Monday, 16 July 2012


The dawning of The Medicine Sessions idea came after reading Patti Smith's 'Just Kids'. The book was inspiring to me, not because of  Patti Smith (I knew hardly anything about her until that point), but because of the spirit in which it was written and the sort of time in the world it captured. I was delighted by the free thinking of the characters who appeared in the book and wondered what it must have been like around the Chelsea Hotel back in its day, how thick the air must have been with creativity, experimentation, out of the box thought, how must it be to be in an environment that encouraged the ability to try things, to have people who would at least try and understand where you were coming from. The world has become so cynical now, myself included and the book made me re-evaluate my approach when listening, watching and hearing 'art'. It made me want to try and recreate that scene, I felt there must be others of a similar disposition as to want to try and eradicate all the blandness that surrounds us. The Medicine Sessions was born.

Thursday 12 July bore witness to the most experimental night so far. Composer and teacher of the Oss Gwealghhaaa, Bren O'Ruaidh opened the night with a set that he had prepared especially for use in The Medicine Room. He has long been a member of the alternative/experimental sound scene, but rarely gets a chance to perform this side of his music, The Sessions seemed to be a perfect environment in which to dabble, play and test an audience. Beginning the night with a six minute long tonal sine type noise, with him bandage headed and masked. I interpreted it as a direct confrontation to the audience, to test their devotion to the act of spectating. Not being able to see a performer's face is unnerving, making you question your interaction with what they are doing. It gives them the power, they own their own performance. Breaking off the piece just before people began to panic left the audience wondering what was next, which happened to be a darkly witty Waits'esque number. His set also included a spoken word piece and a puppetry animated song. It was a brave thing to put himself in line for potential ridicule and it was a reflection of how open minded the Medicine audience are that they were appreciative of his set. There really was a feeling in the room of discovery, a small bit of the Beat club's pulse being momentarily rekindled.

Stephen Murray travelled from Galway to perform his way with words for us. Electrifying the room with his ironic wit and straight to the point poetry on everything from eavesdroppings in Swansea, underage sex, the hateful job experience and Micheal Fassbender's cock. His delivery is urgent and stubborn with more than enough ability to articulate the nuances of emotion within his poems. Poems such as 'The Hare' are even traditionally beautiful in their use of language and rhythm and made a refreshing finish to a reading that had just about everything.

Aine Duffy ended the night, unaccompanied but for her electric blue electric guitar and later, a ukelele. She had an easy confidence on stage, with pure Cork banter and a quick smile and when she began to sing she turned into a deeply powerful thing, summoning vocals not unlike a young, female Howlin Wolf. Her guitar playing perfectly complimented her delivery, understated but full of underlying power, ready to add texture when needed. Even when armed only with a uke, she held the audience's attention, grimacing and vocally soaring through her repertoire, eye's closed, body swaying, a picture of some Delta Blueswoman on a porch somewhere. She ended with an encore to a hushed crowd.

The Medicine Room heaved again with the bodies and souls of the Lismore contingent and even contained some new faces who had travelled twenty miles or so to see what it was all about. Talk in the beer garden in the early hours was excitable, folks saying how there would be potential of a Medicine Festival in a year or so, how refreshing it was to see experimentation happen, how much of a buzz the whole night is... and some twat who said he didn't know what the posters were about, "wot duz it mean!? Medicine Sessions.. me and my mates fawt it wuz some druggie club... "*insert beavis and butthead laughter... evidently, there is a night suited better to him and his mates with "all night cover bands and cheap lager" written on the posters... the rest of us can be happy knowing something different is in the air.