After the good vibes of September 2019’s ‘Warehouse Remembered’ charity event – reuniting various acts associated with the mid-90s ‘golden age’ of live music in Belfast, which coincided with the 18-month existence of the Warehouse as a venue – there was demand to run another. Luckily, it happened just before the lockdown, on 13 March, at the Pavilion.
The Holsteins reunited, Brian Houston performed in a one-off power trio with Ali MacKenzie and Petesy Burns, former members of Maghera bands Asterix and Devlin Law debuted their fabulous new ‘back porch’ ensemble One More Great Adventure, and once again Peacefrog legend Dave McLarnon assembled a one-off supergroup as Dave McLarnon’s Hat Band. On this occasion, the Hat Band featured Dave with Ali and Petesy plus Stonefish legend Norman Boyd on guitar and Ghost of An American Airman personality Billy Shovel, also on guitar. Somebody (okay, it was me) suggested they perform a set of Ulster rock classics – and it turned out to be one of my better ideas.
£700 was raised for a local Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder support group, and there were very positive vibes on the evening among performers and punters. Thank you to all who took part! I wrote about it at more length here:
My old pal Cormac O’Kane (himself a Warehouse legend with the New Brontes) came along at short notice and filmed the show while vocal sensation Bruce McClements (a Warehouse alumnus with Strawman) took some pics. Films of each act’s full set plus montages of Bruce’s pics of each act, set to music associated with them, can be found on my YouTube channel. Here is the brief but brilliant set by Dave McLarnon’s Hat Band:
I’ve also been putting some mod-90s TV clips of Warehouse-era acts on YouTube recently – Brian Houston, Óige, the Minnows, the New Brontes, Henry McCullough, Disreali Gears, Watercress, etc. If you’re interested, go and have a look.
In early January, I invited three of my local music associates, all bandleaders and ‘music lifers’, round for a cup of tea and a three-way interview session on the subject of being a bandleader: Dave ‘The Hat’ McLarnon, a punk veteran; Adele Ingram, chief songwriter with quirky all-girl hillbillies Wookalily; and Scott Flanigan, a piano/organ jazz sensation with a splendid line in wit. I published the results on The Afterword, here:
A couple of weeks later, I interviewed legendary Belfast songwriting and performing personality Brian Houston on his new blues-rock collaboration as ‘The Presleys’, again for The Afterword. Brian subsequently performed some of this hitherto studio-project material onstage at the Warehouse Remembered event, and it rocked! Unfortunately, it’s possible that that show may prove to have been Brian’s last as a professional musician, given the effects of the lockdown on his ability – and that of so many other self-employed troubadours and musicians of all sorts – to make a living. The interview with Brian can be found here:
The lockdown has probably delayed the Bert Jansch archive project I mentioned somewhat opaquely last time (likely now to appear in 2020), but I’ve recently found myself involved, to differing degrees, in a couple of archive box sets for Repertoire Records, and these are unaffected by the current apocalypse. The box sets involve BBC recordings by Colosseum (1969–71) and Barbara Thompson (1969–90) and will be 6CD and 12CD, respectively. My involvement is in a logistical/advisory capacity, and essays for the sets will be written by Chris Welch and Dave Gelly. The mastering, by regular Repertoire sound restoration maestro Eroc, will be sensational.
Until recently, my good pal Peter Muir had been providing, through his Market Square label/website, a sales platform for my book Echoes From Then: Glimpses of John McLaughlin 1959–75. With market conditions getting tougher in various ways, Peter has decided to get out of the music (and book) sales game and develop other music-related business interests. So… I don’t currently have a dedicated shop window for the book, which is self-published. But I’m making copies available via eBay to UK residents (just search for it there). If people from outside the UK want copies, just email me via this site and we’ll work out the cost of postage/book and make a PayPal transaction. It’s worth having!
Finally, I’ve noticed that my private client work (as opposed to work via an agency) in academic proofreading has been increasing significantly of late, which is most welcome. If anyone would like to know more about my proofreading services, check out the new Belfast Proofreading brochure in PDF form – by clicking here or go to www.belfastproofreading.com