When singer songwriter and guitarist Eugene Brosnan moved back to Clonakilty in 2015, after an 18 year absence from the place he had called home in the ‘90s, he contacted bassist Martin Kingston and in their first conversation it was mooted that they might get a band together, mainly, as a vehicle for the songs of the late great American songwriter and composer, WARREN ZEVON, as they both share a love for his music.
They soon assembled a group of musicians, with equal enthusiasm for the INNOCENT BYSTANDER project and in the 18 months so far, they have played a number of full house gigs and a handful of festivals. The band has also extended their set to include some original songs that sit happily and snugly among the Headless Thomson Gunners, identity thieving Gorillas and the colours of Georgia O’ Keeffes…
“Caustic, inventive, insightful, and funny as fuck” – Golden Plec
”For me the best songwriter in the country at the moment is Jinx Lennon, and he matters. He matters to me. And we don‘t hear him because he’s telling the truth. He’s singing about this island we live in as it is, and he doesn’t get airplay. Why doesn’t he get airplay? …Because he’s telling the truth. And why can’t people deal with that truth?… Because it’s very raw, and he doesn’t sugar it up.” -Christy Moore
BOB CHRISTGAU, VILLAGE VOICE
Chances are you’ve never heard of Jinx Lennon. Even in Ireland he’s far from famous, and except for a 2015 house party I got to attend, his only NYC-area gigs came in 2005 via Lach, whose amorphously contrarian “antifolk” catchall suits Lennon as it does few others. Structurally, he’s a singer-songwriter, earning his musical pittance performing his own songs over acoustic guitar. But that not only undersells his hyperactive show and ignores his live beat gear and studio horns, it misrepresents the aggressiveness of half-rapped, power-strummed rants far less predictable and more propulsive than, for instance, the rote metrics of original “punk poet” John Cooper Clarke. It misses how irrepressibly Lennon shouts and how insistently he repeats linchpin phrases. And it evokes a limpid lyricism he almost never trucks with, although he knows full well that his sing-along choruses are what render him inspirational in the end. My favorite goes: “No need to feel that you are a toerag/You’re not a scumbag, yeah, you’re not a scumbag.” But there are many others, and he means them all.
Lennon lives in and sings about his hometown of Dundalk in Ireland’s northeast corner, which in more storied times spawned both Cuchulain and Saint Brigid. Since 2000 he’s recorded seven albums for his own label, christened Septic Tiger in a prophetic dig at the Celtic Tiger, as the credit bubble then “modernizing” the Irish economy was dubbed by the kind of fool he isn’t. But by 2000 he was already 36, an age when most DIY-ers conclude that their music is avocational if the business of living leaves them time to play out at all. Not Lennon–not exactly. The oldest child of a line worker turned homeless counselor and a holistic healer, Lennon did construction in London after leaving school. Almost always in bands, he spent 1985 in New York, where he worked in a uniform factory and at South Street Seaport while supporting a vinyl habit long on Velvets and Television bootlegs. Then it was Dundalk and the dole and several more bands culminating in the alt-pop Novena Babes, whose sole SoundCloud track is far tamer than the solo music he’d soon put together. Yet in 2000 he too took on a job–as a hospital porter manning the night shift one week so he’d be free to tour the next. Seventeen years later, the 52-year-old father of a nine-month-old is still a porter. And he still plays out when he can.
This unusual profile explains a lot about a body of work you can stream on Spotify and buy from Amazon, although he’ll do better if you patronize his Bandcamp page. The two new ones are the Clinic-backed Magic Bullets of Madness and the hour-long Past Pupil Stay Sane, driven by a full band sound with plenty of rudimentary beatmaking, frequent trumpet, and occasional “girl voice” from his wife, Sophie Coyle. They’re his first new music since 2010’sNational Cancer Strategy, which he now regards as “not enough fun” for reasons a listen to the gruesome revenge fantasy “Pink Scrunched Up Thing” will soon reveal. My own favorite is 2006’s Know Your Station Gouger Nation, which follows “Accept Yr. Hair Loss” with “Nigerians (Stop Going On About)” and precedes “You Are No Scumbag” with the spiritual “Forgive the Cnts” (“If you don’t forgive the cunts/You’ll never find the peace inside you want”) and the enraged “Rap-S-Scallions” (“Two kicks in the head for being old/Three kicks in the head for being weak”). But every one is worth hearing, and not merely because they’re so rooted in Dundalk, which for geographical reasons was more embroiled in the Troubles than most and has since suffered plenty of lower-case trouble under capitalism rampant.
Equipped with a memorable little tune, Past Pupil Stay Sane‘s “I Know My Town” isn’t a rap or rant. It’s fully a song, with plenty going on. Understandably, however, Lennon fans gravitate to its middle verse, which situates him artistically: “I know my town, I know my town/Me, I know every smell from sewer pipes to the chip shops to the bullshit I hear round me constantly.” “There’s good things and there’s bad things here,” he goes on. But though his lyrics adduce bits of local color that will add concreteness for any listener while only fully resonating with his Dundalk homies, I suspect he’d be writing similar songs in nearby Navan or Mullingar, because it’s the characters that make them extraordinary–the kind of working people country represents by shuttling hunks from the weight room to the roadhouse and folk music sentimentalizes when it remembers them at all. None of them are starving and none of them have enough money. More are good than bad, but none are saints and most are messed up–like the young woman with flavored latex on her bed table in “Next Slow Song You Hear May Leave You Pregnant” or the boring cousin in “Gobshyt in the House,” both old songs, or like the aged aunt serving a “sandwich that’s like insulation for six attics for 65 years” or the “10 O’Clock T Break Bollix” who puts co-workers down so the lads will like him but isn’t bollix enough to believe they do, both new ones. Of the four, only the gobshite is unsympathetic.
Except in the crucial sense that he understands class, Lennon is not a protest singer. Occasionally the rich will horn in for a few lines, but mostly Lennon means to warn the local good guys about the bad guys itching to fuck them up. His primary goal is to convince them that, as Past Pupil Stay Sane concludes, “Every Day Above Ground Is a Good Day” even so. No more than five-foot-six himself, Lennon gets heated about bullies, with a special animus for the rapscallion hards who kick heads for the fun of it, and has written more home-invasion songs than most people. These include “So Frightened,” the opener on his live debut album, which I found so frightening myself I assumed it was autobiographical until the part that explains it’s based on a newspaper account. When you stream it, pay attention to the spoken intro:
“Before I start off I just want to say something. I just want to say that if anyone around this town thinks I’m up here trying to take the piss out of people I just want to make sure, I just want to make sure that I am not about that at all. I’m about fucking uplifting people.”
There’s a revolution happening. And it’snot going to be quiet.
Conceived at Clonakilty International Guitar Festival 2018 and birthed just before the biggest annual celebration of women in West Cork, Nollaig na mBan for Ovacare, The Kates took Clonakilty by storm.
Liz Clark (gtr), Eve Clague (elec gtr), Mide Houlihan (drums), Roisin Kilgannon (keys) and Paula K O’Brien (bass) are all musicians/songwriters in their own right but banded together to shine a spotlight on what contributions women make in a male dominated industry.
The Kates only play songs performed or written by women. They celebrate women who have come before them, blazed a trail and rocked the system.
Matt Gordon has been living in the woodwork of the music business. He’s a great Fiddler, Clogger, Hamboner, and Harmonica player. He toured in the 80s and 90s with the Fiddle Puppet Dancers, taking part in the London debut of Riverdance, and participating in festivals around North America and Europe, with that group.
His CD with Leonard Podolak and their pal Bill Shanley called ‘Three Thin Dimes’ is the first full recorded effort on his part, and although he knows many people in the tribe, and has laid a track or two, on other Cds he has not toured much in the last few years, focusing on his career as a woodworker, and cabinet maker.
Ciaran Calnan ….AKA RAWNEY , Formerly of SETMAKER, KARNAGE,THE KLUTZ, SMOG TOWN RATS, ESL TEAM , Clonakilty AFC , Clonakilty Rugby Club, DeBarras ….
many talents come and GROW in clonakilty but Rawney’s voice, guitar playing, drumming and all round musicality make him one of #guitartowns MVPs…….if you haven’t seen him before nows your chance…because you can be damn sure anyone who has is gonna be at this show…youll be greeted with new songs as Rawney goes virtual for guitar town with a new EP due to be released in the not too distant future
Eoghan O Sullivan returns to his home town to record a live Podcast as part of Clon guitar fest.
The podcast will be in O Donovans hotel (Commercial Room) on Saturday 21st of September.
Doors will open at 1pm and all are welcome – Space is limited so first come first served. Doors will close at 1:30pm when the podcast begins. The podcast will last approx 1hr & 30 mins & with special guests T-P-M – This show is wheelchair accessible.
THE POINT OF EVERYTHING
The Point of Everything is a music and arts podcast hosted by journalist Eoghan O’Sullivan that has been running since July 2015. With more than 130 episodes in the archives, the show sees artists go in-depth on their creative process, the arts community in Ireland, and inspiration. Guests have included Choice Prize winners such as Rusangano Family, Ships, O Emperor and Delorentos, criticially acclaimed acts like Girl Band and Cathy Davey, authors such as Kevin Barry and Emilie Pine, DJs Stevie G and Donal Dineen, and many more.
Eoghan O’Sullivan is a journalist with the Irish Examiner, where he covers music and the arts, and writes a weekly podcast column. He has hosted like recordings of The Point of Everything podcast at festivals including Quarter Block Party, It Takes a Village and Cork Midsummer. He also runs a music website of the same name, The Point Of Everything, is a regular contributor to London radio show The irish Jam and has been on the judging panel for the Choice Prize.
From Clonakilty in West Cork comes a folk artist, with the maturity to know that there is strength in vulnerability and power in gentleness.
Her debut album, Evangeline, is an alt country folky gem whose songs have, in general, a narrative structure but whose lyrics paint pictures to match any of the great musical storytellers you care to mention. But it’s Paula’s voice that stands out, full of emotion and ready to tell the truth.
Paula was chosen by IMRO to play at Templebar Tradfest 2017and was chosen by Luka Bloom to sing backing vocals for his album Frugalisto. She has played support for Hothouse Flowers, Nick Harper, Jack L and Mama Kin. She is involved in the Starling Song Project and has contributed to podcasts on the importance of arts in healthcare.She is a founding member and bassist of an all girl group called The Kates who play songs written or performed by women, to showcase the female talent who pushed the boundaries of a historically male driven industry.
Currently, Paula is recording new songs with the well known multi instrumentalist and sound engineer, John Fitzgerald in Lettercollum Recording studio, Timoleague. These songs are due to be released in September and she is privileged to launch her EP “ The River” the weekend of the incredible Clonakilty International Guitar Festival ’19 .”The River” is a collection of songs that hold huge meaning to Paula as they deal with the loss of her Mother and also celebrate the legacy of love she left behind.
For the launch of her EP, Paula has gathered a group of talented musicians to help her introduce “The River” to the world. Join them and be witness to the birth of something very special indeed.
Paula Bilá, singer-songwriter from Cádiz, arrived in Madrid after five years developing her musical career in Ireland.
There she recorded and edited her first album, “Love and Hate”, where she has worked with Bill Shanley (Ray Davies), guitarist and producer on his first album, and with other musicians such as Liam Bradley (Van Morrison), Binzer Brennan (The Frames) and the Australian guitarist Stephen Housden.
The album, which was warmly received by both the press and the public, led her to tour different festivals in Ireland and Spain, as well as participating in festivals with an international reputation such as the Canadian Music Week in Toronto, Canada, in 2014.
Paula Bila returns now in Madrid to record and produce her second album with the help of great musicians from the international scene and under the direction of producer Manuel Sanz (Cosmosoul). An exciting new project that reflects his influences of folk, blues or black music.