Country music trailblazer TRUDI LALOR is Tullamore bound. Trudi will join the legendary MARGO when ‘the Queen of Country and Irish’ brings her 70th Birthday Celebration Concert Tour to the Tullamore Court Hotelon July 20th.
For country fans in the midlands, the chance to see Margo return to the stage will certainly be one of the highlights of 2022. And with Trudi as one of the special guests on the bill (plus Mick Foster, Moyra Fraser, and Alex Roe), the night will be a magical and memorable experience for all in attendance.
Already a much loved and admired performing and recording artist, Trudi is regarded by many as having one of the most powerful and pristine voices ever to grace a country record – or the airwaves – in Ireland. But over the last few years, the Laois native has transformed herself into a veritable virtuoso of the country scene, becoming one of its most influential figures in the process. In fact, if Ireland can boast of anyone who comes even close to the phenomenon that is multi-talented American country star Reba McEntire, then Trudi has the strongest possible claim on that crown. And here’s why.
Not only has she maintained her recording career at a consistently stellar level, Trudi – already a noted radio presenter of long-standing as well – has also founded a brand new radio station. And, on top of that, she has been appointed editor of a groundbreaking magazine dedicated exclusively to the world of country music. However, despite having checked each box on that astounding list of achievements, it’s something much more down to earth – very like the lady herself – that perhaps best highlights the heights she has soared to, and the affection in which she’s held by those on the country scene.
And it’s this one simple fact. Like Reba, like Margo, and indeed, like Dolly too, Trudi is known to one and all as just that: Trudi. One word says it all.
It’s often said that every major moment in history will somehow find or reveal the individuals capable of rising to the challenges those moments present. Well, when Covid slammed on the brakes of the ‘live’ music industry in 2020, it certainly found Trudi more than ready to meet that moment head on. With husband and manager Billy Morrissey, Trudi organised the Reach-Out project, connecting some of Irish country’s biggest names – including Nathan Carter, Mike Denver, and Cliona Hagan – with fans all around Ireland, and well beyond these shores as well.
During a time when all of the normal means of connecting with each other suddenly became impossible, Trudi and Billy’s Reach-Out project found a way to bring people back together. And for many fans, it was these special moments that helped them to hold everything else together too.
That initiative has since blossomed into Reach-Out Radio, a national and global online station fully dedicated to country music, both Irish and American, with a sprinkling of Irish ballads and folk music added in for good measure. As well as Trudi’s own self-titled show, the station features Billy Morrissey’s Ballads and Folk Show,The Nashville Connection with Max T. Barnes, Marc Roberts with Country Roads, and Kelly’s Country with host Paul Kelly. And the station is adding to its already impressive line-up of presenters all the time, with Tony Brook and Kerry Fearonalso coming on board recently.
Sealing the deal on Trudi’s standing as a virtuoso beyond compare in Irish country, was her appointment to the role of Editor on the groundbreaking RSVP Country magazine, which has just celebrated its fourth edition.
Returning to Reba for those who may not know much about the Oklahoman, she is – without question – one of the biggest names of all time in American country music. She has been among its leading-lights for decades now, having signed her very first record contract way back in 1975. Since then, Reba has gone on to become one of the genre’s all-time greats with more than thirty studio albums to her name. But her natural creative talents, coupled with a sense of ambition, drive, and work-ethic that perhaps only Dolly could ever match, have also led to Reba becoming a familiar face on both ‘the silver screen’ and Broadway.
All in all, Reba has established herself as an artist, an innovator, an entrepreneur, and a businesswoman. And all the while, staying Reba. So as you can see, she and Trudi really do have a lot in common. Whether it’s Reba, or whether it’s Trudi, one word says it all.
For country fans who make it to the Tullamore Court Hotel to join Margo in her belated 70th birthday celebrations next month, the opportunity to also enjoy the company of Trudi Lalor will definitely be the icing on the cake!
~ MARGO’S 70th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION CONCERT TOUR comes to the Tullamore Court Hotel on July 20th, with Margo joined by very special guests TRUDI LALOR, MICK FOSTER, MOYRA FRASER, and ALEX ROE. Tickets are on sale now from hotel reception, or by calling 05793-46666.
For country music fans in the midlands, one of the biggest nights of the year – and one of the most eagerly anticipated as well – is now only weeks away as the legendary MARGOprepares to return to Tullamore next month.
Margo, whose place in Irish entertainment history is already eternally enshrined, will perform at the Tullamore Court Hotel on July 20th as one of the stops on her 70th Birthday Celebration Concert Tour.
Known affectionately within the country scene as the ‘Queen of Country and Irish’, Margo‘s honesty about her life and times – both onstage and off – has endeared ‘the girl from Donegal’ to fans for decades now, including many for whom country music might otherwise have held less appeal.
Speaking a few years back, on the occasion of a special tour to celebrate her fifty-five years in music, Margo talked about returning to touring after being off the road for a while. In what offered a good indication of how she probably feels about hitting the road again after the music industry’s Covid lay-off, Margo made her love for her fans – and indeed, her acknowledgement of their love for her – very clear…
“You know the thing I would miss most – cos’ I’d always still sing away – but the thing I’d miss most is not being out there and touring, being with the people. I really missed that contact. My audience are very loving, they’re very caring people who come to see me. And I sort of know a lot of them on a personal basis, they’re more than fans to me. They’re really friends that I’ve got to know on the road to where I am today.”
At that time, Margo also went on to say, “I suppose when I look back, I can remember the very beginning [of my career], and it doesn’t seem that long ago, even though it’s fifty-five years. It’s kind of unreal. When I started out, I never, ever thought that I would still be singing the way I am this far down the line.”
With this tour celebrating her 70th birthday (she was born on February 6th, 1951, but the original dates on this tour were postponed due to Covid), no-one can doubt Margo’s love of performing for her many friends and fans all around Ireland is still as strong as ever.
To help her celebrate her big night in Tullamore, Margo will be joined by some dear friends who are also stars of the Irish country scene. Namely Reach Out radio co-founder TRUDI LALOR, and MICK FOSTER of Foster & Allen, with Mick being joined by his true ‘better-half’, his wife, MOYRA FRASER. Young star ALEX ROE– whom Trudi mentored all the way to the final of TG4’s Glór Tírein 2020 – is also expected to make an appearance on the night.
~ MARGO performs at the TULLAMORE COURT HOTEL on her 70th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION CONCERT TOUR, on JULY 20th. Tickets are ON-SALE NOW from hotel reception, or by calling 05793-46666
When the opportunity came up to interview the world famous TV hypnotist, mentalist, and brain hacker, KEITH BARRY, I couldn’t say no. Especially as Keith‘s new book, BRAIN HACKS, ranks high on my list of must-reads from 2021. The chance to have Keith actually ‘read’ my mind during our chat, however, well, that was completely unexpected. But it happened. Oh man, did it happen. And what’s more… he did it…TWICE! How he did it, I still have no idea. And I mean literally… no idea.
When I tell people about it, the response is often the same: “Well, you MUST have said something that he picked up on.” But trust me, that wasn’t the case. And, even in the highly unlikely event that Keith found himself with some time on his hands before we spoke and decided to do a little bit of research on me, there’s just no way he could have come up with this info. The only place he could have found it is where he actually found it in that moment…in my brain. Which he hacked! And yes, as well as being amazing, that is also a little bit scary in some ways!
But I’ll tell you what, after seeing him do that to me – someone he had never met before, and doing it over Zoom – there’s NO WAY I’m missing Keith’s show in the Tullamore Court Hotel when he brings his RECONNECTED Tour to town on June 3rd. More on that show, and how Keith read my mind, very soon. But first…
Back when we were first scheduled to chat, and I had been working on what I wanted to ask Keith about, the world was emerging from a very strange place. Covid had been the dominant factor in everything that did or did not happen for the preceding two years. Many of us probably thought, and with good reason, that this – given its scale – would be the once-in-a-lifetime event of our lifetime. The last few weeks, however, with Putin’s Russian Army being sent into Ukraine on what is firstly an unjustifiable war, and secondly, an unwinnable one, have proved us wrong.
In terms of once-in-a-lifetime scale events, sadly, we’re already seeing scenes in Europe that we thought we’d never see again. And even worse is the fact that we might not have seen anything yet.
Because of what Keith does, and how his shows and his skills have so much to do with how people think, and how they can be made to think, I was intrigued to hear his read on some of the main players involved in the current situation, from the incredible and inspirational President Zelensky, the made-for-this-moment President Biden, the strong and steady Ursula Von Der Lyen, and of course, the reprehensible Russian dictator himself, Putin. It was a tough question to start our conversation with, but in fairness to Keith, it wasn’t one he shied away from in any way.
So, when he looks at what’s happening right now, what does he make of it all?
“That’s kind of a loaded question really, isn’t it. I mean, for me, I just have an opinion. So, it’s two different things, right. So first of all, when I look at politicians – and more home-grown politicians than anything else – when I’m watching Primetime or watching The Tonight Show or any of those, I’m actually just looking for ‘tells’ that will tell me whether someone is lying or not. And the second a politician opens their mouth, pretty much they’re lying! What I’m looking for are asymmetrical shoulder-shrugs, asymmetrical lip movements, the carotid artery in the neck moving, eye direction. I’m looking for pacifying gestures, filler-words. All of these things combined are known as ‘clusters’, and they can tell me if somebody is lying or not. And I find it fascinating that when I do look – and more home-grown than abroad, as I said – at Primetime and these shows, they’re actually not very good at hiding their tells…at all! There’s a reason for that, and it’s predominantly because most of our tells are subconscious. For example, even though I’m aware of them, I can’t stop myself doing a one-sided shoulder-shrug, or asymmetrical lip-movement when I might perhaps be deceiving somebody. So going back to your question about the political stuff. There’s so much going on right now, and there’s so much misinformation going on, I’ll be honest…I tend to shield myself from a lot of it. So I need to know what I need to know. And we all need to know what’s going on in the world. There’s a real war. There’s a real dictator. There’s some terrible, terrible things happening, obviously, to the Ukrainian people. We’ve all got to have empathy. We’ve all got to try and understand it as best we can. But I think there is no real understanding of a dictator like that [Putin]. There is no real understanding of what his real motive is. Because he knew the sanctions were gonna come. He knew the Ukrainians were going to put up a fight. So therefore, what’s the end agenda? And I don’t think anybody really knows just yet what that end agenda is. And I think that’s a problem.”
“I’ll be straight with ya”, states Keith, “I haven’t looked too much at what Biden’s been saying, not for any other reason other than I shield myself from a lot of this press because it digs deep into your subconscious mind. For example, I accidently saw the tank the other day that ran over the car. And you can’t unsee those moments in your mind. That’s what people need to understand. For anybody who saw it, that’s ingrained in your subconscious mind. From that news that I saw, apparently the person survived that tank going over them. But then, you have people immediately going on the attack saying that it was a Russian tank that purposely and maliciously ran over a civilian. But then you have other people who say well it’s clearly a Ukrainian tank that just went out of control because it hit ice, ya know. The truth remains to be seen. I don’t know the answer to that. But what I do know is that by accidentally seeing that, I can’t unsee it. So my imagination plays tricks on me thinking that perhaps somebody did die in it. Or maybe they didn’t die. I think we need to be very careful. More importantly, from where I come from, which is the standpoint of positivity, creativity, and really looking after your subconscious brain. Because most people out there, most people reading this won’t understand their subconscious brain at all. And when you see horrific things, it deeply ingrains itself into the neurology of your brain and can have a very detrimental effect on you down the line. And you won’t even know why, down the line, you have certain problems. It’s because of the information that you’re feeding into your brain. So I’m very careful of what information I’m absorbing right now. To go back to your question, I don’t really have a very strong opinion. Except my heart is absolutely with the Ukrainians, because we know that what’s going on is just inhuman. All I can do is wish them the very best. I mean, what else can we do? We can donate money, and we can do the things the governments are doing. But look, all governments have their own agendas. Biden’s got his own agenda as much as any other politician. We have to just see where it all rolls out to. But for me, it’s more to do with guarding your mind wisely at all times, and trying to absorb the information that’s necessary, that we all need to know. Because we all need to know what’s going on in the world. But then after that, I really, really try to reduce down my absorption of that kind of news, ya know.”
I thanked Keith for such a comprehensive answer to a quite difficult question right at the top of our chat, and we moved on to his new book, Brain Hacks, which is out now. Divided into nine sections, Keith states in the introduction that while people can dip in and out of it, he feels that it’s probably best read from start to finish. Now, in the same way that I’m always interested to know why a musical artist might go for a particular track-listing on their album, I was also curious as to why Keith had gone for the sequence he had too, beginning with Confidence, moving on to Risk, then Creativity, and so on. Some of it is no doubt self-explanatory in that one helps the other, but I also had a feeling that it went deeper than just that too. So I asked Keith if he’d share a little bit about the importance of the order for him when he was putting the book together.
“Well I think for me, the number one thing I’ve identified right now is that people suffer a huge amount with their confidence. I work a lot with business people as a mind-coach, and behind the scenes – nearly everybody, even these high-end business people – they suffer with lack of confidence. So I thought that was the right one to tackle right off the bat, how to instill confidence in people. They need to understand that everybody suffers from that imposter syndrome. And more importantly, even people in high positions, even athletes, they suffer with their confidence issues. And it’s ok to recognise that. But then, more importantly, it’s ok to understand that you can actually genuinely help yourself with your confidence. And confidence is something that can be gained over time. You’re not just born with confidence. You are to a certain extent, but it gets knocked over time, chipped away at. Like I explain in the book, it’s bricks and mortar, people are just constantly trying to knock that down. So what I’ve got to do is reinforce the bricks, reinforce the mortar in order to stop people chipping away consistently at your confidence. And then understand that there’s certain rules and techniques that you can use on a daily basis in order to promote your confidence. I put a section in there called, ‘Curl Your Toes To Confidence’, which I use to this very day! When I go back on stage, starting April 29th, when I walk on stage in Galway, I will have my toes curled in my shoes as I walk on the stage. These are things that I use myself every single day.”
Keith went on, “Even if you look at my Facebook page when I ask people what’s an issue that you’re dealing with right now, confidence comes up time and time again. And then also risk. I think a lot of people have become risk-averse these days. We’re so petrified of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, I don’t think people are taking enough risks anymore. So for me it’s about calculating risks. So how are you going to calculate a risk? Well you’ve got to measure a risk, you’ve got to gain all the information. Mine for the information is the way I put it in the book. You’ve got to mine like crazy to get as much information as possible. And [do that] before you make the decision. But don’t just go on a whim, or not go on a whim. Get all the information, investigate the information, and then, I say that once a risk is not detrimental to your health or detrimental to your mental health, always take the risk. That’s what I say. For me, once I have the correct information to hand, and once I realise that if I lose then it’s gotta be worth losing, right? So in other words, that risk element, you’ve got to understand that it’s called a risk for a reason. If you lose, you’ve got to be willing to lose. But for me, I always take calculated risks, day- in and day-out. That’s why, as I stand here before you, I’ve got a book written. That’s why I’m in pre-production of season-two of The Keith Barry Experience. That’s why I’m going on tour. It’s because I take these calculated risks. But it’s not about me. It’s about people understanding that with great risks comes great rewards. I think people need to stop being so frightened, cos’ everybody’s petrified right now. There’s a lot of scared people out there. Again, if you look at my Facebook page, it comes up a lot. It’s about just settling down the autonomic nervous system, dumping dopamine and serotonin into the system to counteract our cortisol levels. A healthy level of cortisol is actually a good thing for us, but we’ve got to understand that if we’re overwhelmed by cortisol we won’t take those risks. So we’ve got to learn to control that. That’s sort of the idea behind the structure of the book.”
Keith mentioned going back on tour at the end of April, and he brings that RECONNECTED Tour to Tullamore on June 3rd. He’s said that part of what he wants to do with this show is prove to people that when psychics say they can actually contact the dead, they cannot. What that made me wonder, though, is if Keith believes self-described psychics just can’t do that, ior s it something that can’t be done at all. Or perhaps, is it just something that’s beyond our capabilities as human beings right now?
“Well, I’m an open-minded sceptic, is the way I would put it, right. I’m always investigating psychics. But I’m also investigating crypto-zoology. I’ve got a lot of interests, so I look into a lot of different things. The issue I have is I’ve never seen a psychic, on tv or off tv – and I’ve personally gone to thousands of psychics around the world investigating them – I’ve never come across one that even comes remotely to what I would consider ‘the real thing.’ So I’m open-minded about it. But I know that there’s a huge amount of charlatans out there. This is the issue. And unless you’re well-versed and educated in the ways of the psychic, in other words; cold-reading, hot-reading, stop-reading, rainbow-reading, all of these different techniques combined can make it look as if somebody’s psychic.”
And right here is where things took a really interesting – and unexpected turn…
“For example, and I wasn’t even going to do this, but look. I’ve got a chalk-board here (*Keith takes it from off-screen and holds it up to the camera so that I can see it), and this is what a psychic would do, they’d use chalk and a chalk-board and they’d ask you perhaps to…think of somebody from your past. Ok, let’s do this. So Anthony, think of somebody from your past, that you haven’t thought about in years. So imagine for a second that you’re… in school. Imagine you’re in school, and in your mind – close your eyes for a second – and in your mind, I want you to just look around the classroom and see all the different pupils in the classroom. And look up at the teacher as well. And I want you to imagine that the teacher has a piece of chalk, and imagine that they’re writing the name of one of your classmates on the board. Just the first-name, of course. Imagine that they’re writing the first-name of one of your classmates that you haven’t thought about in years.”
So picture the scene here, folks…all of a sudden, I find myself sitting in front of the legendary Keith Barry over Zoom, and he’s trying to read my mind. And in my mind, as we’re doing this, and as I’m taking myself back to my school-days and thinking of a particular name, there’s a part of me that’s convinced that there’s just no way he can do this. I mean, how could he, right? How could he possibly figure out the name of someone I’m thinking of from about thirty years in my past? And, on the other hand, there’s another part of me that really wants this to work! Because that’s just amazing if it does. And I won’t need to understand it to be amazed by it, and to appreciate it. But either way, I can’t influence the outcome, because all I can do is what Keith asked me to do…think of a name of someone from my school-days who I wouldn’t have thought about in years…
“When you’ve got that done, open your eyes.”
I opened my eyes to see Keith looking right at me.
“Ok, good. So I’m going to write something down here (*I can see and hear him writing on the chalk-board). Be honest: Is there any way I could know the name of this person?”
No, I replied, absolutely not. I was convinced it was simply impossible, and wondering what the hell would I do when the name on the chalk-board wasn’t the one I’d been thinking of!
“There’s no way I could know, right?”, Keith asks again, and again, I confirm that there isn’t. Because there wasn’t. There just wasn’t…
“That’s why I’d written down the word ‘No’, ” laughed Keith, turning the chalk-board around to show me what he’s written, and adding, “See, that would have been good if I’d written down the name of the person!”
“But I’ll tell ya what, here’s what I’ll do”, began Keith again, “I’ll actually focus now. So I want you to focus on the name of the person. Focus on the name of the person, and in your mind, just…
Keith then repeats the alphabet backwards at such speed that I wasn’t even sure of the sequence at the time, and even listening back to it to transcribe this, I had to listen four or five times to be sure. And to be honest…I’m still not sure! But I THINK that’s what he did…
“Ok, I’m gonna write down a name now (again, I can see and hear him writing on the chalk-board)…ok, I think that may be it. For the first time, name out loud, what is the name – the first name – of the person you thought of?”
I answered Lynn, adding that I couldn’t be certain if she used to spell it with one n or two.
“Ok, that’s so interesting that you went Lynn, because that’s exactly what I wrote down two second ago, Lynn. And that’s two n’s, not one!”
Keith had just turned around the chalk-board to reveal the name Lynn written on it…and the best response I could manage in my very confused state was just, “Wow! That’s good!” But for the record, THIS was more than good. Way more than good! This was the kind of moment that leaves you doubting everything you know. And yet…being thrilled by it at the same time!
Listening back to our chat, I realise now that I almost shouted the next bit at Keith in my excitement!
“I had somebody else in mind first, and I changed as well, so I REALLY have no idea how you did that! I really have no idea!”
I had actually thought of someone else first, but then I remembered that I had posted something about this particular person on my socials…maybe two years ago? And for some stupid reason, I actually thought to myself for a moment, “No, better not think of her, just in case Keith saw that post!!
AS IF Keith has ever been scrolling around my Instagram! Anyway, if I thought I could out-think the brain-hacker himself, I was badly mistaken. And even more so than I thought, as I was about to find out…
“That’s why I was confused”, remarks Keith. “Look, if I wipe off Lynn right…just give me a moment (*I can see and hear Keith cleaning off the board)…I’ll wipe off Lynn. Ok, go for the name that you went with the first time, look at me… The name that you went with the first time, was that a man or a boy?”
I replied that it wasn’t, and Keith remarked that was interesting because he had thought it was a boy, and then said…
“Ok, I’m going to go with this then (*I can see and hear him writing another name on the chalkboard…)..., ok, I’ll get rid of the chalk. Ok, who was the first person that you thought of?”
I answered that the first name I thought of was a girl called Sharon.
“Sharon”, repeats Keith, “and it’s interesting that you went with two girls, because there were boys in the class as well, obviously, right?”
I confirmed with a simple, “Yeah”, that this had been the case.
“Sharon was the first name that I was going with as well”, revealed Keith, turning the chalk-board around to show that very name looking right back at me! “But then I went with Lynn first.”
I was literally stuck for words at this point, and listening back to it, all I did was laugh and say wow again. But in fairness to me, I did manage to hold myself together enough to thank Keith for taking the time to give me that experience.
“But if you think about this for a moment, though, right”, he continued, “if I wanted to pretend that I was psychic, and if I wanted to go deeper into that, I could absolutely do that. But I choose not to do that. Now obviously I don’t mind doing that on a call like this, but in the show, I do reconnect people with the other side, with the dark side. But I say at the outset, ‘This is an illusion, I’m doing this to show you how psychics do what they do.’ It’s almost like a public service announcement, think of it like that. But I’m doing it because people are really interested in this kind of stuff. I’m not doing it to dupe them into thinking that I’m actually in contact with the other side. I’m doing it for entertainment purposes. And I say to people, only get involved if you’re comfortable with doing this. Then they understand the process. Very often people will say I thought he was saying psychics aren’t real? Yeah, I’m still saying they’re not real, I’m just going to do this anyway and then we’ll explore that whole area. That’s what the ‘Reconnected’ show is about. It’s about reconnecting people intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually.”
“At the start of the ‘Reconnected’ show”, declares Keith, “I’m going to get half of the audience to hack into the other half of the audience’s brains. One half of the audience is actually going to be able to hack into the other half of the audience’s brains. I’m going to teach them how to do that. I’ve never done that before. That’s because I want that reconnection right at the start of the show, where the whole audience is just going to lose their mind. Everyone’s going to be freaking out. Even the people who are doing the brain-hacking, they’re going to freak out that they’re going to be successful at the brain-hacking. So it’s going to be this weird moment! And then at the end of the show, it’s the most emotional ending to a show that I’ve ever designed. Even the hardcore sceptics, they’re going to be balling crying in the audience. But, the reason they’re going to be balling crying is the feel-good factor will be so overwhelming. It won’t be like they’re crying for any other reason except it’s going to be an amazing moment of their lives. Even the sceptics! I’m really excited to get back on the road now, ya know.”
It was only as I was transcribing this that something pretty remarkable came back to me. When Keith asked if I had been thinking of a boy’s name first, I said no. BUT, that may not be 100% true, because the Sharon in question is the cousin of one of my best friends, a dude called Leroy! And we were all in the same year together! So Leroy was part of the thought process involved in me thinking of Sharon’s name in the very first instance! Amazing!
STEPHEN ROSNEY and THE BACK AXLES have put their own unique stamp on the Irish rock classic, WHISKEY IN THE JAR for their latest single. And the midlands based country and Americana outfit have invited MIKE SCOTT, one of Nashville’s most accomplished and admired banjo players, to lend his presence to the project, which is set for release on January 27th.
Speaking about the band’s new record last week, Stephen Rosney – himself a well-known and respected songwriter – explained why they chose such an iconic rock number to put a Nashville spin on…
“Ya know, it’s funny, because I get the same reaction from nearly everyone when they hear we’re doing this song next! First of all, they kind of look at me a bit confused by the choice, but within seconds they have big smiles on their faces and they’re telling me how much they can’t wait to hear what we’ll do with a song like ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, it’s gas”, laughs Stephen. “And when they hear that we have Mike on-board as well”, he continues, “all they want to know is when they can get their hands on it or start requesting it at radio!”
“How we actually came to record it, though, is a very simple story. We were in the studio with Mike when he was last over here in Ireland with us, and we were just having a bit of a jam. I can’t remember if we had finished something else off, or if we were waiting to start something that day. And I suppose that goes to show you how much this song overshadowed everything else from that day. But yeah, weren’t we just sitting there having a jam and we found our way in ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, and we just went for it. And it was great craic. But it sounded great, too. And both myself and Mike kinda said to each other, ya know, we should remember this one. And I suppose eventually we did! [Laughs].”
Whiskey In The Jar is perhaps best known these days for the version Phil Lynott‘s Thin Lizzy hit the Irish and UK pop charts with in 1973, or via the Dubliners who recorded it on three albums back in the 1960s, making it one of their signature tunes. However, what some people might not be aware of is that it’s actually an Irish traditional song telling the story of a highwayman wronged by his wife or lover. And while the song has also been performed by artists as diverse as The Pogues, Bryan Adams, and even Metallica at various times, Stephen explained why the Back Axles cut with Mike is really, in many ways, simply taking the song back to its own roots…
“Mike is one of the very best banjo players in the world, simple as that. That’s why he’s held in such high esteem in Nashville and wherever his name is known. So when a man with his talent meets a song like this, it’s like two old friends meeting. Mike can sense the soul of any song, and make it jump out at you from his banjo strings. And that’s what he’s done right here.”
When Stephen talks of the high-esteem in which Mike Scott is held, he’s not over-egging things for the sake of hype. Scott has played with the man regarded as the founding-father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe himself, and also has a world tour with bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse on his musical CV, having played with that famous duo for over twenty years.
Scott has also played with Carl Jackson and Vince Gill, and several other noteworthy names, many of them on the famous stage of Nashville’s Grand Ol Opry where he’s a regular performer. In fact, Scott has graced that famous old stage close to 500 times since he made the move to Nashville from his home town of Watauga, in the mountains of East Tennessee, in 1983.
A banjo and guitar player whose reputation precedes him both in the United States and internationally, Scott is also recognised as a talented singer/songwriter in his own right not to mention knowing his way around a studio as a producer and being equally comfortable as a TV host. Mike and his band were the first acoustic Bluegrass band to receive a full lifetime sponsorship from Gibson instruments in the U.S. in 1986, and his Blue Moon of Kentucky – Tribute to Bill Monroe project was voted in the Top 100 Bluegrass Albums of 2011 by the Roots Music Report.
Recorded at the Nut Shed studio and produced by Des Sheerin, Stephen hasrevealed that Whiskey In The Jar will also form part of the brand new Back Axles long-player – Long Legged Leprechauns – which is scheduled for release later this year.
“We’re planning on releasing the album later this year, all going well, and things being safe enough to get back out on the road again. That album will include some original songs that we’ve been working on, and some good old-fashioned foot-tappers that people will already know and love as well. We can’t wait to get ourselves back up on stage again, we really can’t. So we’re all excited to announce those details as soon as we can. Until then, though, we hope this new single will give people something to enjoy for a while. And we have to give a huge shout-out to our fans, to all the radio stations, and presenters who have kept our music as part of their lives over the last couple of years. That support means the world to us.”
~ WHISKEY IN THE JAR, the brand NEW single from STEPHEN ROSNEY & The Back Axles, featuring MIKE SCOTT, will be available on all platforms from January 27th, and available to request from radio in the coming days.
(Main Interview First Published in the Tullamore Annual 2019)
IN MEMORY OF OFFALY’S MAN FOR ALL OCCASIONS
Like so many, I was stunned by the sad and sudden passing of P.J. MOLLOY last week. A young man, seldom without a smile, always with a few minutes for a chat, a well-known face and much-loved character around Tullamore, and indeed – thanks to his love of music and Offaly GAA – far further afield as well.
The thought that we won’t be running into him again at a concert in the Tullamore Court Hotel, or an event at The Well – to be honest – it hasn’t sunk in yet. I write that as someone who moves mainly in the world of music, but I’m full sure that anyone who knew P.J. through his love and support for Offaly’s football, hurling, and camogie teams – and of GAA in general – will feel the exact same way.
To simply say that P.J. loved music wouldn’t do him justice. It was, I believe, one of the things that he lived for. And he had a lovable, cheeky, rogue-like way of making himself a part of things, so much so that he was pretty much an official part of the Irish country scene himself, as much as any artist could claim to be. If, as an artist, you had P.J. looking for a selfie with you, you’d arrived. And once P.J. knew you, he wouldn’t forget you. I can still remember his excitement at Alex Roe’s journey to the final of Glór Tíre, and how much he enjoyed those ‘live’ shows down at The Quays in Galway. And he’d been the same way a few years before when John Molloy also did the midlands proud on the same show.
And, if you take a close look at the cover of Colin Kenny’s latest release, Rockin’ and Rollin’, you’ll see that it’s P.J. right there in the middle of the scene, captured forever on the dancefloor of The Cherry Tree in Birr supporting Colin and a host of other country artists at a charity event a few years back.
Two Offaly lads, you see – Alex and Colin – so P.J. wouldn’t let them down. And what his support of John – a Westmeath man by God’s grace – proved, was that if P.J. found a place for you in his heart or in his life, even the colours of your jersey wouldn’t get in the way of that. And while P.J. had a soft-spot for many of Irish country’s female stars, he was never shy about telling anyone that Olivia Douglas held a place all of her own in his affections. An Offaly lass, you see, so P.J. was always on Olivia’s team, too.
But Alex, Colin, John, and Olivia are just a few names on a long, long list of artists and people – from near and far – who P.J. would always find time for, a list too long to even begin and probably impossible to bring to a close.
But this week, as P.J’s story on this earth came to a close, how proud he would have been to know that Alex, Colin, John, Olivia – and the immensely talented Majella Killeen – took the time not just to be there to bid him farewell, but to sing him into the next life. Music brought a smile to his face so many times throughout his life, so it was only fitting that it was such a beautiful part of his funeral service in his native Walsh Island, too, both in the church and at his graveside. I have no doubt that P.J. was somehow looking on, and smiling brightly…
And, God knows, P.J. himself brought smiles and laughter to so many different nights, in so many different places over the years. What a way to live, and what a way to be remembered.
If P.J’s passing has any lesson in it, it’s that life is short. Too short sometimes. We need to sing while we can. That’s what he did. And that’s what he’d want us all to do now, and in the days, the months, and the years to come when we remember him.
I had the pleasure of interviewing P.J. for a special feature in the 2019 edition of the Tullamore Annual (published by the Tullamore Lions’ Club). And in P.J’s memory, I’ve decided to share that chat here in OTRT today…
First Published in the Tullamore Annual 2019
If you don’t know who P.J. Molloy is, that immediately tells us something about you. For one thing, you’re obviously not a G.A.A. fan, and definitely not an Offaly G.A.A. fan. And for another thing, it’s probably a safe bet that you’re not on Facebook. You see, if you’re even remotely aware of anything to do with the G.A.A. in the Faithful County, then you would most definitely have heard of , seen – or probably had a pint with at some stage – the bold P.J!
Wherever there’s an Offaly team in action, you’ll see and hear P.J. somewhere in the crowd, cheering the team on as if his own life depended on the result. And even if there isn’t an Offaly team involved, the chances are P.J. will still be there, proud as punch in his Offaly jersey, almost like an unofficial ambassador of sorts!
But if the G.A.A. fills up his days, then it’s all about a sing-song when night arrives. And P.J. is never one to shy away from his turn when it comes. And if there’s an audience, all the better. And the bigger the better. And if there’s no audience? Well there’s always Facebook ‘live’, and a concert straight from P.J’s kitchen or bedroom. And sure you’d never know who’d be listening in, as P.J. discovered last year!
When I sat down for a chat with Offaly’s man for all occasions, we began by talking about where P.J’s love of all things G.A.A. comes from…
“Well, it’s from coming from Walsh Island, which is the heart of Offaly football really. So I was brought up with football from a very young age, going to matches when I was seven or eight. And the love that started then hasn’t left me since.”
P.J. is often affectionately referred to as Offaly’s number-one supporter, how does he feel about that?
“Well I suppose there’s a lot of people who could be called Offaly’s number-one supporter, because there’s a lot of great supporters out there, all over Offaly. But if anyone wants to call me the number-one, then I suppose that’s what I am [laughs]. But I’m happy enough just goin’ to matches. I’m not looking for any attention. I just love everything that’s Offaly.”
But when the attention comes his way, does he enjoy it?
“Ah, sure we all do, don’t we, like! [laughs]’
Taking everything into account, all of the big matches, occasions, and events that P.J. has been involved with in some way, what’s been the most memorable highlight for him so far?
“Probably singing for Jennifer Byrne at her Rose of Tralee homecoming. That has to be one of the highlights for a good few years! Jennifer won the Rose of Tralee, as you know, and the night she won I made a ‘live’ video [on Facebook], tryin’ to sing! I won’t say I was very good, but I tried [laughs]. I sang the Rose of Tralee and the Offaly Rover, and it was shared all over Offaly News and everywhere. And sure didn’t Jennifer see it herself, too. So she asked me would I sing both songs for her in Ballinahoun, and I said I would. So that’s one of the highlights of the career, so far anyway! [laughs].”
Was he nervous singing for Jennifer at her homecoming?
“A little bit, yeah. But we still gave it a good shot anyway. It mightn’t have sounded too great, but we did it!”
To narrow it down to just sporting moments, what was the one that made it hardest to keep his heart in his chest?
“Probably Ireland winning the Grand Slam in rugby, that has to be one of the best moments, EVER, the last one, against England in Twickenham on Paddy’s Day. That was brilliant. God was Irish that day anyway! [laughs]. And Offaly winning their All-Ireland in ’98, and ’94, which I can just about remember. But definitely ’98. I wasn’t there at the final, unfortunately, but I was at the homecoming. That was a good night! [laughs]. Unfortunately I’ve yet to be at an Offaly senior football or hurling match that’s an All-Ireland final, but that’ll change. We’ll be back in an All-Ireland someday.”
When I asked P.J. about who he considered to be the best hurlers and footballers in the country, his response was as much a declaration of loyalty and a demonstration of his passion for the cause as it was an answer…
“I’m not going to make that call for Offaly hurlers or footballers, because I have great time for them all. And everybody, all of them, are equal on my playing field, so they are. But looking countrywide, Joe Canning has to be up there. And Gearoid McInerney, another great hurler.”
His passion for hurling was evident again in his answer to my next question. When I asked him what it was about Joe Canning that seems to make him such a special player, without even pausing for breath, to think, or to blink, P.J. relived the moment that made Joe stand out in his eyes…
“His ability to take scores under pressure. I think back to last year and the All-Ireland semi-final against Tipp, out under the Cusack Stand, straight over the bar from about sixty-five yards out. One of the best scores I’ve ever seen. Just brilliant. I have my few selfies with Joe, too, and I have his autograph as well. Somewhere!”
P.J. doesn’t just like to meet as many famous faces as he can, he likes to get his own face into a picture with those famous faces! And at this stage, I remarked that he must have selfies with nearly everyone except the president…
“Oh yeah! Well, that’ll be the next one you see. Actually, I have one with Michael D, come to think of it! [laughs]. So Donald Trump now might be the next one!”
While the G.A.A. is undeniably the love of his life when it comes to sport, if you see him out and about in a soccer jersey it’s probably going to be that of the blue half of Merseyside, Everton. P.J. explained his soft spot for the Toffees…
“Yeah, I am, not that we have too much to shout about. I actually don’t know how I became an Everton supporter, to be honest. I was jumping all over the place once, I was even a Swindon Town fan for a while. But I eventually settled with Everton. I’d be happy with a top-ten finish this season, but it’s hard to know. But I won’t lose much sleep over them, it’s G.A.A. all the way for me.”
After from selfies, jerseys are probably the next things that P.J. is famous for.
“I have…wait ’til I think now…eighty-eight jerseys, between soccer, rugby, football, everything. Mostly G.A.A. There’s a few strange ones in there now, that people mightn’t recognise the look of! Bantry Blues is one example. There’s a few that wouldn’t be too well known at all. Anywhere I go, I buy a jersey. I’m always on the hunt for them. I probably have eight or nine Offaly jerseys at this stage, and that’s not counting clubs in Offaly. I have probably twelve or fourteen of those.”
But does he have a favourite? He surely does.
“Dan Currams sent me his Offaly jersey from when he captained Offaly, for my 30th birthday. And it was signed by Dan, too. That’s one of my prized possessions now, to be honest. It was a lovely thing to do. There’s a few more like that. I have a Rhode jersey signed by all the Rhode lads, I have an ’82 jersey signed by eight or nine of that team as well.”
It was the day before the All-Ireland hurling final when we spoke, so the hurling season was just about to reach its climax. And naturally, with P.J. right there in the middle of it all. But how many matches would he actually get to each year?
“Let’s see, tomorrow is the All-Ireland final, so that’ll be fifty matches so far for this year. I go to club, county, minor, ladies, everything. Basically, from January to September I’ll be at G.A.A. matches, if not every weekend then every second week. I went to eighty-nine (yes, he said 89!!!) one year, and still couldn’t get an All-Ireland final ticket. Every week a match! Sometimes two or three a week! And I still couldn’t get a ticket for Clare against Cork, the first game. But I wrote off to the President of the G.A.A. and duly got an offer of a ticket for the replay. I still had to pay for it, mind! [laughs]. But I didn’t mind that. At least I was going to be there.”
So when he goes to something like the All-Ireland final, when Offaly aren’t involved, is he going along to support one of the other teams or just to enjoy the atmosphere and the experience of being there?
“I’d like to see Limerick win it tomorrow, because they haven’t since ’73. Galway won it last year. Now, I wouldn’t begrudge either team an All-Ireland, but just for the sake of hurling, I’d like to see Limerick win it. And to be honest, I think they have the players to win it as well. I’ll be up there for the atmosphere anyway, in my Offaly jersey on the Hill! [laughs].”
As a matter of interest, I wondered was there anyone who P.J. would really love to meet still, but hasn’t managed to cross paths with to date?
“There’s probably a couple. The likes of D.J. Carey, I haven’t met him yet now. Eddie Keher, as well.”
Out of everyone who P.J. has managed to nab for a selfie, who was he the most nervous about asking for one?
“I think Jennifer Byrne! I met her first the night of the Offaly Rose selection, and we got a photo on that night. Then she won the Rose of Tralee itself, so I was fairly nervous asking for another. She wasn’t goin’ to say no, like, I know that [laughs], she’s too nice. But I was still nervous. And with Michael D., too, I suppose. Maybe it will be the Pope next, if I can corner him in Knock! [laughs].”
Now, being a man who takes in so many matches each year, P.J. is probably as qualified as anyone to throw out some ideas about what might be done to improve the games. So, if it was in his power to do so, what changes would P.J. make to how hurling and football are played at the moment?
“Oh scrap that black card! I don’t think there’s any need for it. If you’re gonna be sent-off, you should be sent-off. But with a black card you’re allowed to bring someone back on. It doesn’t make any sense. And I’d cut out this short passing altogether, too. Just kick the ball, lads! Get it into the forwards and hope for the best. And leave hurling the way it is, cos’ there’s nothing wrong with hurling!”
The other big love in P.J’s life – and it might even be the equal of the G.A.A. in his heart – is country music…
“I started to listen to it when I was young, Big Ed, Country Roads on Radio 3, if you remember him? Big Tom was one of the best singers ever, I saw him ‘live’ two or three times. And I’m a big fan of Mike Denver as well, and Lisa McHugh, and our own Olivia Douglas, of course! There’s very few of them I don’t have selfies with, either [laughs]. I love goin’ out to The Well in Moate for a dance, or to the Ballymore Festival each year. Anywhere you can get an aul’ jive goin’! And Sabrina Fallon, Colin Kenny too, and Alex Roe, there’s a lot of great artists out there these days. Country music is just the heartbeat of Ireland really. Like, I don’t see any conversations in night-clubs, because you can’t hear a thing anyone is sayin’! So where’s the point in even being there? Country is the music a lot of us would have grown up with. Now, I don’t mean to sound like I’m eighty or anything [laughs]. But it was country music. It wasn’t rock, or any of that feckin’ night-club stuff.”
As we came to the end of our chat, I decided to put P.J. on the spot for the following day’s clash between Galway and Limerick, and then the Dublin and Tyrone battle for Sam. And I might be paying a bit more attention to his predictions in the future!
“I’m gonna say Limerick. They have a savage bench to bring in, Dowling, Casey, and two or three more great players. So yeah, it’s Limerick for Liam for me. By two or three points only, I’d say. It’ll be close. And Galway will win the minor, they’ll beat Kilkenny. And there’s not even any point in asking about the football. Dublin will win that by about ten points!”
~ Rest in peace, P.J…you’ll be missed by many…and fondly remembered by all who knew you well.