Dolans Music

Imelda May for the Castle

What’s not to like about Imelda May?

Seriously, what human being could fail to be transported by Imelda’s sassy sorcery?

Imelda May at King John's Castle, Limerick

Of course, we’ve all seen Imelda May in Limerick before, first in Dolans and latterly in the Big Top at the Milk Market but now comes news that the Queen of Rockabilly is getting her own castle, as befitting rockabilly royalty. And yes, before you start, I know Imelda doesn’t describe herself as a rockabilly artist. I know Imelda covers all genres. Chill. The fact is that I get to breathe the same air as Imelda May on the 13th August and that’s enough for me.

WImelda May at King John's Castlehat’s more, I get to share the same space as Imelda May in a castle.

A big stone Norman castle defending a bridge. Think Walder Frey, but without the violence and now with added sexiness and fun.

I can be the new Walder Frey paying homage to Lady Imelda without a Red Wedding that was ever heard of. There will be no minstrel bow-men in the galleries at this gig, but a solid line-up of rocking bad-ass psycho-musos backing the baddest woman in music.

I’ll be there in my millions.

Be there.

Who wouldn’t go to the castle when the Queen is in residence?







Imelda at the Milk Market


IMRO Awards: Live Music Venue of the Year

Where do you reckon the best live venue in Ireland is?




Not a bit of it.

Galway, maybe?

Guess again.

The 2015 IMRO National Live Music Venue of the Year is our very own Dolan’s, here in Limerick, and that’s for a very good reason.   Dolan’s is the real deal.

This is no Festy McGonigal’s or Thumper O’Toole’s or whatever quaint name some corporate owners decided to put on it.   Instant Irish pub.  Just add Guinness and stir lightly.

See that sign above the door?  It says Dolan’s and when you walk in, you won’t see some financial controller lurking in a corner sipping a skinny latte and counting beans.  You’ll probably bump into Mick Dolan, or Valerie Dolan, or Neil Dolan or Sarah Dolan, the hardest-working family in Irish music promotion, and what’s more, they’ll know your name.

It’s no accident that Dolan’s was named best live music venue.  That happened through years of hard effort, commitment and determination, putting on big names, small names and sometimes, no-names.  Taking a chance on a hunch.  Showing faith in the musicians, the actors, the comedians, and the occasional plainly deranged performer who happens by.  Being open to a good idea, or even to a worthwhile idea.  Supporting a good cause when asked.

You don’t buy  that sort of loyalty from your customers — you earn it.  And not by bean-counting, no matter how many skinny lattes you throw back.

I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this award.


Here’s a few memories.

Imelda May 029

Dolans imro awards 2015 002

Dolans Sharon Shannon

Dolans imro awards 2015 001

Nouvelle Vague Dolans Warehouse Limerick 01

Nouvelle Vague Dolans Warehouse Limerick 17

Andreas Varady at DOlans


Jake Clemons at the Warehouse

Jake Clemons at Dolans Warehouse.


You weren’t thinking of going?

Are you mad?  Are you crazy?

I heard this guy live at Thomond Park backing Bruce Springsteen, and later I heard him in Bourkes, a much more intimate venue.  He’s a motherfucker.   He’s great and he’s  his own man, even if he happens to be the nephew of the late great Clarence Clemons, as if any of us would not be downright delighted to claim that one thing.

But  not only is Jake a seriously talented musician — he’s also a damn nice guy as I found out when I met him.

Go to this.  Meet the guy and shake his hand.

One serious mother of a muso.

Go to this gig or be forever missing out on the greatness available to you in this world.



Where?  Dolans Warehouse

When? Sunday, 2nd November

What time? Doors 8pm

Dolans Favourites

Burying the Hatchet With Freddie White

Drink is an awful thing, isn’t it?

Well, no actually. It’s not. Drink is great, but it does have that annoying habit of enhancing our inner gowlishness, and so it was that I found myself standing in front of Freddie White a dozen years ago, holding out his Lost and Found CD for him to sign.

Let me play that reel back a little before we go on. For those who don’t know Freddie White, and I was surprised how many of the younger people I met over the weekend were unfamiliar with his name, this man has been a quietly influential force introducing people to songwriters they might otherwise never have heard of.

Freddie White at Dolans LimerickMany people might never have encountered the work of Tom Waits, Guy Clark or Randy Newman without Freddie. Many more people might not know what it is to hear a phenomenal acoustic guitar player with such a unique, percussive fingerpicking style. As a friend of mine said last night — a fine player himself — I know exactly what he’s doing. I just can’t see how it’s done.

That’s Freddie. Going all the way back to the days of the Do You Do and Live on Tour albums, he’s been beguiling his listeners with a mix of everything from Hoagy Carmichael to Frank Zappa. Did many Irish people know of Leon Redbone in 1979? Or Guy Clark, or Randy Newman? What about the late Warren Zevon? The answer is yes, they did, but they weren’t part of the demographic that Freddie educated. In many ways, you could say that Freddie White liberated an entire generation of people who might otherwise be doomed to a life of Late Late Show pap, and for that alone, he deserves some sort of sainthood. Feeling bland? Pray to Saint Freddie for salvation.

Over the years, Freddie has kept the faith with Zappa, Newman, Clark, but also Hoagy and Joan Armatrading, not to mention Tom Waits and Warren Zevon. You can see the eclectic chemistry bubbling away in that enormous musical glass retort where they formed Freddie White, those men in multicoloured lab coats.

Fred’s in a different zone these days, now writing songs and performing with his partner Trish. Last night they did a heartbreaking version of Cohen’s Alexandra Leaving and a pulsing, unexpected cover of Boy in the Bubble. They look good and sound good together. They’re nice people.

How do I know this? Well, you see, that’s where we came in, with me standing in the hallway of Dolans Warehouse back in 2002, swaying slightly and regarding Freddie with one eye shut so I wouldn’t see two of him.

He was signing copies of his CD.

All the best to Tommy, from Fred.

Good wishes to the lads in Hogans Hardware, Freddie.

Congratulations to Bridie on your massive weight loss, all the best, Freddie White.

Fred looks at me and I look back at Fred, in a manner of speaking. If you can call staring with one hand over your eye looking.

What would you like me to put on it?

I think for a minute, or maybe ten. The crowd behind me is growing restive. Wait, I have it.

Yes? says Freddie, ever-patient, though you know this man can kill with one finger if he has to.

Why don’t you write …


Why don’t you write …


Why don’t you write, Freddie’s Back — A Nightmare on Alphonsus Street?

Hmmm, Fred grunts as he scrawls something on the CD and turns back to the angry crowd.

That was then and this is now. I’m sharing the horror story with my friends when someone says, There’s Freddie sitting beside you. Why don’t you tell him in person? And sure enough, there he is, right beside me. I didn’t notice him earlier because the eyes are burned out of my head with smoke from flipping burgers at the barbecue thing in town.

Howya Fred.

Howya. This is Trish.


I tell them the story. Trish laughs. Freddie doesn’t.

Someone asks, Freddie, what did you write on the CD?

Fred thinks for a second or two. To the best of my recollection, I wrote Good Wishes from Paul Brady.

Later, after Freddie finished his gig upstairs in Dolans, I went up to buy the CDs he was selling.

Will you write something on them, please, Fred?


How about Best wishes from Christy Moore?

It was then I realised that this man could kill me with one finger if he wanted to.

Great gig, though, as I write this from my hospital bed.

Bourkes Cobblestone Joe's Dolans Music The Blind Pig

Indie Week Ireland 2014 to be Hosted in Limerick

What time is this thing kicking off? I asked.

Four o’clock, in Dr John’s.   Leading Armies are playing for about an hour.

Fine, I thought.   That’ll be half-past four then.

But it wasn’t.  When I arrived at the Pig and tried to get upstairs I found a throng, a mob, a crowd, even, crammed into the good Doctor’s little grotto of uber-coolness, enjoying the show and generally being positive about this latest initiative.

Leading Armies at launch of Indie Week Ireland 2014


What thing? you’re probably wondering.

This thing: the launch of Indie Week Ireland 2014 with a call-out to artists who’d like to perform at the Indie Week festival in Limerick between the 23rd and the 26th April.

Four nights.  Thirty acts.  Four venues.

One act will get a headline slot at Indie Week Canada 2014.

Here’s the schedule.  Follow the thing on Facebook and Twitter and watch this space for more updates.

Cobblestone Joe's Dolans

Holiday Music in Limerick

We’re spoilt for choice this holiday season, but I’ll do my best to attend everything on offer — not that it’s possible, but I’ll try.

This evening, you could drop in to Cobblestone Joe’s and catch Parliament Square.  Always a good choice.

Tomorrow, you could start with the absurd, wonderful, hilarious, ridiculously talented and completely drunk O Malleys in Nancy Blakes.  The band whose proudest boast is that they never once rehearsed a song.  And it shows, but we love them all the same.

You could follow that up with a visit to O’Dwyers to take in the Cha Haran band, featuring the legendary Johnny Fean on guitar and an assortment of former Grannies.

cha haran band

If you’re of a mind to do so, you could drop into Dolans after that and catch a bit of Brian O Connor, fresh in from Sweden and gigging with Dave Keary, Danny Byrt and Mike Quinn.  There’s no point going there for Damien Dempsey because he’s sold out, so forget that.

Tomorrow night in Bourkes, a venue taht hosts so many huge acts in such a small space, you could also catch Moscow Metro.

Where would you get it?

On Monday, the 30th you could do worse than head back to Dolans to catch Eamonn Hehir’s new band, the Flag Listeners.

eamonn hehir

On New Years Eve, you could sample Trees Fall Down at Cobbles followed by Mrs Henry from 10:30 till very late indeed.  Or else you could horse on up to Dolans again and catch the O Malleys’ ludicrous annual party.

Spoilt for choice?  For sure.  Keep it going.

Dolans Music

Leading Armies — Let’s Get Serious

If you haven’t heard of Leading Armies before now, brace yourself.  This young Limerick band is on the brink of greatness and next Friday, they launch their EP, Let’s Get Serious, in Dolans Warehouse, teaming up once more with the Markevin Light Orchestra.

Leading Armies

You’d be crazy not to be there on Friday night.  For €10, this is the best value you’ll get in gigs anywhere, and the chances are it won’t be long before Leading Armies are playing venues that hold thousands, not hundreds.  Catch them now, while you still can.  They have the attitude, they have the talent and they have that indefinable style that marks out a band as one destined for the big time.

And from what I’ve seen of them, they’re nice guys, which is always a plus.


Where?  Dolans Warehouse, Limerick

When? Friday 11th October.

What time?  8:30 pm

How much?  €10

Seriously?  Yes.

Dolans Favourites

Siobhán O Brien Album Launch

Bock, says Siobhán, will you come down to Dolans and do a video of the album launch?

What?  No point asking me.  What the fuck would I know about videos?

Ah go on.  You will.

But it’s not what I do.

You will you will you will.

All right, then.  Let’s give it a shot.


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What do I know about video?  Nothing.

Do I have a fancy video camera? Well, it’s not bad, but it could be better.  Passively, aggressively, I persuade Siobhán to get someone involved who owns a more professional camera, but it doesn’t work.

Ah go on.

All right then.  Let’s just make it up as we go along.  I’ll lurk to one side and we’ll get someone else to lurk at the other side.  We’ll do cutaways.  That’s not a problem.  I can edit such shit, but we need a camera up there on the balcony, plugged into the desk.

Am I Martin Scorsese?  Is this the Last Waltz?  No to both questions, but hey, I’m here to help my dear friend, so I direct Cameraman 2 as follows.

You stand over on that side and take random clips of the band.  Anything you find interesting.  This will be no problem to him as a working musician himself.

Meanwhile, I’ll go up on the balcony and take stuff from another angle.  When we get the whole lot sorted out, I’ll intermingle the clips.  I’ll edit that shit and we’ll all win some sort of international head-up-the-ass video prize in Sarajevo.


What really happens is that we all record the three songs we decided would work, and then Siobhán blasts into this other song while my camera is turned off, while the other fellow is gone for a smoke, leaving only the lad on the balcony, plugged into the sound desk.

Guess what?  It’s better than any of the fancy-dan arty editing I did.

This is the serious shit.  Raw, bleeding off the vinyl.

Look no further, folks.  This is Limerick City at its best.

I give you the incomparable Siobhán O Brien.

Here’s another.  Probably all the poorer for my involvement.

And another.



Dolans Birthday

It feels like the wonderful Dolans Warehouse has been there forever, but the truth is that it’s only been fifteen years.


How depressing.

When they started first, I used to be there every night, listening to people like the great Jack L and the wonderful Cafe Orchestra, so I can claim to be an early adopter, so to speak.

Over that time, Mick and Valerie have supported local music above and beyond anything that might reasonably be expected of prudent business people.  We’ve had all manner of astounding performers in that cosy little venue and I personally would feel deeply impoverished if it hadn’t been part of my life.  How bad can it be when the venue hosts a gemutlich bunch of never-ending lunatics on stage and the proprietors are also all-round good guys?

It doesn’t get much better really, does it?  Next Friday night, Dolans are celebrating their fifteenth birthday, so get your cute little ass along there and enjoy it on the night.














Dolans Music

Siobhán O’Brien Album Launch

How many artists have a standing invitation to play at Apple in San Francisco?  How many do you know who were featured artists on iTunes?  Siobhán O’Brien has picked up some influential fans over the course of her career, but who’s surprised?

Siobhán O'Brien  001_2

Just back from a US West Coast tour, Siobhán heads off again in June, taking in New York, Washington  DC, Oklahoma, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

This lady is one seriously talented piece of work, a singer-songwriter with a voice of crystal obsidian and a pen dipped in the old well of human experience.

We’ve been waiting a while for a new album from Siobhán, but sometimes the waiting makes it better.  The launch is soon and Siobhán will be joined by one serious rocking line-up on the night plus special guests, a string quartet and some bad-ass girl-power backing vocalists.

When?  17th May 2013

Where?  Dolans Warehouse, Limerick