Monday, 23 April 2012


Anyone who has ever organised an event I‘m sure has a story or two to tell about stress. Generally I’m a very relaxed person, it takes a lot to get me pacing. Since setting up The Medicine Sessions, my yearly stress levels have elevated considerably though. The single most stressful moment of the entire operation, is the wait. The moment when doors open (9pm), to when the first act is due to go on (9.30pm). It’s an excruciating time when the streets are void of footfall, there is no noise of humans ascending stairs, the air hangs heavy in the cosy room, with expectant bands, ready to entertain, with a room not yet bustling with audience. My worst nightmare, is having no crowd. Luckily, the last sessions swiftly filled up once it got nearer to time, allowing me to relax and breathe and smile again.
It’s important to me that performers are almost guaranteed a crowd to play to. I don’t think it should be the job of the performer to ‘bring their own crowd’, which often seems to be the way at the moment. The point in organising something, is that you provide a service for the artist and the audience. Performers work hard enough travelling about playing for nothing, never mind expecting them to advertise the gig for you! There is a huge imbalance at the moment in the Irish and UK music ‘scene’. It is almost a given that bands will be happy to play for free and bring their own crowd and bizarrely, in some cases, even be expected to ’pay to play!’ Only recently there was outrage when it was reported that musicians in the UK were being expected to play for free as part of the Olympics celebrations, to ‘showcase’ themselves. It’s understandable that small, local venues can only offer bands a token gesture, but when large International events start expecting bands to give their time for nothing, then someone needs to shout hard!
Most performers who I’ve met are miffed that ‘money’ is not part of the deal, but at the same time accept the fact and so long as there is some effort made towards fair treatment, they are more than happy to entertain, particularly if you can gather a nice respectful, interactive crowd. As organisers, we need to keep in mind the fact that anyone currently out gigging, particularly their own material, have sacrificed a small lifetimes worth of hours in creating their art. They have honed their skills, so that we might be touched by something. Ask anyone on the street “do you love music” and a typical reply would be “I couldn’t live without it.” Now, more than ever, original music needs support, not just in buying albums instead of illegally downloading, but by actually going into a pub and experience it being performed. If we cannot pay our musicians hard cash, the least we can do is open up our souls for them… just make sure you all arrive before 9pm, to help save the organiser from her panic attacks.

Monday, 16 April 2012


The Red House pub is the sort of place where anything can happen. Visiting ‘luminaries’ from Lismore Castle occasionally intermingle with the regulars from the town and divulge in all manner of conversation from Tolstoy to turkey rearing. In the creation of The Medicine Sessions, we’ve tried to reflect the nature of the venue and last Thursday remained perfectly true to form. The full responsibility of being the organiser is sinking in now though, I had a tense few moments waiting for the public to arrive from the empty streets of Lismore, which they did eventually, only delaying the start by a few minutes. The Irish public seem to be notoriously bad at adhering to punctuality when it comes to gigs, so from now on posters will state a start time of 9pm. Yet again all the performers were absolutely brilliant, sorting out their sound in good time and being all round nice guys, which makes doing all this well worth the effort, as does seeing the Medicine Room fill up with good heads!

Cormac O’Caoimh began the night, gently weaving a hush over the room with his beautifully rendered tunes. There is something magical about watching a lone artist lose himself in his performance and the ability to do so is the magic ingredient that arrests an audience. Excellent finger picking on his electric nylon string guitar, combined with the occasional use of a ‘stomp’ box and loop pedal, created a sound perfectly complimented by his mellow vocals, which themselves, contained an emotive nuance in their delivery. Cormac performed songs from his new album ‘A New Season For Love’ an object well worth hunting out on itunes when it is released on April 26th.

Our Spoken Word section quite frankly, took everyone by surprise, not only because only two of the Poetrio could make it, but, because the two who did turn up managed to invoke all the Gods of old gloomy beat clubs with wonderfully spun phrases and extra sensory imagery. Using their voices, a guitar and a saxophone, Gary Baus and Bren O’Ruaidh built an entire universe of lonely, wandering characters, old legends and rainy monochrome streets with the distant sound of trains. I have a theory that it helps to have a strong accent when it comes to performing spoken word and with Gary’s light tripping American tongue and Bren’s deep rooted Irish turn of phrase, the pair made the room into an international oasis of words.

The 'Open Floor' section of the night was graced by our local regulars, Matthew and Nicola Tull, who displayed guts and talent as they recited their poems. It really does take balls to lay bare your soul this way!

Dimitry Datus ended the night with an up-beat, ska-seated, bass-ripping, head-shaking set of original songs. Their tunes contained some gems of lyrical wit, which were delivered with a sure hand and a rhythm as sharp as a Spiv’s suit! Steve, the drummer, also did an excellent job playing a drum kit at a suitable audio level for the cosy Medicine Room, a feat which is almost unheard of in such band members. Their whole set added perfectly to that ‘end of the night’ feeling, giving the audience an injection of energy to add to the soothed hearts and electrified brains, administered earlier in the night by Cormac Gary and Bren.

Next month we have another excellent line up, so if you are any way curious, please feel free to call in and see what happens when you mix a room hung with oddments, three acts of completely different genres, an open fire and an audience from every viewpoint.

Thanks again to all the Medicine makers and takers who came along this month. Cheers!