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I Wish I Was a Singing Billionaire Like Robert Plant and Then I Wouldn’t Have to do DIY

I hired a stripper for the whole weekend. Surprisingly inexpensive, but very tiring.

Right now, I’m taking a bit of a break from the stripper, and instead I’m enjoying a nice glass of wine, sitting back, listening to my new album – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand. I have only one thing to tell you: buy it! This album is a cast-iron classic, with Plant and Krauss at the absolute height of their powers, which is an amazing thing to say about a guy like him, who’s been around for so long. I was a young child when he started out and now, by that curious conflation of years that happens as time slithers towards the void, I’m the same age as him.

But a thousand times less cool. And not a billionaire. And without his talent.

Nevertheless, I’ve travelled a bit of a journey with Robert, as have most of us here, I’m guessing, and the journey continues. About two years ago, I was driving to school with Bullet and you know how it goes, we were both a little groggy. I had a savage hangover due to a night of Wild Turkey and brown mescalin. Bullet had a headache because naturally I’d drugged his cocoa to keep him quiet — it was before he became a rock star, obviously: these days he drugs his own cocoa. It’s how our children become independent of us.

I thought I might do a little bit of encouraging musically, because I was worried about his tendency to listen to Rammstein and Linkin Park, so I slipped a little memory stick into the player, on which I had recorded a couple of Led Zep albums. Bron Y Aur Stomp was the track, a loose, drunken bottleneck acoustic bluesy kind of thing.

Have a listen to that, I said. What do you reckon?

Bullet listened. It’s good, he said. Who is it?

Who does it sound like? I asked him.

The White Stripes.

Exactly! I said. But it’s actually Led Zeppelin. Now what I can’t figure out is this: how the hell did Led Zeppelin know what the White Stripes were going to sound like?

As we pulled up at the school, Bullet gave me one of those gentle, reproachful looks that said, you fuckin idiot, and slid out of the Bockmobile.

Ah. Such memories. It’s how we move away from our parents, though becoming an adult is never easy.

Well actually, in my case, it turned out to be completely impossible, but we’ll gloss rapidly over that.

I’m not saying I didn’t try. For example, I went through that awful phase of decorating-the-house-even-worse than-our-parents. Remember that?

I know! Let’s get that heavy dark horrible dining table and chairs that will never be used in case they get stained or burned!

Yeah. They’ll be handy if there’s ever a dead-serious family conference involving distant relatives and money.

And of course there’s always the wallpaper.


No, not the dreaded wood-chip that everybody who ever lived in some damp, smelly rented shit-hole slapped on the walls and painted Magnolia, and covered with cheesy Burne-Jones posters. Not that stuff, bad though it was.

Personally, I preferred this kind of pre-Raphaelite painting.

We’re talking about growing up now, and what I’m contemplating is that appalling abomination, the satanic obscenity that is vinyl wallpaper. I ask you honestly, what the hell is going on there? Were we all mad? What terrible alien larva took over for an instant and festered inside our brains?

I think I know: I think it was the awful more-money-than-our-parents-had syndrome, which had to mean we were all ultra-grown-up. Yes indeed. And ultra stupid.

Vinyl wallpaper is indestructible and unremovable. They should wrap Chernobyl in old vinyl wallpaper.

Even with the help of a stripper, it’s extremely difficult to remove vinyl wallpaper, and that’s why I’m here, with a nice glass of wine, taking a break, listening to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. And wishing I could somehow grow up before I grow old.

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My Musical Manifesto

Now, me? See, I’m your basic rock music person, with country overtones, and a bit of strange stuff. I love Eels, and Rilo Kiley, but also Tom Waits, Guy Clark, Tom Russell, and even that grumpy old fuck, Van Morrison. I like Modest Mouse cos Johnny Marr is in there, and Belle & Sebastian. I love Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and David Byrne.

There is nobody like John Prine.

Dylan I adore, though I can take or leave Springsteen. I’d die for Emmylou Harris. Guitar hero, Cap’n Purplehead and myself share a passion for Grant Lee Buffalo. I hate Mogwai and Arab Strap, but I love Nick Cave. I don’t care for Neko Case or Norah Jones, but the other night I ordered the new collaboration by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, an artist with hugely-important associations for me.

Hold Steady caught me by the throat and I kind of like the Great Lake Swimmers, though I don’t know why.

Ry Cooder is the man and so is Steve Earle. I heart the Auteurs, though I never heard them live. I heard the Be Good Tanyas live and hated them. The Bockdaughter is friendly with some of Alabama 3, a fact that I intend to make extensive use of in years to come. I first noticed them at the start of the Sopranos, and came to like them a lot.

I always liked The The, (Matt Johnson), especially Infected, and of course Marc Almond, for everything he ever wrote and sang, including Sex Dwarf. And the Clash the Cramps and Elvis Costello. They Might Be Giants, like Freedy Johnson and Yo La Tengo, were discovered by my friend Tom from Bar-None, and made a little birdhouse in my soul. Townes gave us the Ballad of Pancho and Lefty and is therefore beyond reproach.

Warren Zevon? Indescribable.

Jack White? Fun beyond bound.

Our own Mr Darwin plays an eclectic selection ranging from Kenny Rodgers all the way through to obscure, difficult, challenging and sometimes completely incomprehensible, but no doubt very clever polychromatic jazz. He also carries a lap steel guitar with him at all times in case of a country emergency.

I could list a thousand others but it’s a bit late and anyhow that isn’t what I started out to do.

All I was really going to say was that I never really understood all that techno DJ shit, but here’s a local Limerick-based site where they seem to have something going on. Give them a call if you’re interested in that kind of crap. Which I’m not, being old and everything.

It’s lovely to see the young people enjoying themselves.


Bullet Sorts Out His Priorities

The Bullet continues to morph into Young Rock-Monster. He’s now The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Bullet.

He’s been playing electric for about a year, and he’s getting good at it, but I’m up to my neck in Deep Purple riffs and I wish he’d move on to playing the blues or some kind of sinewy Ry Cooder bottleneck. The spare room is full of amps and drums and guitars, and sometimes, when all the band get together and start practising, I have no option but to head for the pub. As one does.

Anyway, he did fairly well in his summer exams and he collected a good amount of cash from various supporters, well-wishers, relatives and general fools, all with a view to buying a better guitar. That’s how serious he is about his music these days.

There’s nothing wrong with the Cort he already has. In fact it’s a fine instrument for a teenage rock-monster, but he wanted something more.

Now, I’m no expert on these things. Let me rephrase that: I know absolutely nothing about such things, but I did my best to help him. I bumped into Ed the God at the last Wrinklies gig in Dublin. Ed used to play with the Gun-dogs back in the old Man o’ War bikefest days, and there’s no meaner axeman.

Dean, he said. (Ed is a man of few words.)


Dean. Great guitar. I’ll keep an eye out.

Excellent, I told him.

I said it to TAFKAB when I got home.

Jackson, he said.


Jackson. Great guitar.

Right, I said.

He found a music shop in New York, picked out the model he wanted, found someone who was going to New York and arranged everything. That was a couple of weeks ago.

I said it to him the other day. Well, what about the guitar? Did it arrive yet?

No. I didn’t buy the Jackson.

You didn’t?


Well, what’s the plan?

Well, he said, I was thinking. If I buy the Jackson, I’ll have two guitars, and the one I already have is pretty good.


So now, I still have a pretty good guitar but I have an X-Box as well!

And so he has. He’s behind me as I speak, playing Bio-Shock. I can hear the wet crunching as he beats the shit out of a mutant with a wrench.

Now he’s replacing his hand with a drill. Bless him.


Food & Drink Music Stories

Music Festival Report No 3

Hakk!! Hawwwkkkhh!!! Hak!! Khhakkhh!! Fuck! My fuckin head!! Hak! Kahokk!! Hok-thooee!! Ukkhh. Urk. Nnnggmnngghh. Mmnnnnhh. N.

I stir in the bed but I do not move, for I have experienced this before, many years ago in the Aran Islands. Sane men don’t move until this ritual has passed, for it is the waking-up rite of the Sons of Beelzebub. They might shit on you.

Morning Joe.


True enough, I say. Good night last night, yeah?


Yeah. And your man was in great form, wasn’t he?

Mmmmnnnn. Fuck. My fuckin head.

Your head, Joe? Do you want a Solpadeine?

Only then does Joe appear above me, and he is Colonel Kurtz. The horror! The horror!

Fuck! I ejaculate.

His entire bald skull is covered in blood. In his right hand he’s carrying a panga and, in his left, the severed head of a water buffalo.

No, actually. I just made that bit up. It isn’t true.

Myaaarrrrgggghhhh! he attempts.

Go on, I urge. You can do this thing

Nya nya nya heeeeaaaa.mnnhh. Joe gestures frantically at his own scalp. Ppphhhhnhheeerrrvvvee.

Jesus! Why didn’t I spot this?

Shaving? I nod and smile at him. Cut scalp?

Joe smiles through the blood and nods. Ggggnnnuuullmmnnrrrghhhhh!!

Great, I nod back. Fuck off. I have a hang-over.


Hours pass. Where the fuck am I? What the fuck am I?

Existential hours pass some more until I don’t care who or what I am.

What the –?

It’s Sunday. We’re still at the Midlands Music Festival. It’s nearly one o’clock and I have a big decision to make.



Will I get up?


This is what we must decide: Music or Hurling?

It’s not very cool, now is it? Here you are at a fairly good music festival, and you’re trying to decide if you’ll head into town to watch a fucking hurling match? No. It isn’t cool, but it’s real.

Dig out that programme there, Boss.

OK. We have the Cosmic Banditos. I’d love to hear a band called the Cosmic Banditos. What a great name.

True. They’re on at one o’clock.

Fuck ’em.

True. How about Luan Parle?

Nah. Sunny Sweeney?


Right. Oh, look. Here’s Ben Taylor. You know – James Taylor’s son?

Oh fuck!


Nah. Nah. Scratch him.



Do we want to see anyone, or will we just stay in Mullingar and get drunk?

Fuck that. After all the money we spent?

Right. So what about the Hillbilly All-Stars?

You’ll never guess,


They’ve been moved to later, so we can catch them.



So we can hear them?

Sure looks like it.

Hothouse Flowers?

Nyeah! Fuck ’em!

OK!! Here we go!! Taxi!!!!


We land up eventually in Mullingar, in some hotel bar with a big screen, where we get to see Limerick play Tipperary in the big hurling game. Wooooo Fuckin Hoooo!! Go, fuckin Limerick!!!!

We have maybe half a dozen pints of Guinness and we piss off all the Tipperary supporters in this fine hotel by our general boorishness and lack of sensitivity.

Limerick win, which pisses off theTipperary supporters even more than our generally deplorable demeanour.

Mullingar is a typical Irish rural town. In Mullingar on a Sunday, you’re likely to meet many men in suits as a mark of respect to the Sabbath. They’ll be in suits, unlike us, who don’t know what the fuck day of the week it is. These guys will be suited up, and what’s more, most of them will have attended some form of worship, even if it was only Statan worship. Mullingar people are very devout.

Look, Mammy. There’s Seamus Crotty, and he wearing a suit. Look at the red nose on him!

Hush, Teresa. Isn’t Mr Crotty comin’ back from the virgin-sacrifice at the Satan-rock. Couldn’t ya show a bit of respect, girl?

Such a character is sitting next to Joe. He’s bald, but he has an embarrassing comb-over. He has a suit. Shiny.

Well lads.


Were ye at the music?

We were. We are. Well, not this very minute, considering we’re here talking to you, but in principle, yes. We are.

Who did ye hear?

Quick calculation. Exchange of knowing nods.

Kris Kristofferson.


Eh. Where’s he from?

More silence. Not often we’re stunned.

Eh, what?

Is he an Irish lad?

He is. Come on Bock. Let’s head back.


Richmond Fontaine are a shit-kicking fuck-off bastard of a band and that’s what we arrive straight back into. The rain has stopped at long last, and these guys are playing up a fucking storm in the big tent. Nobody cares that the mud is now up to our armpits, even inside. People are dancing. People are smoking. People are fucking. People are eating burgers. Is good, yes? Is good, no because sadly we abandon Richmond Fontaine with fifteen minutes to go.

Sorry guys.

But Bock, Joe, cry Richmond Fontaine. Doncha love us??

Sure do, we shout back, but here comes the Blind Boys of Alabama!!

Have you ever seen or heard the Blind Boys? Doesn’t matter if you, like me and Wrinkly Joe, are the greatest living unbeliever. You just can’t help going out there and TESTIFY!!! Praise da lawd!!!

And so we do. We wade in the water, we sing the House of the Risin’ Sun to the tune of Amazin Grace, and for just a few minutes, God’s people is all in one place, singin’ along and bein’ righteous!! Praise da lawd!!! Fuckin great!! I lean towards the woman beside me and I say here!!! That woman never cease from swayin’ to the Lawd’s music, but say, Thank ya, Brother, and swig back a big shot of my whiskey. Thanks ya, Jesus!!


Stick it in your mouth and shake it around a bit.

I look back at Wrinkly Joe, trying hard to look like Travis Bickle. What?

The hip flask, he enlightens. There’s probably another drop in it.

Oh, I say. Right.

We wonder up the hill, grateful for a small respite, when Joe spots some of his friends. I mooch along behind him and fall into idle chatter with one of the women, whose husband slumps in a deck chair, reading.

Good stuff.

Oh, very good.

Yes. Very good.

Oh yes. Very good.

When the fuck will we be able to decently stop making pointless conversation to each other?

Very soon now, you boring fucker, when Joe stops talking to my friend.

Good, you incredibly boring fucker.

At that point, the woman’s husband looks up at me, utterly bored, glances at his wife and returns to the thing he’s reading.

Now, I can’t help being what I am. This is an affliction and I’ve had it all my life. Perhaps some of our readers are the same, but words just jump off the page at me. They jump up and say Look at me you fucker!!! Misspellings. Bad grammar. I can’t help it, all right? Fuck off.

And so, as in all other things, I can’t help noticing what this woman’s husband is reading, at an open-air music festival, where everybody is having a great time. What’s he reading? Go on. What the fuck is he reading?

War and Peace? No.

A history of the Hell’s Angels? No.

Willie Nelson’s tax returns? No.

This guy is reading a book about erectile dysfunction.

I shit you not.

What the fuck? Come on, Joe. Let’s go and listen to Gillian Welch.

We miss Kila but so fuckin what? It gives me time to climb back into the battlements of Belvedere Castle and try to make up for yesterday’s professional embarrassment. The high-velocity slug hits Paul Brady so hard he doesn’t even notice he’s been killed and carries on singing Arthur McBride until a stage hand runs on and clubs him hard with an old microphone.

That leaves the Be-Good Tanyas and the Hillbilly All-Stars.

I like the Be-Good Tanyas and I have some of their music on CD, but I have to tell you that I detested them in the flesh and we ran away to the beer tent after about fifteen minutes. We did no such thing with the Hillbilly All-Stars. These boys are one seriously rockin’ bunch of Mo-Fos who rounded off the early part of the evening for us, and I gotta tell ya, folks, just get out there and buy their albums. Fuck, what a band.

Now. Nobody among us is interested in Glen Campbell. Much better stuff going on back at the campsite where we have some serious musicians living among us. We cook up another curry, roast a few chapatis, blast off another verse of those Late John Garfield Blues and then it’s time for Wrinkly Joe to tell us about the Runaway Bride.

Open another wee bottle of that there wine Gerry, good man.


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Food & Drink Music Stories

Festival Report No 2

Anyway. Where were we? Oh right, sorry, we finished with Wrinkly Joe saying it wasn’t even three o’clock yet.

Well, that was the run-in to the only really cheesy moment of the Midlands Music Festival. The only truly questionable moment when you begin to doubt your commitment to liberal western values but we’ll come to that in a minute.

Allison Moorer is a truly fine artist with a solid repertoire of work, and we remained in the tent to hear some of this. We enjoyed it and were rewarded, what’s more, by a bearded, hairded, coateded, exciteded mad person bounding on stage in support of his current squeeze.

Who the fuck is that? demanded Wrinkly Joe.

Dunno, I replied. Is it Paddy Lynch?

You’re right. It’s Paddy Lynch.

It wasn’t. It was Steve Earle.

The last time, sadly, that we saw Steve Earle alive. Tragic.

For some reason, they must have got the running order askew, and not for the only time considering Steve Earle’s premature demise, due to unintended high-velocity bullet-wounding. I don’t know how this happened, but we found ourselves, after Allison Moorer, at a bit of a loose end.

What’ll we do?

Dunno? Who’s on the other stage?

Nyeah, mmnnhh, nyaeaeahh, hnnmmmm. Jim Lauderdale?

Never heard of the fucker. Look?


We wander down to the main stage and there’s Jim, in your standard head-to-toe C&W jumpsuit. In purple and with a collar.

I look at Wrinkly Joe. Wrinkly Joe glances back at me.

The fuck?

Jim launches into his set and before you can say bleeurrrggghhh! he’s got our attention.

He’s singing, but neither Joe nor my good hungover self can control our autonomic systems and we find ourselves vomiting uncontrollably as Jim croons Don’t make me come over there and love you.

Beer tent? Joe manages between heaves.

Ngngngyungnh, I concur.


Aimee Mann was wonderful. Wrinkly Joe nearly lost his reason, being in the very presence of Aimee. I took a few pics with my dodgy camera, and that seemed to calm him down a bit, but it’s very hard to calm a bald man with a bad injury to his scalp. It’s never easy.

Calm down Joe.


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After Aimee, we wander over to the other stage to hear Richard Thompson. Do you know Richard Thompson? Hard to describe if you don’t, but people old enough to recall Fairport Convention will remember this guy. You see, single-handedly, Richard Thompson is the living proof that English people possess soul, and he’s also the best guitarist I have ever been in the presence of, including, I regret to say, Captain Purplehead, though old PH comes close. Richard Thompson sounds like he’s playing twelve guitars all at the same time time, except he isn’t. He’s holding only one. What a motherfucker of a player.

That’s when the confusion clicks in. Just as I’m getting into the groove that Thompson is laying down, Wrinkly Joe nudges me.

Time for the killin’ he murmurs.

What the fuck, I demand I thought you was doin’ the shooting, motherfucker?

Exactly what kind of language be that what you be speakin, motherfucker? Wrinkly Joe demanded, and not without justification, I have to concede, in fairness to him. In all fairity.

Sorry, Joe, I placate.

Look, Joe says, the Waterboys are on in five minutes. Didn’t we agree to take those motherfuckers out?

We did, I agree. And damn right too. Weren’t we the motherfuckers that took out Charlie Landsborough and Kenny Rodgers this time last year, Allah be praised?

Allah? Joe demands.

Ah, I say, it just sounded a bit better. More edgy, y’know?


As you know from earlier posts, the whole thing was a disaster. We didn’t kill the Waterboys, but we did somehow manage to shoot Steve Earle. Shit. That was never the plan. Shee-it!

Nyaash fuck. Get over it. Kris Kristofferson can’t sing. He can’t play guitar either but no matter: he’s fucking great. The man has all these people in the palm of his hand, and what’s more they have him in the palm of theirs: the power of a hatful of great songs. Don’t underestimate it.

Fuck, says Kris. Even the songs they don’t know, they still sing along with.

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He’s a poet, we chant. He’s a picker. He’s a prophet, he’s a pusher. He’s a pilgrim and a preacher and a problem when he’s stoned. He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction. Takin’ every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

How did he open my letters?

Don’t underestimate playing to an Irish audience.

Kris shakes his head in wonder and strolls off the stage. He can’t believe the adoration and he’s doing well, let me tell you. At seventy, Kris still has every single solitary woman out there listening to that great gig hot and bothered and wanting to have his motherfuckin babies. Kris gives hope to us ordinary folk. Bless him.


That’s when the confusion occurs.

Joe and I have a pact of death involving the annihilation of the Waterboys, though it isn’t to be. How did the slots get changed? How? Surely the festival’s Assassin Liaison Officer should have contacted us? Surely? Yes?

Hi there. Look, there’s been a small change of plan. the Waterboys are playing later, and we thought you might want to shoot Steve Earle instead.




Eh, there’s no need for that sort of language.


I’m putting the phone down now.




OK. Time to climb the castle. Wish me luck.


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Festival Report No 1

I eased into position behind the battlements of the old castle. A mile away, the target strutted across a stage, wheeling and swaggering as only such a swine is capable of.

Damn you, I muttered, you’ll soon be no more than a memory. And after you, there’s Christy Moore and Glenn Campbell.

Slowly, carefully, I lined up the Dragunov Romak-3 PSL and set the cross-hairs on my target’s chest.

Soon, you prancing little coxcomb, I growled. So very soon, my pretty, you shall taste my wrath.

As he danced sideways across the stage I slowly began to squeeze the trigger. My hands shook from the prodigious amounts of alcohol I had to consume over the past two days to maintain my cover. I squeezed a little more, a little more, a little . . .

My phone rang at the same instant that Krraaaakkk! the Dragunov spat high-velocity death at the man on the stage. I saw him crumple. I saw the crowds recoil. My phone went on ringing. It was Wrinkly Joe.

What the fuck are you doing? he screamed.

Shooting the Waterboys, I replied. Like we said we would.

You just shot Steve Earle, he roared.

Impossible. It’s half past five.

They swapped, Wrinkly Joe said. You’ve just killed Steve Earle.

Shit, I said. I was looking forward to hearing him.

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The weekend started out so well. Not much rain. A relaxed Friday afternoon. The big diesel throbbing, hardly feeling the weight of the huge trailer hitched on behind. Good music on the player.


Dog-faced boy.

I hammer the steering wheel. Ma won’t shave me, Jesus can’t save me. Dog-Faced Boy!! Dog-faced Boy!!

The phone rings. It’s Joe.

Where the fuck are you?

I don’t know. Hold on – I’ll ask the Sat-Nav. Wait, we’re somewhere outside Tullamore. ——Ma won’t shave me, Jesus can’t save me, Dog-Faced Boy!! Dog-faced Boy!!

What the fuck is that?


When will you be here?

Sat-Nav says about half an hour.

Right. I’m at a pub near Tyrrelspass. You can’t miss it. Wallaces. It has a car park so you can pull in with the trailer and everything.

Ok. Gotcha.

Did you remember the Dragunov?

Yes!! —– Bad to the bone. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bad !!!

I cruise along, the old truck hardly noticing the gigantic caravan swaying behind me, the big old diesel engine humming. ——I got ten forward gears and a sweet Georgia overdrive. . .

I listen to a little Tom Waits. A little Talking Heads. A little Perfect Circle. The phone rings. What the fuck are you doing?

Meeting you. You just steamed past me at eighty miles an hour.

Oh. Right.

It’s hard to do a handbrake turn with a jeep and very large trailer, but I manage it with little enough damage, all things considered. Dog-Faced Boy!! Dog-faced Boy!!


The trailer park at Belvedere Castle turns out to be the car park. There’s no electricity. There’s nothing. There isn’t even a steward who knows where the fuck we should park, so we drive over a couple of the gormless assistants and park wherever we want. You could order electricity in advance if you needed to, but, in true festival style, it would cost you €100 for the three nights.

Fuck that. We park. We break out the beer. We go looking and before you can say Jack Daniel’s, we meet the neighbours who turn out to be dead-on and more than happy to talk shit with us. They’re also very fond of their spliffs, which is fine by me, though I personally smoke nothing these days. We’ll visit these boys later, but right now, as there’s no music till tomorrow, the Irishman’s first instinct kicks in: we’ll go to the pub! And we do, but not before I have to draw something to Wrinkly Joe’s attention.

Joe, I murmur discreetly.

Yeah? Are you aware that your scalp is covered in blood and that you have, at the top of your bald noggin, an ugly running sore?

Yes.  I banged my head off a shelf in the fuckin caravan.

And so it goes. We call a taxi and go to Mullingar, which turns out to be just fine – so fine that we consider returning on Sunday to watch the hurling. After all, though we will miss a couple of the acts, it’s Limerick playing Clare in Croke Park, so fuck it. Let’s mix and match. We go through our plans. Who are the must-sees, who are the don’t-give-a-shits, who are the absolutely-nots, who are the must-kills?

OK. Tomorrow, we have to see Tom Russell, Richard Thompson, Alison Moorer, Steve Earle, and also Anjani because the word is that Lenny Cohen might show up. Probably see Kristofferson too, considering we’re here and all that.

Anyone we have to kill tomorrow? Yes. The Waterboys, though I’d also consider whacking Mundy and Ricky Skaggs.

Who to miss? Well, Mundy and Christy Moore have to be left out. Don’t know Jim Lauderdale. We fall back to the camp-site, fall into bad company with our neighbours, fall upon the beef vindaloo and chapatis previously and cunningly cooked by me at home, fall around laughing, and eventually, after songs and further drunkenness, fall into bed. Which beats the living shit out of camping, let me tell you.


Dawn breaks.

Fuck off dawn.

Noon breaks.

Fuck off noon.

Fuck, groans Joe.

Sssshhh! I reply.

Oh fuck, Joe groans. You should get up. I got bacon.

I should get up? What about you?

I got up. I went into town. Here’s a newspaper. I’ll fry the rashers.

I can’t understand these people.


Well, ya bastards! Tom Russell has this special rapport with his public.

Sing the chicken song, shouts one lout.

No, ya bastard, replies Tom. The lout is referring to El gallo del cielo, a fine Russell song, but not one he intends playing today. Nevertheless, despite having to warm up a hungover crowd at two in the afternoon, Tom works some sort of magic and before you know it, all the drunks are singing along and dancing. What the fuck? I go for a beer, and when I get back, Joe’s talking to some guy.

This is Larry. He’s from Nashville.

Hi Larry. I’m Bock.

Hi Bock.

Turns out, Larry knows the fiddle player with Ricky Skaggs, which would normally be sufficient grounds for one of us to kill him, but the blinding hangover remains and my reflexes aren’t what they should be, so I content myself with small-talk.

I hear Leonard Cohen might be playing with Anjani later.

Larry looks at me blankly. I don’t know him.

Of course you wouldn’t. He lives in Montreal.

No. I mean I never heard of him.

I look at Joe. Joe looks at me. We look at Larry.

Leonard Cohen, y’know? THE Leonard Cohen? Yeah? Coolest man on the face of the planet?

He shakes his head. Sorry.



Suzanne? Larry shakes.

So Long Marianne? Larry shakes.

The Sisters of Mercy? He shakes again.

Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on? Larry blinks.

Ah, right, we reassure him. Forget that one. Phil Spector produced it.

Joe hands me a hip-flask, which I take gratefully. And it’s not even three o’clock yet, he says.


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Oh Dear Jesus!

Well you know how it is with these festivals.  Excess.  More excess and then another bit of excess.

Excessive amounts of excess.

When I ‘m a bit better, I’ll tell you all about the festival, and the lunatics we met and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and how we almost accidentally killed a major country star with a sniper rifle, and Tom Russell, and a man from Nashville with a big gap in his information, and Kristofferson who can no longer sing but is nevertheless better than ever, and mud, and Aimee Mann, and rain, and Richard Thompson, and old guys with huge spliffs, and Richmond Fontaine, and being up all night with the neighbours drinking beer and singing, and Steve Earle, and hip-flasks.

But for now, I’ll just leave you with one thought: aaaarrrggghhhh!


Festival-Time Again

Yes. It’s that time of year when Wrinkly Joe and myself take our lives in our hands and venture into pink-buckskin territory once more. That’s right: the Midlands Music Festival is upon us again and tomorrow we enter the fray.

Now, you might recall our adventures from last year, when we worshipped at the feet of the sublime Emmy-Lou Harris, enjoyed Loudon Wainwright, Tony-Joe White, Guy Clark and Lambchop. We did our bit for Credible Country when we abducted and killed Charlie Landsborough. We also attempted to kill Kenny Rodgers and Van Morrison, but they were too quick for us, though we did manage to inflict an ugly flesh wound on Kenny. I’m not saying Van Morrison represents the dark side of Country music, mind you: we attempted to kill him on the very valid grounds that he’s Van Morrison, a miserable, sour git.

I gave you a list of this year’s acts back in May, but it’s worth mentioning that on Saturday we have, among others, the following.

Kris Kristofferson
Steve Earle
The Waterboys
Aimee Mann
Richard Thompson
Tom Russell and
Allison Moorer.

Oh, and I should mention Anjani, Leonard Cohen’s latest squeeze. We think Lenny might make a guest appearance, and for that alone, I’d attend.

On Sunday we have, inter alia,
Glen Campbell
The Be Good Tanyas
Blind Boys Of Alabama
Hothouse Flowers and
Richmond Fontain.

This time around, we have no intention of undergoing the misery that is camping in Irish weather. I know that in theory this is supposed to be summer, but considering we’ve had two solid months of fucking rain, the whole Summer concept is being re-evaluated by a panel of experts. And so this is why I implored the ever-patient Dickler and, decent man that he is, he kindly offered us the loan of his caravan. Woo-hoo!! Dry and warm!! Can you believe it?

So, just for this weekend, Wrinkly Joe and myself become honorary Pavees and as we speak, Joe is out collecting electric cable to set fire to when we set up camp. Now all we need is for kind friends to donate a couple of piebalds. Any offers?


Festival Report Number 1
kick it on


The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra

Here’s a local Limerick band.

Have a listen to them





and here

They’re the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra

Buy them here

Do it now, or Bock’s people will come looking for you.

Music Stories

Those Immortal Words

Not everybody will know what I’m talking about here, but for those who do, it’s a true story.

I was out one night in my pub of choice, having – of all things – a drink, and it was an enjoyable enough evening if not particularly exciting. It was also a weekday, and therefore some of us would have to get up for work, while others of a more mendicant persuasion were happy enough to drink into the wee hours at my expense. I speak, of course, of my welfare-sponging friends.

It’s late, said Jimbo, my neighbour. I’m getting a taxi. What are you doing?

I’ll go too, I said. I have to work, not like some of these fuckers.

With that, one of the fuckers stood up. Eugene is his name, and he’s a pleasant enough individual, though not the brightest.

I called Pat le Taxi, he said. He’s running me up to my house to collect a guitar and then we’re coming back for a few pints in Shrek’s.

Great, I replied. We’ll wait outside Shrek’s and then Pat le Taxi can take us home.

Great said Eugene.

Great, said Jimbo.


So we casually finished our drinks, did a bit more talking of shit and strolled around to Shrek’s.

Howya lads, said Shrek, through a hole in the door. Stand into the shadow a bit there so the cops don’t notice ya. Are ya comin in?

No. We have work in the morning.

OK lads. Clunk!

Pat le Taxi is an efficient operator and before very long his limo glided to a halt beside us. Eugene struggled with a large guitar case in the passenger seat and he was clearly having trouble getting out, partly because he’s so fat and partly because he was shitfaced drunk.

It was when he slammed the guitar case against the dashboard for the fifth time that I got to utter the words I thought I would never, ever have a chance to say:

Careful with that axe, Eugene.

kick it on