Wednesday, 16 August 2006

HANGING AROUND IN DUBLIN 2006

Thurs 13 July 'Time Is Tight' is the title of track 12 on the new album, and it very much sums up what's going on at the moment. We did some re-mixes earlier in the week, and my old friend Foxy Murphy from The Mosquitoes came down to play theramin, but also ended up playing guitar. Alas, these efforts didn't make it to the final mix, but we do have plans to record something together over the coming weeks. Tomorrow the album will be mastered by Fergal Davis at Suite Studios here in dirty old Dublin. The title: Silver And Dust. Played a gig at the Belveder last week with hip flask hip Damian Connors, and Paul Loughnan AKA Longtails.

Met my old friend Jona Cox who manages The La's, and hung-out with Marie from Sweden, on her first visit to Ireland in over four years. Fiachra Shanks shot a video for 'Rambling Jack' and it's gonna be edited in London any day now. The week before that I was in the USA, where I played a gig in New York, visited New Jersey and Philadelphia and recorded a new song called 'Hot Day In New York' with Mr Jack Lynch ! With the album almost complete (the sleeve is nearly ready, I'm told) I can relax for a few days, and then set the wheels in motion to get the details for the up-coming tour organized. Time for more Charlie Feathers !!

Fri 21 July "Nothing feels better than blood on blood..." is a line from Springsteen's 'Highway Patrolman.' (Nebraska 1982) And there sure is some kind of truth in that line. Spent a couple of days on the farm in south Mayo, and besides from eating some great food and enjoying the warm weather, I played a lot with my Dad. He used to play fiddle in a band back in the late 40's/ early 50's. Now, I'm not much of a fiddle player, but when the two of us get together some sort of magic happens, for me at least. ├ůsa shot about twenty minutes of film and I've watched it more than a few times over the past few days. The rugged landscape in the background as we played our tunes sitting outside the backdoor, blue sky overhead, sycamores swaying in the breeze.

Mastering the new album has been a real struggle. Three times I've gone through the difficult process, while a mini-heatwave drove the inhabitants of this city to drink. Later today, I will collect a disc and hopefully the changes I've requested will be in place and I can relax and forget about the record. I'm in no mood for sitting through another mind-numbing session, so I phoned in the details of what I wanted changing. Played a solo gig last night, small crowd on a hot humid night, but the few folks that attended were in a responsive mood, and Paul Loughran keeps getting better all the time. Tonight, another gig, this one with the full band.

Mon 24 July After Friday nights gig I was helping Chris load his drum kit into the lock-up when some shelving collapsed and a 24 inch bass drum (Chris ownes a few different kits) fell down and whacked me on the head. No concussion, no bruising...I must be made of stronger stuff than I imagined ! Earlier in the day, I got the mastering wrapped up and Cormac Figgis has been getting the sleeve design finished and it looks great.

The summer is still with us. I knew there would be some sort of advantage to global warming. I downloaded a video of Nikki Sudden performing 'Green Shield Stamps' from his forthcoming album 'The Truth Doesn't Matter'. I reckon its one of the best tracks on it. When he stayed here with me in February, a few weeks before his untimley death, he played rough mixes and that was my favourite track. He also played the song at his gig in JJ Smyths. The video I found on the internet was filmed in the Cake Shop New York.

Tues 1 Aug Its more or less done and dusted. A few minor adjustments to the sleeve art work, and tomorrow the courier will hopefully be taking it off to the pressing plant. "Silver and Dust" is the title of our latest masterpiece and should be available for sale in early September, which is just as well, because I've got a week of solo gigs in The Netherlands in September, and I don't want to arrive into that flattest of countries empty-handed. Throughout September I'll be playing gigs in Germany and with the band, a bunch of dates in Ireland are in the pipeline, but more of that later when I have all the information. The album will be available online through CD Baby, at gigs from a cardboard box, as a digital download and even in record shops. It's being distributed in Ireland by Claddagh Records, and in Germany its going to be on the Cannery Row label, distributed by Pool.

We played a great loose gig the other night here in Dublin at Za Globa, a cool Polish bar on Parnell St. The audience was 70% Polish, 30% Irish and a good time was had by all. It was Les Keye's first night playing bass, and he did a great job, sung well too. The area around Parnell St. is a part of town I hadn't been in for quite a while. These days it's very multicultural, which is great. However, the racism one can witness on a Saturday night on O' Connell street is frightening. The amount of scangers in this town gives me the creeps. Are they being cloned in some secret factory in Coolock ? A few seem to have escaped to Mayo as well judging on recent experience.

Whats on the turntable ? Well, the Stones 'Sticky Fingers' LP just finished. The Cramps 'Stay Sick' on glorious blue vinyl has been on a lot over the last few days, the Barnyard Soul compilation on Deep Groove Records from Dayton Ohio, Berry Wright 'I Love The Way You Love' featuring 'Clean Up Woman' (but I prefer 'I Love The Way You Love') Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill Broonzy (Chess Records) has been on late at night, as has John Coletranes 'Blue Train' (Blue Note). A good one to help get the cobwebs out of the brain in the morning is Impure Thoughts 'Lights Ahead' (Cannery Row), which incidentally is the label that's releasing The Racketeers new album in Germany. Impure Thoughts remind me of Green On Red, early Springsteen, REM. I've also been listening to Iggy Pop's Raw Power, especially 'Penetration,' Steve Earle, Loretta Lynn.....the list goes on.


Wed 16 Aug Royalties from Sweden and Switzerland arrived in the post this morning, which were most welcome, but also reminded me I had some forms to fill up for live performances for the first six months of the year. I tried to do this online at the IMRO website, but after typing in passwords, confirming the password, date of birth and a bunch of other trick questions the server couldn't find the relevent page, so it was all in vain. On realizing I had a few print-outs that had been lying on the desk for several months, I decided to resort to pen and paper and got the job done. Your often better off with pen and paper. Computers are great when they do what they're supposed to, when they don't, I often have to hold myself back from grabbing the hammer !

I've been hanging out with the Brontes a lot of late. Let me explain....one of my favourite novels is Wuthering Heights, and I started to read Jane Eyre (but got sidetracked along the way) so when I found a good biography on the Bronte sisters I knew I had to read it. Im nearly finished now- they're all dead except for Charlotte ! Mother, Anne, Branwell (opium and booze) Emily (T.B.) ....a terrible state of affairs. What a bleak life, terribly sad. How could you handle it ? On a happier note, a local record shop was having a closing down sale last week (a sign of the times) and I picked up the double DVD of Horslips career 'Return Of The Dancehall Sweethearts.' It was especially great to see some of the older film footage such as live in the National Stadium in 1973 playing a 15 minute version of Furniture. Does it still sound good ? Surprisingly the answer is Yes with a capital 'Y' ! I remember the night RTE TV showed the concert, I taped it with a little cassette player with the microphone sello-taped to a broom handle. Such was the technology of the time. Charles O' Connor looking like a cross between one of the guys from Spinal Tap and a member of the Tuatha De Dannan with his electric mandolin and huge platform shoes. How could you go wrong.