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!