

From the onset it's important to state that we went as a family with three kids ten and under, staying in the family campsite and leaving early on Sunday. This restricted the amount of bands I got to see at Knockanstockan. The organised entertainment for the kids was very good with a decent small play area adjacent. Unfortunately despite great efforts from volunteers the majority of the campers in the family area did not have kids with them and with music going until the wee small hours there was no escaping the full on resulting bass-thumping sound throughout the night. The site was very compact and therefore I feel it's not possible to tick all boxes needed to have a family friendly festival. Some of the bands I seen live were very poor while I discovered some excellent bands worth writing about. Here is the list of great bands I got to see this weekend.

The Viking Project

The first band on The Moon Stage on Friday were the 'dirty folk rock' band The Viking Project. While there were a good few dirty folk rock bands at Knockanstockan the best of these were The Viking Project for no other reason than their set was full of great tunes like this one;

John Blek & The Rats

Cork band John Blek & The Rats brought a charming Americana folk sound to the Circus Tent on Friday for one of the musical highlights of the weekend. There's a superb debut album in this band.


Windings have been around for ages but this was my first time seeing the band and I was massively impressed. Some of the sounds coming from the five piece were genuinely jaw dropping.

Fusion Trip

The first band to impress on Saturday afternoon were Fusion Trip. This is a serious band of amazing musicians that produce genre hopping jazzy/rock sounds.

Markas Carcas

I caught the first half of Canada's Markas Carcas's set in the Circus Tent. Markas is a quality vocalist with a gritty edge to his songs. It was near on impossible to divert your attention away from the stage due to Markas's guitar playing style and impressive performance.

Sarah Red

Sarah Red did not disappoint on Saturday afternoon on The Faerie Stage. Her voice is so pure and songs like this one were performed with grace and charm despite some minor guitar/sound issues.

Twin Headed Wolf

Twin sisters Julie and Branwen were mesmerising on The Faerie Stage on Saturday with their enchanting style of folk music.

The Amazing Few

The most entertaining performance came from The Amazing Few on The Moon Stage. No words can describe the madness that comes in the form of an 'Amazing Few' gig. It's just forty minutes of good sweaty fun from a very talented band.

Fox E. & The Good Hands

This is the third time I've seen Fox E. & the Good Hands perform at a festival and yet I'm still blown away by their songs and musicianship. They are such a great live band. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I can review an album from the band.

Hassle Merchants

Hassle Merchants were the best band at Knockanstockan. Their punk rock sound has matured and been refined over the years to a sound which is very marketable. They have a super vocalist and a bunch of protest songs which are well written and relevant in today's world.


I can understand why Raglans are getting the current push as they are a really good band. Their Fratellis/Oasis sound is timelessly popular if somewhat unoriginal.

Eleventy Four

ElevetyFour kicked off Sunday on The Faerie Stage with a weird and wonderful set of great songs, sound cutouts, a run around the field, singalongs and dancing galore. Standout tracks were new single 'Snapshots', 'The Friend Song' and this one about eating cake in Sicily while on holidays.

Lights Camera Sundown,

The last band we seen were 'Lights Camera Sundown' in the Circus Tent as part of Saucy Sundays. There's real potential in this band with their male/female harmonies, superb vocals and quirky folk songs.

Check out some great pics and individual band reviews here: http://www.dublinconcerts.ie/knockanstockan-2012-photos/ 

Thanks to Knockanstockan for introducing me to new Irish music like Twin Headed Wolf, Lights Camera Sundown, John Blek & The Rats and Fusion Trip. There's a potential for Knockanstockan to continue to grow over the years to something not too far off Glastonbury. The site is amazing with views of Blessington Lakes high up in the Wicklow Mountains. I feel that the line-ups need to be more diversified. I heard many comments from other parents stating that there were not impressed by the music they heard over the weekend. I get that there's a nice community feel at Knockanstockan with the bands and musicians all knowing each other but that type of community feel could also prevent outsiders from feeling welcome and this needs to be looked at if the festival is to grow further. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mix: Knockanstockan Stage Times

Here's the stage times for this weekend's Knockanstockan.

Must See Bands Friday:

Autumn Owls

Soldiers Can't Dance

Must See Bands Saturday:

Mojo GoGo

Cat Dowling


Fox E. & The Good Hands

Twin Headed Wolf

Must See Bands Sunday:

The Gandhis

She's A Beauty


Tickets here: http://www.knockanstockan.ie/

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Knockanstockan 2012

While I'm still technically on me holliers I'd thought I'd share what I'm looking forward to next weekend.

Here's the full line-up for Knockanstockan  http://www.knockanstockan.ie/

soooo many good bands including .....

Sarah Red

Autumn Owls

Arrow in the Sky

Tickets for the festival are €75 available here: http://www.knockanstockan.ie/

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Mix: Closing Down Sail

I'm taking a break for two weeks.

I'm going on a glamorous holiday to the UK! 

I'll be brought there by Irish Ferries.

I like this song Bouts from Rams Pocket Radio!


I've reviewed some great albums this year.

Top 5 Albums of 2012 so far .....

1. Michael Brunnock

2. Eric McGrath

3. Mossy Nolan

4. Mick Flannery

5. I Am Not Lefthanded


I've been to two wonderful festivals so far this year. Vantastival found a new perfect pitch for the unsigned new bands while Westport found it's own niche market in it's own beautiful setting.

I've seen some wonderful live performances this year.

Top 5 Live Performances of 2012 so far ....

1. Ana Gog at The Purple Sessions, Boyles of Slane
2. Bona Fide Federation, The Grand Social
3. Master & Dog, Vantastival
4. Heritage Centre, Whelans
5. Duke Special, Westport Festival


I'll whisper this but I was sorry to hear of the end of Henrietta Game. Not sure how 'Official' this news is as they didn't want any fuss made of their decision to split. 


I'm massively impressed with the quality of 'Videos' being produced for YouTube by Irish artists.

Top 5 Irish Videos of 2012 so far .....

Autumn Long - Ten More Reasons

Roisin O - Here We Go

Heathers - Forget Me Knots

The Henry Girls - Watching The Detectives

A Dark Horse - Take Me Home


I'm delighted at International Success of many of our fine musicians. Here's a list of acts making great progress in other markets.

Pauly Fagan - Canada

I Am Not Lefthanded - US [San Francisco]

Michael Brunnock recently won in the Best Original Song category at this year's David di Donatello awards ceremony, the Italian equivalent of the Academy Awards 'If It Falls, it Falls', one of the songs from the soundtrack of the new movie 'This Must be the Place', starring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand.

The Cast of Cheers - UK

Marc O'Reilly - UK

.......... there's many many more Lisa Hannigan in the US, Glen Hansard everywhere but here, Wallis Bird in Europe etc etc


I'm often surprised at the quality of music from bands who contact me. Yes some of it isn't to my style and some of it very poor but I get some gems sent to me.

Top 5 Songs from unlikely sources!

She's A Beauty - Too Much Confusion

Doug Sheridan - Eyes Won't Let Me Cry

Miriam Donohue - Street Car

Red Sail - Balcony Balloons

A Plastic Rose - Build From the Ground Up


I'm so looking forward to the rest of 2012.

I'm off on my holidays .... therefore as this blog is all from I then so this blog is on holidays!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Album Review: The Prairie Dawgs - Halfway to Poughkeepsie

"Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?" ... says Popeye Doyle at the start of the wonderful 1971 movie 'The French Connection'. This quote forms part of the image and theme of the second album from The Prairie Dawgs.

'Halfway to Poughkeepsie' was recored in the Mourne Mountains in 2011 by the eight musicians which currently consists within the line-up of The Prairie Dawgs. The collection includes ballads, blues, stomps, and folk blues performed with characteristic flair and giving more than a tip of the hat to legends such as Dylan, Guthrie, Waits and Fitzgerald.

There are three main songwriting Dawgs in the line-up which helps to give the album much needed variety. Guitarist Martin Clancy covers the full on Country Folk side of the Dawgs while lead male vocalist Conor Farrell brings the Blues to the table and Bassist/guitarist Ruairi Galavan brings the filthy flirty Ballad side to the forefront. The magic that brings all of these qualities together are the vocals harmonies of the band especially the wonderful vocals of singer Eileen Twomey. 

The standout tracks for me are the three written by Ruairi Galavan. 'It Ain't Gonna Happen' is a fun-time tune about a lustful relationship that's going nowhere. The lustful theme continues with 'Dirty Little Minds' with fabulous harmonies while the best track on the album is this song 'The Arrival'. 

Other standout tracks includes the waltzing 'Lemon Ginger Tea', 'Poughkeepsie Blues' and 'Handmaiden's Song'. The whole album is full of well written tales that are inoffensive good time songs which make you smile and sway. 

The Prairie Dawgs - Halfway to Poughkeepsie [10 out of 12]

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Live Review: The Flaws & Guests - Whelans July 6th 2012

Last night I had the pleasure of being at The Flaws gig in Whelans and it was a great night for many reasons.

                           The Flaws
                            with support from
                  Heritage Centre

                                                                 and Princess

Princess are a three piece alternative rock band with a decent image and a few good tunes. They have the ability to be a quirky punk pop band that'll set them apart from every other wannabee Nirvana rip-off.

Heritage Centre performed nine tracks from their upcoming debut album entitled 'Alright, Check It Out'. It looks like some 'old' tracks from their earlier EPs have survived to be on the album such as 'Stolen It Twice' and the next single 'Oldest Friend'. The highlight of their set was the last single 'The Boos' with it's infectious backing vocals.

If I was to do a 'Top 50' bands list Heritage Centre on the basis of last night's gig would be at number one. With respect to Whelans, I really hope this band climbs the ladder to the bigger venues and bigger stages. The musicianship, songs, vocals and stage presence has this band on a firm pedestal for me.

The Flaws launched their new single 'Let's Fight' with a gig at Whelans last night. Their set was a mixture of new and old and I was impressed by their style and some of the tracks came across very well. However I can understand why they find themselves in a black hole after their success with their debut album a few years back. They lack an originality within their set-up that distinguishes them from lots of other bands. Sadly a band as good as The Flaws with a few excellent songs is not enough to make progress in Ireland's current music world.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Mix: Irish Acts at UK Festivals

This year more than any other year there's an influx of Irish bands, both big and small making their way to the UK to play key spots and further expand their fanbase. Here's a list of bands playing the big festivals this Summer!

T in the Park - Fri 6th - Sun 8th July


The Minutes - T Break Stage Sat 7th

Two Door Cinema Club - Radio 1/NME Stage Sat 7th

More Than Conquerors - BBC Introducing Stage Sun 9th July

The Origian Rudeboys - King Tut's Wah Wah Tent Sun 9th

The Coronas - King Tut's Stage Sun 9th

The Brilliant Things - Radio 1/NME Stage Sun 9th

Latitude Festival [Thursday 12th - Sunday 15th July]


Glen Hansard - Main Stage Fri 13th

Mick Flannery - Main Stage Sat 14th

The Cast of Cheers - The Lake Stage Sun 15th


Two Door Cinema Club & The Cast of Cheers are scheduled to appear at Reading & Leeds while The Coronas have a spot on Bestival!

There's also good representation of Irish acts on the smaller festivals in the UK such as Marc O'Reilly appearing at the Tartan Heart Festival in Inverness in August .....


......... while Polly Barrett appears at Purbeck Folk Festival in August and the Roots North Festival in September. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Album Review: Mick Flannery - Red To Blue

After about thirty listens I've finally decided to review this wonderfully charming third album from Mick Flannery. 

Mick Flannery as an artist is a bit of a mystery to me. Yes his vocals are superb and the songs well written but his music rarely inspires me or makes me enthusiastic. 'Red to Blue' was released a good few months back and went to number 1 in the Irish Album charts. His domestic success has been astounding with selling out the Olympia theater, regular radio play and filling up venues around the country. With all this exposure and his obvious talents I still found it difficult to write enthusiastically about his music.

That is until the release of this album 'Red to Blue'. Mick's vocals gives the album it's gritty edge while the music throughout is beautifully composed. What results is a charming album of tracks that blend together to be the perfect album.

Standout tracks are the Springsteen-esque opener 'Gone Forever', the gritty charming title track and the upbeat bluesy 'No Way To Live'. In truth there isn't a bad track on the whole album. Any one song could easily be a single. In fact some songs have had official videos produced for them and added to YouTube such as this one 'Ships in the Night'.

I tip my cap to Mick Flannery for producing an album of songs which is this good. I hope he goes global on this as it's a special album of songs.

Mick Flannery - Red to Blue [11 out of 12]


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Album Review: Glen Hansard - Rhythm & Repose

'Rhythm & Repose' ticks all the right boxes for Glen Hansard as he attempts to keep himself relevant. There's enough quality tunes to please the masses but the big 'but' is that it's not 'The Frames' or 'The Swell Season'. 

Isn't it always a problem when a solo album appears that it can't be judged in isolation? I mean, Paul McCartney released a few decent albums but they weren't The Beatles records! As soon I stopped looking for Colm Mac Con Iomaire's wonderful violin skills or the delicate vocals of Marketa Irglova, 'Rhythm & Repose' was seen in a more favourable light. That is because there's no doubt that Glen Hansard is an exceptional songwriter and there are some great tracks on this album. 

'High Hope' is probably the most 'Frames'-like track on the album with fabulous backing vocals. It's one of only a few tracks which finds Glen's gravelly emotional voice in full on mode. The upbeat 'Love Don't Leave Me Waiting' is a successful single in the making while 'Talking with the Wolves' is lyrically a great track. My favourite song is 'Philander' which is Glen doing what he does best by honestly writing a real love song with no holds barred. It's a song full of emotion and tension but with fabulous uplifting lyrics. 

I suppose the only negative is that there's isn't more songs like 'Philander' on it. It's an album that will please new 'Once' fans without breaking boundaries here at home. With this album, Glen has become relevant worldwide while becoming in many respects irrelevant back home as I can't imagine there'll be many good reviews from journalists, bloggers and I can't imagine much radio play from Irish stations. *

Glen Hansard - Rhythm & Repose [9 out of 12]

Tour Dates

Fri 6th Jul 2012 Harvest of Art Festival Wiesen Austria Find Tickets
Fri 13th Jul 2012 Latitude Festival Southwold United Kingdom Find Tickets
Wed 18th Jul 2012 Posto Unico: Botanique Festival Bologna Italy Find Tickets
Fri 20th Jul 2012 Acoustic Lakeside Venue Sitterdorf Austria Find Tickets
Tue 24th Jul 2012 De Duif Amsterdam Netherlands Find Tickets
Wed 25th Jul 2012 Carre Theatre Amsterdam Netherlands Find Tickets
Thu 26th Jul 2012 Carre Theatre Amsterdam Netherlands Find Tickets
Sat 28th Jul 2012 O2 Apollo Manchester Manchester United Kingdom Find Tickets
Mon 30th Jul 2012 HMV Hammersmith Apollo London United Kingdom Find Tickets
Tue 31st Jul 2012 HMV Hammersmith Apollo London United Kingdom Find Tickets
Fri 3rd Aug 2012 Festival Sudoeste TMN Zambujeira Do Mar Portugal Find Tickets
Fri 31st Aug 2012 Electric Picnic Stradbally Ireland Find Tickets
Sat 1st Sep 2012 Electric Picnic Stradbally Ireland Find Tickets
Sun 2nd Sep 2012 Electric Picnic Stradbally Ireland Find Tickets
Tue 4th Sep 2012 Union Chapel Islington United Kingdom Find Tickets
Sat 15th Sep 2012 Michigan Theater Ann Arbor United States Book Tickets
Sun 16th Sep 2012 Danforth Music Hall Toronto Canada Find Tickets
Tue 18th Sep 2012 Berklee Performance Center Boston United States Find Tickets
Wed 19th Sep 2012 9:30 Club Washington United States Book Tickets
Thu 20th Sep 2012 Union Transfer Philadelphia United States Book Tickets
Sat 22nd Sep 2012 Taft Theatre Cincinnati United States Find Tickets
Sun 23rd Sep 2012 Buckhead Theatre Atlanta United States Book Tickets
Tue 25th Sep 2012 The Pageant St Louis United States Find Tickets
Wed 26th Sep 2012 Liberty Hall Lawrence United States Book Tickets
Fri 28th Sep 2012 Pabst Theatre Milwaukee United States More Info
Sat 29th Sep 2012 First Avenue Minneapolis United States Find Tickets
Tue 2nd Oct 2012 Vogue Theatre Vancouver Canada Find Tickets
Wed 3rd Oct 2012 Moore Theatre Seattle United States Book Tickets
Thu 4th Oct 2012 Crystal Ballroom Portland United States Book Tickets
Thu 18th Oct 2012 Kaufleuten Z├╝rich District Switzerland Find Tickets
Fri 19th Oct 2012 Muffathalle Munich Germany Find Tickets
Mon 22nd Oct 2012 Gibson Frankfurt Germany Find Tickets
Tue 23rd Oct 2012 Alhambra Paris France Find Tickets
Wed 24th Oct 2012 Cirque Royale Brussels Belgium Find Tickets
Tue 6th Nov 2012 Kiva Auditorium Albuquerque United States Find Tickets
Wed 7th Nov 2012 Plaza Theatre El Paso United States Find Tickets
Fri 9th Nov 2012 Bass Concert Hall Austin United States Find Tickets
Sun 11th Nov 2012 Bass Concert Hall Austin United States Find Tickets
Mon 12th Nov 2012 Jones Hall For the Performing Arts Houston United States Find Tickets
Tue 13th Nov 2012 Jones Hall For the Performing Arts Houston United States Find Tickets
Thu 15th Nov 2012 Music Hall at Fair Park Dallas United States Find Tickets
Fri 16th Nov 2012 Lila Cockrell Theatre San Antonio United States Find Tickets
Sun 18th Nov 2012 The Brady Theater Tulsa United States Find Tickets
Mon 19th Nov 2012 The Brady Theater Tulsa United States Find Tickets
Wed 21st Nov 2012 Orpheum Theatre Memphis United States Find Tickets
Sat 24th Nov 2012 Moran Theater Jacksonville United States Find Tickets
Sun 25th Nov 2012 Moran Theater Jacksonville United States Find Tickets
Tue 27th Nov 2012 Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre Orlando United States Find Tickets
Wed 28th Nov 2012 Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre Orlando United States Find Tickets
Fri 30th Nov 2012 Broward Center For the Performing Arts Ft Lauderdale United States Find Tickets
Sat 1st Dec 2012 Broward Center For the Performing Arts Ft Lauderdale United States Find Tickets
Mon 3rd Dec 2012 Ruth Eckerd Hall Clearwater United States Find Tickets
Tue 4th Dec 2012 Ruth Eckerd Hall Clearwater United States Find Tickets
Mon 10th Dec 2012 Paradiso Amsterdam Netherlands Find Tickets
Tue 11th Dec 2012 Grunspan Hamburg Germany Find Tickets

* .... just a quick update, here's an article by the most relevant journalist commentator in Ireland from last Wednesday and there is not one comment from any reader on the article. I find that fascinating! http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/ontherecord/2012/06/27/notes-on-a-glen-hansard-interview/

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Live Review: Shannon & The Shortcuts - Swan Lane, Navan June 30th

Photo from Whelans gig, March
Navan singer Shannon played her first headline hometown gig last night with her exceptionally good band 'The Shortcuts' and it was a great success. They're gonna be massive!


Kicking off the gig in fine style with the title track from their debut EP, 'A Million Miles', Shannon & The Shortcuts proved to me that they are a band worth blogging about. Shannon has superb vocals, has great stage presence and is all rounded entertaining performer who commands your attention throughout. In front of a supportive 'home crowd' her stage performance showed maturity beyond her years by enticing audience participation and audience singing during a number of tracks.

While Shannon's performance was quality, the set-list of songs was brilliant from start to finish. 'The Shortcuts' consists of Drums, Bass, Guitar, Violin and on some songs Trumpet or Saxophone. The recent addition of violin on the tracks enhanced the finesse of the songs. Standout songs from the set includes 'Be Mine', 'I Can't Hide' and the instantly charming 'Our Mistakes'.

While Shannon is a 'Pop Star' she is comfortable vocally with all the songs which flirted with other genres. The well chosen covers of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine showcased Shannon's vocal abilities. The mid set slow set of a little jazzy number and the track 'Romeo' from the debut EP also proved to be no problem to Shannon.

Overall it was a fabulous performance from a band who are very close to being a complete package.


Buy The EP here: http://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/a-million-miles-ep/id505515374

Here's Shannon & The Shortcuts on the Saturday Night Live Show: