Aye Surely in our newest adventure. Anna Houston, Ray Coen and myself are trying to find a market for some of the material that doesn’t fit in with our bigger band NoCrows. Our repertoire has obvious similarities in style with the ‘big sister’ but we have managed to create a new sound that simplifies matters while still keeping that stringy, folkie Irish vibe with more Latin and classical influences. Expect new original compositions by all three of us, tangos, a touch of flamenco, and modern approaches to the works of Mozart, O’Carolan or Bizet.
NoCrows is probably the most eclectic band I was ever involved with. We’re together since 2005 and you’ll find details of our origins in the About section. We play a very diverse repertoire with influences from classical, jazz, folk and Irish traditional music. We define ourselves with the sentence ‘Folk from around the world’ but it took us ages to come up with something so vague and at the same time so true. We started playing movies themes and folk tunes from different countries. From the theme of The Godfather or Cinema Paradiso to tunes from Portugal, England, Italy, Ireland (of course), Moldova, Russia, Germany or Venezuela. In the last couple of albums we tended to write most of the tunes ourselves and today, original material is 80% of our concerts.
We played in major European festivals, including Glastonbury in 2009 and sold our music in over 30 countries around the world. You will find our albums on the usual online shops (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and if you like it, you can always think about asking us to play at your favourite venue or at your next private party… why not? We are certainly an alternative to the traditional wedding band
Check more info on www.nocrows.net
The Troubador Mules
Actor, musician and multifaceted artist Miquel Barceló moved from Mallorca to the West of Ireland in the year 2000, two years after I did. We had common friends in Mallorca but we met for the first time in a pub in Sligo in May 2000. Some craic. Once the friendship was established, it was only a matter of time for some form of collaboration between the two of us to happen. Our first project together was ‘Fishtale’, a children theatre piece written by Miquel that we are still touring. But soon after this, it was obvious that we had to create some other musical concoction addressing an adult audience. It was the start of The Troubador Mules (or ‘Els Muls Trobadors’ in Catalan).
This is an extract of our résumé:
‘Born and bred in a Mediterranean farm, fed with ROOTS music and spectacle of their homeland, they are modern inheritors of the RHYTHM and FOOLERY of their ancestors, well mixed with hot and exotic spices from new lands. The Mules, Felip Carbonell and Miquel Barceló, are a hybrid off-spring duo long time emigrated from their sunny Mallorca. Destination: rainy Ireland. Where they have teamed-up with two native mules, (Eddie McFarlane and Ken ‘Tonto’ McDonald), improving the groove features of the animal. From port to port, like wandering minstrels, they sing, dance, improvise and fabulate with the rough poetry of the common people searching to spread the universal spirit of celebration’.
We sing songs in 7 different languages in a musical journey from the Mediterranean shores of South Italy, Catalonia and Occitania, to the Atlantic waters of Portugal, Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. And we make people dance even when they don’t want to.
Check us out on Facebook and Twitter
I met classical violinist Nicola Cleary for the first time around 2008 when playing together in The Vendetta Orchestra. She had recently moved to Sligo then and was looking for new musical challenges. The Orchestra was very lucky to get such a talented addition. A year later I remember being in the car driving to Glastonbury with the Crows when I got a call from Nicola suggesting the possibility of doing a bit of work as a duo…a mix of classical and Latin tunes. ‘Wow…but Nicola, I’ve no classical skills whatsoever’, said I. ‘Don’t worry, we’re all learning every day’, said she.
And that was how we started Duo Compello and how I started getting familiar with the works of Paganini, Fritz Kreisler or Vivaldi and how Nicola got to know the works of Jobim or Carlos Gardel. We mainly play private functions, receptions and civil and religious weddings. Here is an excerpt of our blurb:
‘Duo Compello was formed in 2010 to bring the sounds of the violin and guitar repertoire to audiences around the country. The mix in performing a range music from classical works to modern tango music never fails to entertain. The skill and commitment in each performance from these two musicians brings the listener on a journey through centuries of musical pictures and emotions.
Whether you are looking for classical wedding ceremony music, mellow background music for a reception, tango and Latin performance for a venue, Duo Compello can meet any needs you have for an event’.
By the way, don’t forget to check some of the tunes of our demo in the MUSIC section of this web site.
If I’m not mistaken it was in summer 2005 as part of the 2nd Strandhill Guitar Festival, my fellow festival organisers Gerry Grennan and Seamie O’Dowd suggested the possibility of a small gig in The Strand Bar featuring the very first collaboration between the maestro virtuoso guitarist Mike Nielsen and…guess who?… myself. I knew of Mike’s tremendous musicianship long before that but have never spoken to him in my life before that day, never mind played with him. Nervous as hell, here I was heading down to The Strand to meet the genius that is Mike Nielsen wondering what the hell we were going to play. Two guys with two classical guitars? The result was one of the most amazing musical experiences I ever had to this day (only comparable to the time we played with Angel and Rolando, two of the guys in the current line-up of the Buena Vista Social Club in that very same room). Anyway, the sparks and musical communication were fantastic and Mike managed to get out of my humble guitar some of the best notes I ever played. Some years later he confessed to me that he was as nervous as myself about meeting and playing with this ‘real Spanish guitarist’ as if I was a threat to his enormous talent. We had a good laugh about it.
That brilliant experience brought us to form a quintet, alongside Eddie McFarlane (also on classical guitar), Eddie Lee (double bass) and Ken ‘Tonto’ McDonald (percussion). The band’s motto was (and still is) ‘everything is rumbable’ (hence the band’s name) and the repertoire is based on Standard and Latin Jazz meets rumba with a flamenco feel. Did you ever think you could dance to Miles Davis with a Catalan Rumba beat? Try it. Why not?
The Vendetta Orchestra
In 2007 or so, a bunch of lunatics based between Dublin, Galway, Clare and Sligo got together with the idea of performing original songs inspired by Der Struwwelpetter, a book of fairy tales written in Germany in 1845 by Heinrich Hoffmann. Ginger O’Keeffe and Paul Laffan wrote the music and the words of 10 songs based on the 10 original stories. Myself and Anna Houston joined in shortly and went on to record the band’s debut album ‘All God’s children’ in 2009.
‘Fantastically gore’ wrote a critic… The stage theatrical performance is a very important part of the essence of this band. Sometimes a 4 piece, sometimes a 10 piece band, you never know what to expect of this mad band. Neither do we. We were invited to perform in Switzerland in 2012 and 2013 and these days we are working on the repertoire of the second album which might be inspired by French chanson this time.
Miss the Vendetta at your own peril…
Check us out on Facebook and Twitter
Lampenfeber Jazz is the latest adventure of my good pal Jim Meehan. As a duo or joined by double bassist Peter Doherty and percussionist Ken ‘Tonto’ McDonald, this band’s works with the old time jazz standards but this time with a closer look at the Dixieland and New Orleans sounds with inclusion of an odd banjo tune. Although my job in this outfit is still the nylon-strung guitar, I’m tempted to give the 5 strings banjo a try, to see if we can get something with the Duelling Banjos vibe. Watch this space. For some of the future gigs we might be joined by a female vocalist, whose identity is still unknown even to us
One of my plans for 2014 is to release an album with my own songs. It won’t be a solo album because I don’t particularly like playing on my own. Music is a language, a form of communication between performers and audience and the best fun, from my point of view, is playing together with someone else.
Anyway, enough of that. I started writing at the age of 13 and have written probably close to 100 songs. Most of them ended up in the bin and I’m happy to say I have forgotten them. Some of them I have kept for many years waiting for the right time to show them around. I feel this time is approaching and that is one of the reasons why I decided to set up my own web site. It won’t be long now. In the meantime, in all those years waiting, I had the privilege of recording and publishing 4 of my songs. In 1990 with Tumbet, I recorded ‘Fer Cantó’ for the compilation album of the VIII Concurs de Pop Rock. A couple of years after, in 1992, Xesc Carbonell and I recorded ‘Pais de la Felicitat’ for Conciertos y Desconciertos (Sa Finestra compilation album). In 1993, Tumbet’s demo untitled ‘A la fi’ included 7 of my songs but they were never released commercially, so they don’t count. In 2008 NoCrows brought out the album Magpie which includes one of my songs ‘Ai, mu mare’. And more recently, in 2013, Strandhill superb pianist Kieran Quinn brought out his debut album including ‘Entre tu i jo’, another one of my songs.
Time for me to get cooking 🙂