Sunday, 29 December 2013


December. Busy old month! What with all the Christmas parties, shopping, organising, visiting school plays, etc. Now it's almost over already and another year will be upon us… Jaysus haych christ!
Back in those early depths of December, The Medicine Sessions erupted into another fantastical night, despite all the odds. One of our acts had to cancel, leaving one band to hold the reins for the entire night, a job that they did breath-takingly well!

Ciara O Driscoll and her band are incredible! The Medicine Sessions was apparently only their second gig together as a group, not that you'd know it, evidently the talents of each individual member running into limitless musical intuition and joy of playing with others. Ciara leads the outfit with an easy class, an ethereal presence on stage as she dips in and out of her own private moments while delivering her songs. Her voice is friendly, with warm traditional folk tones blended together with some jazzy/bluesy soul. The band take their lead's from her, the majority of whom are fresh, bright young things, lending a really fresh energy to the whole sound. Lead guitar; jazzy and easily slipping into improvisation, rhythm guitar; confident and sure, drums; full of nuance and drive,( it was commented a lot about how did the guy manage to get so many sounds from such a small kit), bass player; full of charisma and soul, lending a pulsing grooving backbone to the whole sound on double and electric bass (though not at the same time).

Ciara O Driscoll and her band blew us all away and have gone into the Medicine book of best bands so far, a book which is ever steadily growing as we are perpetually delighted by the sheer amount of talent dwelling in the small corners of this country. Along with the amazing talent, all of these guys are lovely humans, an added bonus to the whole event!

Keep your weather eyes open for this lot, see them live you must!

Saturday, 23 November 2013


It struck me, as I drove down from the mountain on that Thursday evening, how many leaves were still clinging on, the late autumn reds and yellows and browns threw majesty everywhere, like an intricate bohemian blanket draped casually over the slumbering warm body of the world's biggest stoner. It was nice knowing The Medicine Sessions was returning to form after a few months of hiccups. Tonight, I breathed to myself, tonight was going to be something special, I could sense a magical whimsy, a cold whipping wind with a succulent aftertaste. Winter was fast approaching, but right now, the watery glow of Autumn was reigning supreme and I was ready to suck on every last drop.

And so it arrived. All our musical creatures filled the Medicine Room. Stuart Wilde, stalked and skulked, all twiggy legs and maniacal beard growth, a tailored crow, sporting millinery, a long coat and a swagger. The trademark Wilde sounds rang through the room, all delivered from under glowering brow and hissing and growling. A pleasant fearsomeness. The Medicine Room sweated and breathed heavy under the weight of his performance, a cramming of thoughts, ideas and admiration's all being stroked by Stuart's playing. The clock ticked, the fire sparked, throats swallowed nectar and poisons, brains melted and were reborn, some just fused into a loop of longing, kicked off by some powerfully passionate love songs, the Wilde crow revealing a tenderness of heart that could make him vulnerable to hunting. By the break, a potential had fallen upon the room and sat in the corners, waiting to be unleashed.

Enter the skittish woodland mammals that are My Fellow Sponges. All twitchy noses, rambling eyes, sniggery laughter and delight at all things shiny and potentially enrapturous. They exude a comforting warmth fresh from their various nests and usher in such a wave of excitement that the room can barely wait for them to start weaving their worlds. Such worlds! Worlds full of juggling boys, lucid dreaming, feasting and futile protests. All the Fellow Sponges bring to the table a full store of goodies in the form of talent, word-smithery, tune-craftery and performancery. Their beautiful, funny little mammalian hides moved beneath their layer of music in short little bursts of energy, with darting knowing looks at each other and facial contortions at crucial moments of a line delivery. My Fellow Sponges just are comparable to nothing else. They own the secret forest that they dwell in and only they know how to gather the fruits that grow there. Luckily, they are all willing and generous enough to share their bounty with the rest of us mere mortals, big clumsy cows we all turned into under their cheery, rodentine smarts and sparkling witful eyes.

And so, winter is heralded in, with a gale and lone crow call and the scurrying and nesting of lovely little clever things.

The leaves can drop now. For I am full of comfort and have been utterly delighted by November Medicine.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


Older brothers. They're a dilemma. Mine have filled my memory with tormented childhood moments, such as, pretending to have ripped their arm open by creating a gory, pustulating sore out of tomato sauce, marmite, mustard and soaked bread; or leaving a very young me stranded in the middle of a rapidly revolving round-about, (the old skool, wrought iron, waist height ones) and walking away, leaving me to launch myself off onto the pre-health and safety era concrete playground... to name just two occasions of torment. But brothers can be cool as fuck too. Like when they buy you stuff they've seen on Ebay they knew you'd love, or promise to buy you Ikea meatballs on the next visit.. and sort out the lend of their projector for the Medicine Sessions even though they're not even in the country. Like last Thursday.

You wondered when this post was going to get to the point? HA! Just here:

Twin Lights (Tim on music and Brad on visuals) arrived on the night minus their projector, due to a stupidly worded email on my behalf which gave the impression we had a house one. But after a few failed ring rounds, my brother sorted us out and the night was saved from the potential of having Brad engaged in interpretive dance. I love inviting the more unusual acts down to the Sessions, to keep things mixed up and truly eclectic and keep The Medicine Sessions true to being open to every genre.

Twin Lights managed to completely alter the atmosphere of the room, taking us all on a journey into the world of what can only be described as (by me), 'nerdmusic'. Personally I love it, because I don't really understand how it's made. I appreciate that it is not as easy as just turning on your computer and pressing enter... (or maybe it is...) Whatever, watching someone spend 45 minutes on their knees, locked into the most intense world of concentration and feel, with a mac, a tiny keypad and a thing with glowy buttons and some pedals, makes a pretty cool change from guitars and is just as engaging to watch and listen to. Tim was joined by his visuals man Brad, who made a fine job of controlling the very nice visual samples as a backdrop to the ambient world of sound. I love the fact that music is evolving along with technology and that people like Twin Lights are out there fully embracing its potential and nurturing the art.

Possibly only somewhere like The Medicine Sessions, will you find a night that will couple an act like Twin Lights with a band like The Hard Ground. It made for a very chilled night of music! The Hard Ground performed as a very stripped down duo of lead singers Marlene and Pat, with keyboard and guitar (and sneeky kazoo). It was a very lovely experience to hear the two voices in such an uncluttered  environment and revealed just how well the two compliment each other. I suspect, the voices weren't even at full throttle on the night, as I sensed things were being reined in due to the lack of big sound behind them. Pat's proper dirty but tuneful singing and Marlene's nightingale sweet voice make for a seriously nice listening experience, coupled with some excellently worded songs, The Hard Ground have that winning formula thing going on. Marlene and Pat also have a very nice stage presence, managing to completely silence the room, soothing the audience into hanging onto every word, giving the impression that the whole playing live and winning a crowd thing is easy peasy!

 So, the end of the perfect summer was ushered in in style. Thanks to big brothers, Twin Lights, The Hard Ground and the ever reliable Medicinners. Until next month people... Happy Autumn.

Monday, 15 July 2013


Last Friday I stood in Lismore Castle garden (where I have my new job) and sweated profusely. I leaned against my hoe, the world swooning in and out of focus, the grass was too green, the sky was too blue, the sun burned itself into my retinas and bubbled my blood. This is what self inflicted torture looks like, but it was ohhh so sweet and if you call the results of sleep deprivation due to extreme bliss overload and epic Medicine taking 'torture', then I was a willing victim of it.

Thursday night was sweltering in every aspect of the word. It was, literally, sweltering, but also, it sweltered with unadulterated talent, overwhelming good fun and floor collapsingly brilliant vibes... and that was just The Medicine Sessions, what followed later only added to the meltyness of mind.. (amazing privately shared tunes, laughter and fire breathing).

The Bradley Sisters eased us all into the night with their sublime harmonies and delicate ballsyness. Despite their angelic voices, the Bradley Sausages (one of their many temporary names on the night thanks to The Ronald), hide a savageness in their songwriting, which makes for a nice juxtaposition... I swore I would never use that word on this blog, but it is actually needed here. Ray, their Cajon player and it turns out, stunning singer himself, leant a nice pace to their set made up of rhythm guitar, piano and those vocals. The girls have an easy banter on stage and are completely fearless in their delivery, drawing in a quiet respect from the audience and leaving the first half relaxed, open and spiritulised. The Bradley Sisters (and Ray) are lovely humans!

More lovely humans took to the bay window for the second half. Just by being present during their sound check, we knew this was going to be a special night and The Calvinists didn't disappoint a single head in the house! You know a band were good when, days later, people are still finding you in the street and jabbering wildly about the night, like they had been part of something legendary. Apparently, we found out, the lads even drew people out of the hotel across the road where 'The Lovely Girls' final was being held, where they listened to the
stunning racket escaping from the open windows. Everyone in the room was happy to stay crammed in despite the heat, sweating and howling and yipping and being blown away by The Calvinists' set... and what a set! If ever a band deserve to make their way in the music world and make some actual money from what they do, then it is this lot. To watch them is to watch an obvious tight friendship, musical intuitiveness and first class performance. You are hit by a wall of sound created by four part harmonies, driving rhythm section and complex lead, all mixed up into The Calvinists gypsy/blues/folk/rock/mountain/EasternEuropean/fruitloop/nutjob/madness genre. Apart from their songs being technically, brilliantly put together, which they are, their creations are also lyrically of the finest, only added to by their performed delivery. You could hate this lot for all their talent if you were so inclined, but the fact that the lad's are all so fecking sound, means you'd be a complete asshole to do so.

Oh, and there was more dancing, which involved a large amount of the capacity crowd forming a circle and doing can-can moves, which did actually have the plaster shedding downstairs.. onto an American lady who was on her laptop.

There was a word for last week. EPIC.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Hot! It was a week that contained actual and real heat. People were walking round in shades of reds, pinks and browns. A happy swagger had crept into the muscles of Medicinners, carried by an overdose of vitamin D molecules and warm backs. The mood was goood for Thursday June 13th. All the bands turned up in good time for sound checks, audience arrived in plenty of time before kick off (one of the good things about having an intimate room, regulars know you have to be diligent to get a good seat) and so the scene was set, as the sky outside gradually blurred into pastel shades and the heat rose up from the street outside and the Medicine Room descended into a calmed hush, ready for their treatments.

Cormac O Caoimh opened the night, this being a return visit for him. He managed to perfectly usher forth the change-over between hot day to balmy night with his ever so gently voice, a skillful guitar picking, plucking and strumming. Cormac seems to epitomise calm, his songs speaking of the quieter things in life, the small questions that creep into your thoughts whilst dreaming. Even his more fiercely approached songs, which see him wield a hollow body electric, are born of an easy going frustration. Cormac's set is just a delight to settle into and if you let the easy goingness of it wrap you up, you will be thoroughly chilled by the end of it.

After Cormac, local poet Alan Murphy took the chance to recite a few of his poems, it was unfortunate that most of the room had left for pint refreshing and cigarettes, now in the routine of having a break after the first act. People are almost too easy to train!

After the break, the weather broke. A Good Rain was falling.. well, not so much falling, but rising, or perhaps were the risers, creators of musical weather. What a storm they made! Four people, three with glasses, created such a rich tapestry of sound that at times it felt the room was filled with at least four more musicians. Percussion, rhythm guitar, cello and sometimes four part harmony, with two main leads, singing songs that are lyrically rich and musically lustrous, The Good Rain were just ace! Each band member played their part fully involved and with meaning and enjoyment and the friendship between the individuals was evident in secret nods and smiles and winks. It's always great fun to see musicians experiment with their instruments, something that The Good Rain seem particularly adept at. Front man Klaus, at one point using a cello bow on his guitar to create a noise not unlike a singing bowl and Leah the Cellist plucked, scraped and plonked her Cello, not to mention the delivery by The Good Rain percussionist, who swapped between Cajun, cymbals, shakers, tambourines and djembe, sometimes in the same song!

All in all, another great night to chalk on the long list of great nights of The Medicine Sessions

Until next time Medicinners! Cheers!

Sunday, 12 May 2013


Yin and Yang. My brother got a tattoo of the symbol on his arm when he was younger, back in the eighties. I thought it was the coolest thing EVER. Of course now, the double tadpole has become much over-used, adorning teenager's dope boxes, crustie's handbags, and posters in trippy Ibiza neons full of predictable hippy iconography... anyway, my brother was very much into Judo at the time, which involved a lot of that martial art philosophy, zen-like states, harnessing your own power to over power your opponent, be quiet in your mind so that you may be loud in your intent etc etc. Back then, he would shut himself in the garage and do meditative things and reflect on the nature of the yin & yang. The duality of being.

So last Thursday was like that. It was like we were all inside the mind of a martial artist, meditating, struggling with his own duality, trying to be completely 'middle way' but slipping from one extreme thought process to another, but ending up his meditation by being rewarded none the less for the experience and feeling rejuvenated.

VITA has played The Medicine Sessions now a few times and has a strong fan base earned by now, he has some strong support of his dark, experimentally inclined, stories and intense delivery and true to his talented form, he performed like a shaman, channelling dead hunters, heroin addicts, alcoholic beat poets who never knew fame, scurvy ridden sailors from the Atlantic Ocean and ethereal middle-men from houses of ill-repute. It is true, one person left the room in disgust, but given he was twenty or so Fosters beers worse for wear, I think that was because he couldn't handle the images that were being created in his head, he stumbled away muttering before almost falling head first down the stairs. Those of us out on the landing ignored him and turned back to be engulfed by the dark matter being invoked from the Universe inside and revelled in every last molecule.
So, here was the Yin. The dark place, the bit of the night that brought us into our own heads to contemplate and challenge ourselves and the nature of sound. Here was the Yin master, sat before us with a grimace and snarl, creating intimidating soundscapes complete with mountain ranges, dark City streets and the characters you might find living in them.

The Yang then, arrived after the break. All six of them. The Art Crimes Band were already in full swing when I returned from puffing on my cigarette. I ascended the stairs to a wall of sound which cascaded from the room like a joyous, Caribbean festival. The room again was so jammed with people that I had to huddle on the landing and peek in, to see the band as they summoned in everything that was light and shiny and joyful and lovely. Metaphorical glitter and confetti rained down in soundwave form upon the Medicine Room with each beat of the Cajun, exuberant strum on the guitar, funk of bass,  smooth squanch of the saxophones (two of them) and sexy lilt of lady vocal. The room was ready to party, hold hands, dance down the street, kiss, copulate in a youthful manner, sunbathe on glorious beaches, reminisce about every good day, remember the sweet touches of past loves, the laughter of childhood and plant a million acres of scented wildflowers. The Art Crimes Band enjoy what they do and perform with smiles all round, shimmies and knowing nods and winks to each other.

So you see, true to The Medicine Sessions philosophy, of keeping everything eclectic,
Thursday 9th May, may well have been one of the best nights of duality we've had. Each act delivering their art seamlessly, with genuine talent and intent. Credit goes to The Medicine audience, who show how open and supportive they are to the material. The fact that both bands had a full house to play to, makes me proud to be involved in organising The Medicine Sessions.

Monday, 15 April 2013


I recently had a discussion with someone about the lengths you should go to as an organiser to facilitate performers. I had just told them I was going to to pick up a poet from the nearest bus stop 30 minutes away and that a friend of mine had offered to put them up for the night and drop them back the next morning. “Are you mad!?” was the response, “nobody would do that for you!”. Maybe not, but then I’ve never asked anyone to. I’d like to think someone would, in the spirit of fair treatment and genuine artistic support, help out if needed. If not, then why not? Because it would cost them time, effort and petrol money, a bit of food and 6 scoops of coffee? Have these things become so coveted in modern day Ireland that the old Celtic philosophy of the welcome has been lost? As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t offer to pay a performer in actual monetary units for their time, effort, and talent, then you should at least repay in kind, however that may manifest itself. 

So, the scene was set. One gifted poet was installed in Lismore for the night, ready for her spot at The Sessions. Erin Fornoff, Daughter of Appalachia, regular of the Dublin spoken word scene, including Brownbread Mixtape, The Monday Echo, et al and dab hand of the festivals too, with Electric Picnic already under her belt and with a spot at Glastonbury looming this year. Why would you not put yourself out for such a lady? Erin is spell binding, genuinely. With a warm honey voice and heart-felt gestures on stage, her poetry is rooted in the earth of American characters, the lost and the brazen souled. Although only gracing the stage for too short a while, Erin managed to tease out tears, goosebumps, reflective sighs and quiet revery. Not a shabby exchange for the spin and a lodging house!

Yearning Curve opened the night, winding their strangely eclectic mix of tunes which moved everywhere from soft jazz, mild country and electro-pop that could have been scooped straight out of the eighties. The duo (sometimes four piece) have a charming stage presence, Bairbre, the lead, self doubting herself on the guitar, but playing more than adequately along with her electric guitar and keyboard wielding band mate and singing their quirky songs with a beautiful, pure folk voice which suits their various genres well. 

Goldfish Syndrome returned to The Medicine Sessions too, performing some new material from their soon to be released album. You will not meet a nicer gaggle of lads, hard working and serious about their music, but with a sense of fun firmly secured in their performance. The lads are tight, both in their delivery and their friendship and their songs are well constructed pieces of gold, which contain the right amount of earworm magic, melody wise, to make the songs memorable. James, the front man, is well able to drum up even the smallest crowd into a roomful of hand-clapping teenagers, roaring along to the Goldfish Syndrome brand of rockpop. 

 Each performer landed themselves a deep pocketful of shrapnel by the end of the night, kind donations from the audience and added their atmosphere’s to the thickening mojo of The Medicine Room. Thanks to all the guys for travelling to perform for us and to Medicine go’ers Matt Tull and Áine Davis for helping out Erin Fornoff and sharing the Medicine philosophy.