Irish tour 2016, not only the best for several years but possibly the best ever! The main reason is simple - Steve Richardson and Bri Chambers rock like feck (as the Irish would say) We had such a laugh in the van (When they were awake) It made fifteen hundred miles of driving a breeze, although in ten days I think I understood about nine words Bri said.
Eight storming gigs, all well attended, friends old and new, lots of young people at the gigs rocking away, it was fantastic, I am living the dream and have never been happier!
Pierce Cullenn and Rory OMahony made my first Day in Kilkenny, Awsome to see Billy Reidy back in Clonmel, Pat Cannon played a blinder in Dublin, great friend John Buckley at Murphs, Martin Murphy himself looking very well after an illness, Tom Fredz Keating looking after us at a storming Cork Jazz festival, the Cork faithful were out in force, and I've decided that my favourite place in the world is sat around Ger Keneally's garden table chewing the fat into the wee small hours, Thank you Ger, your hospitality is appreciated more than you will ever know.
John Hynes, as usual allowed us to invade his house in Newbridge, Co. Galway where we had a... wait for it...rehearsal!(luxury) I got shit faced on Bushmills with the Priest next door. (he loved the Pope and Elvis joke, but he dosen't find Father Ted funny - how odd!)
The best Dolan's for years in Limerick, they had put tables in the room but they got swamped by Rory fans at the front - awesome, thank you Mick Dolan for 14 years of support, Bri just couldn't handle that Ann O'Regan is the president of the Sinnerboy and Barry Barnes fan club and he needs a volunteer to create a Bri Chambers fan club!
We dedicated the gig to Chrissy who we heard passed away on the day, so sad.
Also sad not to be able to play in Dundalk for Mary Harrison and the sisters, we can't play The Spirit Store any more so if anybody knows of a venue there I could approach for next year I'd be grateful, Dundalk was always the last gig on the tour and I miss it.
Galway rocked, surely one of the best muscal cities anywhere, thanks to Paul Dolan for fixing my Strat, and the other Paul Dolan in Dublin who's going to finally make sense of my National Tricone.
Rory Gallagher was the best musician who ever lived, the people in the know are a warm, generous and loving club, I'd like to personally thank each and every one of the folks who turned out to enjoy the experience with us, the old dogs know all about it, having got to see the great man themselves but there is a new breed of young Irish Rory fans who were too young to have seen him, the fact that we can go some way to turning them on to Rory makes me very proud indeed.
The lads will send me messages now saying I've for gotten to mention so and so, so apologies in advance!
There will be no Irish tour next year as I will be sixty five and retiring.... and if you believe that you will believe anything...................... roll on IT 2017!
Memories, I find are the most awesome form of entertainment.
You don't need a screen, you don't need internet connection, you don't need mobile roaming data, tickets, taxi fare or anything else except a comfortable chair (Oh lord I AM getting old aren't I?)
But in the last two weeks I have added so many new memories to my files!
Clowning with maestro Dave McHugh at the Rock Hospital, Brian's first gig at RG place which was fabulous, the reception I got when I'd finished my acoustic gig in Owen Roe's, the blistering Bullfrog which closed the Bally weekend at RGP on Sunday, featuring Paul Westwell Dino McGartland and Adrian Kelly, three days sat in Ger Kennealy's back garden howling with laughter, The Saturday night at Cork rocks which saw this line up really starting to stretch it's limbs, curling up on the stage to go to sleep cos Jan was talking bollocks on the microphone for ages at the South County, and never looking back at the band's rock Steve Richardson without seeing a look of sheer bliss on his face!
The camaraderie between the bands is amazing, you know that if you bust a string or pop a valve there will always be a guitarist from another band offering you their pride and joy to play, although I didn't even see some of my best mates as the schedule just doesn't allow.
Then the most important of all, the friendliness and warmth of the friends old and new, I never have enough time to enjoy with them and I always hang around the bus station (I hope nobody cuts and pastes that last sentence) on Monday morning to say goodbye to the lovely folks travelling back to Dublin Airport, and on to their homes all over the world. I carried some personal sadness around with me in Ireland, and the warmth of these wonderful people made it easier for me to cope with.
In 1970 I was in a band called (wait for it) Kenny Walker and the 7th Decade, I insisted on playing two Taste songs in that band, 'Morning Sun' and 'What's going on' they went down like a fart in church as it was a soul band, and Kenny told me to drop them, so I told Kenny to stick the 7th Decade up his bum! (Remember that Keith Sale?)
Since then it's been Rory all the way for me and to stand on those stages in Ballyshannon and Cork and play Rory's music to people who are as passionate as I am is the greatest memory I own.
I wish there was no need of Sinnerboy, Laundromat or any Rory Gallagher Tribute bands, or any festivals dedicated to his memory.
I wish I was still in the audience waiting for the moment that always came, when it would be MY turn for Rory to look at me and play something directly for me.
Sadly that will never happen again, and it is my great pleasure to stand in line with all the other wonderful musicians who dedicate their time and effort to honour that man, that unique, humble gentleman who made time for everybody.
Young bands on fire are taking over the Rory mantle, their existence assures us that these memories are going to carry on being made. So please join me in raising a glass to the man who's memory will not be diminished after twenty one, or a hundred and twenty one years, the greatest - my hero - Rory Gallagher.
BRENDAN O'NEIL IS PLAYING THE RORYGIG! (Sorry, I was trying to be subtle about that, but I'm just too excited!)
Welcome back to the longest running Rory Gallagher Tribute Concert.
This year we're back at the very popular 'The Ruby Lounge'
The Rory fans took this venue to their hearts last year , spacious and comfortable with friendly staff and an excellent atmosphere
The Ruby Lounge is located in Manchester's trendy 'Northern Quarter' with great pubs and restaurants and plenty of accommodation in all price ranges.
Line up this year sees the popular Sinnerboy, The brilliant 'Jim Kirkpatrick and Heavy Weather',
The wonderfully energetic 'Last Fair Deal' from Spain and, new to all (Outside Athens) EIA Featuring Rich Melville (USA) Barry Barnes (UK) and...wait for it....Brendan O'Neil on drums!
Brendan was Rory's longest serving drummer, he is an utter joy to play with and, like Rory, a true gentleman.
Paul Westwell will be joining in with his superb harmonica playing throughout the evening.
The Rorygig has never been prouder to introduce a line up!
The 21st Annual British Rory Gallagher Tribute Concert
Saturday 8th October 4PM – 10-30PM
The Ruby Lounge 28-34 High Street Northern Quarter Manchester
Tickets £15.00 (plus booking fee)
Budget airlines run regularly into Manchester Airport where a very efficient rail shuttle runs into Piccadilly station, only ten minutes walk from the venue
Try this link for hotels:
Dave Smylie has left the building...(Well the band anyway) Dave was a great asset to the band and will be missed. Please join me in wishing Dave all the very best for the future.
Guess who is joining us for Ballyshannon and Cork?...Help M'Boab, it's Bri Chambers! Brian will not only be expertly holding the bottom end of Sinnerboy down (oo-er-missus) but will also guarrantee us a lot of laughs on the road (When I can understand him)
Then we have two gigs for Sinnerboy fans NOT to miss - Dave Burns will be joining us for two very special gigs in England, The first home gigs by Sinnerboy MK1 for ten years....Friday the 24th June at the Venue in Selby and Saturday 25th of June at the Flowerpot in Derby.
News of a permanent new Bass man for Sinnerboy to follow...when I find one!
Well what can one say? The 20th Rorygig lived up to all it's promise, the new venue was a real hit with everybody - comfortable, spacious and cool! (Even with 350 plus in it) We've not had a night like that since the old Dukinfield days, I was so proud!
The staff at the Ruby Lounge were pleasant and very helpful and full of praise for our 'family' and so was I - This is a venue that's right up there on the Manchester scene, with all sorts of music, but guess what I'm proud of the most - we drank the place dry! (Get in!!) It was really funny to see Guinness swilling Rory fans walking around with coloured cocktails and those daft Mexican bottles with lime wedges in them. I got an apology though, we caught them on the hop, next time they'll make sure we don't go thirsty!
There were so many countries represented with folks from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany,Turkey, Greece, Belgium, France, Gorton, and welcome Olga from Moscow - our first Russian ever!
Special thanks to Annette and Jay Jay for the sterling merchandising job!
All the musicians were just fantastic, everybody rose to this very special occasion. The Aiden Pryor Band were young and very hot indeed, Jacques Stotzem (What a find) had three hundred and fifty jaws dropping, Fall Apart sparkled with virtuosity, as did my old mate Paul guesting with them on Harp, and us Sinnerboys put the pedal to the metal and rocked like you know what!
Shadow Play at the end soon turned from a three piece tune to a ten piece, and our finale 'Messin with the kid' - well you had to be there!
The more very good news is that after some great Rorygigs at the Cavern, the 20th Annual British Rory Gallagher Tribute concert is returning to Manchester on the 17th October, at The Ruby Lounge on High Street slap bang in the Northern quarter of the city. The hotels seem better priced than Liverpool and they've got aircon (Or so they tell me) If you were at the Cavern last year you'll know why that's important! The gig is from 4PM - 11PM.
Rory Gallagher was the People's Guitarist. Unassuming but tenacious, the Irish blues man devoted his life to touring and playing his beloved Fender Stratocaster to adoring audiences. He never stopped working, and could always command a crowd, but resolutely eschewed the trappings of superstardom.
Born in Ballyshannon, Donegal and raised in Cork, Rory Gallagher fused Celtic influences, Country Blues and Rock and Roll into a burst of on-stage energy that could go on for three or four hours – Rory never disappointed his fans, they all came out of the theatre (Which in Manchester included the Free Trade Hall, Apollo, Palace, and International) tired, sweaty and happy!
His followers were (and still are) devoted to him, so much so that there are tribute concerts and festivals in honour of him across Europe, Scandinavia and America. But it all started in Manchester! - June 14th1996 was the date and 'The Pomona' was the venue – a famous Gorton music venue now, sadly in a bad state of repair.
Don't look for any famous names at this gig, the musicians on stage are all devoted fans that have studied the feel and technique of Rory's playing and singing. Nobody can be Rory, that is a fact, but these guys put on a fantastic show, and you will be as hooked as the rest of the audience at the end of the night! The organisers work tirelessly to bring you the best of Rory's music from the best in the world!
The venue this year 'The Ruby Lounge' is located in Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter. There are hotels to suit all budgets, great restaurants (including the best Sunday afternoon Nehari curry this side of Lahore at the cafe Marhaba on Back Piccadilly) and the best pubs in the city (In case you want to limber up before the gig!)
Doors open at 4PM and we will have the music rocking by 4:30 so don't hang about, and make sure to stuff your faces full of food before you come in because you won't be able to leave the gig at any point - the acts are just too good!!
After the gig there will be a soul and R&B (Our type of R&B) disco so you can carry on revelling, drinking and dancing into the wee small hours!
The train service from Manchester Airport to Piccadilly Station is cheap and runs every 10 minutes and the station is 10 minutes walk from the venue – dead easy!
If you are flying into my home city for the first time, Manchester is a vibrant metropolis and full of the wonders of the world – well a statue of Queen Victoria anyway!
Tickets £15 www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/173937
Appearing this year will be:
'The Aiden Pryor Band' aiden.jpg
Aiden Pryor fronts his band of the same name (or APB to his dedicated followers) as the singer and lead guitarist. Having been around live music his whole life in a family of musicians he found at 21 his love of playing guitar. Listening to the CDs and vinyl lying around home he soon appreciated the style and technique of Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughn. But his real turning point was when he put Rory Gallagher through his speakers and something came alive in him.
Going to a local jam and still very raw he attempted his first complete song singing and playing Tattooed Lady. He went down a storm and never looked back.
He performed locally with just a bass player and drummer and recreated the sound of an era that not only drew in the over 50s who appreciated the return to their youth but introduced the wonderful vibe of blues rock guitar to a new generation.
Still a young guy at 26 Aiden is starting to get known by Rory fans who travel to his gigs to feel his passion for his hero. Performing covers by Rory and others such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Philip Sayce interspersed with his own songs APB gigs are exciting, driven and Roryfied.
Jaques Stotzem jacques-stotzem-ay-hinckley-act.jpg
In the acoustic guitar world today, Jacques Stotzem is one of the “fingerstyle” guitarists with the most diversified style. Born in 1959 in Verviers, the Belgian guitarist has recorded 13 CDs and is high up on the list for fans of the acoustic guitar. Readers of the influential German acoustic guitar magazine «Akustik Gitarre» have likened Stotzem to artists such as Leo Kottke, Paco De Lucia, Neil Young and Keb’ Mo’.
That’s not really astonishing. His unique and highly refined playing style combines a well-developed melodic sense with a rare dynamic approach to the instrument that speaks directly to the listener. Jacques, unlike many guitar players today, possesses an in-depth sense of harmonic knowledge, which is evident throughout his compositions. All of this is cemented together by his perfect command of the instrument and by his optimistic personality.
Jacques Stotzem has become a regular guest at European and American festivals and is often invited for tours in Japan, China or Taiwan. Since 2006, the famous American guitar company “Martin Guitar”, produces an “OMC Jacques Stotzem Custom Signature Model”, a dream for every guitar player, a consecration for Jacques.
The two volumes of his CD “Catch the Spirit” (Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Nirvana, Neil Young arranged on acoustic guitar) have been a big success and stayed respectively 41 and 23 weeks in the Belgian Pop Charts.
In 2015, Jacques Stotzem releases a new CD “Fingerstyle Tribute to Rory Gallagher” to celebrate the sad passing 20 years ago of the Irish Blues-Rock player who has always been one of Jacques’ favorite guitar players.
'Fall Apart' volkhard.jpg
Not for no reason is Volkhard Schuster known as 'The Professor' on the Rory tribute scene. Volkhard's technique, flair and taste on the guitar is remarkable. He's joined onstage by our old chum Stefan 'Kugie' Kugler from 'Remember Rory' on bass and Markus Vorderer on drums. More information on this band to follow.
Sinnerboy, named after one of Rory's best loved songs, keep Gallagher's music alive and kicking.
Gallagher's songs are often complex, with subtle passages seamlessly blended with pounding, rocking sections and difficult chord and rhythm changes. It takes a hugely talented band to pull off a fitting tribute - Sinnerboy are that band. I have seen some great bands courtesy of Newbury Rock & Blues but this was the first time I witnessed the audience spontaneously get to their feet to give a
standing ovation then refuse to allow the band off stage.
Sinnerboy captured the live sound of Rory Gallagher and their love for the music they play was clear to see. This was quite simply an evening of great musicians playing great music to a highly appreciative audience.
OK so this year was the 17th annual Dutch Rory Tribute weekend, and I'm trying to work out hoiw many of them I have played in. It was the 17th gig this year which must make the first one 1999 (I think!) and I reckon Sinnerboy's first time was 2003? (It was the first time I'd ever played abroad and I was so excited!) but I'd been the year before as a punter with my pal Jimmy. Since then I think that there's only been two other years when we've not been invited to play and I've shown up anyway (Well I can't miss it can I?) These facts, of course, could be totally wrong and need to be substantiated by somebody sober!
Anyway 2015 was as awesome as usual, great bands, wonderful organisers, late nights in the late bars (I got whinged at by one bar owner for saying his bar was the whisky bar in my report last year, and it isn't so he told me what his bar was called at 4AM so of course I've forgotten, I'll try again next time!)
The highlight was a young man offering me the chance to play 'Wheels within Wheels' on the very guitar that Rory recorded it on (He'd bought it of Donal) there wasn't a dry eye in the house, including mine! Can someone remind me of the young man's name here please?Thumbs (Steve Richardson) rocked, and I'm really happy with the new Sinnerboy line up!
Another super tribute to our hero this weekend in Fürth, Germany. Great hospitality, damn good music and excellent friends is what these Rory do's are all about.
Our host Stefan Kugie Kugler picked us up from Nuremberg airport on Friday and took us to the usual and lovely hotel (But how narrow are German single beds? my big fat arse hung off both sides!) Then a huge Greek lunch at a local restaurant (They were from Thessaloniki but not a Trigona in sight Saloniki people!)
Then sound checked my acoustics - more food, lots of (excellent) beer and then a great set from 'Fall Apart' (Kugie, Anselm, and my old pal Volkhard)
They last played together in March but you would have thought it was the night before! They call Herr Schuster 'The Professor' and not for nothing - a true virtuoso, I had a quick go on his Strat afterwards hoping it was dead easy to play, explaining why he's so good - it wasn't, it was harder than mine, oh well...
I then played a half hour acoustic set with the whole of the sold out crowd singing along - awesome!
Then my first look at the excellent 'The taste of Rory' a rocking four piece who did Rory proud, sorry I didn't catch their names but they were really good, and the drummer knows as many jokes as me!
More beer, more food, more jokes then a good kip (Despite my dangly arse) slept through breakfast (In the words of that great seer Jed Thomas 'you can buy breakfast, you can't buy sleep') and met everybody at the Christmas Market for Gluehwein and pressie buying, then Sinnerboy sound check, beer, etc etc......
'The Factory' band impressed with some particularly throaty slide playing, then I had to introduce 'Kugler and Waloschik' (Try saying that after all that Gluehwein) fantastic acoustic duo (Stef and Marcus) Marcus had me green with envy just warming up backstage!
Then we finally got onstage to play a very understated and laid back set - completely obeying the club owners request to keep the volume well down.....shhh!
Mass 'Bullfrog Blues Jam.
Beer beer beer etc.
On Sunday (yesterday) our hosts took us to see the Zeppelin field - where the Nuremberg rallies were held, and the huge unfinished Coliseum - all astonishing and very chilling (and bloody freezing) I reckon old AH would have been a lot less of a pain in the arse if he'd have just chilled out and listened to a bit of Rory instead of all that bloody Wagner.
An honourable mention for Heike's Lasagna, Budgie was still talking about it in the van this morning!
Back to the airport for a short hop to Munich, a taxi ride that would have had Lewis Hamilton eating our dust to a hotel in the middle of nowhere, a perishing cold route march to the nearest Italian restaurant which was shut, but after Herr Smylie pleading with them in very impressive German - they opened up and gave us beer and Pizza!
This morning we just about made it home before a Pilot strike at Lufthansa (who seem to go out of their way to make life hard for their customers, but I won't whinge here)
Thanks a million to our hosts Stef, Heike and Ines, the great staff at Koffurfabrik, but most of all to the German Rory fans who sold out the gig and kept my faith in the fact that Rory fans are the best there is - and Rory Gallagher was the best that ever was.
Once again I'm sitting at my laptop looking back on a wonderful weekend with so many Rory friends.
I don't know if other artists inspire such bonding friendships, but I cherish the Rory ones!
Firstly many apologies for the heat, I think it must have been the combination of the gig being a month earlier than usual and a sell out crowd, Lots of people had to leave before Sinnerboy's set - well they said it was because of the heat and not that we were crap!!! I am taking it into consideration for next year.......
Weren't the Jim Kirkpatrick band good? Actually they are called 'Jim Kirkpatrick and Heavy Weather" so apologies to Chris and Neil..
They won the audience over with the first chord of 'Continental Op", and Jim was wearing a shirt that Rory gave to Richard Newman and yes, I tried it on, and yes, it fitted and no, I didn't nick it!!
Laundromat were superb of course, Danny, Fred, Joeke and Martin. A great choice of numbers brilliantly played - 'Edged in Blue stood out for me, The companionship of them and their Dutch pals was great, we had a lovely Sunday afternoon mooching around New Brighton which, as they pointed out looked just like Ijmuiden!
It was big Dave's fourth gig and first tribute with Sinnerboy so he's now well and truly broken in, and Budgie rocked as usual. I couldn't believe how quickly our hour passed and we had to rush Bullfrog at the end unfortunately - but give me a break, I've only been doing this for 19 years!
All these musicians are wonderful, they do it for just expenses for the love of the music, but for me it has always been the people that are most important, all of us are Rory Gallagher fans, it's just that some of us are on the stage and some of us are in the audience. There were tributes going on in Maynooth, Ireland and Japan on the same night, and Band Of friends the day after in the Cavern I hope they had a great time too (Bet Rory's ears were burning!)
Finally I'd like to make a special mention of my old friend Paul Westwell, Paul has quietly worked his nuts off for 19 years helping me with this gig, and at the same time showing he's one of the best harp players in the land, he certainly impressed Bernie Marsden when he played with him and Jim's lads last week in Macc!
Next tribute is Furth, Germany, where we'll do it all again!!