Wednesday, 15 October 2014


It's been a while. I know. Things have changed. I (Vick) have things to do, things that are, dare I say it, slightly more important than organising The Medicine Sessions.. I know, I'm a sell out, trying to forge a career at my age! Pfffttt.. fucking insane. The Sessions are still ticking along though, in the hands of Alan O'Callaghan, who also has his own massive responsibilities, but at least has youth on his side... and good looks... and lots of hair... and a lurcher.. and he said he'd be happy to help. So here we are. Slowly figuring out what everyone is capable of taking on and what direction The Medicine Sessions takes. Like all shuffles, it can be a bit awkward, slow and untidy, until the groove is found.

So on, to the reviews.. (which I will still be writing as and when I get a chance).

I'm always a little dubious about tribute bands. The whole point of starting up The Medicine Sessions was to promote original music and give artists a new platform and audience for their own creations. This was one of my original staunch conditions. When Alan told me that a Neil Young band were coming last Thursday, I was a bit bewildered. He assured me they would be excellent though.. he's enthusiastic like that.. I admit, I was more easy about the prospect when I heard that the band was made up of members of bands like The Calvinists and Jukebox Gypsy, (I initially imagined a shabby looking novelty act.)

Last Thursday, it happened. Psychedelic Pill hit The Medicine Room. Hard.

No fucking about, they opened with a smack in the face, riffs and licks and bass boom, drum smashing and dirty, filthy, crunchy, crunchy goodness.

Isaac Tabor fronts the band, taking the role of the real Mr Young, in a way that doesn't imitate, but reveals a genuine kinship and understanding of the early Young catalogue. Isaac's voice, is no doubt, influenced by Young, the fact that he is, actually American, is a relief, otherwise the lilt could have been cringey coming from say, a pure-bred Kerry bogman. His guitar solos are far from shabby, and he effortlessly dives into the frame of Young's material and paints his own versions, with great big bold splashes of colour and light. His obvious love of the songs shines through and I was genuinely delighted in his moments of 'jam state'...

Which brings us to second guitarist, Brian Casey. Who kept his own state of musical chaos under sublime control, riffing off of Tabor, duelling with rhythm from the drums, battling with the bass riffs, loud, fast, intricate, fierce and ornate. Brian is a joy to watch, switching effortlessly between backing vocals, guitar and keyboard, often within seconds and sometimes even all together. Hammering on a beautiful hollow-body bright red Gibson, ramping out some seriously nice blues style jangly keys and perfectly harmonising with Tabor. To hear the two of them jamming against each other, is truly, a joy to behold!

Darragh Coakley, drummer with The Calvinists, as usual, was percussion sex! Wedged, as always, in the bay window of The Medicine Room, he kept time with the life-force of Yoda, driving on the songs with a punch befitting the set's origins. The great thing about Darragh's drumming, is his ability to know when to shut up. Allowing the songs to ebb and flow as they should, letting the slower pieces breath, building that goose-bump inducing middle and being ready to jump in, feet, hands, head and heart and voice when the moment is called for. I later talked him into starting a 'Durdle' Choir with me.. but that's another story.

Finally, last, but not least, Alan Brookes was absolutely, bass cool in the dark corner. He didn't have to jump about, he didn't have to shag his guitar, he didn't have to do anything.. which really, involved everything; keeping that heartbeat, blood and guts, pumping an essential life-line through each song. It would catch you unawares, hammering in your solar plexus as the room held the wall of sound created by the band. "What the fuck is that!"... "I'm having a heart attack!"... oh.. wait.. "s'alriight.. the bass player is just off on one".

The Medicinners absolutely lapped it up, calling for more and more and more... even though they had received everything.

I hate tribute bands... except this one.

 Photos of Psychedelic Pill by Zena Al Nazer

Saturday, 19 April 2014


HOW TO ENTERTAIN IN A BRILLIANT WAY. Lesson 1 By Stuart Wilde & The Bird Men

1: Turn up before the organisers and set up your own lights for maximum atmosphere.

2: Include at least one (preferably more) obscure piece of kit in you set up, ie: a Trombone, Weissenborn guitar, or a children's megaphone.

3: Have a Reggae bass player with a double storey set of bass bins

4: Have a drummer called a semi-novelty name like, Wally.

5: Have a brass player that is at least seven feet tall and mysteriously quiet.

6: Wear a top hat.

7: Possess a minimum of eight inches of beardy material.

8: Footwear must be decorative, if at all possible, bejewelled.

9: Guitar sound must be dirty, like a rancid cat, an almost dead tramp, or a whore's repertoire.

10: Vocals should be able to hover between gruff and tuneful, occasional snarls, hisses of breath or roars should be encouraged.

11: All musical parts should blend smoothly, it should be evident that each member of the band can 'feel' it. This in turn should spill out into the audience, who should also 'feel' it and want to 'feel' back.

12: It is perfectly acceptable to look like a scraggy crow in clothing.

13: Drummers should always be encouraged to make faces in their rhythmic enthusiasm.

14: Bass players should have a long elegance about them.

15: If a band decides to have a Trombone player, he should be instinctive with his solos.

16: It is always, ALWAYS, vitally important to have material that is lyrically of the finest and musically of the highest order.

17: A set should be delivered with meaning and a grimmace.

18: Enjoy it.

19: Give your heart and soul.

20: Stroke beardyness occasionally between songs, this is vital for maximum stage craftery.

21: Have a new album for sale, with a name like; 'Devil In My House'.

22: Doff your top hat at the end of the night to much jubilous applause from the gathered audience.

Please see below diagrams for further examples.

In this picture we see evidence of a semi-glower.

It is optional (but effective) to mimic the V for Vendetta mask

Be very tall if you play trombone, due to maximum long bitty slidey thing

Always create shadows to play in when you have a Weissenborn

Middle distance glaring is an ideal way to unnerve an audience. (in a good way)

Bass players ideally, should possess an inner calm, that sometimes leaks to the surface as a 'head boomp'. Here you can see a bass player wrestling within, within a groove.

Thoughtful appearances can create great tension

Here, a trombonist plays a lofty solo 

Here is the ideal proximity, bass-player - lead singer equation in action

drummer facials example 1

drummer facials example 2

Here we see the maximum usage of a small megaphone

Sunday, 23 February 2014


So it went like this, some awesome gifts, a minor chord and a major lift and from my lips they drew an halleluja… halleluja… halleluja.. halleluja.. halleluuuuuu,ooohhh,ooohhh,ooohhhh… oooooooooooooooyaaaaaahhhhhhhh..

Miss Buckley, with a fellow troubadour in tow, arrived an elegant vision of black and red, a vagueish gypsy look to her soul. She set about a hot port (the drink of the night for many reasons as it turned out), before slipping into her set with a voice of velvet honey with the potential for quirk lingering at the edges. It's the quirk that sets Annette Buckley apart from other singers in the 'female singer/songwriter' genre bucket and what makes her such an attractive folk experience, with songs gently cloaked in oddment, subjects are approached from just the right oblique angle to make her stand out. Annette's voice is lush, her warm tones and strange little lilts and worshipping of her guitar as she loses herself as the chords ring out, setting the room up nicely for the night and, joined with the sweet harmonies of her fellow band mate, her set was a decidedly lovely thing, tinged with country, soft jazz, folk and Acapella Bjork.

Lowlek had arrived earlier in the evening all hair and youth and banter, with an Irish mammy who had the measure of The Ronald (our house heckler and poster designer) within about twenty seconds, "I'm with the band!" she said, but not in a cringey proud mammy way, in a way that implied that she was, indeed, with the band.. in fact, she had physically created two of the band members, pretty impressive stuff, particularly because the two band members in speaking were part of one of the most exciting bands we've had at The Medicine Sessions.
It's hard to articulate Lowlek. The two siblings front the band, with two other mates who cover the rhythm section (some seriously competent drums and funky as feck bass) Together, Lowlek make some of the best noises I've heard in a long time! Blaithín stands to the side of the stage, where there is room to let her spirit free from its shell as she performs. The last couple of months I've been delighted that the best performances at The medicine Sessions have been provided by women, not that I'm a feminist, but I am a wrong side of thirty female and the fact that these women can and do kick the guys arses when it comes to sheer expression and balls makes me feel quietly smug. Blaithín, exudes the sort of confidence on stage that is just breath-taking and her energy quite evidently drives on the rest of the band and brings out the best in them. Arran is no pushover either, stood behind a keyboard with a Strat attached at all times and alternating between shredding out squealing solos and riffs to adding quirky, organny synthy plinky plonks to some of the songs, as well as lending his voice too as a shared lead. Arran posesses a confident,  intelligent, awkward charm which compliments Blaithín's in your face energy perfectly, there's no competition, both are at peace within the band and both are seriously talented and loving what they do. Liam and Paudy of the drums and bass also are integral, playing off each other and adding their own incredible musicianship to the Lowlek sound, the whole band gel, are instinctively tight and most importantly, have the fun…

Lowlek's set is amazing! You cannot help but get up and groove to their sounds, in a proper way and when they got called to do their second encore, they decided to do a cover… no playing safe with this lot as the opening guitar of Whole Lotta Love chunked out… and, as with all good endings to band related moments of glory stories.. the crowd. went. wild.

Here is the Ronald, the Mammy & someone called Alan, standing on chairs and dancing.

Friday, 24 January 2014


I will write this while I'm still in the balmy afterglow that results from a 6am bedtime after a night full of  quality music, laughter and goose-bump inducing moments of live performance. On cold nights, ones that are quiet, tending to lonesomeness and self pity, nights like last night sustain the spark that keeps you focused on good things and the best attributes of human-kind.. and make your brain feel like its full of chocolate cake.. made from the very finest chocolate and fairly traded ingredients.

Medicine Specials are fast becoming things of mythical proportions, as if the monthly Medicine Sessions wasn't enough to satiate the lust for magic, these specials nights that crop up a couple of times a year are beasts of their own, bringing with them a slightly new crowd of faces, and devil-may-care spontaneity that comes with a week-end night. Down in the beer garden, minor catastrophes erupted and died down as quickly, loose limbed ladies staggered on heels too high on streets too bumpy to be kind to ankles and pints were pulled.. ohhh so. many. pints.

Saul Conrad, donned for Polar exploration arrived, guitar first to the Medicine Room. A peculiar little box decorated with an abstract creature sat next to the battered brown leather hard case and a multi-story backpack that contained his and his two companion's entire belongings from their tour of Europe, The Medicine being their final stop before returning home. I hoped we'd do him proud and deliver him back with memories to spare, a barter for his time and art. Time and art which turned out to hold enough quirk to ensure a memorable experience for all involved. Saul writes first, his tunes growing organically from the words and following only a vague path, each song lurching and pausing and crescendo'ing depending on the nature of its written core, making his whole set a playful experiment of word and music. It's hard to say what his songs are about, being more poetry than standard song lyrics. They are made up of almost stream of consciousness commentary on snippets of life and Saul's own personal moments, which make them all the more interesting as concentration is needed in order to decipher his unique approach to performance. Saul certainly brought with him the slightly intense air of underground American basement clubs, where poets and musicians intermingle their art forms and discuss the finer details of 'what it's all about'.

Cue the break, where the now heaving room departed to the lower bar to refuel and witness the fall-out from a thirtieth birthday party, of which there was plenty.

Then Rufus Coates & The Blackened Trees took their places and if any band can wield a stage just by standing on it, then these guys can. With an intense, mysterious little drummer, sat hunched and gaunt behind his kit, an erect and lofty bass player full of banter and grin, a softly spoken and zen-like rhythm guitarist, A be-bearded and haired front-man in sagging suit like it had been lived in since the nineteen forty-fifties and a first lady, tiny and impish, warm and full of delight in a dark moody dress with knackered converse. That was before they even began a song! This band just look cool! Not contrived or meant or thought deeply about, they just exude a mystery and vibe that makes you want to pay attention.

Then the music began…. and they were still fucking cool. All sumptuous bass-line, simple but well delivered guitar strumming, soft drums played with obvious skill and touch, brooding bear-like vocals from Rufus and accompanying vocals by Jess of shamanic proportions, through the set she managed to call down murders of crows, ancient ritual visions and evidently has the power to tap into the nearest ley-lines and channel Gaea herself through her tiny frame. I have to say that it's a rare thing for me to be moved to the point of goose-pimples, but those feckers were crawling all over me watching this band. With songs deeply rooted in dark things like regrets, resentfulness and sleeping children, Rufus Coates lyrics are full of the classic imagery of bleak landscapes and dramatic skies. The whole band has a beautiful sound, full of drama and low lush notes delivered on the bass and with enough space in the compositions to add an air of odd suspense, Rufus Coates & The Blackened Trees are a living example of simple can be best when you have all the components spot on, that being, charisma, ballsy voices, musicianship, song writing skill and incredibly powerful performance abilities.. and that extra special quality, the obvious fact that this band absolutely love what they do and all get along really well and put one hundred and twenty percent into their set… and adore Guinness.

The whole night ended absolutely full of goodness, as usual the quota of Medicine doled out to all concerned exceeded recommended doses and January mattered not..
Then later there was a massive private party at a friend's house and we all lived happily ever after..

The End.

Until next month.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


 You see, Rufus Coates was due to play for us too, but accidentally caught a stomach bug thing and ended up in hospital! But it turned out alright in the end, because Rufus got better and will be giving us a surprise visit another time and Callum, the bass player with Alan & The Accident, happened to have a set of his own tunes.. and a few covers.. so everything ended well in the end! .. the end.

Not really! Callum did a great job of opening up the night, he's got a nice enthusiastic guitar technique and a great voice, managing to reach notes that would elude most guys. His own songs were engaging, delivered in true singer songwriter style, with gusto and chunk. I have a feeling that Callum will become a nice little act of his own in the future, there's a great raw potential going on with him that, given a few crushing relationships, some big adventures and a bit of whiskey bottle diving, will summon forth some serious treasure!

Alan & The Accident came home.. almost, given that the majority of the band are originally from Lismore. They're familiar faces around town and the boys (and girl) next door are doing grand! Fused with Alan White the lead singer, songwriter and all round band master from Cork and Callum the bass player from Dublin, together all the parts combined make for a very nice, tight group of lads.. (and lady). Alan & The Accident fall into the 'poppier' side of the musical genre, with the odd venture into country and folk territory, but only in a playful, tongue in cheek way. There's a lot of that, playfulness in the songs, creating a set that is light-hearted, innocent and non-offensive to the ear. There is romance, gentle heart-break, quiet yearning, peaceful regrets and thoughtful ponderations, all delivered in a properly lovely musical package via the various vocal harmonies, guitar work, keyboard and driving rhythm section of the band. Theirs are well constructed songs, delivered with confidence and surety via Alan the front-man.

It's always great to support a local band and give them the floor for their own work. Long may they continue! viva la 2014!