With friends like these

With Belsonic, Midsummer Sessions, Sound City, Africa Oye, CQAF and a host of others all wrapped, a week of talking festivals in Belfast, some late nights and an entertaining moment where David Homes refused to allow anyone near the piano at a house party; I have come to the conclusion that I have missed too many people for too long.  I am back in the library (#*$!) so the phone is taking a kicking, the music keeping me afloat. The last few weeks have highlighted just how supremely talented many of the lunatics listed here are. This post is a celebration of that, for the Hallions they are. Also, these posts act as a playlist of sorts for me to put things in one place. So, you know, you don’t have to like it but if you do seek these beauties out and buy a record.  Or ten.

One point of interest before I begin.  By all accounts Soundcloud is about to fall over, as of today (July 14 2017) there are reports suggesting that they have just about enough money to survive until Q4.  Which is 79 days away.  They recently laid of 40% of their workforce and are seeking external funders or a buyout.  Whichever comes first. I say this as many of the links to the artists below are Soundcloud pages, I have done this so you can hear more of their dulcet tones.  If, and that is still a big if, if Soundcloud do fall will someone drop me a line and tell me I have a dozen dead links on this blog?




This has to start with that Bronagh Gallagher wan.  It’d be rude not to. There are too many tales, too many memories and probably more hazy memories to recount. Dozens of shows,  backstage antics, John Rocha hanging out of a tree, Noel Gallagher opening beers with a lighter, sneaking into Jools Hollands dressing room for a nosy, checking into hotels at 6.30am, mere moments before breakfast and check out. Gallons of tea have been consumed over the years, the sultry voiced Gallagher is one of a kind.


Next up is the supreme grump that is Robyn G Shiels.  Hello Death.  Robyn is a gentle giant of a man and not nearly as depressed as his lyrics would suggest. Most Shiels stories are unrepeatable, no taboo remains untackled, no topic off limits. Shiels humour lives in some gloriously dark places and he gives good death face on stage.


Exmagician is Dan Todd, James Smith and Co, superb stuff this. Dan and his band of merry men have been through a number of iterations over the years, each growing in stature and grace, what started with Cecils Flea Circus in the Menagarie and us running through Hyde Park to catch them has brought us to this fuzzy goodness.  If there is any justice in the world etc etc, this version of the Todd Circus will be huge.


I have posted this before and I don’t care.  Listen to it again.  And again.  Listen to this til your teeth fall out and you ears bleed.  Then listen to it again. Louder.

Tuppenny Nudger by LaFaro is a true, balls out, shouty, riff filled, stadium filling rock anthem. Alas, Lafaro are no more.  Jonny, Alan, and brothers Dave and Herb knew how to wreck amps ( including using them as skateboards post gig), flatten buildings and bring the buckfast fuelled rage.  If there is a reunion I want to be there.

Please God.

I am going to be a little self indulgent and add this video of Jonny.  It was recorded at Atlantic Sessions at a coffee fuelled lunchtime gig on the beachfront in Portrush.
Its lovely and I made it. So there.


Arvo Party is Herb Magee from LaFaro fame.  This is as big a departure as you’re likely to hear. From bringing the noise with Lafaro to this electronic joy, Herb has surprised a few of us. Buy his new album. Seriously, its only a fiver.  Click! Now!


The other Brother from Lafaro, Dave Magee, is in a lovely, gentle five piece called Little Matador. Well no, it is more of a whiskey soaked rock and blues outfit.  I saw them once in Manchester.  Two things struck me as unexpected that evening. Firstly, Jimmy S, the bastard son of Terri Hooley, was working as tour manager and not drinking, to say I was perplexed is an understatement.

The second was that the band stopped before one song and bought the whole bar a whiskey. They patiently stood there while everyone got their drink. Except Jimmy of course. Not drinking.   It was lovely though.  Don’t expect to see much of Little Matador any time soon, Nathan is probably a busy with the next Snow Patrol album.  By way of an explanation, Dave is the one sitting by the window here, bearded and behatted, he is bringing nothing to this performance except first class Guinness drinking skill.  Seriously, look at that action.  Have you seen skill like that anywhere else?  No.


Documenta. Drone. Pop.

Documenta are simply glorious. Glorious. Joe Greene and his troupe of guitarists will be supporting the Charlatans on tour in Ireland this year, get in. (Expect wisdom and a good dose of true and untrue tales and good luck figuring out which is which).

Joe is a story teller, a muse to many in Craigavon (and beyond) and is a joy to behold.  True story, I once managed to get a picture of Joe on stage with the band where you couldn’t see any of the 38 other guitars present.


And here, for your amusement, is a tour of Craigavon with your host, Mr Joe Greene.


Tony Wright (Aka VerseChorusVerse) is a master of many styles, this is his new outing, new side project, new style, new move. From world tours in his little red van with ASIWYFA through to jazz, solo trips and now this, here is a man who knows how to rock. Heres to beers, tears, joy, (slight) trespassing and many laughs. Rock on Tony. Rock on.


I first saw Dan Donnelly playing off the back of a rusty old blue truck, parked up at the side of the Virgin Megastore in Belfast (remember them?).  It was a strange shock to the system, this odd, rag tag of troubadours, playing their guts out in the heat. There were odd instruments, plastic pipes and even odder cover versions.  I fell instantly in love with this noise.  There was talk of a single release in The Empire later that night and I went along to find my cousin was a stage hand the the rest is very foggy.  Watercress were something else.  Dan has moved to NYC, moved back, got married, had kids, released his own music and is now a staple in the Wonder Stuff team.  Here he is, background noise and all, playing one of my favourites.  Shine on brother, shine on.


Ciaran Lavery.
If you haven’t heard of Ciaran yet you will.
This is a masterpiece.


Brucie Bonus anyone?  Go on then.

I have talked about Joe before.  I’m adding this as I had forgot there was a Palookaville video.  Dear God I miss Palookaville.  The greatest collection of hallionary known to man.

 Thats your lot, now get your wallet out and get clicking… xx


  1. I’ve seen, drank with and/or shared a stage with many of these folks.. Bought ArvoParty yesterday and listened to it straight thru on an hour long drive.. Feckin classic ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

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