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Indie Bible 2007 - Get Your Music Heard!

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May 19, 2007 Page 3

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RogerRyan.jpg (1889 bytes)Roger Ryan Reports

The following reports are all from my pal, Roger Ryan who is a DJ and highly respected conisour of the country music world... worldwide!

Read on for "Country Cuts" by Roger Ryan


LouiseMorrissey018.jpg (8680 bytes)Following a recent visit to the home of Louise Morrissey in Bansha, Co. Tipperary, I can fully understand why she has no desire to leave this beautiful and scenic area.
Nestling in the foothills of the Galtee Mountains, the village of Bansha has been home to generations of the Morrissey family, and is still home to Louise and her mother, and her brothers Norman and Billy.
Born in nearby Tipp town, Louise has spent all of her adult life in Bansha, where she was introduced to music at an early age in both her local primary school and later in secondary school in Tipp Town. “There was always music and singing in Primary School and we also had access to music in Secondary school”, she told me.
“ I grew up with music all around me. My parents were both very musical people. My dad played the fiddle and saxophone and in his younger days he played in a local band, which featured his brother, my Uncle Billy, as the lead vocalist.
My mum was also a great influence on me, as she sang a lot, and also played piano.
When you consider the environment I grew up in, it’s easy to understand why I chose a career in the music business, and why I am so happy to be still doing it.
There were six of us in the family, and each of us was encouraged to play some sort of musical instrument. Whenever we had visitors to the house, we would always do our best to entertain them”.
How did The Morrisseys Folk Group come about then, I asked her.
“Well, my brothers Norman and Billy and I seemed to be the three who developed a flair for the music and we would regularly practice together. This eventually lead to us forming a group and we started playing the local pub scene. I was only 13 when we first started out, but I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was she said,” with a hearty chuckle. When it came to picking a name for the group it seemed logical enough to call ourselves The Morrisseys, because that’s what we were always known as anyway, so the name stuck, and we were happy with it.
Folk music was really big in Ireland at the time, so that was the type of music we concentrated on. As for my own favourites at that time, well I was big into Donny Osmond and The Bay City Rollers, just like a lot of my friends were. As a matter of fact I think I may still have some of Donny’s posters somewhere in my bedroom, as I was madly in love with him at that time.
“It wasn’t that we made a conscious decision to play folk music though. It was popular throughout Ireland and Britain at that time and it just happened that the three of us were interested in that type of music, and of course we had been performing it locally at first, and later it took us all over the world. We had a very successful career as The Morrisseys and we released four albums, which sold very well.

Switch To Country.

Louise & Kris KristoffersonAt what stage did you decide to switch and concentrate on country music?
“There was certainly a bit of a decline in the folk scene, but that wasn’t the primary reason for the switch. I must admit I was always a country music fan and I always loved that kind of music. I suppose when you start out as young as I did, you are not quite certain what type of music you want to pursue, but as you get a little older you begin to develop preferences for different types of music. I found myself being drawn more and more towards country music, having been influenced by Emmylou Harris and a lot of Irish artists who were emerging on the country scene at that time. I was also a big fan of Judith Durham of The Seekers. My current favourite is Wynonna Judd. I love her singing and I think she is a fantastic entertainer. There are lots of outstanding singers on the Irish scene right now and I sometimes get the chance to perform with them at various venues throughout Ireland and overseas.
My brothers Billy and Norman also shared my love for country music, so when we decided to change over to country, both of them stayed on in the band with me, and Billy also became my manager. It was quite a big change for me really, as I went from being a member of the Morrisseys to the featured vocalist with my own band.”

Did you lose some of your folk following when you switched?
“Well, some people did say at the time that I was mad to make the change, but it was something I wanted to do, and I was determined to give it a go. As things turned out, we were very successful and the whole country music business has been very good to me. The fans literally accepted me overnight, and that was really great.
Also, we were lucky that we were in at the beginning of a boom time for country in Ireland, with a lot of new bands and a lot of new singers coming on the scene. I was just one of a whole crop of new singers who emerged on the scene at the time, and thankfully there was room for us all.”

First Country Record.

“My first recording as a country artist was a song called “The Night Daniel O’Donnell Came to Town.” This was a huge success and really helped to launch me as a country music singer. I then followed up on this with an album called “Louise”, which included the hit single and a mixture of country and Irish numbers. Of course Daniel O’Donnell was already established as a major star at that time, and paved the way for lots of us who came on the scene after him.”

“We started playing the dancing circuit and I can remember a time when we played five nights a week and all at a different venue. Nowadays the scene has changed quite a bit. A lot of the venues have closed down and while some of them have been replaced, the scene has now developed into a weekend business. It’s sad in a way that the venues have closed because we still have a large number of bands, and but for regular tours to England and America, I don’t think we could survive on the Irish market alone. Also, with the emergence of so many young male artists, it’s getting harder for us girls to survive"


To the music lovers who faithfully follow the bands every week, the music scene appears to be a very glamorous business, but it has its drawbacks and its pitfalls. One of the biggest hazards that an artist faces is the travelling. This is how Louise explained it “travelling is one of the hazards of the job really. You’re out there travelling on the road at all hours of the night, and of course you’re travelling a lot more than the average motorist does.” She then told me about a serious accident that she had one night.

“I was on my way to a gig and I was due to play in Longford Town that night. I was just in the outskirts of the town when I had the accident. That really turned everything upside down for me, and in a split second my whole life was changed. I had a lot of broken bones, and I was in hospital for a few weeks. I was off the road for several months and when I look back on it now, I am thankful that at least nobody was killed. Time is a great healer, and I did bounce back, but the time I spent off the road, certainly damaged my career at the time. I was on a rollercoaster at that time and things were going really well for me. I had an album out that was being heavily promoted on the radio and T.V., for two weeks prior to the accident. Following the accident, there was no guarantee that I would ever again get back on the road, so the whole campaign was pulled.”
Did you ever think during that period that your career as a performer had come to an end?
“I was very mixed up really. In the beginning I didn’t know what was after happening. I was thinking about Tony Stevens, who had a very serious accident about six months prior to mine, and wondering if he would ever perform again. All those things kept going through my mind and I kept wondering would he ever be able to walk again, never mind perform on stage again. It certainly erodes your confidence, and it takes a long time to get over that. But time heals everything, and thankfully I made a full recovery and was glad to get back on the road again. It’s nice to know that Tony has also made a full recovery and is now back on the road again with his new band “The Rusty Roosters.”
Would you say that you are a religious person and that your faith in god would have sustained you and helped in your recovery?
“I have my own little way of talking to the Man above and I believe firmly in God. My constant travelling at weekends would sometimes preclude me from attending Sunday Mass, but several times during the week I would visit the local Church and light candles and say my own little prayers. I have my own way of staying in touch with the Lord.”

Romance on the Road.

Romance on the road?
At this she laughed out loud and repeated my question, romance on the road? “Why did you ask me that?” Well now, an attractive girl on stage, touring around the country every week, you must have had more than your share of offers from the boys. How did you cope with this?
“Well you do have your admirers on the road. You meet all sorts of people really. Some that are very nice and the odd few that are not so nice. You deal with it as best you can. It’s very difficult to have a relationship with someone, because you are out there and away so often. But this is it, that’s what I do for a living. It can be very difficult to sustain a relationship especially when you can’t be home at the weekends to go out and socialise”.

We got around to talking about Radio and T.V. and Louise said, “It’s very difficult to get any exposure on T.V. here, more so now than a few years ago. It was great years ago when we were all on T.V. programmes such as Live At 3, Bibi Baskin, Open House and such were very good to Irish artists generally but in the last few years, the Irish artists have been forgotten about. Our Irish T.V. station TG4 has been very good to Irish talent and has regularly featured them in their programmes.

Radio, I suppose you’re relying mainly on the local stations for airplay nowadays?
“Oh yes, all the regional stations are very, very good as far as Irish artists are concerned, and without them we just wouldn’t get airplay at all. Most of them have regular country shows and always play the Irish artists. Again, sadly it has become very difficult to get airplay on our National station R.T.E., which I feel should not be the case, because it’s a very big industry, employing a lot of people, and should be supported by our National station. It’s a big business now.

Do you have a favourite venue?
“I don’t know if I have a favourite venue, because I enjoy every venue I play in. But as far as my favourite gig, the best gig I ever did was singing in Croke Park at half time during an All-Ireland Hurling Final in which Tipp was playing – even though we did lose on the day.”

“Another great gig was when I was in Switzerland representing Ireland at the Gold Star Awards. I felt very proud to be representing my country.
More recently I performed with Kris Kristofferson in Canada. I was his opening act for two sell out shows in Halifax Nova Scotia and St.John's Newfoundland.
Each venue held 5,500 people. It was a great experience for me to work with Kris, he is such a gentleman. “

Your worst gig?
“There would be a certain venue in a certain country which shall remain nameless that I would nominate as my worst gig, but thankfully there weren’t too many of those.”

A recent trend in the music business is the weekend festivals at hotels and performing on cruise ships. Louise has featured on all of these and has also accompanied a group to Nashville, where she performed at the famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge and Legend’s Corner. “We had 100 people on the tour to Nashville, and as well as myself we had John Hogan and his band, and Trudi Lalor and her band. While we were in Nashville we did four gigs and we plan to go there again.”

“In May we’re heading off to Salou in Spain for a week, with a group of people again. We will be providing all the entertainment at our hotel for the week, so that should be really good. Other artists on the trip are John Hogan, Trudi Lalor, Tom Healy, Larry Cunningham, Sean Loughrey, and Nicky Kealy and country DJ TOMMY’s Roadshow. It should be a fabulous week and I am really looking forward to it. We’ll all be staying at the same hotel, and we’ll have six days and nights of singing and dancing. Later in the year we’ll be heading back to the Algarve for more fun in the sun. Irish Festival have now become very popular also and we will heading off to the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney for a weekend of shows from June 22nd to 24th”.

Are you happy to be back full time again in the music business?
“Oh yes, I am enjoying myself now more that I ever did, and thankfully things are going very well for me. Over the years I have built up a very strong and loyal fan base. I am quite happy to working in Ireland and living in Bansha, and I have no great ambitions to crack the American market. I like the odd trip to Britain and Canada and after that the Irish circuit keeps me as busy as I want to be. No matter where I travel to I always like to come back home to Bansha.”

And my final question, is there anything or anybody that could tempt you to leave Bansha?
Louise looked at me with that mischievous twinkle in her eye and replied “Now you don’t really expect me to answer that one, do you?”

When she steps out on stage to sing,
You know that she’s got class.
She was born in Tipperary Town,
And they call her The Bansha Lass.

She has represented Ireland,
In the Golden Star Awards,
And even played in Croke Park,
On the GAA’s golden sward.

She started singing folk tunes,
With brothers, Norm and Bill,
They sang their songs, all day long,
And gave their fans a thrill.

When she turned to country,
She created quite a stir,
And pretty soon her horde of fans,
All fell in love with her.

She’s played all over Ireland,
And countries near and far.
She even survived a nasty crash,
While travelling in her car.

Of all the places that she’s been,
And more that she may roam,
She’s happiest in Bansha,
The place that she calls home.
LouiseMorrissey.jpg (3663 bytes)


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Muriel O'Connor

MurielOConnor.jpg (4608 bytes)By her own admission Muriel O'Connor, Limerick's female performer, has been singing since she was 'knee high to a duck.' In time, she pioneered a serious assult on the country and Irish music scene with the release of her first album entitled Country Surprise.

This launched Muriel on the cabaret/dance scene and she followed up with two further successful recordings and a much-acclaimed video.

Her Country Magic 12-track album contained such numbers as Irish Morning, When We Were Young, Mary of the Wild Moor and Sunday Morning. The album also incorporated a duet with Ireland's king of comedy Brendan Grace on a number called My Elusive Dreams.

Muriel is a regular entertainer at the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney, Co. Kerry and she rescently recorded the Dan Hill classic Sometimes When We Touch which is now on release.


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Irish Singer, Justin McGurk Records In Nashville

Irish singer, Justin McGurk was recently in Nashville, TN recording some new tracks.

JustinMcGurk.jpg (8202 bytes)
Pictured following the session are (L to R) McGurk, Mark Moffatt (Producer), Bruce Boston and Jeff King (Musicians), and Jeff Walker (President of AristoMedia - Walker serves as chairman of the CMA's Global Markets Committee)

Dancing Venues

Dancing is still a hugely popular form of entertainment throughout Ireland, and despite the closure of some halls etc over the years, there are many still operating every weekend. North Cork has always been well served with venues and even though two of the biggest, Maudi Mac's and the Blue Dragon no longer operate, the Hazel Tree in Mallow continues as a top class venue. Before it's closure, the Edel Quinn Memorial Hall in Kanturk, Co.Cork, was a hugely popular venue for dancers and the good news is that is now back in action again with some of the top bands in the country lined up to perform there each weekend.

In West Cork the long establshed and hugely popular venue Castle Ahan, Enniskeane, continues to fly the flag as a dancing venue and is visited regularly by the top bands and performers in the country.

In Cork City and environs those who like to trip the light fantastic are well catered for and are really spoiled for choice when it comes to venues each week. Several sports clubs throughout the city put on weekend dancing and cabaret acts. Tuesday night's are especially popular at both the the Barr's Club and St.Vincent's Club and Douglas GAA Club is now well established as a Saturday night dance venue. Dancing is also very popular at the Barr's Club every Sunday night. Westside venue the Oriel House in Ballincollig has quickly established itself as a popular Thursday night venue with a great lineup of talent due to perform there over the next few months. Further East, the Walter Raleigh Hotel in Youghal, Co.Cork is the venue for Afternoon Tea Dancing every Sunday from 4 to 6, and also stages dancing every Sunday night.

I'm sure there are lots of other local venues also operating each week, and if you advise us of those, we will be happy to give them a mention. So often we hear people complain of nowhere to go to hear some music and do a little dancing, and it's nice to be able to report that we have quite a large list of venues ready and willing to accomodate those who prefer to dance to something other that disco.So get out those Hucklebuck Shoes and support your local dance venue.Drop us a line and let us know your favourite venue and band and we will give it a mention in Personalities.


The Midlands Festival makes a triumphant return this summer on the 28th and 29th July, with an even more diverse line-up and a brand new location, sure to prove a hit with music lovers and families alike. It will
take place at Belvedere House set in some 160 acres of parkland in the Midlands.

Topping the bill over two days and nights will be Christy Moore, Kris Kristofferson, Glen Campbell, Steve Earle, Paul Brady, Richard Thompson and Ricky Skaggs. And with two additional stages this year, there is a huge range of music to choose from with The Waterboys, Aimee Mann, Gillian Welch,Allison Moorer, Jose Gonzalez, Prison Love, The Hillybilly All Stars, Hot House Flowers, Bray Vista, The Be Good Tanyas, Tom Russell and many many more to be announced later.

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That's all Folks!

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