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Archive for the ‘Dublin, Ireland’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DON BRYANT: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #116 (November 24, 2020).

I was not familiar with Don Bryant, although I must have heard his music over the years.

Bryant, almost 80, has been in the music business since the early days of rock and roll; he wrote his first hit, the Five Royales’ “I Got to Know,” in 1960. He went on to his biggest success as a songwriter for Hi Records in Memphis …. For a number of years he only recorded gospel music, until 2017 when he began releasing soul records again, backed by members of the Bo-Keys.

Although

Classic soul music feels best in a club, with a lead singer and big band, preferably with horns, playing off the excitement of a sweaty crowd, drawing them in to stories of love, or love lost, or love reclaimed. It’s a hard feeling to find in our pandemic times.

Bryant manages to play some gorgeous old-school soul with just a guitarist (Scott Bomar) and a keyboardist (Archie “Hubbie” Turner).  And his voice, of course.

Wearing an elegant black and grey jacket matching his salt-and-pepper hair, Bryant evokes style and experience – someone who has been in it for the long haul.

This set is three songs from his latest record, You Make Me Feel, all written by him

His voice is powerful and resonant, deeply rooted in gospel. The keyboard sound is a classic soul sound and the guitar provides a mixture of rocking riffs and mellow accompaniment.

In “Your Love is to Blame” he even gives some good James Brown yelps.

Between songs he sounds like a preacher:  I’m going to give these songs to you as strong as I can.

“Is It Over” is slower and more mellow.  His voice sounds great, hitting high notes and unlike contemporary singers, his grace notes sound great–strong and not whiny.

“Your Love is Too Late” is a classic soul kiss-off track: “I found somebody new to do the things I wanted you to do.”  It opens with an old fashioned guitar riff and moves on from there with grooving guitars and fleshed out keyboards.

I don’t listen to much soul, but I do rather like it.

[READ: December 26, 2020] By the Way 2

This is Ann Lane’s second book about public art in Ireland.  She compiled the first in 2010.  I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know what is in it.

She says that in the ten or so years since the first book, more art has been added and she had been made aware of all of the art that she had missed.

But the fact that there are over 1,000 images in this book, that this is her second book and that in the introduction she says that she pretty much ignores the big cities (due to size constraints of the book) makes me think that Ireland is absolutely amazing with the amount of public art that the country has.  Ireland is about the same size as Indiana, and I would bet a ton of money that Indiana does not have 2,000 (some absolutely gorgeous) piece of public art to look at.

This book is broken down by county.  Lane includes many pieces of art from each county and provides some context for the piece, whether it is the impetus for the creation, some comment about its construction or even an occasional personal reflection.

It isn’t easy to photograph pubic art.  Some pieces absolutely fail when taken out of context or when trying to encompass an entire piece of art with a tiny photo.  Sometimes you cannot do justice to a piece because it must be seen from different angles to be really appreciated.  But Lane does a great job conveying these pieces.  And if her main goal is to get you to want to come to Ireland see them, then she has succeeded.

I marked off dozens of pictures in here because they were either my favorites or they were interesting in some way.

I followed this format.
COUNTY
Town: Title (Artist) Location.  Comments. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GOBLIN COCK-Necronomidonkeykongimicon (2016).

Goblin Cock is the hilariously inappropriate name of a heavy metal side project from Rob Crow of the band Pinback.  The album sounds very literally like a heavy cousin to Pinback with a similar (just much heavier) songwriting style.

The band members are: Lord Phallus (Rob Crow)-guitar and vocals; Lick Myheart-guitar; Tinnitus Island-bass; Mylar Grinninstein-drums.  (Probably pseudonyms).

Necronomidonkeykongimicon was the band’s first album in almost ten years after two albums in the early 2000s.  And Joyful Noise records had this to say about it:

Goblin Cock is a band from beyond time, beyond space, beyond your naive concept of dimension in METAL. Since before your pathetic “god” had supposedly “created” you and your kind, Lord Phallus was hunkered in a cybertimeship/fun-dungeon skating the layers of what was considered “true metal” in all societies and in all generations. Eventually His Majesty realized that he really didn’t care and launched a full-scale war against bland metal with an emphasis on ACTUALLY HAVING A GOOD TIME!

The album has 13 songs in 36 minutes–this is not an epic recording or anything.  But despite their brevity, these aren’t blistering punk songs either.  Rather, the songs work primarily in some of the heaviest metal styles (Slayer comes to mind) but also add some really alt-metal sounds (like Tool) in the bridges and choruses.

The first song, “Something Haunted” starts with a classic doom sound.  A distorted, vibrating series of notes–old school metal, including a heavy chugging riff. When he starts singing he sound a bit like Ozzy, but more like an alt-rock Ozzy (with a better voice).  When the bridge comes in, it feels more like Tool than dark metal.  The chorus soars to unexpected alt rock highs and somehow segues tightly back to that opening heavy riffage.  The song is three and a half minutes and is one of the longest songs on the album.

The second song, “Montrossor” starts so quickly, I initially thought it was still part of the first song.  It opens with fast double bass drums and equally fast riffage.  The bridge is a super fast followed by a slower melody (complete with crashing cymbals) that ends abruptly after two and a half minutes.  It ends abruptly and shifts gears into “Stewpot’s Package” which has that same old school style heavy deep opening riffs.  But again, it’s followed by a shift to more Tool-like sound for the bridge.  The chorus shifts gears and sounds almost like an XTC chorus.

“Youth Pastoral” is an instrumental with a practically heavy jazz riff.  The middle grooves all over the place as it shifts gears and style but fits perfectly together.

“Flume” opens with a slow menacing riff and Crow’s clipped singing until the much heavier chorus.  But, really, the most amazing thing about this song is that at the 1 minute mark, he sings the word “hey” for a full twenty-six seconds. It’s astonishing how long he holds that note.  The rest of the song is sung much more quietly, which seems fitting.

“Bothered” is heavy grooving with some excellent back and forth on the guitar parts. A shouting chorus is followed by a kind of guitar solo (more like an instrumental break than a solo proper).  A slow, heavy Soundgarden-esque riff opens “Your Watch.”  The chorus stays in that style, which never sounds like a Soundgarden song (the vocals are very different), but would fit comfortably on their playlist.  It’s followed by “The Undeer” a fast heavy chugging song that’s over in 90 seconds but only after a kind of mocking “la la la” vocal in the middle.

“Struth” opens with a slow drum fill followed by a n old school Black Sabbath-y riff.  The quietest part of the record occurs near the end of this song with a cool-sounding guitar melody (and effects) as the song slows to a pretty end.  But “The Dorse” resumes the heaviness with some intense double bass drum and pummelling guitars. This is another instrumental, but much heavier with some relentless pounding guitar and bass and an almost victorious guitar melody on top.

“World is Moving” is a quiet song that almost doesn’t fit on this record.  It opens with a complex guitar melody and some off-kilter time signatures.  The vocals are quiet and hushed for most of the song until it starts building up by the end.

“Island, Island” returns to the heaviness with a an intense riff and loud crashing drums.  It’s li e classic metal song with lots of drums taking the fore. There’s a catchy melodic middle that is bookended by ferociously heavy chugging guitars.  The middle of the song is about as heavy as this album gets with the thumping guitars and drums all in double time.

“Buck” ends the disc with the longest song–almost four minutes.  It’s slow and grooving and has a feeling of an 80’s sci fi film as the end adds a swirling synth sound.

Despite the band’s name, which will certainly turn off some, this album isn’t silly or overly vulgar.  It’s just some great songwriting in a bunch of heavier styles.

[READ: October 20, 2020] “Life Without Children”

Here’s the third story about COVID that I’ve read.  I’m not going to continue keeping track, but I am marvelling at how many have been published already.

This one is from a different perspective than I’m used to.

In it, Alan, an Irish man in his sixties, is in England on business.  His wife back home in Dublin tells him about all of the quarantining going on in Ireland.

Social distancing is a phrase that everyone understands. It’s like gender fluidity and sustainable development.  They’re using the words as if they’d been translated from Irish, in the air since before the English invaded.

Where he is in Newcastle, it’s like nothing has happened.  He is very careful about what he touches.  He cleans everything.  He envisions the particles floating in the air between the drunk men in the Hawaii-Five-0 shirts.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KNEECAP-“C.E.A.R.T.A.” (2018).

Kneecap are the Northern Irish trio of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Provaí.

They rap.

In Irish.

This in itself opens up all kinds of interesting rhyme opportunities.

Because I have no idea what they are saying, when the song opens with what sounds like “Fuck me,” I don’t know if that’s what he’s saying or if he’s saying something in Irish.  It sounds like they say fuck a lot, so I’m assuming that’s what they are saying (especially since the video has them flipping the bird a lot).  But who knows.

The song is anti police (garda) I’m assuming, although I don’t know what the initials stand for.  It also seems to be pro drug (or at least pro party).  There is one line that I picked out (there are occasional English words)  So a line ends with “balaclava” and then goes on

coke, speed, E, agus [and] marijuana
[irish irish irish irish irish] Connamara.

The video is an interesting insight into, I assume, Belfast, with graffiti-strewn tunnels and a very very very depressing looking “party” at the end.

The music is not terribly interesting.  It’s a very simple bass line that runs through the whole song, with the only change in the chorus being the addition of a high synth line.  But their flow is really good (to someone who can’t tell what they are saying).  The rhymes work and it is good craic not knowing what they are talking about but hearing an occasional familiar word.

If they can get their musical part more interesting, they’d be on to something.

[READ: September 21, 2020] My Wife is Married to a Feckin’ Eejit

I have no idea who Bernard O’Shea is.  Well, he’s an Irish comedian, but I don’t know what kind.  He could be Ireland’s Jeff Foxworthy for all I know.  I doubt that he’s Ireland’s Dave Chapelle, anyway.

This book came across my desk at work and I liked the title so I thought I’d give it a read.

The premise of this book is that O’Shea found a list in his wife’s diary of all of the reasons why he is an eejit.  So he enumerates this list and then gives details about each incident.

Most of the things O’Shea he talks about are daily frustrations (often gone to crazy conclusions).  I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this book if it were set in the States, but having it set in Ireland–where everyday things are a little different, (what in the heck is a crèche?) brought enough unfamiliarity to make these familiar stores seem more amusing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LANKUM-Tiny Desk Concert #975 (May 18, 2020).

At some point “new” Tiny Desk Concerts are going to stop being released to the site.  Given what the blurb says, it’s possible that this is the last one they recorded.

The band is super tight musically and I really enjoy the way they play traditional Irish music with a slight modern twist.

Bob Boilen loves this band and if it was the last Tiny Desk Concert for awhile, it seems like it was a good one for him to end on:

All of this was a build-up to a Tiny Desk concert I’ll never forget. I, too, am a massive fan of the drones from the uilleann pipes, harmonium, concertina and the stunning voice of Radie Peat. The Livelong Day to my ears has as much in common with Irish tradition as it does to electronic music, though everything they do is acoustic.

“The Wild Rover” is a nine minute song that builds slowly from its opening melody.  Daragh Lynch plays a repetitive quiet guitar chord high up on the neck and Cormac MacDiarmada plays a slow fiddle.  Radie Peat sings (in her very Oirish accent) while (I guess) playing the harmonium (although she doesn’t seem to be pumping it).  Ian Lynch adds an occasional note from  baritone English concertina.   After each verse (about drinking) all four of them sing the harmony chorus.  And after each chorus the song gets a bit louder–more concertina, louder fiddle.

Then surprisingly at 5 minutes after building so much, all the music drops out except for Lynch’s quiet guitar high notes as all four of them sing in close harmony.   Then MacDiarmada plays a fiddle solo and by the 7 minute mark the band starts playing with real discord as the harmonium and fiddle start playing slightly askew notes at the end of each line–adding yet more tension.

The song feels like it has taken you on a journey of its own.

Ian Lynch tells everyone that they are from Dublin (what a strong accent) and that they had lots of problems getting here.

Lankum’s journey from Ireland to the Tiny Desk was a wild and bumpy adventure. First, visa problems forced them to cancel their late February date. A week later, much of the world is more worried about COVID-19, though daily patterns here hadn’t changed. They arrived in New York, hopped in their van to Washington, D.C., only to have that break down. Finally, after all that, some good news: While in their new van heading to the Tiny Desk, the Dublin quartet received news that its brilliant album The Livelong Day had won Ireland’s Choice Music Prize Album of the Year!

The next song “The Young People” sounds very different.  It feels very traditional.  Daragh Lynch switches guitars and plays without a capo.  The sound is so deep compared to the previous song.  Daragh and Ian sing this slow, quiet song. I think Cormac MacDiarmada is playing the viola.  Mid song, Ian Lynch plays a brief uilleann pipe solo while Peat plays the harmonium.

The final song is an instrumental.  They remove the stand that Radie’s harmonium is on and she begins the song with a fast traditional melody on the baritone Irish concertina.  MacDiarmada plays a similar melody on the violin while stomping on a box.  Daragh Lynch bows the guitar at the start.

Then Radie puts down the concertina and sits on the floor at the harmonium.

After a couple of minute there’s the slightest pause of silence as the song shifts gears into a very catchy middle section complete with uilleann pipe solo.  The song flows through to the end with this very pretty melody.

Bob sees a lot of concerts each year.  This was his last of 2020 (so far).

A week later I saw Lankum in concert. It was the last one I attended in a real venue and the world was rapidly changing. Their journey home, I trust, was frightening. The idea of getting on a plane was so very different from just a few weeks before. I know it was tough, but I’m ever so grateful for this life experience and grateful to be able to share it here.

His last show was four days after my last show (Destroyer on March 8).  I was supposed to go to a show on March 12, but decided it wasn’t safe.  In retrospect, I should have gone, if only to get in one more show before music went away for awhile.

[READ: May 20, 2020] Five Years #9

This issue makes me think that either this series isn’t supposed to end in ten issues or he’s planning another series to continue this story after issue 10.

Because, boy howdy, there’s no way he can wrap this up in one more issue.

This book continues with the opening voice over.  Although this one is from one of the guards that Zoe has just stabbed. He is dying and he hears the voice of an angel.

The “angel” is Zoe (uh oh).  Zoe is on a mission and needs the weapon that she’s stuck in the guy’s chest.  Talk about a darkly comic opening. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAVID O’DOHERTY-“Florence Falls” (2012).

Back in 2012, Cathy Davey said she’d “been trying to figure out how to raise awareness for homeless dogs without it becoming a negative campaign.”  She says she “wondered how many songwriters would be interested in writing songs about dogs they have loved. It turns out nearly everyone I approached had a story to tell…”

So Davey and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy curated this album.  Proceeds from the album go to the Dublin-based Dogs In Distress.

The album features new recordings from fourteen artists, including Lisa Hannigan.  When the album came out Hannigan tweeted: “A dog is for life, this album is for Christmas” playing on the Humane Society’s “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” which is designed to discourage giving pets as holiday gifts if they can’t be cared for.  Sharon Shannon and David Gray both contribute instrumentals).  And of course, The Divine Comedy.

I was planning  to write about The Divine Comedy song, but my favorite track turned out to be this one from David O’Doherty, an Irish comedian.  I don’t know anything about O’Doherty, but the delivery of this bittersweet song was top notch.

Musically, the song is simple, just a keyboard playing a nice melody.  The story starts somewhat sweetly as Florence’s owner returns home.

As my key went in the door I’d call your name, you’d start to growl
And move menacingly across the floor
And as you’d thundered down the stairs
Snarling angrily
I’d wonder why I liked you so much
And you always hated me

The details of how bad Florence was are really hilarious.

In the winter you’d curl up by the fire at home
I’d go off to get your chew-chew
And then you’d eat my mobile phone

Then we realize just how bad Florence was

The first time that you nipped me people said you were just young
And the second time it was the heat
And the third you were only having fun (ha ha ha ha ha)
And the fourth time I actually needed Tetanus and you got neutered at the vet
She said that it would calm you down
And then you bit me on the leg

And since Christmas is coming, there’s a Christmas verse too:

I remember one time at Christmas
When you opened all the stuff
I put you out into the garden
And you were furious
You cried so much at this great injustice
I had to let you back in
And then you were good for an hour


Then you licked the turkey

Florence was truly a terrible dog.  A terrible pet.  And yet the ending reveals the truth:

Oh, Florence, there was nothing good about you I can’t think of anything
But I wish that you were still at home … hating me again.
You were a rubbish dog
But a rubbish dog is better than no dog

And even though this song is sweet and might make you a little teary-eyed, the phrase “rubbish dog” will always make me laugh.

[READ: November 30, 2019] “The Curfew”

I have loved Roddy Doyle’s stories for years.  His early stuff was very funny, but it has been a pretty long time since he has written anything genuinely funny.  But no matter, because what he writes is always good and very real.

The curfew in this story is in place because ex-Hurricane Ophelia is heading towards Dublin.

The protagonist is heading home, with a half hour to spare before the curfew.  His wife is dismissive of the curfew–“Do they think it’s a civil war?  It’s only a bit of weather,” but he likes the drama of it.  He felt like he was helping to stave of a catastrophe–it was doing him good.  It almost kept his mind off the medical news.

A couple of wees ago he’d had a checkup.  All he could remember was the prostate exam.  He smiled to himself thinking he could now address his daughter’s lectures about gender: “I know what you’re talking about, he’d be tempted to say.  A woman doctor had her finger up my arse and she was thoroughly professional.” (more…)

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chancers SOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-You in Reverse (2006).

reverseI love the audacity of coming back from a five-year hiatus and opening your disc with an 8 minute song that has lots and lots of instrumentals and solo sections.  And man is “Goin’ Against Your Mind” a good song (the band opened with this when I saw them and it awesome).  At around 5 minutes the songs slows down for a quieter section and then it builds back up again. I particularly love the roaring guitars in the back of the song (which I think are from Brett Netson—it is confusing that the band has a Brett Nelson and a Brett Netson in its line up).

“Traces” slows things down.  It has a simple but really catchy riff.  “Liar” is a bouncy, rather fun song with some pretty guitar work (two guitars in the middle) and a super catchy vocal melody. “Saturday” is a slowish ballad that is only 2:24.

“Wherever You Go” has a kid of Neil Young stomp to it, but it’s “Conventional Wisdom” that really opens up the beginning of the second half with a great riff and a fun chorus. The dual guitar solo that starts around 3 minutes in is fantastic.

I also love the guitar riffs in “Gone” and how at 3 minutes it turns into something else entirely with a big organ sound.  “Mess with Time,” which they played live, has a great staccato riff and a really interesting (to my ear Middle Easternish) guitar riff.   I also like the way it sounds like perhaps a circular saw blade is being used as percussion.  And how at 3:15 it turns into an entirely new song—an almost ska song riff with great bass lines.  “Just a Habit” is a mellow song with soaring electric guitar lines.   The disc ends with “The Wait,” a slower song that I don’t usually love.  But they played it live and in the live setting it took on a new vitality was really enjoyable.

This is an album I can put on an enjoy from start to finish.

[READ: August 7, 2015] Chancers

Chancers is a short three-act play set in Dublin after the collapse of the Irish economy.

There are four characters: Aiden and Dee who own a small shoppe; Gertie, an older lady who comes in regularly and never has a nice word for anyone and JP, Aiden’s mate.

In the first scene, we see that Dee is getting dressed up for a job interview.  She doesn’t imagine she’ll get the job, but they desperately need the money.  Aiden reveals that they have stopped offering certain services because they weren’t profitable enough.  When Gertie comes in, she mocks the two of them for trying, and for overreaching.  Gertie is nasty, undermining everything that Dee or Aiden says.

In the second scene, JP and Aiden are talking about a lottery ticket.  It seems that Gertie has bought a ticket that has won a huge windfall.  But when she brought the ticket in for him to check, Aiden instinctively told her it was a loser.  JP says that the first step has been taken now all they need to do is get that ticket for themselves so they can cash it in. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_04_14_14Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: SIMONE DINNERSTEIN-Tiny Desk Concert #362 (June 2, 2014).

simoneSimone Dinnerstein plays several of Bach’s two-part inventions.  And my jaw hits the floor.

I like Bach–I like his elaborate arrangements and the way he makes the piano (or harpsichord) sing.  But I never really thought about how hard these pieces are.  Watching Dinnerstein play these–simply watching the amazingness of her fingers–has blown me way.  And if I may say, her fingers aren’t long slender graceful things, they look a lot like mine.  So she doesn’t seem to have that advantage of an octave and a half reach or anything.  I am amazed that her two hands can work so independently.  And it sounds beautiful.

She groups them together into three segments and between each segment she talks a little about Bach and about playing these difficult pieces.  Her story about learning these as a child and then teaching them to children is really fascinating (and funny).

I have no idea how many Inventions Back wrote, but this set list is: Inventions Nos. 1, 6, 8, then Inventions Nos. 9, 10, and finally Inventions Nos. 12, 13, 14.

Check this out.

[READ: June 3, 2104] “Box Sets”

How can Roddy Doyle, who does funny so well, also do domestic unhappiness with such verisimilitude?

In this brief story, just as Ireland is getting through the worst of the economic depression and Sam and his wife Emer are feeling like they can exhale, Sam is let go from his job.  Now he’s been on the dole for three months.  And he is miserable.  The only good thing is that he has been watching box set seasons of all of the really good TV that everyone’s been talking about.  He feels foolish watching it all after the fuss about them has ended, but he’s still glad to watch it.  And Emer is great through the whole thing, always cheerful, always trying to make him feel better.  Always with a smile.  But Sam is getting darker and darker.

Then one night when Emer says they’re going to a friend’s house on Friday, Sam says he’d rather not.  He reminds her that at their last get together he was stumped when someone asked him what he did.  He just doesn’t want to go out anymore.  Emer tries to comfort him but fails.  He just gets madder until he throws a coffee mug and it shatters.  He takes the dog for a walk down to the seaside to cool off. (more…)

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wilderSOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live from Mountain Stage (May 16, 2012).

whitehorseWhitehorse is opening for Barenaked Ladies on the current leg of their tour (we’re going to see them in October).  I hadn’t heard of them.  Turns out Whitehorse is the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.  They are from Canada, which may be why they are touring with BNL–because they’re not very funny or very upbeat.

They play four songs in this Mountain Stage show.  I really like “Killing Time” which has a very alt-country feel—McClelland’s harmony vocals are great on the chorus, which has a very low down dirty feel.  I particularly like the lines:

Pimms in the cooler and daughter in the yard Playing California strip croquet

And

Tongue is a sharpened razor Little miss know it some But get her alone she cries I wanna go home Oh, this little piggy plays dumb.

They have some good stories too, like the one about “Emerald Isle” which is about Luke running a marathon in Ireland.  His Irish mother, who had never been to Ireland, flew out to meet him at the finish line and his wife, Melissa, flew in from Australia as well.  There are more great harmonies in this song which, while mournful has a wonderfully uplifting feel.  “Night Owls” is a very slow ballad which, while lyrically interesting, is a little too slow for my tastes.

For the final song, Melissa explains that the two of them had been playing solo and then they got married and still played solo.  And then they decided to join forces. “Broken One” was a song that Luke wrote for his ex-girlfriend (and it is mean); Melissa says that she fixed it for Whitehorse.  It’s a pretty standard country song with a honky tonk feel.  It has a great blow off line: “You gotta have a heart to have a broken one.”

There’s something about Canadian Country music that I like so much more than American country music.  I wonder what that is.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Wilderness

I recently stumbled upon this book at the library.  I was only vaguely aware that Doyle had written a children’s novel, but there it was on the shelf.  This is not a young child’s book, which is kind of a shame.  I know my son would love half of the book, but I didn’t think he was ready for the other half.

The two parts of the story are about different members of the same family.  The father, Frank, is the same.  He married a woman quite young and they had a daughter.  When the daughter was about 4 years old, the father and mother realized they could no longer live together.  After some fights, the mother left for America.  Where she stayed.  Gráinne, the daughter, is now 18 and she is a sullen, angry teenager.  Her dad is still okay, but most of the time she wants to treat him like he’s not.  But he seems okay with that and gives her space.  The crux of her story is that her mother has decided to come back after all these years.  And Gráinne now has to deal with that.

Her story is a little mature, (especially for my 8 year old son), and she has some pretty harsh things to say about her parents, (which I hope he doesn’t have yet).

The other half of the story concerns her half brothers, and I know my son would love this part.  Conveniently, the two stories are easy to demarcate–the ones with the boys are named Chapter 1 etc, the one with Gráinne are named things like The Bedroom, The Bus etc.  So I did consider telling him to read just those parts.  But maybe I’ll just wait.  Anyway, her half brothers, Johnny and Tom, belong to her dad and her stepmom, Sandra.  Sandra loves her boys and her husband and even Gráinne–most of the time.  But lately Gráinne has been a little much.  And Frank has encouraged Sandra to take the boys and go on a trip, just with them.  That will let her focus on the boys and give him some time with Gráinne. (more…)

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xmasSOUNDTRACK: BARENAKED LADIES-Live from Mountain Stage (Jan 19, 1995).

barenakedladiesThis is wonderful show from 1995 (it was recorded on Super Bowl Sunday, which explains the football jokes…including the Baltimore football team that played in the CFL for literally one year). Having seen BNL recently (and enjoyed them), I forgot how much more bouncey and fun their earlier shows were (as their earlier songs were in general more bouncey and fun).  This show is also interesting because Andy Creeggan is still in the band.  Andy is Tim (bass) Creeggan’s brother.  And I have to wonder if he is doing some of the great harmonies (especially on “Alternative Girlfriend,” which I’ve never heard anywhere else).

I love each of the four songs they play here: “Life in a Nutshell,” “Jane” (a song where their harmonies are absolutely wonderful).  “Great Provider” slows things down but allows for Tim’s great bass work.  The set ends with one of my favorite songs “Alternative Girlfriend.”  They disingenuously announce that they will be playing the Mountain Stage theme song and I think everyone is a little bummed that they didn’t.  But I was just as happy to hear “Alternative Girlfriend and this is where those great unexpected harmonies come in.  They even throw in a smidgen of “My Sharona” for fun.

I’ll be seeing BNL again in a month.  After seeing them this summer, I wanted to tell them to dig deep into their catalog for some of their middle albums tracks (like the ones here).  Since most people who see them are die hards, we’d all love some of these older tracks!

Enjoy the set here.  Sadly, you only get to see Steven Page’s glorious mustache in this photo.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Not Just for Christmas

In addition to writing a lot of novels, Roddy Doyle has written a number of smaller books.  Like this one.  This was actually written for The Open Door series which is a series of six books by different authors that are designed to help adult readers who have trouble reading.  The stories are meant to be short, engaging and relatively easy to read.

I wasn’t conscious of this story being easy to read, but it is certainly simple.  It is 77 pages with big print and probably counts more like a short story, although I think it gets classified as a novella.

Simplicity aside, the story is a very good one.  Danny and Jimmy Murphy are brothers.  But they haven’t seen each other in twenty years.    When they were younger, they were inseparable and, although they were a year apart, people assumed they were twins.  We see a few instances from their childhood where they finished each others’ sentences and had a kind of psychic connection. (more…)

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vanSOUNDTRACK: FRANK TURNER-Tiny Desk Concert #287 (July 13, 2013).

turnertinydeskNPR introduced me to Frank Turner and I’m pretty delighted that they did.  I really enjoyed his set at the Newport Folk Festival.  And here’s another live recording (a Tiny Desk Concert).

In this brief set, Frank and mandolin player Matt Nasir (he’s only been playing it for 6 months) blast through 3 of his rockingest folk songs.  “Recovery,” “The Way I Tend to Be,” (with a very funny lead story) and a rousing mandolin solo-filled and a (reluctant) NPR audience singalong. of the great “Photosynthesis.”  I imagine it was quite loud in their offices that day.

Turner is fantastic live—he’s personable and funny and even more so in this intimate setting.  It’s a wonderful set.

Check it out.

[READ: August 23, 2013] The Van

This is the final book in the “Barrytown Trilogy” (except for the new one coming out next year).  Whereas The Snapper was tied to The Commitments by virtue of it being the same family, The Van is tied to The Snapper because it follows the same guy—Jimmy Rabbitte Sr.

It’s 1990 (a few years after The Snapper because the baby from that book is now talking and mobile) and like many older people in Ireland, Jimmy Sr. has been laid off.  The first third of the book looks at life on the dole in Ireland—skimpy Christmas presents and getting handouts from your son.  And yet there’s always money for a pint or two—so Jimmy still gets to hang out with his mates at the pub a few nights a week.  He also goes out with the baby from time to time and occupies himself in various ways (pitch n putt).  There’s a lot of humor and silliness in this section–especially within the family when the twin girls start getting older and even cheekier.  And the focal point is the World Cup—because Ireland is actually going to be in it this year—Italia ’90!

And the Jimmy’s mate Bimbo gets laid off.  And that’s where the titular van comes in (over 100 pages into the story).  Bimbo is crushed to be laid off, but Jimmy is a little pleased.  He’s not happy that Bimbo is laid off, but he is happy that he has someone to waste the day with.  They go golfing together (and win a prize or two) and they do their best trying to stay happy.  But they’ve noticed that the fish and chips van that used to be parked outside of the bar is no longer there.  It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re drunk and hungry at midnight and can’t get a fish n chips.

And that’s when their friend Bertie (who can get anything for anyone) comes through on Bimbo’s half serious question–could Bertie get him a chipper van?  Bertie finds one—an unholy filthy mess of a thing with no engine.  And Bimbo uses his redundancy money, £800, to buy the mess.  Jimmy is appalled until Bimbo starts talking about the two of them being partners—working together to makes some money and sell chips to their drunken mates and—even better—to the punters who are enjoying the World Cup!  And suddenly it seems like a real idea. (more…)

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