Devilment and Roguery: A Blues and Rock Master class

By John Twomey

Saturday December 9th
The Grand Social, Dublin
Festival of the Strings Blues, Rock & Prog Spectacular
A phantasmagoria of fabulous fun, a Lyonesse of loveliness, a coruscating combination of sound and soul. That is what we witnessed on Saturday, 9th December. That is what we participated in on Saturday. Hallowed and Bright, an Unholy Night.

The Stonecold Hobo (Martin Cummins)

The first one to take us on this trip was the Stone Cold hobo himself (Real name Martin Cummins). Just one man, one cigar box guitar, and the blues.

From the Überblues themes of drink and bad women he wrested tales of both, enthralling us with his music and his hard won lyrical dexterity.

The tracks he played were like a delta blues Bayeaux tapestry, taking us from the 1920’s to today with tracks like Motherless Child Blues, and the Rehab track Five Dollar Fine to the Muddy Waters number Champagne and Reefer all the way to the heart wrenching Pity the fool and finishing up with the amusing shouting blues number with the call and refrain “

Done Done it”. A master class in the true simplicity of the real blues.

Gerry Quigley

If Martin’s style emphasised the simplicity of the Blues, then Gerry Quigley and his band emphasised the fluid complexity and prestidigitation of the man himself. From progressive arpeggiated runs of quixotic quicksilver magnificence to screaming sustain and Celtic power chords Gerry’s epic magnificence on the guitars (and other Instruments) he played was a delight to the ear.

If Martin’s style emphasised the simplicity of the Blues, then Gerry Quigley and his band emphasised the fluid complexity and prestidigitation of the man himself. From progressive arpeggiated runs of quixotic quicksilver magnificence to screaming sustain and Celtic power chords Gerry’s epic magnificence on the guitars (and

other Instruments) he played was a delight to the ear.

 
Gerry Quigley Band

All the tracks were instrumental giving us all the more time to marvel at the man’s technical mastery of not only the guitar, but the one and only double necked 12 string mandolin in the Western world. (named Seán and Síle) we enjoyed the Celtic whimsy of To Be Sure, To Be Sure, To Be Sure, before being engaged by the maelstrom

of music in the epically progressive Today, Prelude, Tomorrow set before a final flourish of devilish dexterity with the Weeping Willow Track.

 
Gerry Quigley Band

It has to be emphasized that it was not a one man show with tight drums and bass holding down the sound and the enchanting keys of Sharon bringing an almost Doorsian ambiance to proceedings, along with some Lou Martin style cracking groove.

 
The last scheduled act of the night was the stomping blues duo of Blackbird and Crow. Their set was an awesome earthy exegesis, a talismanic totem of totally soulful blues. From Maighread’s Joplinesque voice and stage presence to Stephen’s mastery of his chosen instruments, nothing came between these two and their muse, the music of the spheres. If Music is the Brandy of the Damned we were all drunk on the fiery flames of the torch songs of love lost, of hearts humbled, of bleakness and blackness, of riotous revelry, and scorching sorrows.
 
Blackbird & Crow

The tracks they played?

1. I gave away my home,
2.  Shoot me down,
3.  Hazzard,
4.  and the mighty Blackbird, a searing song of sumptuous sorrows and dark, delicate delights.

These compositions, some of which are on their first album, and some like the aforementioned Blackbird are to be on their eagerly anticipated

Maighread Ni Grásta (Blackbird)

sophomore album.

This show was more than the sum of its parts. There was magick in the air that night. As Blackbird sang .. I am cursed I am damned, there is fire in my Blood.. I am the witch that can’t be burned.
 
This was Primal, Stomping bloodied and powerful music. The only other band I’ve ever seen who evoke the very celtic gods of sorrow and darkness like this are the Irish band Primordial who labour in the arena of Pagan Black metal. Standing Ovations ensued which were richly deserved. Miss this band at your peril.
 

Still, the night was not over, the magic and mystery not spent. The ending of the evening was not to come till the gathered masses of musicians had come together to have a Jam of monstrous proportions. Nutbush city limits as you’ve never heard it. More talent on show here than

Stephen Doohan (Crow)

on pretty much any festival you might attend anywhere.

 
The night finally finished with the Rory Gallagher track, Barley and Grape Rag with the mighty MC Pat James on vocals and all three bands giving it their very significant all. The gig was attended by a very motley crew indeed who loved each and every bewitching moment of it. It was an evening of Roguery and Devilment.
 
To be resumed, hopefully.